Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 25, 2014

May 30, 2014

The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and Rallies

The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and Rallies

McDaniel speaks with an employee of Truhitt Service Center in Union, Miss. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Chris McDaniel Bus Sputters and RalliesPHILADELPHIA, Miss. — The Chris McDaniel campaign bus is sputtering.

That’s what a reporter was told Thursday as it became clear the Mississippi state senator challenging Republican Sen. Thad Cochran in the primary next week would be a no-show for both of his first two campaign events.

McDaniel, endorsed by former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., on Thursday, marks the tea party’s best hope for a major splash in the 2014 elections. But the recent arrest of at least two McDaniel supporters allegedly involved in the photographing of Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home has thrown the entire race into flux.

Amid the flurry of talk across the state, McDaniel is pushing forward with a 25-town statewide tour to detail his “Five Promises to Mississippi” platform. But like his Senate campaign, the McDaniel bus must navigate a bumpy route to its final destination.

Full story

May 29, 2014

Alabama Candidate Makes Fun of His Cooking in New Ad

Five days before the primary, surgeon Chad Mathis has released a positive spot in an open Alabama House race that features his kids playfully making fun of his cooking.

“Dad’s not a great cook, but he’d be a great congressman,” said Mathis’ daughter, Abby, in the ad — her name written in font similar to the widely-ridiculed Comic Sans. Mathis’ campaign says the ad is a five-figure digital buy and will air online as preroll on YouTube videos.

GOP operatives said the positive spot is a change of tone for Mathis, one of seven Republicans running in the open 6th District primary. They say Mathis has received heat in the district for negative campaign tactics, taking shots at almost all of the other Republicans running in this race to replace retiring Rep. Spencher Bachus. Full story

DCCC Reserves $43.5 Million in TV Airtime for Midterms

DCCC Reserves $43.5 Million in TV Airtime for Midterms

Israel is the current chairman of the DCCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved $43.5 million in television airtime in dozens of targeted House districts this fall — a signal the party is attempting to play defense and offense in a challenging midterm cycle.

The money is split across 36 districts, including 17 pickup opportunities, according to a DCCC aide. More districts and more money could be added to the reservations as the cycle progresses, the aide said.

The DCCC had $43.3 million in the bank at the end of April and has raised more than its Republican counterpart by large margins this cycle. The committee ended April with an $11 million cash-on-hand advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee.

These ad reservations give insight into which members Democrats see as vulnerable, and which seats the DCCC sees as the best possibility to take in November. They also signal to outside groups where the the party might need help on the airwaves this fall.

However, parties can cancel or change these reservations until shortly before the advertisements air in most cases.

Here are the districts where the DCCC has reserved airtime:

Full story

Lee Terry’s Seat Gives Republicans Heartburn in Nebraska

Lee Terrys Seat Gives Republicans Heartburn in Nebraska

Terry is a Republican from Nebraska. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., could be in a heap of political trouble this year  — again.

Earlier this month, Terry posted a lackluster primary performance, winning his party’s nod by just 8 points over a lesser-known competitor. Since then, a conservative spoiler has entered the November race with Terry and the Democratic nominee, state Sen. Brad Ashford.

That’s made Terry’s re-election a headache for national Republicans. They fear this candidate might peel off Terry’s votes to clear a path for the Democrat to win. Full story

May 28, 2014

2014′s Vulnerable Democrats Demand Eric Shinseki Departure in VA Scandal (Updated)

2014s Vulnerable Democrats Demand Eric Shinseki Departure in VA Scandal (Updated)

Democrats are calling for Shinseki to resign in the wake of VA scandal revelations.

Updated: May 29, 9:53 a.m. | Several Democrats in difficult races this cycle have called for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, putting political distance between themselves and a scandal that has rocked the White House.

  • Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., became the first Senate Democrat to call for Shinseki’s resignation, tweeting Wednesday that he “must step down.” Udall faces an unexpectedly tough re-election bid against Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., who called for Shinseki’s resignation earlier this month.
  • Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont., quickly followed suit Wednesday, and urged President Barack Obama to “remove Secretary Shinseki from office” in a statement. Walsh, who recently appointed to the seat, faces a competitive election in a red state against Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont. Full story
By Alexis Levinson Posted at 5:29 p.m.
Democrats

Ad Deluge Intensifies in Final Week Before Iowa Senate Primary

Former energy executive Mark Jacobs has debuted two more ads in the final days before the GOP’s primary for Senate in Iowa.

Jacobs, a multimillionaire, has used his personal wealth to boost his campaign coffers, allowing him to spend more than his opponents. He faces State Sen. Joni Ernst, who is widely regarded as the front-runner, along with radio host Sam Clovis and former District Attorney Matt Whitaker.

Jacobs’ first new ad touts his position as an “outsider,” not a “Washington politician,” who has “real world, common-sense experience.”

The second trumpets his support for a balanced budget amendment, and attacks congress for “not doing the job they were elected to do.” Full story

May 27, 2014

Texas Runoff Results: First Incumbent of 2014 Loses Re-Election (Updated)

Texas Runoff Results: First Incumbent of 2014 Loses Re Election (Updated)

Hall lost re-election Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

 

Updated 11:42 p.m. | Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, lost his bid for an 18th term Tuesday night, making him the first incumbent to not win re-election in 2014.

Attorney John Ratcliffe defeated Hall with 52 percent of the vote. Hall had 48 percent when the AP called the race with 66 percent of precincts reporting.

Ratcliffe is all-but-certain to hold this seat for Republicans in the fall. Full story

Live Coverage: Tuesday’s Texas Runoffs

Join Roll Call Politics Editor Shira T. Center and Reporter Abby Livingston as they track results live and provide in-depth analysis from Tuesday’s runoff action in the Lone Star State.

Follow their coverage here, starting at 7:30 p.m.:

 

Bruce Braley Touts Legal Career in New TV Ad (Updated)

Bruce Braley Touts Legal Career in New TV Ad (Updated)

Braley is running for Senate in Iowa. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 3:31 p.m. | Rep. Bruce Braley is up with a new ad for his Senate bid touting his career as a lawyer — a résumé that’s caused the Democrat some grief in his bid for the competitive, open seat in Iowa.

In his 30-second spot, the congressman casts his oft-maligned profession as one of fighting for people and helping them solve their problems.

“Equal justice under the law is what this country is built upon, is one of the things that motivated me to want to become a lawyer, and fight for people,” Braley says in the ad, which shows footage of him talking to a variety of people in Iowa.

“You have to get to know people to be an effective voice for what they care about,” he says. “I’ve spent my lifetime trying to be the voice for someone who has a problem that they can’t solve by themselves.” Full story

Mitt Romney Endorses Ex-Staffer’s House Bid

Mitt Romney Endorses Ex Staffers House Bid

Mitt Romney endorsed one of his former campaign aides. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mitt Romney has endorsed former Bush administration aide Elise Stefanik’s bid for an open House seat less than a month before her competitive primary.

Stefanik worked on Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign assisting his running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., with debate preparations. Ryan endorsed Stefanik earlier this year. Full story

First Incumbent Could Lose in Tuesday’s Texas Runoff (Video)

First Incumbent Could Lose in Tuesdays Texas Runoff (Video)

Hall has said this will be his final re-election bid. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Could Ralph Hall be saying goodbye to Congress Wednesday morning? It’s fight night in Texas and that’s the biggest question of Tuesday’s runoff.

Most of the political excitement in the Lone Star State is expected to take place in state races. Even though tea-party-aligned candidates hit recent road blocks in GOP primaries in federal races, anti-establishment conservative candidates are expected to dominate state-level politics Tuesday evening in Texas.

