Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 16, 2014

September 9, 2014

4 Things to Watch in the Final Primaries of 2014

4 Things to Watch in the Final Primaries of 2014

Garcia is running the GOP primary in the 2nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The final primary night of the midterms takes place Tuesday, with consequential contests across New England and Delaware.

In New Hampshire, former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., faces a crowded GOP primary filled with hopes of challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in November. Down the ballot in the Granite State, GOP primaries in House races will determine nominees in two key contests.

Across the border in Massachusetts, Rep. John F. Tierney faces the toughest primary of his 18-year congressional career. He could be the fourth incumbent to lose re-election in a primary in 2014 — and perhaps the only Democrat (to see which members lost their primaries this cycle, check out Roll Call’s Casualty List).

There are also primaries in Delaware and Rhode Island, although neither state features competitive congressional races.

Polls close in all four states at 8 p.m. You can follow live result updates on Roll Call’s “At the Races” politics blog.

Here’s what to watch:

Full story

September 8, 2014

NRSC Signs Ron Bonjean for IE Communications

NRSC Signs Ron Bonjean for IE Communications

Bonjean with then-Speaker Dennis Hastert in 2006. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has signed up veteran GOP consultant Ron Bonjean for its independent expenditure unit.

Bonjean, a partner at Singer Bonjean Strategies and a former senior Capitol Hill aide, will handle communications for the side of the committee that manages consulting teams and tens of millions in media spending. He joined late last week, with two months to go in the midterm cycle, as Republicans push to pick up at least six Senate seats.

“It’s an honor to be part of a great team that is working overtime to achieve a Senate Republican majority,” Bonjean said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. Full story

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 1:57 p.m.
NRSC

GOP Chicken Charges Dropped in New Hampshire

GOP Chicken Charges Dropped in New Hampshire

Shaheen is seeking re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

New Hampshire’s most famous Republican chicken is free.

Charges have been dropped against 23-year old Michael Zona, the Granite State’s Republican party said Monday. Zona was arrested for disorderly conduct at a parade in Londonderry, N.H., after allegedly harassing two prominent state Democrats, Gov. Maggie Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

In November, Shaheen will likely face former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., who is expected to win his Tuesday primary.

Republicans have used the chicken to criticize Shaheen for not holding open town hall meetings. But the arrest of the young man in the chicken costume served as a leading — and the most entertaining — local news story during a Roll Call on the Road visit to New Hampshire in August.

Full story

Democrat Leads in New Iowa Senate Race Poll

Democrat Leads in New Iowa Senate Race Poll

Braley is an Iowa Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll shows Rep. Bruce Braley, a Democrat, has opened up a lead over his Republican opponent Joni Ernst in the battle for Iowa’s open Senate seat.

The Loras College poll of likely voters found Braley at 45.3 percent and Ernst at 40.5 percent. Just over 14 percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The race for retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat is one of the most hotly contested in the country, and the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates it as a Tossup. Senate Republicans must pick up a net of six seats this November to win control of that chamber, and Iowa plays a prominent part in the GOP’s math to accomplish that.

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Could John Tierney Lose His Primary?

Could John Tierney Lose His Primary?

Tierney is a Massachusetts Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. John F. Tierney faces the toughest primary of his 18-year congressional career Tuesday, when he will attempt to stave off a well-funded, top-flight Democratic opponent.

For months, polls have shown Tierney with a hefty advantage over Iraq War veteran Seth Moulton. But in the final days before the Massachusetts primary, automated polls showed the congressman with minuscule, single-digit leads.

It’s clear Tierney also feels the heat on the ground.

“The fact Barney Frank and Joe Kennedy are campaigning for Tierney, and a brutal ad he ran during the Patriots game at halftime against Moulton tells you he is in trouble,” Mary Anne Marsh, a Massachusetts Democratic operative, said of the 6th District lawmaker. ”It is fair to say it is a jump ball that will be decided by ground game Tuesday.”

Full story

How Major League Baseball Could Determine Control of Congress (Updated)

How Major League Baseball Could Determine Control of Congress (Updated)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, left, speaks with Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper at Nationals Park. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated Sept. 9, 1:14 p.m. | For most of the country, this October’s television airwaves are filled with two things: baseball and politics — and the two rarely mix.

