Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 20, 2014

October 10, 2014

Pat Roberts Threatens Cruz-Style Filibuster Over Guantanamo

Pat Roberts Threatens Cruz Style Filibuster Over Guantanamo

Cruz, left, campaigned for Roberts, right, in Wichita. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

TOPEKA, Kan. — Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., threatened Friday to hold a Ted Cruz-style filibuster on the Senate floor to prevent President Barack Obama from bringing the prisoners currently held at Guantanamo Bay into the United States.

Pat Roberts Threatens Cruz Style Filibuster Over Guantanamo Obama is reportedly considering shutting down Guantanamo Bay by executive order, which could potentially mean transferring the prisoners held there on terrorism charges to prisons in the continental U.S. Roberts, whose state is the home of the Leavenworth penitentiary, said he would not abide that.

“I stopped him once from trying to send a Gitmo terrorist to Leavenworth,” Roberts told supporters on a rainy morning at his campaign headquarters here. “I shall do it again. I shall do it again, and if he tries it, I will shut down the Senate.”

Speaking to reporters after, Roberts said he was proposing a potential filibuster in the model of Cruz’s 21-plus hours on the Senate floor last year protesting funding Obamacare. Full story

Gallup: Georgia Runoff ‘Likely’

Gallup: Georgia Runoff Likely

Nunn (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Gallup said Friday runoffs are “likely” in Georgia’s Senate and gubernatorial races, citing the high rate of independents in that state.

A Senate runoff in Georgia would be held Jan. 6 — potentially leaving control of the Senate in limbo into the next session of Congress.

Gallup didn’t post direct poll results in the hotly contested race between Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue, but the polling showed Georgia has trended slightly less conservative in recent years. Full story

Pelosi to Democrats: Pay Up

Pelosi to Democrats: Pay Up

Pelosi is pushing House Democrats to pay up. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel urged senior House Democrats Thursday to reinforce the House political arm’s financial position in the campaign’s final stretch.

The DCCC, the envy of the political committee fundraising world, is feeling the pinch thanks to a flood of money coming from Republican-affiliated outside groups. Plus, there is increasing ire within the caucus at Democratic outside groups that are focusing their financial resources on Senate campaigns.

Pelosi and Israel held a Thursday afternoon conference call with ranking members of House committees. Pelosi said that if Democrats lose seats, the party also will lose committee assignments, according to several Democrats who were on the call or briefed about it later.

She further impressed upon the “rankers” — those top minority party members on House committees — the need to push rank-and-file members to pay their assigned party dues.

“Clearly they need money, and they’re putting the heat on,” a Democrat who was on the call told CQ Roll Call.

There is little time left.

Full story

October 9, 2014

Ted Cruz Goes to Bat for Pat Roberts

Ted Cruz Goes to Bat for Pat Roberts

Roberts, center, got some help Thursday from colleagues Cruz, left, and Coburn, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WICHITA, Kan. — Pat Roberts has served Kansas in the Senate for nearly 18 years, but freshman Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had all the political clout at a Roberts campaign event Thursday.

Ted Cruz Goes to Bat for Pat Roberts The conservative icon and potential presidential candidate’s support could be crucial for Roberts, who faces a challenge from independent candidate Greg Orman in a suddenly competitive race that has implications for the Senate majority.

Here to kick off his statewide bus tour, Roberts took the stage with Cruz, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp — three allies on hand to provide support and additional enthusiasm. Roberts got solid applause, but the crowd erupted when Cruz, who had the final speaking slot, was introduced — yelling and cheering, longer and louder than for any other speaker.

“I’m here in Kansas because I know Pat. The two years I’ve served in the Senate, over and over again on fight after fight for conservative principles, Pat Roberts has shown up and reported for duty,” Cruz told the crowd. “A year ago last week, when I was standing on the Senate floor filibustering on Obamacare, Pat Roberts was one of a handful of senators who came down and stood by my side and said, ‘Obamacare is a disaster, and we’ve got to stop it.’”

Full story

Poll: Democrat Opens Lead in Top Iowa House Race

Poll: Democrat Opens Lead in Top Iowa House Race

Young hopes to keep Iowa's 3rd District in the Republican column. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Former state Sen. Staci Appel has opened up a significant single-digit lead over her Republican opponent in a competitive open-seat race in Iowa, according to a tracking poll conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Appel led former Capitol Hill aide David Young, 49 percent to 42 percent, according to the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll. Nine percent of respondents were undecided.

