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September 3, 2015

Posts in "Senate"

August 26, 2015

Campaign Committees Open Holes While Filling Others

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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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July 29, 2015

More Democratic Losses Could Be on the Horizon

Bevin, shown during his unsucessful Senate race in 2014, is far more popular in Kentucky than inside the Beltway. (CQ Roll Call File Photo by Tom Williams)

Bevin, shown during his unsuccessful Senate race in 2014, is more popular in Kentucky than inside the Beltway. (CQ Roll Call File Photo by Tom Williams)

For Democrats anxious to turn the page from a terrible 2014 cycle, the news might get worse before it gets better.

Last fall, Democrats lost control of the Senate and fell further into the minority in the House, but pinned much of the blame on low turnout in the midterm elections. Party strategists were more than ready to look ahead to 2016, when the presidential race should boost turnout among Democratic constituencies. But at least one race this fall could dampen some of the Democratic enthusiasm heading into next year.

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July 9, 2015

Key Races in 2016: Politicial Landscape Taking Shape

A few key races across the country next year will determine the balance of power in the Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

 

Election Day is more than a year away, but the field of most competitive Senate and House races is already starting to take shape. While the political environment could change over the next 17 months, the landscape is largely set as a handful of races in each region will likely decide the majorities in the next Congress.

The fight for the Senate is likely to be decided in the Midwest, where Democrats have takeover opportunities in Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and a longer-shot opportunity in Indiana. If Democrats can win three out of those four states, they will be well on their way to gaining enough seats to take control of the Senate.

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July 6, 2015

Heck Decision Prompts Rating Changes in 2 Nevada Races

Rep. Joe Heck

Republican chances to win Nevada’s Senate seat improve slightly with Heck in the race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Joe Heck’s decision to run for the Senate is no surprise, but now that he is officially in the race, we are changing our rating in two Nevada races.

The race for Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s open seat was already competitive, but Republican chances improve slightly with Heck’s decision. He is a battle-tested incumbent who won’t be easy for Democrats to pigeonhole as being too conservative for the state. Heck will likely face former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who has been elected statewide twice in races that weren’t particularly difficult. But she should benefit from presidential year turnout next year and Democrats believe the opportunity to elect the first Latina senator will inspire Hispanic voters to go to the polls in larger numbers.

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July 2, 2015

Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Mountain Region

Senate Finance Committee

Bennet is trying to avoid the same fate as his Democratic colleague Udall suffered in 2014. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the eighth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The Mountain Region includes Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

Colorado Senate: Last cycle, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet saw his home-state colleague, Mark Udall, go down to defeat. Now Bennet is trying to avoid the same fate. Republicans are still searching for a candidate after Rep. Mike Coffman recently announced his decision to seek re-election to the House. Potential GOP challengers include Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler, businessman Robert Blaha (who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Doug Lamborn in a GOP primary), state Sen. Owen Hill and others. Democrats could improve their chances of taking back the majority in the Senate by re-electing Bennet and holding the Nevada open seat so other victories would pad their margin. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race Leans Democratic.

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Top Races to Watch in 2016: New England

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing on Holder

Guinta has been dogged by past campaign finance issues. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the seventh in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The New England region includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

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Top Races in 2016: The Midwest

Sen. Mark Kirk

Kirk is the most vulnerable Republican senator this cycle. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate in the Midwest Region, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. 

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Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Plains Region

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Blum faces a competitive race in Iowa to hold onto his seat in the House. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

 

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The Plains Region includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Iowa’s 1st District: GOP Rep. Rod Blum is one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the country, considering President Barack Obama won the district with 56 percent in 2012 and 59 percent in 2008. Democrats are headed for a competitive primary between 2014 nominee/former state Rep. Pat Murphy, Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon and former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Gary Kroeger. Blum is already sideways with the National Republican Congressional Committee. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Pure Tossup.

