Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 19, 2014

October 24, 2014

Most Vulnerable Senators, Ranked by Their Wealth

Most Vulnerable Senators, Ranked by Their Wealth

McConnell is the richest on our most vulnerable list. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The most vulnerable senators who face the voters in less than two weeks run the gamut from multimillionaires to one of the poorest on Capitol Hill, based on Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress ranking of the minimum net worth of every single lawmaker.

Two senators in tough spots on Nov. 4 are members of the 50 Richest list. One of the vulnerable senators has a negative minimum net worth.

Ironically, given the market for ex-senators on K Street and elsewhere, most could see a substantial improvement in their personal finances should they lose. (See Cantor, Eric).

Here’s a breakdown from our most recent 10 Most Vulnerable Senators list, appearing in order of their minimum net worth:

Full story

7 Nail-Biter House Races

7 Nail Biter House Races

Martha McSally, a Republican, is running in Arizona. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Less than two weeks before Election Day, the parties don’t agree on much — except these House races will be decided by the slimmest of margins.

Candidates in these contests are expected to have a long wait on the evening of Nov. 4. In fact, some of these races will be so close that the winner might not be known for days — even weeks — after Election Day.

Last cycle, nine House races were too close to call on election night. One candidate even attended freshman orientation the following week, before officially losing the race and heading home.

In alphabetical order, here are the House contests this cycle that operatives expect will come down to the wire on Election Day:

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Candidates Get Platform With GOP Weekly Address

Candidates Get Platform With GOP Weekly Address

(Screenshot)

Every week after President Barack Obama delivers his weekly address, the Republicans get a chance to respond. Because they don’t, of course, have a singular figure who would naturally address the nation each week, the speakers vary. So far in 2014, 11 Republican candidates — four House hopefuls and seven vying for Senate seats — have had the honor to take to YouTube and spread their party’s message.

In the fall of an election year, the GOP weekly address is an opportunity for Republicans to showcase some of their hopefuls on the ballot to a broader audience than the candidates can normally reach themselves — because not everyone pays attention to every Senate race, or to New York congressional campaigns.

“The weekly address is a great opportunity to showcase our diverse and talented group of candidates to the country,” said Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, which coordinates the speeches. He said the party’s “tremendous slate” allows the GOP to contrast its record with the president’s.

There are some common themes mentioned time and time again: dissatisfaction with the president’s job approval, the desire to expand domestic energy production, repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting government regulation.

Saturday’s address, posted at 6 a.m., will feature Will Hurd, the GOP nominee for Texas’ 23rd House district.

Here is a summary of the others.

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October 23, 2014

Florida Redistricting Case Heads to State Supreme Court

Florida Redistricting Case Heads to State Supreme Court

Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown's district was one of two declared unconstitutional in the redistricting case. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Florida Supreme Court voted Thursday to hear a case challenging Florida’s congressional map, setting oral arguments for March.

According to The Associated Press, the court ruled 5-2 to take up the case, fast tracking it through the appeals process. Full story

Sleeper No More: Both Parties Spending on Capito Seat (Updated)

Sleeper No More: Both Parties Spending on Capito Seat (Updated)

Mooney is the Republican running in West Virginia's 2nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:37 p.m. | National Democrats and Republicans will make major television buys in an off-the-radar House race in West Virginia, according to party sources tracking ad buys.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee intends to purchase $600,000 in airtime in West Virginia’s 2nd District, an open-seat race to succeed Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. The National Republican Congressional Committee will also make a $250,000 buy in Charleston through Election Day. Full story

Life on Mars, or Running in Arizona’s 1st District

Life on Mars, or Running in Arizona’s 1st District

Kirkpatrick is a Democrat from Arizona. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call Photo)

TUBA CITY, Ariz. — The Grand Canyon State’s 1st District is so vast and diverse that running for political office involves time travel.

It’s also helpful to pick up a little of a language so difficult to master it formed an unbreakable code that helped the United States win World War II.

But first, the time travel.

Life on Mars, or Running in Arizona’s 1st District

When visiting the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona, the largest tribe of a dozen in the district, Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick and her Republican opponent, state Speaker Andy Tobin, have to build in an extra hour.

