Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 22, 2014

May 23, 2014

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

May 22, 2014

Another McDaniel Supporter Arrested in Connection to Photographs of Cochran’s Wife (Video)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel weighed in Thursday on the illegal photographing of Sen. Thad Cochran’s wife, now that multiple McDaniel supporters have been arrested in connection to the incident.

Mark Mayfield, the vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, was arrested Thursday along with Richard Sager, The Clarion-Ledger reported. Last week, blogger Clayton Kelly was arrested after allegedly posting online images of Rose Cochran, who suffers from dementia, that were taken at the nursing home where she lives.

The connections to the McDaniel campaign has raised some issues for the challenger since Kelly’s arrest was first reported over the weekend. The Clarion-Ledger has a photograph of McDaniel with a group of volunteers, including Mayfield, and Kelly had written about his support for McDaniel on his blog.

Still, McDaniel continues to deny any connection to the alleged crimes.

Full story

Challenger Spends $2.6 Million to Unseat Fellow Democrat

California congressional contender Ro Khanna has already spent more than $2.6 million in his challenge to Democratic Rep. Michael M. Honda, according to a pre-primary report filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

The Democrat’s spending ahead of the June 3 top-two primary left him with just more than $1 million in cash on hand for the general. In California, the two top vote recipients advance to the general regardless of party, and Honda and Khanna are both expected to move on in the 17th District.

Khanna’s spending is more than double the $1.1 million Honda spent for the election cycle to date, according to reports filed with the FEC. Honda slightly outraised Khanna in the April 1 to May 14 pre-primary period, as Honda raised $182,000 and Khanna brought in $141,000.

Full story

Las Vegas, Cincinnati Out of Contention for 2016 Republican Convention

Las Vegas, Cincinnati Out of Contention for 2016 Republican Convention

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The list of cities contending to host the 2016 Republican National Convention is down to four, with Las Vegas and Cincinnati both withdrawing their bids.

The Republican National Committee’s site selection committee held a conference call Thursday to officially select Cleveland, Dallas, Denver and Kansas City to receive official site visits from members of the committee. The timing for those visits will be announced later.

“All cities excelled in nearly every aspect of their bids and presentation this year, but these four cities stood out from the field from the start of this process and deserve a deeper look by the full committee,” selection committee chairwoman Enid Mickelsen said in a statement.

Full story

Senate Majority PAC Ad Hits Brown on Energy Bill

Senate Majority PAC Ad Hits Brown on Energy Bill

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority PAC is up with a new TV ad attacking former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., over a report that he attempted to torpedo an energy bill sponsored by the New Hampshire Democrat he’s taking on in his Senate comeback bid.

The ad slams Brown as a carpetbagger and refers to the Huffington Post report last week that Brown had lobbied against an energy efficiency bill backed by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

The Democrat-aligned super PAC put approximately $350,000 behind the ad, which will run for two weeks, according to a spokesman. Full story

Club for Growth Endorses in Two Georgia Runoffs

The Club for Growth endorsed two House candidates facing primary runoffs in Georgia Thursday, two days after the Peach State primaries.

The club endorsed former state Sen. Barry Loudermilk in Georgia’s 11th District and surgeon Bob Johnson in Georgia’s 1st District.

Loudermilk, who has the support of a number of different tea party organizations, faces former Rep. Bob Barr in the July 22 GOP primary runoff to replace Republican Rep. Phil Gingrey, who lost a GOP Senate primary in Georgia. Johnson faces state Sen. Buddy Carter in a runoff in the race to replace GOP Rep. Jack Kingston, who advanced to a runoff of his own in the Republican Senate primary.

The club’s financial might could help push Loudermilk and Johnson over the finish line in July in these contests, which have thus far been marked by low fundraising.

Full story

Internal Poll: GOP Challenger Up In Targeted Illinois Race

GOP state Rep. Mike Bost had a 6-point lead on freshman Democratic Rep. Bill Enyart in a targeted Illinois House race, according to an internal poll conducted for Bost’s campaign and provided first to CQ Roll Call.

Bost garnered 43 percent to Enyart’s 37 percent, according to the poll, conducted by GOP polling firm The Tarrance Group.

The poll also found Enyart was not well established in his Illinois’ 12th District one year and five months into his term. Only 27 percent of voters approved of the job Enyart is doing, with half telling pollsters they were ready for new leadership in Congress.

Full story

What Amounts to Victory in November for House Democrats Still Unclear

What Amounts to Victory in November for House Democrats Still Unclear

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New York Rep. Steve Israel pushed back Wednesday on House Republicans’ newly revealed ambitious goals for the midterms, but what amounts to victory for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman remains unclear.