But the mid-autumn climax of Major League Baseball could impact the Senate playing field in key states where teams are primed to make the playoffs. Televised sports make for a desirable market for political advertisers because viewers are more likely to watch live and are less likely to fast-forward through commercials.

What’s more, the target audience watching these sports — mostly white and male —  comprise one of the most reliable voting blocs in a midterm. For Republicans, baseball viewing marks an opportunity to motivate their base. Democrats gear their in-game ads toward improving their numbers with this demographic.

From interviews with media buyers and political operatives, it’s clear there are several markets with top baseball teams and competitive congressional races that could collide between the playoffs in early October and Election Day.

Of course, things can change before then: Teams, just like campaigns, can flop. But based on MLB standings as of Tuesday, here are the prime markets to play ball and politics.  Full story

NRCC Announces Another Crop of ‘Young Guns’

NRCC Announces Another Crop of Young Guns

Walden is a Oregon Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced Monday nine more candidates had achieved “Young Gun” status, the top tier of their candidate recruitment and training program.

The new members increases the number of “Young Gun” candidates this cycle to 43. These candidates have met unannounced fundraising and organizational goals. In return, the NRCC gives them fundraising and strategic help.

House Democrats would have to pick up a net of 17 seats to win the majority in the next Congress — a nearly impossible scenario. Instead, House Republicans are poised to pick up a few seats, thanks in part to the president’s unpopularity.

“Our job as a committee is to help elect Republicans to office that will serve as a check and balance on the Obama administration,” NRCC Chairman Greg Walden said in a news release. “These candidates will fight to stop the harmful consequences of ObamaCare, grow the economy and get Washington’s spending under control.”

The new Young Gun candidates are:

Full story

September 6, 2014

In First Debate, Pat Roberts Attacks Harry Reid

In First Debate, Pat Roberts Attacks Harry Reid

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts is in for a tough battle this fall. But in the Republican’s first public appearance with the candidate that has put his re-election in jeopardy, Roberts made clear he’s not only running against independent Greg Orman — he’s running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Roberts and Orman faced off in a debate at the Kansas State Fair Saturday, just three days after Democratic nominee Chad Taylor tried to drop out of the race, opening the door for Orman to have a real shot at ousting the senator.

Roberts, who had not seemed to be taking the campaign particularly seriously, turned it on Saturday and came out swinging. He cast Orman, who has not yet said which party he would caucus with if elected, as a vote for Reid as Senate Majority Leader.

“I am the only candidate on this stage that will vote to put Harry Reid out to pasture,” Roberts said. “My opponent wants you to believe he’s an independent. He is not. He is a liberal Democrat by philosophy. He has given thousands of dollars to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and, listen to this, listen to this, Harry Reid. Now Kansans know better.”

Roberts stuck to that message through the whole debate, bringing every single question back to Reid. So much so that Orman cracked, “It’s shocking that we didn’t hear the name Harry Reid in that,” when Roberts chose to mention Obama, instead, in an answer about the 2nd Amendment.

Full story

September 4, 2014

Election Official: Democrat Must Stay in Kansas Senate Race (Updated)

Election Official: Democrat Must Stay in Kansas Senate Race (Updated)

Roberts is a Kansas Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:03 p.m. | A top state election official announced Thursday that Chad Taylor, the Democratic nominee in the Kansas Senate race who dropped out of the race Wednesday, must appear on the November ballot.

Taylor’s exit could drastically change Sen. Pat Roberts’ re-election prospects, paving the way for independent Greg Orman to galvanize the state’s political center and left. In short, without a Democrat on the ballot, Roberts is the GOP’s most vulnerable senator this cycle.

But Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican who backs Roberts, said at a Thursday news conference that Taylor did not provide evidence that he was incapable of “performing the duties of office” if he were elected, per state election rules. Full story

September 3, 2014

It’s a Race in Kansas: Democratic Candidate Drops Out

Its a Race in Kansas: Democratic Candidate Drops Out

Roberts. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 8:36 a.m. | Sen. Pat Roberts’ Democratic challenger abruptly dropped out of the race in Kansas Wednesday night, opening up a potentially competitive contest between the Republican and independent candidate Greg Orman.

