Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 4, 2015

Posts by Nathan L. Gonzales

318 Posts

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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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 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 2, 2015

Sources: Reichert Seriously Considering Washington Governor’s Race

UNITED STATES - JULY 28: Rep. David Reichert, R-Wash., speaks during an interview in his office in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, July 28, 2015. Reichert is the previous Sheriff of King County, Wash. and is working to improve community policing. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Reichert’s former chief of staff said this is “the most serious” he’s ever seen his old boss about running for governor. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Dave Reichert is seriously considering a gubernatorial bid in Washington state, according to multiple GOP sources.

The congressman has been the consistent source of rumors for a statewide bid over the past decade. But those rumors were often fueled by House Democrats who wanted him to leave behind a competitive open seat or Republicans focused on the Senate and governorships.

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August 26, 2015

Parties Play Politics With FEC Complaints

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 31: FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman makes a statement during his first meeting at the Commission's downtown office, as Chair Ellen Weintraub, and Commissioner Ann Ravel, look on. It was the first meeting attended by Ravel and Goodman. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman makes a statement as then-Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, and then-Commissioner Ann Ravel listen. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ethics problems can be serious trouble for any politician, but party strategists often use Federal Election Committee complaints to play games with the opposition, because the allegation has a slim chance of being ruled on before Election Day.

“Everyone knows both sides file complaints to get press hits,” one campaign strategist said anonymously in order to speak candidly.

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Campaign Committees Open Holes While Filling Others


Democrats believe Heitkamp could be a competitive candidate for governor but would loosen the party’s hold on her Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats want to hold the White House, take back the majorities in the Senate and the House, and gain ground in governorships. But what happens when those are conflicting goals?

In Florida, strategists at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are excited Rep. Patrick Murphy is running for the state’s open seat. But Murphy is leaving behind a competitive House district that will be difficult for strategists at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to hold next fall.

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August 24, 2015

Ratings Changes in Two Governors’ Races

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 31: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a press conference March 31, 2015 at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pence spoke about the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act which has been condemned by business leaders and Democrats.  (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Indiana’s Pence angered both moderates and conservatives over how he handled the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (File Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Gubernatorial races don’t get a lot of coverage in the nation’s capital, but based on the field of presidential contenders, the chief executive of each state can be a consequential figure.

Republicans are looking to sweep Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana this year for the first time in history. And the GOP is largely playing offense next year including Montana, where wealthy tech entrepreneur Greg Gianforte announced his candidacy against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

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August 21, 2015

Crist, Culver Contemplate Humbling Transition to the House

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 24:  Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) answers a question during the Times/CNN Senate and Gubernatorial debates at the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida, Tampa October 24, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. Republican Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) are in contention for a U.S. Senate seat and battled it out live on-air during the Times/CNN Senate and Gubernatorial debates.  (Photo by Scott Mcintyre-Pool/Getty Images)

Crist, shown here debating Rubio during their 2010 Senate campaign, is considering a run for the House. (Getty Images File Photo)

It’s not easy to transition from governor to become one of 100 senators. But former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver are contemplating something even more humbling — jumping from chief executive to become one of 435 in the House.

Earlier this month, my Roll Call colleague Kyle Trygstad sat down with some of the “recovering governors,” a 10-member caucus of former chief executives serving in the Senate, to talk about the challenges of transitioning to a legislative body.

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August 17, 2015

Group Suggests ‘Schock Waves’ in Illinois Special Election

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., walks up the House steps to the Capitol for a series of votes on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Schock’s replacement will be chosen in a Sept. 10 special election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Most Democratic strategists probably couldn’t name their party’s nominee in the upcoming race for Illinois’ 18th District, or even remember that there is a special election on September 10. But one not-for-profit group is trying to gin up interest in a possible historic outcome, even as the final result is likely to be pretty routine.

Rob Mellon sounds like it could be the name of a band featuring White Zombie’s frontman covering Blind Melon songs. In reality, Mellon is an Army veteran, high school history teacher and the Democratic nominee against Republican Darin LaHood in the race to replace former GOP Rep. Aaron Schock.

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August 14, 2015

A Modest Proposal: Timeshare Congressional Districts


In Illinois’ 10th District, former Rep. Schneider is trying to win back the seat he lost to Dold after having beaten him two years before. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The sharing economy is all the rage. People are sharing homes and cars, books and tools. Why not congressional districts?

Republicans and Democrats sink millions of dollars into a quartet of races that regularly flip from one party to the other. Over the last four election cycles, New Hampshire’s 1st District and Texas’ 23rd District have changed hands three times and New York’s 24th District has flipped all four. Illinois’ 10th District flipped back and forth in 2012 and 2014 and could do it again in 2016.

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August 12, 2015

Ratings Changes in 6 House Races


Guinta appears to be a little more vulnerable in the latest Rothenberg-Gonzales/Roll Call race ratings. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The race for president will continue to dominate the 2016 landscape, with the fight for the Senate sucking up any remaining oxygen molecules. But Democrats haven’t given up their effort to dig out of the minority in the House.

Democrats face a difficult road to gain 30 seats and get back into the majority, but their prospects improved in a handful of races over the last few months.

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August 5, 2015

Democrats, Party Switchers and the Ghost of Ed Jany

Rep. David Jolly

Jolly might’ve faced a competitive race had Democrats not cleared the field for a candidate who dropped out. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


Former Republican state Sen. Tom O’Halleran announced Tuesday he was running as a Democrat in Arizona’s 1st District. It’s not the first time party strategists have crossed the aisle to recruit, and O’Halleran isn’t even the only party-switcher running this cycle.

Last cycle, Democratic strategists cleared the primary for former Republican Ed Jany in Florida’s 13th District in one of the most ill-conceived ideas in recent electoral history. Democrats knew Jany’s party switch was too recent for him to appear on the ballot with his new party, thanks to the so-called “Charlie Crist rule,” which says a candidate must be registered with a party a year before filing for office from that same party. But they failed to account for Jany’s candidacy collapsing under the weight of resume questions soon after the filing deadline. Consequently, Democrats didn’t have a candidate against GOP Rep. David Jolly last fall and punted a competitive seat to Republicans.

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July 30, 2015

A Brief Electoral History of Recently Indicted Congressmen

Rep. Michael Grimm

Grimm won re-election by a dozen points with a 19-count indictment hanging over him. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)


It might be easy to scoff at Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania for talking about his re-election bid on the same day he faced a 29-count indictment on corruption charges, but the most recent members of the House to be indicted held their own at the ballot box, at least initially. The last two members of the House to be indicted won their next election.

After New York Republican Rep. Michael G. Grimm was indicted in 2014, I wrote about how it reminded me of one of my worst mistakes as a political handicapper and how I didn’t want to repeat it. Apparently, I’m a slow learner.

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