On Tuesday, Oregon Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, underscored the GOP’s offensive position this cycle by announcing it aims to expand the party’s House majority by 12 seats in November. A day later, Israel fired back, making public a massive DCCC polling project that promised to address the party’s turnout concerns.

The reality facing Democrats in this challenging midterm cycle is that any loss of seats will make it that much taller of a climb for the majority in a potentially favorable 2016 and beyond — while possibly even putting the party back where it started in the wake of the 2010 Republican wave.

“Let’s talk as we get deeper into the cycle,” Israel said Wednesday at a briefing with reporters. “I still believe it’s too early to say what a victory is.”

“Greg Walden can spend all his time looking into a crystal ball,” he added. “I’m spending all my time looking at polling data.” Full story

Tom Steyer’s 2014 Targets Start With Four Senate Races

Tom Steyer, the Democrats’ financial answer to the Koch brothers, has set his sights on specific Senate and gubernatorial races to spend the $100 million he’s earmarked for the midterm elections.

His super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, aims to promote candidates who support action to mitigate the effects of climate change. It was active in last year’s elections for Virginia governor and a vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts.

The group has now targeted the competitive Senate races in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire, and the Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine gubernatorial contests. It will back the Democratic candidate in each case. Full story

May 21, 2014

Still No Clarity in Iowa Republican Senate Primary

Still No Clarity in Iowa Republican Senate Primary

Harkin's seat is an attractive pickup opportunity for Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With less than two weeks until Iowa’s congressional primaries, it’s still unclear whether a Republican Senate candidate can clear the 35 percent vote threshold needed to win the nomination outright.

In an attractive pickup opportunity for national Republicans, there are four major candidates seeking the nomination for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. The leading contenders are state Sen. Joni Ernst, who has the tacit support of the governor and earned national attention with an ad about castrating hogs, and Mark Jacobs, a self-funding former energy executive. Radio host Sam Clovis and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker round out the top four.

A recent poll found Ernst with 31 percent support — in the lead and within striking distance of the nomination. But Jacobs, who outspent Ernst by more than 5 to 1 through March, has dominated his opponents on the airwaves, and a potential late surge by Clovis could spread the vote around and force the nomination process to a convention, where anything can happen.

“I think either Ernst or Jacobs will get to 35 percent,” said Craig Robinson, a former political director of the Iowa Republican Party and editor-in-chief of The Iowa Republican politics blog. But, he continued, “Clovis has plenty of room to grow” and can improve his standing if he is more “aggressive in drawing distinctions between himself and the other candidates” and seizing the “social conservative mantle.” Full story

CBC Members Rally Behind New Jersey House Candidate

Assistant House Minority Leader James E. Clyburn and 20 other Democratic members are headlining a fundraiser Wednesday for a candidate running in a competitive primary to succeed retiring Rep. Rush D. Holt, D-N.J.

The Capitol Hill cocktail reception will benefit the campaign of New Jersey state Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. The Democrats listed on the invitation obtained by CQ Roll Call are mostly Congressional Black Caucus members, including Rep. Donald M. Payne Jr., D-N.J., and CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio.

Two weeks out from the 12th District primary, Coleman is in a dead heat against state Sen. Linda Greenstein, according to a newly-released Monmouth University poll. Two other candidates, state Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula and physicist Andrew Zwicker, lagged far behind. Full story

Paul: McConnell Win ‘Consistent With the Tea Party’

Sen. Rand Paul is dismissing the idea that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Republican primary victory in Kentucky Tuesday night was a defeat for the tea party movement.

Paul, who upset the establishment-backed candidate in his own 2010 primary, had endorsed McConnell early in the race, which was a sour point for some on the right who viewed the incumbent as too entrenched and insufficiently conservative.

“I’m probably considered to be from the tea party, but I supported Sen. McConnell because I like, you know, that he’s a conservative,” Paul told reporters Wednesday in the Capitol. “I don’t know that that’s a defeat of the tea party necessarily when he wins. I think he stands for conservative principles, and him winning is consistent with the tea party.” Full story

Simpson Overwhelms Tea Party Rival in Idaho Primary

Simpson Overwhelms Tea Party Rival in Idaho Primary

Simpson was re-nominated Tuesday and is now favored to win a ninth term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A fierce tea-party-backed primary challenge in Idaho came up short Tuesday, as Republican Rep. Mike Simpson won his party’s nomination and is headed for a ninth term.

With a little help from his friends, Simpson, an appropriator and one of the most targeted GOP incumbents of the cycle, brushed back an effort to oust him by the Club for Growth, which supported attorney Bryan Smith.

Simpson led 63 percent to 37 percent when the Associated Press called the race with 36 percent of precincts reporting. Full story

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