Iowa’s 3rd District: Democrats are also targeting freshman Rep. David Young, but the Republican congressman’s district isn’t as favorable for a challenge as Blum’s seat. Obama won the 3rd with 51 percent in 2012 and 52 percent in 2008. The Democratic field is still taking shape but it should be a top takeover target in a presidential year. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Pure Tossup.

Nebraska’s 2nd District: Democrat Brad Ashford knocked off GOP Rep. Lee Terry in 2014, even though it was a terrible year for Democratic candidates. That says more about Terry’s ineptness than Ashford’s strength. Republicans don’t have a lot of takeover opportunities, but this Omaha-based district is one of them. Mitt Romney carried the 2nd with 53 percent in 2012 after Obama won it by a point in 2008. Retired Brig. Gen. Don “Bits” Bacon and former state Sen. Chip Maxwell are running on the Republican side but they are unlikely to have the field to themselves. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Pure Tossup.

Missouri Senate: Democratic Secretary of State Jason Kander didn’t waste a lot of time announcing his challenge to GOP Sen. Roy Blunt. Democrats are excited about Kander’s candidacy, but the office of secretary of State has been a terrible launching pad for Senate candidates in recent elections. The last sitting secretary of State elected to the Senate was Democrat Max Cleland in Georgia in 1996. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Safe Republican, but the race could get more competitive.

Iowa’s 4th District: Democrats love to challenge polarizing GOP Rep. Steve King. But Romney won the 4th by 8 points in 2012 and Democrats haven’t been able to crack the code. In 2014, King defeated Democrat Jim Mowrer by a considerable 62 percent to 38 percent margin. Now Mowrer is being mentioned as a potential candidate in the 3rd District. But as long as King keeps talking, there is always a chance this race becomes competitive. For now, the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Safe Republican.

What race would you add to the list?

Related:

Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016

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July 1, 2015

Top Races to Watch in 2016: The Southwest

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Kirkpatrick’s Senate run sets up a competitive race for her House district. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

 

Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch. The Southwest Region includes Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. 

Arizona’s 1st District: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s Senate bid creates an open-seat headache for Democrats. Kirkpatrick managed to win re-election in a terrible Democratic year in 2014, but she has a unique appeal in that district that could be difficult for another Democrat to replicate (and faced an underwhelming GOP nominee). Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain won the district with 51 percent in the 2008 presidential race and Mitt Romney carried it with 50 percent in 2012.

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Top Races to Watch in 2016: Mid-Atlantic States

Sen. Pat Toomey

The Senate race in Pennsylvania will likely be a rematch of the 2010 race between Toomey, above, and Sestak. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch in 2016. The Mid-Atlantic region includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Pennsylvania Senate: Democrats are on a quest to gain five seats and the Senate majority, and the Keystone State looks like one of the key contests. Republican Patrick J. Toomey defeated Democrat Joe Sestak in 2010, 51 percent to 49 percent. Even though some Democrats are unconvinced Sestak is the best candidate for 2016, no credible alternative has emerged, and the former congressman looks likely to be the nominee once again. Skepticism about Sestak doesn’t mean he can’t win. The Democrat will be a credible nominee and gets the chance to run in a presidential year this time, when Democratic turnout should be better. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as a Tossup/Tilts Republican.

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June 30, 2015

Top Congressional Races in 2016: The West

Rep. Joe Heck

Heck is poised to jump into the race for Senate seat in Nevada that Reid is giving up. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch in 2016. The West Region includes Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Nevada Senate: Democrats have only a pair of vulnerable Senate seats, but retiring Sen. Harry Reid’s is one of them. GOP Rep. Joe Heck looks poised to enter the race at any moment, while Democrats are likely to nominate former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. The last Senate race in a presidential year was in 2012 when appointed-Sen. Dean Heller defeated Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley by a single point. Democrats are far more confident in Cortez Masto as a candidate, but she is relatively untested for a statewide office holder. Heck has been in tough races, but never statewide. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race is Tossup/Tilts Democratic but it is creeping close to a Pure Tossup.

