Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 2, 2015

Posts by Nathan L. Gonzales

273 Posts

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

March 18, 2015

Why Primaries Aren’t All Bad

Primaries can be expensive and divisive, but treating them like the plague — as party spokesmen are prone to do early every cycle — distorts electoral reality.

GOP strategists looking to hold the party’s newly attained majority are reveling in the potentially crowded field of Democrats for the open seat in Maryland. Setting aside the state’s strong Democratic lean, Republicans need not look back far to know that a crowded and competitive open-seat race is a poor predictor of future failure. Full story

March 9, 2015

Young Republican Explores Primary vs. Scott DesJarlais

Elections 2016

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais was an unlikely survivor in his 2014 Republican primary, but his next electoral challenge may already be on the horizon.

Grant Starrett, a young aide on both of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns, is contacting donors in advance of a potential run in the 4th District, according to a GOP insider. Full story

March 2, 2015

Russ Feingold, Joe Sestak and the Improbable Senate Race Rematch

Elections 2016

Feingold isn’t running yet, but all signs point to a rematch against his 2010 opponent. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate is filled with members who lost previous races. But Democrats Joe Sestak and Russ Feingold are trying to pull off a rare electoral feat: defeating the people who defeated them six years prior.

In 2010, Republican businessman Ron Johnson defeated Feingold, the incumbent Democrat, 52 percent to 47 percent, in Wisconsin. Feingold’s 2016 candidacy isn’t a guarantee, but all signs point to a rematch, particularly now that he has left his post at the State Department.

But in order to get back to the Senate, Feingold will have to do something that hasn’t happened in nearly a century. Full story

February 19, 2015

Jason Kander and the Secretary of State Curse

Elections 2016

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, announced his challenge to GOP Sen. Roy Blunt Thursday. But he’ll have to overcome the Republican lean of the Show-Me State and history in order to win.

There are many paths to the Senate, but being a secretary of state is usually not one of them. The losing trend for the state officeholders is nothing new, but 2014 was supposed to be the cycle when at least one of the four current or former secretaries of state broke the Senate curse. It wasn’t. Full story

February 13, 2015

What to Expect When You’re Expecting to Run

This is prime time for candidate recruitment, but aspiring politicos might pause to make sure they know what they’re in for before jumping into a competitive congressional race.

In the same vein as the timeless book for new parents, a bipartisan collection of campaign strategists and consultants offered some essential advice before starting along the campaign path. Keep in mind, this advice comes from authentic operatives, not the people who play consultants on cable television. Full story

February 10, 2015

Why Special Elections Really Matter

Elections 2016

Pelosi and Hoyer both came to Congress thanks to special elections. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Special elections matter, but not for the reasons you might think.

It’s an annual sport in politics: arguing whether special elections serve as bellwethers. But while special elections often poorly portend results around the country, they can produce potential leaders. They’re also excellent predictors of voter behavior inside that particular district.

Full story

February 5, 2015

Democrats Might Need to Lose the White House to Win the House Majority

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“It’s going to be awhile,” wrote The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza recently, summarizing Democrats’ chances of obtaining a majority in the House.

But Democrats may not need years to dig out from their minority hole … if they are willing to surrender the White House in 2016.

Cillizza, a former Roll Call politics reporter, lays out a plausible, multi-cycle path to the majority for Democrats:

“[D]emocrats would do well to see their fight to retake the House as a three-election mission. Narrow the Republican majority in 2016. Go absolutely all out at the state legislative and gubernatorial level in 2018 to win in the places where the lines will be drawn in 2021. Try to further narrow the margin in 2020. And hope 2022 is a midterm election that goes your way in terms of national dynamics.”

But that road will be complicated if Democrats hold the White House in 2016. Full story

February 4, 2015

When Activists Run for Office

Elections 2016

If Lee decides to retire, there’s a high-profile activist who could run for the seat. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Spending time, energy and money on campaigns is one thing. But some political activists go a step further, contemplating whether to become a candidate themselves.

California could see two such cases in the next few years, with environmentalist Tom Steyer and Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas potentially finding themselves in position to run for office. Full story

January 29, 2015

Why Even Democrats Love Talking About Joni Ernst

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on much of anything these days, but strategists on both sides of the aisle love to talk about Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s victory.

Two years ago, Ernst was a little-known GOP state senator from Southwest Iowa. She entered the national spotlight with a memorable television ad about castrating pigs and eventually won the seat held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin. Ernst continued her ascent by giving the Republicans’ State of the Union response, and she is poised to play a key role in the GOP presidential primary through the Iowa caucuses. Full story

January 26, 2015

Democrats Lose Candidate and Hope in New York Special Election

The date hasn’t even been set, but Republicans have all but won the special election in New York’s 11th District.

The Staten Island-based district has swung from being a top Democratic target in the midterms all the way across the competitive spectrum to Democrats punting the opportunity to win the seat in a special election. Full story

January 23, 2015

First Race Ratings for Gubernatorial Contests Revealed

Elections 2016

Vitter will run for governor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With a wide-open race for the White House and the Senate majority in play in 2016, it can be hard to make the case to donors that gubernatorial races belong in the conversation.

But that’s not dissuading some partisan strategists — or the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, which revealed its first race ratings for these contests Friday.  Full story

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