Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
January 26, 2015

Posts by Nathan L. Gonzales

259 Posts

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

DCCC Chairman Says Majority Is ‘Definitely Going to Be in Play.’ Really?

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the wake of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján declared the House majority would be up for grabs in 2016.

But the initial political reality isn’t quite so simple. Full story

January 16, 2015

When a House Member Should Retire

Rothenberg Political Report

Gibson announced his retirement Jan. 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If you’re a member of Congress thinking about retiring, you might want to spend some time listening to Kenny Rogers.

“You gotta know when to hold’em. Know when to fold’em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run,” sang the country music legend in his 1978 song, “The Gambler.” Full story

January 12, 2015

What Happened to The Rothenberg Political Report?

Rothenberg Political Report

Growing up, I wanted to be a professional baseball player, maybe a sportscaster if that didn’t work out. I didn’t know that being a political analyst was a viable occupation, or even an occupation at all.

In 1989, Stuart Rothenberg took over a small newsletter and built The Rothenberg Political Report into one of the most well-respected, nonpartisan publications in the country. After more than 13 years of working under and alongside Stu, I am excited to continue that legacy as editor and publisher. Full story

January 9, 2015

First Senate Race Ratings Revealed

For nearly two decades, The Rothenberg Political Report didn’t break down Senate races into nine detailed ratings categories 22 months out from the next election. That was an era when there was something called an “off-year” — and those days are gone.

For example, former Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., began his challenge to GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey nearly two years ago. And some strategists argue Sestak never stopped running after he lost a close race to Toomey in 2010. Full story

January 5, 2015

How a Freshman Rehearsed His Rant

Mike Bost

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Until recently, Republican Mike Bost was best known for his rant on the floor of the Illinois state House in 2012. But tomorrow, he’ll be sworn into the 114th Congress.

The incident on the Legislature’s floor was portrayed as an impromptu breaking point after years of oppression by the Democratic majority. The moment was supposed to doom Bost’s candidacy in the 12th District. But neither narrative was correct. Full story

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

January 2, 2015

Welcome to New York’s Sixth Special Election in Six Years

For political operatives, reporters and junkies there isn’t a more appropriate way to kick off a new year and new election cycle than a special election in New York.

Special elections in the Empire State have became a nearly-annual affair. And thanks to GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm’s resignation, New York will host a sixth special election in as many years. Full story

December 18, 2014

Will Russ Feingold Be Haunted by Campaign Problems Past?

Russ Feingold

Can Feingold put together a credible challenge? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., isn’t ruling out trying to get his former seat back this cycle. But it’s unclear how good of a campaign he will run.

Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Gwen Moore told Roll Call’s Alexis Levinson last week she expects Feingold to wage a rematch against GOP Sen. Ron Johnson in 2016 and to clear the primary along the way. But in the wake of his loss in 2010, it became clear Feingold’s campaign suffered from some internal campaign strife, which factored into his failure to re-create the maverick magic of his previous victories.

Full story

December 9, 2014

Democrats Abandoned Mary Landrieu in the Runoff. Does it Matter?

Ben Carson

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Party campaign committees are incumbent led and incumbent driven, so how important is it for the committees to support incumbents to the bitter end?

Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu lost re-election in Louisiana, 56 percent to 44 percent, to Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy. But in the days running up to the race on Saturday, there was some criticism that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee didn’t do enough to help the senator.

After Landrieu finished first, but with just 42 percent, in the November jungle primary, the DSCC cancelled its television ad reservations for the runoff and never replaced them.

“I wish she had more air cover,” Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., told The Hill before the runoff. “I was there because she’s my friend, but more importantly she’s done an extraordinary job for the people of Louisiana, and you don’t abandon your friends when times get tough.” Full story

December 3, 2014

Draft Ben Carson Group Complicates Potential Presidential Campaign

Ben Carson

Carson is considering a run for president. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ben Carson is openly considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, but an unaffiliated Super PAC trying to draft him into the race is making the effort complicated.