Nevada’s 4th District: GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy is the most vulnerable incumbent in the House. He won a late-breaking race in 2014, 49 percent to 46 percent, over Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in a cycle in which Democrats completely collapsed in the state. But President Barack Obama won the 4th by 10 points in 2012 and 15 points in 2008 and Democrats are clamoring for the nomination. State Sen. Ruben Kihuen, former Assemblywoman Lucy Flores and wealthy philanthropist Susie Lee are in the race and may be joined by former state Speaker John Oceguera. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as Tossup/Tilts Democratic.

Nevada’s 3rd District: If Heck runs for the Senate, his open House seat will be a top Democratic takeover target. Obama won the district narrowly in 2012, and by a wider 9 points in 2008. Heck’s previous victories scared aspiring Democrats over to the 4th District race, but his absence might prompt some of them to make the switch. State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson and Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Beers look likely to run on the Republican side. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating is Favored Republican with Heck, but a Pure Tossup without him.

California’s 24th District: Democratic Rep. Lois Capps’ retirement creates an open-seat opportunity. Last year, the congresswoman’s re-election race tightened and she won 52 percent to 48 percent. But Democrats believe presidential-year turnout will be significantly better. All candidates will run together in the June primary and the top two will move on to the general election. For Republicans, Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian and young businessman Justin Fareed (who finished third in the 2014 primary) will likely battle for one position while Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider will likely battle for the other. Republicans came close in the midterm last year but a presidential election year should pose a different challenge. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as Safe Democrat.

California Senate: The race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is worth watching, even though the seat is not at risk of a Republican takeover. With the Golden State’s top two primary on June 3, there is a chance that state Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats, both move on to the general election next November. Either way, Democrats are likely to add at least one minority woman to their Senate caucus in the next Congress. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as Safe Democrat.

What races would you add to the list?

Related:

Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

Top Races to Watch in 2016: The South

The Faith & Freedom Coalition

Rubio’s decision not to run for re-election while he runs for president creates a hot race for a pivotal Senate seat.

 

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of looks at the most competitive House and Senate races in the 2016 election cycle. The South region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Florida Senate: From competitive primaries to the general election, the race to replace GOP Sen. Marco Rubio should have it all. Rubio left his party a competitive open seat to defend in the wake of his White House bid. The Republican field is still taking shape, but a competitive primary looks likely. Reps. Ron DeSantis and Jeff Miller, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera are running. Rep. Patrick Murphy is running on the Democratic side, but could be joined by colorful Rep. Alan Grayson in what would be an entertaining primary. Even though there is uncertainty about the nominees, the general election is likely to be one of the most competitive in the country, and a virtual must-win for Democrats to get back to the majority. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as a Pure Tossup.

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June 11, 2015

Race Plays Out on Congressional Baseball Game Field

If Murphy loses his Senate bid, he would no longer play in the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If Murphy loses his Senate bid in Florida, he would no longer play in the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Next year’s Florida Senate race is a high-stakes contest that could impact Roll Call Congressional Baseball Games for years to come. It may also decide the Senate majority in the next Congress.

Both parties are at risk of losing one of their youngest and most experienced players, since Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy and GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis are giving up their Florida House seats in order to run for Republican Marco Rubio’s open Senate seat. At least one member will lose and won’t be available for the 56th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game in 2017.

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June 3, 2015

Let Voters Judge Early Ads

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It’s way too early to know if television ads will influence voters one way or another next fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Illinois Republican Mark S. Kirk is the most vulnerable senator in the country up for re-election this cycle. He kicked off his campaign in May with his first television ad, nearly a year and a half from Election Day, and it was promptly treated like a game-changer by some reporters. Of course it’s healthy to digest that kind of analysis with a healthy bite of skepticism.

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May 29, 2015

Ratings Change: Kirk’s Race Now Tilts to Democrats

Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi

Duckworth can probably afford a couple of mistakes as a Democrat running in a Democratic state in a presidential year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

At least a handful of GOP senators are vulnerable this election cycle, but none more than Mark S. Kirk of Illinois.

While Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire are headed for competitive re-election fights, Kirk looks to be facing the most difficult race of all.

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