Why? A befuddled cellphone won’t pick up on it, but the Navajo Nation observes Daylight Saving Time. The rest of the Grand Canyon State, brandishing its contrarian streak, never changes its clocks.

So to ensure Kirkpatrick was in line for the Western Navajo Nation here at 9 a.m. DST on Oct. 18, the usual 90-minute ride from Flagstaff became a two-and-a-half hour journey.

Tobin had to factor in the same math on a visit he made here the day before the parade, as the Western Navajo Nation Fair was getting underway.

On the flip side, when heading somewhere else in the district from the Navajo Nation, even to the Hopi Nation, which is completely surrounded by Navajo land, one gets that hour back. Surrounded by Navajo land, you’re back to the past, or at least, back in the rest of the state’s time zone.

Confused? That’s just the start of the logistics involved in a campaign here.

Full story

5 Sleeper House Races

5 Sleeper House Races

Keating is a Massachusetts Democrat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the midst of wall-to-wall political coverage before Election Day, this handful of House races have managed to mostly fly under the radar.

These are sleeper races, from Arkansas to West Virginia, where the district’s partisan breakdown does not reflect the competitive nature of the race.

As little as two weeks ago, some of these contests were completely overlooked by national political operatives. But new polling suggests these races — like many more competitive contests — are closing, creating eleventh-hour opportunities for the parties.

To be sure, these seats won’t necessarily flip party control on Nov. 4. But thanks to recent events, they should make any election night watch list.

In alphabetical order, here are five sleeper House races of 2014:

Arkansas’ 2nd District Full story

October 22, 2014

Internal Poll Shows Kansas Republican With 12-Point Lead

Internal Poll Shows Kansas Republican With 12 Point Lead

Jenkins is a Kansas Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new poll from Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ campaign shows the Republican with a 12-point lead over her Democratic opponent.

The poll, provided first to CQ Roll Call, showed Jenkins ahead, 49 percent to 37 percent, over Democrat Margie Wakefield. Another 6 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Libertarian candidate, and 8 percent said they were undecided in the survey.

Jenkins’ re-election is playing out on the backdrop of a tumultuous political environment in Kansas, where Democrats are mounting a strong effort to oust GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, and an independent candidate is challenging Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. Two weeks ago, internal polls reportedly showed Jenkins in a single digit race. Full story

Senate Races 2014: Why Michigan Never Became Iowa

Senate Races 2014: Why Michigan Never Became Iowa

Peters is the Democratic nominee in Michigan. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Earlier this cycle, Republicans viewed the Michigan Senate race as a potential pick-up opportunity, much like the seat in Iowa.

But it didn’t turn out that way — not even close.

Both Iowa and Michigan featured open-seat races. In these states, Democrats had cleared the field to nominate a House member with partisan voting records. Meanwhile, the GOP’s top candidate picks took a pass on these Senate races, forcing the party to settle for second-tier recruits. To be sure, Michigan was a slightly more favorable battleground for Democrats — but Republicans were bullish about it.

Now, with two weeks until Election Day, the Iowa race is a dead heat with both parties spending massively to win the seat. Nearly 500 miles away, Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., solidly leads former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in every public poll. Earlier this month, the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled more than $850,000 out of the state, canceling its final two weeks of television for Land and indicating the race was over.

“I’d rather be on Gary Peters’ campaign than on Terri Lynn Land’s,” said Michigan Republican consultant Dennis Darnoi.

So what happened? Full story

October 21, 2014

Crossroads Targets Nevada Democrat

Crossroads Targets Nevada Democrat

Horsford is a Democrat from Nevada. ( Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Crossroads GPS, a GOP group, bought $1 million in airtime Tuesday to target Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., an incumbent who was not considered vulnerable until now. Full story

House Democrats Boost Incumbents With TV Money

House Democrats Boost Incumbents With TV Money

This is the first time Democrats are spending on Loebsack's race. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats continue to bolster their incumbents, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee expanding its defensive spending.

Most notably, the DCCC is spending more in support of Democratic Reps. Collin C. Peterson in Minnesota and Dave Loebsack in Iowa, races that are only in recent days coming to the forefront of the House map.

