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October 9, 2015

Posts in "DCCC"

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.

Full story

May 27, 2015

14 Open House Seats, Few Takeover Opportunities

The retiring Fitzpatrick leaves behind one of the few competitive open seats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The retiring Fitzpatrick leaves behind one of the few competitive open seats in Pennsylvania’s 8th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

More than 90 percent of House incumbents routinely get re-elected, so open seats are a hot commodity. Five months into the 114th Congress, 14 House members have announced their departure, but just four of the seats they are leaving behind can be considered competitive.

At this stage in the cycle, Republicans have two vulnerable open seats: Chris Gibson’s 19th District in New York and Michael G. Fitzpatrick’s 8th District in Pennsylvania. President Barack Obama carried Gibson’s district twice and Fitzpatrick’s district once, in 2008, but both incumbents locked down their turf to the point where Democrats didn’t put up much of a fight last cycle.

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

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.

January 23, 2015

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 13, 2015

Can Democrats Win the House in 2016?

Rothenberg Political Report

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats have a better chance of winning control of the House next year than they did at any time in 2014. That’s true even though they now need to gain 30 seats, almost twice what they needed last year.

No, I’m not suggesting Democrats will win the House in 2016. Far from it. Right now, you’d need a magnifying glass, probably even a microscope, to find the party’s chances of taking control. Full story

November 1, 2014

Jesse Ferguson Lives to Fight Another Day

Jesse Ferguson

Ferguson directs the DCCC’s independent expenditure arm. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The lede almost writes itself: One year ago, Jesse Ferguson never would have thought beating cancer would be easier than defeating Republicans in the House. But that’s just not how the Democratic operative does business.

As director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s independent expenditure arm, Ferguson is responsible for the more than $60 million in television ads attacking Republicans this cycle, but he doesn’t want to it to be personal.

“I disagree with Republicans a lot — on a lot of things — and I don’t think I’ve been shy about saying that,” Ferguson told CQ Roll Call. “That said, I’d really be hesitant to compare them to cancer.”

“He’s a throwback,” said Jennifer Crider, the former deputy executive director of the DCCC who hired Ferguson during the 2010 cycle. “He probably has as many Republicans friends as Democratic friends.”

Full story

August 6, 2014

Inside House Democrats’ Expanding Ground Game

In the face of a challenging midterm environment, Democrats are relying on money and an expanding get-out-the-vote effort to avoid losing any more ground in the House. But what does that souped-up ground game look like?

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s fundraising advantage over the National Republican Congressional Committee is well-documented by this point. And DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said his party plans to out-organize Republicans in the fall.

The DCCC has 444 field staff on the ground in 48 districts, according to an official spokesperson, with another 219 scheduled to start later this month. The committee started August with at least 20 field staff in 11 districts.

The field effort is starting earlier than in previous cycles. The first permanent staffer started in early January in a competitive California district, which is about six months earlier than before. Full story

By Nathan L. Gonzales Posted at 12:07 p.m.

July 28, 2014

So You Want to Be a Political Handicapper? 2014 Edition

The thought of three candidate interviews over a four-hour period invariably fills me with dread.

The chance of all three congressional hopefuls being thoughtful, reasonable and personable — and having a good chance of winning in the fall — is relatively small.

But sometimes the unexpected happens. And on July 16, I had the pleasure of interviewing three quality candidates. Full story

Chuck Schumer’s Dream: A Democratic Nightmare

New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer laid out his dream for a less partisan Washington recently. But the Democrat’s New York Times op-ed is giving some strategists in his own party nightmares.

“Polarization and partisanship are a plague on American politics,” Schumer wrote in the piece — titled, “End Partisan Primaries, Save America” — in which he identified the party primary system as one of the main causes of dysfunction on Capitol Hill.

The senator uses House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss as a curious first example. “The partisan primary system, which favors more ideologically pure candidates, has contributed to the election of more extreme officeholders and increased political polarization,” according to Schumer, who also blamed “ideologically driven voters” in the Virginia race.

But Virginia has an open primary, in which voters of all stripes could pick up a ballot. And some of Cantor’s supporters blame his loss on Democrats voting for college professor Dave Brat, not just “ideologically driven” Republicans.

Schumer goes on to prescribe a “national movement to adopt the ‘top-two’ primary,” similar to California’s current system. But even though the senator declared “the move has had a moderating influence on both parties and a salutary effect on the political system and its ability to govern,” his prescription may not be a solution at all.

Full story

July 1, 2014

How Parties Communicate Without Coordinating

campaign ads

Israel is the DCCC’s chairman. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Party campaign committees and outside groups aren’t allowed to coordinate, but as they outline their fall television ad strategies, interested groups are doing a very public dance to ensure they don’t step on each others’ toes and waste money duplicating efforts.

Now we have some specific examples of districts where this collaboration is taking place. Full story

June 18, 2014

In Campaign Ads, ‘Week One’ Is Still Months Away

It can feel like the 2014 congressional races have been going on forever, so when a campaign strategist talks about “Week One,” it can be confusing that Week One is still actually four months away.

Obtaining and understanding television ad buys is becoming an increasingly important part of analyzing House and Senate races. And deciphering the language, from gross rating points to designated media areas, is critical as well.

The National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic House Majority PAC recently released another round of television ad reservations for the fall. And the timing of the ads can matter almost as much as the amount of money behind the spots. Full story

June 17, 2014

Should Republicans Think the Unthinkable About Iowa’s 4th District?

Democrats appear to be targeting Steve King. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats appear to be targeting Steve King. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When everyone else on the planet — or at least in the nation’s capital — becomes consumed with something like a Virginia primary upset or a Clinton book launch, I often turn to focus on an obscure campaign or candidate instead. I figure there is already enough chatter about the popular stuff, and I can keep my sanity by focusing on minutiae.

Given that, it shouldn’t come as a shock that my topic today is Iowa’s 4th District, a generally overlooked seat in the middle of the nation represented by Republican Rep. Steve King.

After looking at King’s comfortable 2012 victory over heavily hyped Christie Vilsack (the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and a one-time first lady of Iowa) and meeting the likely Democratic nominee this cycle, Jim Mowrer, I never thought this race would be worth any attention. I’m still not sure it is. Full story

April 21, 2014

Why TV Airtime Reservations Are More Important Than Ever

Israel is the DCCC's chairman. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Steve Israel of New York is the DCCC’s chairman. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

It’s time to pay more attention to television ad reservations; they have become another critical way party strategists communicate without coordinating under campaign finance laws.

Not too many cycles ago, political reporters rightly handled television ad reservations loosely and delicately as strategists from both parties used them to play games. Strategists would make some reservations with little or no intent to fulfill them in order to fake out the other party, the media or both.

But that was also a time when the party campaign committees (through their independent expenditure arms) dominated outside spending in races. Now, outside spending from non-party groups has increased, and party strategists can’t afford to pull in and out of competitive races or abruptly shift advertising plans because television spending strategies are more integrated.

“You can’t over-reserve anymore because once you’ve laid down that time, people are counting on you,” explained one Democratic strategist. Full story

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