The poll showed Appel increasing her lead from the DCCC’s last poll on Sept. 15, when Appel led Young 47 percent to 44 percent. 

Full story

Democrats Cut Bait in Virginia to Save California House Seat

Democrats Cut Bait in Virginia to Save California House Seat

Bera is getting some on-air backup. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has canceled its television advertising in a competitive northern Virginia House district and will shift most of that money to help an incumbent in northern California, according to a Democrat who monitors media buys.

The sum of the DCCC’s cancellation in Virginia’s 10th District was $2.8 million, according to the source. Democrats were on the offensive in the open-seat race to replace retiring Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va. Full story

Meet the House Republican Still Sweating the Shutdown

Meet the House Republican Still Sweating the Shutdown

Terry is a vulnerable Nebraska Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

OMAHA, Neb. — Mention Rep. Lee Terry’s name in this town, and almost everyone has an opinion about the embattled Republican.

“I know I was not happy with the shutdown and his comments,” said Patrick Ryan, a veteran of the Air National Guard turned Burke High School social studies teacher, before a Friday night football game. “I was kind of taken aback by it, thinking it was kind of arrogant considering the kind of job he’s in.”

Meet the House Republican Still Sweating the Shutdown

“There’s a litany of times when he has literally stuck his 10.5 [size shoe] in his mouth,” state Sen. Bob Krist, a Republican backing Terry’s Democratic opponent, told CQ Roll Call in his colleague’s kitchen on Sunday morning. “Which time do you want to apologize for?”

“Don’t get him started,” said a woman seated at the bar at The Drover on Oct. 3, an old school downtown steakhouse, pointing to her husband, who regurgitated an unprompted verbatim account of the exact words dogging Terry’s quest for a ninth term.

More than a year ago, when the federal government shuttered and federal employees — including active military service members and civilian contractors — feared they wouldn’t get their paychecks, Terry was adamant he would keep his own.

“Dang straight,” Terry told the Omaha World Herald for an Oct. 4, 2013, story. “I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I’ll tell you we cannot handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.”

He’s apologized for the remarks, but the 16-year incumbent can’t seem to get out from underneath them. It’s an example of how just a few ill-suited words can ruin a congressional career — and the key reason Terry is struggling for re-election in this GOP-leaning district against state Sen. Brad Ashford.

Full story

Al Franken Up 7 Points in Republican Poll

Al Franken Up 7 Points in Republican Poll

Franken is running for a second term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken led by 7 points in an internal poll conducted on behalf of the state Republican Party.

The Democrat, who is favored to be re-elected to a second term, led Republican finance executive Mike McFadden 46 percent to 39 percent.

It was a more favorable result for McFadden than the state party’s previous internal poll in August, which showed Franken up 49 percent to 38 percent.

“Bottom line — the race is still advantage Franken, but the Senator’s margin has closed over the past few weeks,” Public Opinion Strategies pollster Robert Blizzard wrote in a memo obtained by CQ Roll Call. Full story

Super PAC Goes Big for Vulnerable Florida Republican

Super PAC Goes Big for Vulnerable Florida Republican

Southerland is one of this cycle's most vulnerable House Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A House GOP super PAC is making a major television buy in the final two weeks of the campaign to boost vulnerable Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla.

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with House GOP leadership, made a $600,000 media buy in the Tallahassee and Panama City television markets in their effort to fend off attorney Gwen Graham, a top Democratic recruit.

The buy includes television and digital advertising. Full story

Super PAC Drops $1.5 Million Targeting Fred Upton

Super PAC Drops $1.5 Million Targeting Fred Upton

Upton is a Michigan Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mayday PAC, a super PAC aiming to overhaul campaign finance laws, will spend $1.5 million to target House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton in Michigan, the group announced Thursday.

The group will spend $1.2 million of those funds on a 30-second ad that seeks to connect the PAC money Upton has received from drug and health insurance interests to his vote against allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices. The rest of the money will go toward a grassroots field operation and direct mail campaign, the group said.

The spending comes on the heels of the group’s Tuesday announcement that it will spend $1 million in South Dakota’s open-seat Senate contest in support of the Democratic nominee, Rick Weiland.