But in that shadow, there are a few House race runoffs with the potential to impact Capitol Hill — especially in Texas’ 4th District. After Republican Rep. Ralph M. Hall failed to win the majority of the vote in the March primary, he faces the fight of his career to return to Congress.

Lone Star State polls close at 9 p.m. EST (this cycle’s complete political calendar is available on CQ Roll Call’s Primary Chart).

Full story

May 23, 2014

Judge Orders Conyers on Primary Ballot (Updated)

Judge Orders Conyers on Primary Ballot (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:47 p.m. | A federal judge has ruled that 25-term Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. shall appear on his party’s Aug. 5 primary ballot.

A U.S. district judge in the Eastern District of Michigan decided Friday to grant an injunction ordering the state to put him on the ballot.

Earlier Friday, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson had ruled the longtime lawmaker ineligible, according to The Detroit News.

“As Secretary Johnson implicitly acknowledged in her ruling today, if the signatures excluded pursuant to the Registration Statute may not be excluded from Mr. Conyers’ total — and this Court holds that they may not be — then Mr. Conyers has enough signatures to qualify for placement on the ballot,” Judge Matthew F. Leitman wrote. “He shall be placed on the ballot.” (The full opinion is here.)

Leitman was nominated to the federal bench last year by President Barack Obama. He was confirmed in March 2014.

A local county clerk had previously decided Conyers, 85, was ineligible. The secretary of State decision on Friday was the result of a Conyers campaign appeal.

But the Conyers campaign had also appealed to federal court on the constitutionality of the state’s law requiring campaigns’ petition circulators be registered voters. That’s what tripped up the longtime lawmaker’s bid. Full story

Gwyneth Paltrow, Mr. Spock Pick Sides in Beverly Hills House Race

The old slogan for MGM during the 1940s was that the studio had “more stars than there are in the heavens.”

The same could be said of the fresh fundraising reports from the upcoming primary in California’s 33rd District — which covers Beverly Hills and Malibu. Dozens of Hollywood stars and executives donated during the past six weeks in this race to replace retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman.

There are at least six serious candidates running for the seat, and all filed pre-primary reports by Thursday’s deadline. These are the final comprehensive campaign financial reports ahead of the June 3 primary. The top-two finishers will proceed to the general election.

These reports reflect spending and fundraising from April 1 to May 14. Stars crowded the race’s first quarter reports as well.

Here is a rundown of 33rd District reports and other high profile June 3 House races: Full story

How the California Governor’s Race May Be a Boon for House Democrats

A controversial Republican gubernatorial candidate in California could cause the GOP headaches in down-ballot House races in a state crucial to the party’s hopes of increasing its House majority.

State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly led Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official and the establishment-preferred candidate, by 5 points in a poll this month from the Public Policy Institute of California. That has top Republican operatives in California and Washington, D.C., concerned that Donnelly’s controversial comments and ties to the California Minutemen, a group that fights illegal immigration on the border, could mobilize Hispanic and other Democratic-base voters who otherwise might fall off in this midterm year.

Their fear is that the increased turnout to oppose Donnelly could boost the re-election hopes of vulnerable House Democrats and perhaps even improve the party’s chances to add to its ranks in the already Democrat-heavy delegation. A consultant with ties to Kashkari is among the Republicans sounding the alarm. Full story

Campaign Spot-Light: Age Resurfaces in Primary Ads

This is Roll Call’s weekly installment of the most interesting individual spots or trends we noticed in Senate and House political advertising.

A couple of months ago, we noted that campaigns included dated music from another era in ads to illustrate just how long a politician has been on the scene.

Of late, we’ve seen campaigns revisit this concept. But instead of disco and hippie music, we see candidates deploy euphemisms as weapons against incumbents older than 70. The ads share similarities — they mention age or length of time in office, and often they overlay a graphic of the U.S. Capitol as they state specifics on age.

Here are three ads that broke through the clutter on this front in recent weeks: Full story

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