Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 10, 2015

October 7, 2015

Why I Keep Forgetting About John Kasich

UNITED STATES - JUNE 19- Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Washington D.C. Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 19, 2015.(Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Kasich’s path to victory is no more clear now than it was in the spring. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican contest for president probably will boil down to a fight between a pragmatic conservative, such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and either an uncompromising conservative, such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, or an outsider, like Ben Carson.

Most of the GOP hopefuls fit into either of those categories, but Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich doesn’t.

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October 6, 2015

Early Iowa Presidential Polls a Better Predictor Than National Ones

Democratic presidential hopeful former North Carolina senator John Edwards (R) makes a point as Illinois Senator Barack Obama (C) and New York Senator Hillary Clinton (L) listen during the Democratic Presidential Primary Debate hosted by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute 21 January 2008 at the Palace Theater in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  AFP PHOTO/STAN HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

National polls in 2007 showed Clinton with a big lead over Obama and Edwards going into the Iowa caucuses. (Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

Last month, national polls by CNN/ORC, Fox News and NBC News/Wall Street Journal got plenty of attention, and they certainly helped readers and viewers understand what is going on in the Republican and Democratic presidential contests.

But if history is any guide, early national polls are far less valuable in understanding what is happening in the presidential contest than are reliable surveys of Iowa voters, such as the NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls.

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October 5, 2015

State Senator Prepares GOP Primary Challenge to Shimkus


Shimkus has a lifetime 66 percent rating from the Club for Growth but his 2014 score fell to 34 percent. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

State Sen. Kyle McCarter is poised to launch a primary challenge to GOP Sen. John Shimkus in Illinois’ 15th District later this week, according to GOP sources.

The news shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. McCarter has been openly discussing the possibility with fellow Illinois Republicans since at least August, when I wrote about him in The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.

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Hassan’s Decision Changes Outlook in 2 New Hampshire Races

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 26: Gov. Margaret "Maggie" Hassan, D-N.H., speaks during the breakfast meeting with the State of New Hampshire Executive Council at the Children's Museum of New Hampshire in Dover, N.H., on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hassan’s entry had been expected for months. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After months of speculation, Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan announced her bid Monday to challenge GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte in New Hampshire, setting up what should be one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.

Hassan’s decision is yet another victory for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which continues to succeed in fights with the other Democratic campaign committees for top recruits. But it won’t be an easy race.

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Draft Biden Organizer Dismissed Over Past Legal Problems

Biden is getting closer to a decision on whether to run. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Biden is getting closer to a decision on whether to run. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Draft Biden PAC is gaining steam and staff in its unaffiliated effort to encourage Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to get into the presidential race, but it recently dismissed one of the group’s initial organizers after his past legal problems came to light.

Former congressional aide and campaign consultant Carlos Sierra was national field and political director for Draft Biden, but his resume also includes felony charges in two states. One Democratic insider was interested in getting involved with the Draft Biden effort, but became concerned as it became clear Sierra was involved.

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October 2, 2015

Louisiana Governor’s Race Less Certain for David Vitter

UNITED STATES - JUNE 23: Sen. David Vitter, R-La., participates in a press conference on Tuesday, June 23, 2015 to introduce a six-year highway reauthorization bill titled the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act (DRIVE Act). (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A couple recent polls show Vitter struggling to consolidate support against a Democrat in a runoff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For months, GOP Sen. David Vitter has been the front-runner in this year’s race to succeed term-limited governor/Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal.

But even though Louisiana has completed its transformation to a Republican state, Vitter’s election is not a foregone conclusion.

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Democratic Prospects Improve in 2 New York House Races

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 11: Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., rides his bike away from the Capitol following the final vote of the week on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Maloney’s seat looks safer now than it did in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If House Democrats want to get back to the majority, they’re going to have to do better in New York.

Republicans currently hold nine of Empire State’s 27 House districts — a third of the state’s delegation, even after a great election cycle in 2014. After the 2008 elections, when Democrats expanded their House majority nationwide, Republicans held just three of New York’s 29 seats (10 percent).

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By Nathan L. Gonzales Posted at 10:12 a.m.
House, New York

September 28, 2015

Does Voter Anger Explain the Success of Presidential Outsiders?