Mayday PAC is spending millions this cycle, an ironic effort to elect a congressional majority in favor of ending super PACs.

Full story

DSCC Ad Hits Scott Brown on Outsourcing

DSCC Ad Hits Scott Brown on Outsourcing

Brown is running for the Senate in New Hampshire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee launched a new TV ad Thursday slamming former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., over his connections to outsourcing.

The spot, shared first with CQ Roll Call, states that Brown, who is challenging New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, received a “sweetheart deal” from a company that outsources jobs after leaving the Senate in 2013 and connects it to his voting record.

“In the Senate, Brown voted to protect tax breaks for companies that move American jobs overseas, just like the one he works for,” the announcer says. Full story

The 5 Big Questions on Senate Race Spending

The 5 Big Questions on Senate Race Spending

Republicans are closely keeping tabs on Tillis, right, and the North Carolina Senate race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s decision Wednesday to drop $1 million into South Dakota, a race previously written off as a Republican win, was just the latest shakeup of the Senate landscape this week.

On Tuesday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee cut its financial investment in Michigan, where an open seat and a favorable national environment had created an opportunity for the party.

With the Senate majority at stake, the national campaign committees and their outside-group allies are constantly re-evaluating races and analyzing where their resources are most needed and best put to use. It’s all part of a real-life game of Tetris, as the groups meticulously watch each other’s moves and look to fit their ads and messaging into a larger picture.

Many of the moves by the NRSC, the DSCC and other outside groups likely will fly under the radar over the next 26 days — though with potential runoffs in Louisiana and Georgia, Senate ads actually could be airing on TV into early next year. But others, including spending by the campaigns themselves, will offer definitive signs of a race’s potential competitiveness, as in South Dakota and Michigan.

With less than four weeks to go, here are some big questions about the Senate playing field and where the millions more in spending to come will land: Full story

October 8, 2014

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate

Roberts, left, and Orman, right, talk after the debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Embattled Sen. Pat Roberts doesn’t need voters to like him. On Wednesday, the three-term incumbent made the message he wants voters to take with them to the ballot box next month clear.

Pat Roberts Had Three Big Points in Kansas Debate Roberts is being challenged by independent Greg Orman, and most recent polls show the three-term senator behind.

“A vote for Greg Orman is a vote to hand over the future of Kansas to [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid and [President Barack] Obama,” Roberts said in his opening statement at the Wednesday debate.

“A vote for Pat Roberts,” he said later, “is a vote for a Republican majority.”

Roberts has struggled mightily in his re-election campaign. He trailed Orman by 5 points or 10 points in previous public polling, although a new CNN poll showed him up 49 percent to 48 percent. Whether that’s an outlier or a sign of a rejuvenated campaign remains unclear. Full story

Democrat Responds to DSCC’s South Dakota Gamble

Democrat Responds to DSCCs South Dakota Gamble

Reid is the Senate majority leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will run $1 million in advertising in the South Dakota Senate race — a welcome, but not surprising development for the campaign of Democrat Rick Weiland.

A Weiland campaign senior adviser and veteran Democratic operative said he expected the move, given Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s interest in remaining in charge. Steve Jarding, a South Dakota native who helped elect future Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., in 1986 and worked for four years at the DSCC, told CQ Roll Call moments after Bloomberg Politics broke the story on Wednesday that he had a feeling the national party would eventually invest there.

The DSCC did so, despite the race being seen for months as a likely Republican win and the well-known feud between Daschle and Reid, who had tried to recruit former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin into the race to succeed retiring Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

“I think he’s coming in because this race is getting too close,” Jarding said he’s told people for months. “The reason I believe he’ll come in when the race gets close is, being majority leader means way, way, way, way, way more to Harry Reid than does fighting with Tom Daschle. If this is the 51st seat, Reid will be here.” Full story

House Democrats Cut Ad Buy in Michigan

House Democrats Cut Ad Buy in Michigan

Cannon is challenging Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Democrats have canceled $425,000 in television ad reservations for a House race the party hoped to put in play in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, according to multiple sources monitoring the media market.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had been targeting Republican Rep. Dan Benishek, who is being challenged by Democrat Jerry Cannon. But the DCCC cut airtime in the 1st District from Oct. 21 through Election Day, following a similar cut made by House Majority PAC in September. Full story

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