Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 30, 2015

May 29, 2015

Ratings Change: Kirk’s Race Now Tilts to Democrats

Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi

Duckworth can probably afford a couple of mistakes as a Democrat running in a Democratic state in a presidential year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At least a handful of GOP senators are vulnerable this election cycle, but none more than Mark S. Kirk of Illinois.

While Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire are headed for competitive re-election fights, Kirk looks to be facing the most difficult race of all.

Full story

May 27, 2015

14 Open House Seats, Few Takeover Opportunities

The retiring Fitzpatrick leaves behind one of the few competitive open seats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The retiring Fitzpatrick leaves behind one of the few competitive open seats in Pennsylvania’s 8th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

More than 90 percent of House incumbents routinely get re-elected, so open seats are a hot commodity. Five months into the 114th Congress, 14 House members have announced their departure, but just four of the seats they are leaving behind can be considered competitive.

At this stage in the cycle, Republicans have two vulnerable open seats: Chris Gibson’s 19th District in New York and Michael G. Fitzpatrick’s 8th District in Pennsylvania. President Barack Obama carried Gibson’s district twice and Fitzpatrick’s district once, in 2008, but both incumbents locked down their turf to the point where Democrats didn’t put up much of a fight last cycle.

Full story

May 26, 2015

Kirkpatrick’s Decision Prompts Ratings Changes in 2 Arizona Races

A new challenger to McCain sparked two Arizona race ratings changes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s challenge to Republican Sen. John McCain impacts our ratings of two races in Arizona.

Up to this point, McCain was considered a heavy favorite for re-election to a sixth term, in part because the senator has proven to be a tough campaigner. Moreover, Republicans have carried The Grand Canyon State in the last four presidential elections, and Democrats haven’t won an Arizona Senate race since 1988. Full story

How to Fix an Unfair Presidential Debate System

A Santorum fan in Iowa awaits the August 2011 presidential debate. The former senator could be excluded from this year's debates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Santorum fan in Iowa awaits the August 2011 presidential debate. The former senator could be excluded from this year’s debates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Fox News and CNN, which will broadcast the first two GOP presidential debates, have decided on a system for excluding candidates that could result in Donald Trump participating in those debates but current or former senators and governors being excluded.

Nice going, guys.

Full story

May 19, 2015

Why 500 Attack Emails Couldn’t Take Down Thom Tillis

Tillis xxxx. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tillis defeated Hagan despite Democrats’ best efforts and lots of money spent attacking him. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There were a few constants during the 2014 cycle: death, taxes, my three young kids waking up before 7 a.m. and a daily Democratic email attacking North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis. But in the end, even in the face of hundreds of blistering emails, the Republican challenger knocked off Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.

All of that time and effort spent electronically attacking a candidate who ends up winning begs the question: “Was it worth it?”

Full story

May 18, 2015

Can Republicans Repeat an Upset in Colorado?

Bennet xxxx. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bennet, left, is not in a Tossup race. At least not yet. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The May 5 email I received from Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet’s campaign committee opened with: “Larry Sabato in Politico: COLORADO IS ONE OF ONLY SEVEN 2016 TOSS-UPS. Colorado will decide the 2016 election!”

Forget the fact Sabato’s piece was talking about the Electoral College and the presidential contest, not the Senate race in the Centennial State. The Bennet campaign wants you to know control of the Senate after 2016 rests on Colorado, and you’d better dig deep into your pockets if you want to re-elect Bennet and assure a Democratic sweep in the state.

Full story

May 15, 2015

Ratings Change: Democrats Eye Seat After Being Shut Out in 2014

Knight could face a solid re-election challenge from a Democrat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The GOP didn’t have any trouble last year holding Buck McKeon’s open seat in Southern California after two Republicans finished in the top two in the primary and moved on to the general election. Steve Knight won the seat, 53 percent to 47 percent, over Tony Strickland, a two-time congressional candidate.

This cycle, the race will likely be competitive for Democrats. Although Mitt Romney won the district narrowly, 50 percent to 48 percent, in 2012, Obama carried it, 51 percent to 47 percent, in 2008. Full story

May 12, 2015

Why It’s a Mistake to Dismiss Bobby Jindal

Jindal speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Jindal speaks at CPAC in National Harbor, Md. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is a bit of a conundrum.

Full story

May 8, 2015

Caveat Emptor, in Political Giving Too

(Screenshot)

(Screenshot)

Two days before the Tuesday special election in New York’s 11th District, I received one of those hysterical email requests for money.

I’m on many candidate, political action committee and interest group email distribution lists, so I get them from both sides. This one was from something called Patriots for Economic Freedom. Full story

May 7, 2015

Parties Divide and Conquer Independent Spending

Walden is chairing the NRCC for a second time this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Walden is chairing the NRCC for a second time this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Having more than $50 million to spend on House races in the final months of the campaign may sound like fun, but both campaign committees have figured out it’s not a one-person job.

Each election cycle, the National Republican Congressional Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee designate a trusted operative who will eventually be walled off from the official committee to direct the independent expenditure effort. Full story

May 5, 2015

Senate Races, Pro Salaries and Perspective on Spending

Reid, pictured here with fellow Las Vegas native Bryce Harper, has railed against the influence of money in politics. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reid, pictured here with fellow Las Vegas native and Washington National Bryce Harper, has railed against the influence of money in politics. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Complaining about campaign spending is a time-honored tradition, along with the Kentucky Derby and Major League Baseball. But a closer look reveals the dollars spent on controlling government pales in comparison to spending in other areas of life. Full story

May 4, 2015

How Much Trouble Is Richard Burr in?

How vulnerable is Burr? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

How vulnerable is Burr? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard M. Burr apparently is easy to underestimate.

The former Wake Forest football defensive back (he played at 6’1’’, 200 pounds as a sophomore in 1975, according to the university’s Athletic Media Relations Department) served five terms in the House and is now in his second term in the Senate.  He is the Tar Heel State’s senior senator and, more importantly, chairs the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, a particularly meaningful position given terrorist threats to the United States. Full story

April 29, 2015

Is John Kasich in the Top Tier in 2016?

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rothenberg is expecting a Kasich 2016 bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Perpetually in motion, Kasich is a whirlwind of restless energy and is sometimes criticized for being cocky,” reads the 1996 Politics in America profile of the then-Ohio congressman.

The 1992 edition of The Almanac of American Politics described John R. Kasich as “peppery and brash, spewing forth ideas, a fair percentage of which are good and some of which even get enacted into law.”

The 2000 edition of Politics in America declared the Ohio Republican “has zeal and vision, but he also tends to run late, thrash his arms and talk in sports metaphors.” Full story

April 28, 2015

House Playing Field Is Small, but Can Change

Elections 2016

Israel, left, led House Democrats’ campaign efforts the last two cycles. Luján is chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With a year and a half to go before the 2016 elections, the House playing field is too small for Democrats to retake the majority. But there is time for the cycle to develop in favor of down-ballot Democratic candidates and for the number of competitive seats to grow. Full story

By Nathan L. Gonzales Posted at 11:45 a.m.
DCCC, House, NRCC

April 27, 2015

Hillary Rodham Romney? Keep an Eye on O’Malley (Video)

For all her recent efforts to prove her progressive credentials to Democratic primary voters and caucus participants, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has not made those on her party’s left entirely comfortable with her. And she never will.

Because of that, a credible alternative would have the capacity to rally progressive Democrats behind a challenge to the former first lady, possibly even creating an entertaining skirmish or two.

Full story

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