Chad Taylor, a county district attorney, asked for the Secretary of State to remove his name from the ballot and described his campaign as “terminated,” according to The Wichita Eagle. He told the Eagle he had deliberated and had talked with Democratic Party leadership at all levels.

The move dramatically shifts the dynamic of the Senate race. Kansas is a Republican leaning state, but polls have shown extremely tepid support for Roberts. The senator defeated a weak and underfunded tea party primary challenger last month by a mere seven percent, and Roberts got only 48 percent of the vote. Roberts also suffered from reports that he did not own a residence in Kansas, but rather lived in Washington, D.C., where he has worked for the past several decades as a congressional staffer, then a congressman, and now a senator.

Full story

Arkansas Candidate Downplays Bill Clinton’s Influence (Video)

Arkansas Candidate Downplays Bill Clintons Influence (Video)

Hill is a Republican seeking Arkansas' 2nd District. (JM Rieger/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Banker French Hill, the GOP nominee in the open-seat race for retiring Rep. Tim Griffin’s seat, said President Bill Clinton’s impact will be minimal in Arkansas in the midterms.

Clinton, an Arkansas native and former governor, has hit the campaign trail for Hill’s opponent, former North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays, the Democratic nominee. 

“President Clinton has a lot of friends in Arkansas and he usually comes and helps Democratic candidates every cycle,” Hill said in an interview with CQ Roll Call this summer. “But I don’t believe it will have a major impact in this race because I believe the electorate is looking for somebody who’s got a business background, that’s a conservative person to help represent the district.”

Full story

Chamber to Formally Back John Barrow on Friday

Chamber to Formally Back John Barrow on Friday

Barrow will be endorsed Friday by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Georgia Rep. John Barrow will be get the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at an event in his district Friday, a chamber official told CQ Roll Call and Barrow’s campaign confirmed.

Barrow is the fourth Democrat this cycle to receive the backing of the chamber, a pro-business group that spends millions in federal elections usually in support of Republicans. The others include Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., a top GOP target who was endorsed Wednesday, along with Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas and Jim Costa of California.

Barrow is being challenged by construction company owner Rick Allen, who won a crowded and competitive GOP primary in May. Full story

Chamber Backs Democrat in Top GOP Pickup Contest

Freshman Rep. Scott Peters has earned the backing of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, making the Californian one of the few House Democrats to earn the conservative-leaning group’s endorsement this cycle and marking a huge development in what’s expected to be one of the most competitive and costly House contests of the midterms.

Peters is facing Republican Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego City Council member who bills himself as a more moderate Republican, and who has earned praise from the GOP for being one of the party’s best House recruits of 2014.

“We believe that your re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives will help produce sustained economic growth, help create jobs, and get our country back on track,” Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said in a letter to Peters, according to a Wednesday report from UT San Diego. “We will encourage the business community to vigorously support your candidacy.”

Full story

Monica Wehby Launches Statewide TV Ad (Video)

Monica Wehby Launches Statewide TV Ad (Video)

Wehby is challenging Merkley. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Oregon Republican Senate candidate Monica Wehby is launching a statewide TV ad on Wednesday highlighting her support for small-business friendly policies.

“As a doctor I was taught to do no harm,” Wehby says direct-to-camera in the ad, which was provided first to CQ Roll Call. “But day after day, I see policies coming from Washington that are hurting Oregon’s small businesses and costing us jobs.”

Wehby is challenging Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., in a race national Republicans are optimistic about in a favorable national climate. But it remains an uphill climb in the Democratic-leaning state. Full story

GOP Responds to Mark Pryor’s Health Care Ad

GOP Responds to Mark Pryors Health Care Ad

Pryor is targeted on health care in a new GOP ad. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Any questions about whether the Affordable Care Act would still play a central role in Republican messaging against Democratic incumbents this cycle have been answered — at least in Arkansas.

Crossroads GPS, the non-profit arm of GOP-aligned American Crossroads, is kicking off a post-Labor Day, two-month, $2.5 million media campaign in the Razorback State with an ad targeting Sen. Mark Pryor on his support for the president’s health care law.

Pryor is being challenged by Rep. Tom Cotton in a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.

The incumbent released an ad two weeks ago that got plenty of media buzz as he touted a couple benefits of the law. But he didn’t refer to the legislation by name, so this latest GOP ad aims to fill in that gap. Full story

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