UNITED STATES - September 25: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Values Voters Summit at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington D.C., Friday, September 25, 2015. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The past 18 months have radicalized some in the GOP grass roots, which helps explain the rise of candidates such as Trump. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Those of us who report on and analyze politics for a living have been talking ad nauseam about voters’ frustration and anger.

It’s the hot topic that presumably explains Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Bernard Sanders, as well as the problems that political veterans such as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush have encountered.

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September 21, 2015

Young, Ambitious and Wealthy Isn’t Enough in Arkansas

U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge speaks at a Little Rock, Ark., civic club Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Beebe’s wins as a Democrat in Arkansas won’t provide Eldridge with a roadmap to victory in the Senate race. (Danny Johnston/AP File Photo)

Former U.S. Attorney Conner Eldridge announced on Sept. 9 he will seek the Arkansas Democratic Senate nomination and the right to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. John Boozman in 2016.

Writing in the Arkansas Times before Eldridge entered the race, veteran political journalist Max Brantley observed the Democrat would be “a sparkling candidate in a long tradition of young, ambitious, smart lawyers — [Dale] Bumpers, [David] Pryor, [Jim Guy] Tucker, [Bill] Clinton, [Vic] Snyder.”

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September 17, 2015

Post-CNN Debate Thoughts

SIMI VALLEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Republican presidential candidates Mike Huckabee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) take part in the presidential debates at the Reagan Library on September 16, 2015 in Simi Valley, California. Fifteen Republican presidential candidates are participating in the second set of Republican presidential debates.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Rubio did well for himself at the debate. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Given there are still four and one-half months until the Iowa caucuses, why would any Iowa Republican make a final decision right now about which candidate he or she will support?

Yet that didn’t stop CNN from treating Wednesday night’s GOP debate at the Reagan Library as the Super Bowl, with a countdown clock and the suffocating self-promotion that we have all come to expect these days. Full story

September 15, 2015

Benishek’s District Competitive Before and After Retirement

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 16: Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol, September 16, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Benishek’s narrow win in 2014 made him an attractive target for Democrats this time around. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats need Republican incumbents to retire from competitive districts in order to expand the playing field of competitive House races. But GOP Rep. Dan Benishek’s decision not to run for re-election in Michigan barely moves the status quo of the House battlefield.

Benishek was already considered vulnerable this cycle, and his 1st District was already counted among the three dozen most competitive races in the country. His narrow re-election victory in 2012 — 48.1-47.6 percent (a margin of 1,881 votes), made him an attractive target. But the seat leans Republican under most conditions.

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Indiana Reps Still Wrestling With Residency

UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 19: Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Richard Lugar, R-Ind., arrives for the photo-op with actor Ben Affleck, who was on Capitol HIll to discuss the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Opponents made Lugar’s residence an issue in his unsuccessful run for re-election in 2012. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For some members of Congress with young families, getting elected is the easy part; deciding whether to move your family to Washington is more difficult.

Members of the Indiana delegation have been wrestling with the decision for decades, in a state where residency consistently pops up as a campaign issue.

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September 14, 2015

And the News Gets Worse for Clinton

Compared to the Republican race for president, the Democratic contest looks almost normal.

Yes, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s poll numbers have plummeted so far and so fast that she trails an avowed socialist in Iowa and New Hampshire polls, and she looks so damaged that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been encouraged to consider whether he should run for his party’s nomination. Full story

September 11, 2015

More House Retirements Likely to Come


Minnesota’s Kline is the sixth House member to announce his retirement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After spending five weeks at home in their districts with their families, how many members got homesick and are set to retire?

If history is a guide, at least a handful or more House members will announce their departure in the days, weeks and months ahead.

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September 9, 2015

A Significant Reassessment of the GOP Race


Trump’s image in Iowa has improved at the same time that his flaws, shortcomings and liabilities have become more apparent. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Republican front-runner Donald Trump isn’t going away anytime soon, I now believe.

That assessment doesn’t mean I think Trump is the favorite for the Iowa caucuses or the GOP nomination, but it does reflect a fundamental shift in my thinking. I have believed and been arguing that once Iowa Republicans start to see the caucuses as an opportunity to select the next president, rather than an opportunity to express their frustration and anger, they will turn away from Trump (and other outsiders) and toward politically experienced, mainstream contenders.

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