Last month, Buzzfeed detailed the fundraising and spending habits of the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee (RunBenRun.org). While the group has received attention for raising millions of dollars, those funds are just churned back into the operation, with significant financial benefit for two of its organizers. And the group’s campaign director, Vernon Robinson, has a reputation in North Carolina for being one of the most aggressive and negative campaigners around.

For example, when the Draft Carson group was denied a presence at the state Republican Party’s booth at the state fair in Raleigh at the end of October, Robinson threatened to show up to the event with 10,000 “dead white elephant” stickers, 1,000 T-shirts and 2,000 supporters.

“19 days out I’m sure the media will be interested in a dead white elephant story and why the Ben Carson vols were banned from the GOP state booth …in the interest of unity,” wrote Robinson in an email obtained by The Rothenberg Political Report and CQ Roll Call. Full story

November 26, 2014

How to Handle a Broken Campaign Promise

Broken campaign promises complicate a politician’s re-election effort, but they don’t have to be fatal.

This cycle, when faced with their own words from a previous campaign, two incumbents utilized different strategies in their quest for another term.

Full story

November 21, 2014

Freshman Class Filled With Losers

Ralph Reed

Jenkins and Love are among the incoming freshmen who have previously lost races. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is filled with a bunch of losers, but not exactly in the way you’re thinking.

In the wake of the elections, it’s easy to second-guess losing candidates and their campaigns, and to discount their chances of ever winning a seat in Congress. But at least 27 incoming House members have electoral losses on their records — more than 40 percent of the new class — and many of them lost contests for the same seat they will represent in the 114th Congress.

When handicapping future success, the circumstances surrounding each loss and the fresh dynamics of the new race are often more important than the loss itself. In some cases, incumbents retire or the political environment changes to boost a previous loser to victory. Or a candidate moves on to bolster their résumé and returns to the campaign trail with more success.

Here are 27 losers coming into the next Congress: Full story

November 17, 2014

The Stunningly Static White Evangelical Vote

Ralph Reed

Reed, right, speaks with Rep. Pete Sessions at the 2010 CPAC Conference held by the American Conservative Union in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s plenty of discussion about the difference between midterm and presidential electorates, but there is one emerging constant: the white evangelical vote.

At least one interest group, Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition, claimed that conservative Christians played a “decisive role” in the recent midterm elections. But according to the exit polls, white evangelicals made up the same percentage of the electorate and voted nearly the exact same way this year as they did in the two previous elections. Full story

November 14, 2014

Unsuccessful House Candidate Already ‘In’ for 2016

The ink is barely dry on the 2014 election results, but one unsuccessful candidate is making it clear that he is running again.

Republican Paul Chabot came up short in California’s 31st District but told the Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call Thursday he wants a re-match.

“It’s now or never,” said Chabot, who conceded this year’s race little more than a week ago. The Republican lost the Southern California district by just 2 points, 51 percent to 49 percent, against Democrat Pete Aguilar. While the seat was left open by retiring GOP Rep. Gary G. Miller, Democrats were widely expected to win it after Aguilar finished in the top two in the primary (a feat that eluded Democrats in 2012). The narrow margin of victory was surprising. Full story

November 12, 2014

No Guarantee Democrats Rebound in 2016

Elections 2016

Pelosi and her party may have a difficult time rebounding from this year’s GOP wave. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After suffering heavy losses in the House and the Senate in the recent midterm elections, some congressional Democrats may breathe a sigh of relief now that President Barack Obama is entering his final two years in office.

But the approaching end of the Obama Administration doesn’t mean  Obama won’t be a factor in 2016 and, figuratively, on the ballot, again.

In 2006, Republicans lost 31 House seats and six Senate seats, as well as majorities in both chambers. GOP strategists understood voters were sending their party a message. But they also took some solace that unpopular President George W. Bush was in the twilight of his tenure and wouldn’t be on the ballot again.

They were wrong. Full story

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