Here are the changes, made as both parties re-evaluate their chances with two weeks to go until Election Day:

Full story

October 20, 2014

DCCC Raised $5 Million More Than NRCC in September

DCCC Raised $5 Million More Than NRCC in September

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats outraised the GOP by $5 million in September. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $5 million more than its Republican counterpart in September, as the two committees headed into the final stretch of the cycle.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which is defending a significant majority it’s all but guaranteed to retain, raised $11.4 million in September, according to a committee aide. The DCCC reported earlier Monday raising $16.7 million in September. Full story

San Diego DA: No Charges in Carl DeMaio Campaign Incidents

San Diego DA: No Charges in Carl DeMaio Campaign Incidents

DeMaio is a top Republican recruit. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The San Diego District Attorney’s office said it will not press criminal charges at this time regarding two investigations dogging Republican Carl DeMaio in a competitive House contest in California, according to a statement from the office Monday.

DeMaio is challenging freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters in a top pickup opportunity for Republicans, but the spate of news reports about the incidents has threatened to derail his bid.

In May, DeMaio’s campaign headquarters was vandalized in an alleged break-in, with thousands of dollars of computer equipment and other technology damaged. Then earlier this month, DeMaio revealed at a news conference that a former campaign staffer, Todd Bosnich, had accused DeMaio of sexual harassment. DeMaio denied the accusation, calling it a “smear” tactic to hurt his chances in the final month of the race.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said in a statement that the two cases involving DeMaio and his campaign were investigated by the San Diego Police Department, and there was insufficient evidence at this point to move forward with charges.

Full story

Michelle Nunn’s Big Challenge: Breaking 50 Percent

Michelle Nunns Big Challenge: Breaking 50 Percent

Nunn is introduced by state Sen. Freddie Powell Sims at an April campaign event. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The competitive open-seat Senate race in Georgia has become an unwanted liability for Republicans’ chances of winning a majority, but Democrat Michelle Nunn still has a perilous path to win a majority of the vote on Nov. 4.

National Republicans, who just spent $1.4 million more to support their nominee, say David Perdue is still ahead. But his comments about his “outsourcing” past have undoubtedly breathed new life into the Nunn campaign — and given national Democrats their best offensive opportunity.

Still, with a third-party candidate expected to take a chunk of votes, an unfavorable national climate and a small margin for error in this Republican-leaning state, Nunn has several hurdles standing in the way of her best chance for victory — winning a majority of the vote on Election Day. Perdue would be favored in a Jan. 6 runoff because turning out the vote then would be an even heavier lift for Democrats.

“The numbers are strong,” said state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who recently led a statewide voter registration drive aimed at young minorities. “It’s certainly all about turnout, which is a generic trope, but real. If we can turn out the voters, she can win in November. But we have to be prepared for any eventuality, and I think the campaign is prepared for that.” Full story

For House GOP, a Wave … Or a Trickle?

For House GOP, a Wave ... Or a Trickle?

Kirkpatrick is one of the most endangered Democrats this cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans are on track to make gains this cycle, but two weeks before Election Day, it’s still unclear whether the party will procure a wave of double-digit gains in their quest to extend the majority.

Members of Congress and operatives alike note this is a toxic time for Democrats on the ballot that should result in huge losses for the president’s party. But a race-by-race evaluation of the House map shows Republicans are more likely in a position to pick up a net of around six seats this cycle.

“After two successful cycles for House Republicans, the playing field confines the upper limits of pickups that can be had,” said Brock McCleary, a Republican pollster.

Public surveys show President Barack Obama’s unpopularity, as events in the Middle East and Ebola on the home front drag down Democrats coast to coast. House Democrats are defending more seats than Republicans this cycle.

But this midterm is shaping up to be one of the most perplexing in recent memory. Both parties are on offense, and both parties are on defense. In private polling, dozens of races are too close to call. Given the unpredictability, it’s also possible the next 14 days could exacerbate Democratic losses.

Here’s why most political operatives estimate Republican will have a net gain in the mid-single digits:

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