Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 25, 2015

Posts by Nathan L. Gonzales

284 Posts

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 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 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

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

Tester’s DSCC Pursues Same Strategy That Nearly Nixed Him in 2006

Elections 2016

Tester makes his way through the basement of the Capitol before a vote on the Senate floor on Dec. 12, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had its way a decade ago, its current chairman probably wouldn’t be in the Senate today.

In the 2006 cycle, Democratic strategists in Washington preferred state Auditor John Morrison in the Montana Senate race, hoping to avoid a primary and keep the party focused on defeating Republican incumbent Conrad Burns. But state Sen. Jon Tester was undeterred by national Democratic efforts to get him out of the race and even bragged about being opposed by the party establishment. Full story

April 17, 2015

Context for Facebook Chatter About Presidential Candidates

Elections 2016

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Millions of people have talked about the presidential contenders on Facebook as they officially launch campaigns. But despite some gaudy numbers, context and limits of the data cast doubt on the impact Facebook conversations will have on the race.

In the 24 hours surrounding Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s Monday speech in Miami announcing his bid for the GOP nomination, 695,000 people on Facebook in the United States generated 1.3 million interactions (likes, posts, comments, shares) related to the senator and his announcement. That’s according to information provided by Facebook Policy Communications Manager Andy Stone, who also is an alumni of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC.

Full story

April 13, 2015

Elder Members Aren’t the Only Ones to Retire

Elections 2016

Miller announced her retirement in March. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The usual way to identify potential House retirements is to pick out the oldest members of each caucus. But that strategy misses an entire crop of potential exits, because the most senior members aren’t the only ones to call it quits.

When 88-year-old Michigan Democrat John D. Dingell retired from the House last year, after 29 terms, he didn’t catch a lot of people by surprise. New York Democrat Charles B. Rangel, 84, announced before the last election that this term, his 23rd, will be his last. And the only thing surprising about 77-year-old California Democrat Lois Capps’ retirement announcement last week was that it didn’t come sooner. Full story

By Nathan L. Gonzales Posted at 11:30 a.m.
House

April 10, 2015

Wyden Looks Safe, but Democratic Rift Is Real

Elections 2016

Wyden speaks with reporters as he arrives for the Senate Democrats’ policy lunch on Dec. 9, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Liberal groups have targeted Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden for defeat in next year’s elections unless he sides with them on upcoming trade deals. But any talk about the four-term Democrat’s vulnerability is premature until there is a challenger.

“Secretive Trade Deal Could Pose Problems At Home For Ron Wyden,” a rather alarming Huffington Post headline declared in February. The corresponding story appears to be based on a poll paid for by Democracy for America and a press release circulated to create doubt about the senator’s re-election bid. But the structure of the survey unfortunately doesn’t measure Wyden’s vulnerability.

Full story

April 7, 2015

Open Florida Senate Seat Moves to Pure Tossup

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is expected to announce his presidential campaign on April 13 in Miami, improving Democratic prospects for a takeover in the Sunshine State’s 2016 Senate contest.

The race would still have been competitive if Rubio opted to seek a second term — we had it rated as Tossup/Tilt Republican. Without him, it’s difficult to give the GOP a distinguishable advantage. No Republican has won more than 50 percent of the vote in a Florida Senate race since Connie Mack’s re-election in 1994. Full story

April 2, 2015

How Reid Reacted When a Republican Senator Was Indicted

After New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez was indicted on corruption charges Wednesday, Minority Leader Harry Reid’s reaction to his colleague’s situation wasn’t particularly surprising, but it’s not because Menendez is a fellow Democrat.

“I appreciate Senator Menendez’s willingness to temporarily step down as ranking member,” the Nevada Democrat said in a statement. “He has been a consistent champion for the middle class. Full story

March 27, 2015

Democrats Start With Narrow Advantage in Nevada

Elections 2016

Reid announced plans Friday to retire at the end of his term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s planned retirement ensures Nevada will host a top-tier Senate race in 2016.

Reid’s announcement doesn’t expand the map for Republicans, since the Democrat was considered vulnerable for re-election to a sixth term. But the open seat is likely to be an expensive and competitive race until the end.

Full story

By Nathan L. Gonzales Posted at 11:26 a.m.
Nevada, Senate

March 24, 2015

Indiana Senate Race Is No Longer Safe

Coats would have been a safe bet for re-election, but is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP Sen. Dan Coats’ retirement creates a takeover opportunity in Indiana next year. But Democrats will likely need some breaks to move the race from a potential gain to a top-tier contest.

Coats would have started the race as a clear favorite for re-election, but now that he is retiring, his open seat could become competitive. We’re shifting The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating of the Indiana Senate race from Safe Republican to Favored Republican until the candidate fields on start to take shape. The new rating reflects both the state’s fundamental bent and the lack of a proven incumbent.

Full story

March 23, 2015

Schilling Considering Special Election for Schock Seat

Elections 2016

(J.M. Rieger/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling hasn’t closed the door on running in the special election to replace embattled Republican Rep. Aaron Schock, according to a knowledgeable GOP source.

State Sen. Darin LaHood of Peoria is the early front-runner in the forthcoming Republican primary, but Schilling represented part of Illinois’ 18th District during his time in Congress and could bring some name identification to the race. Full story

March 19, 2015

Lopach Leads March Toward Democratic Senate Majority

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Smoke billowed out of Ted Kennedy’s living room fireplace as donors gathered in his D.C. home for a fundraiser, though the legendary senator was still on the Hill for votes.

But that wasn’t too much for Tom Lopach.

“I don’t know anyone, my house is on fire and my husband is gone,” Vicki Kennedy, the senator’s wife, recalled recently. “But Tom was totally unflappable. He just had the caterers serving hors d’oeuvres out front.” Full story

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