Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 29, 2015

Posts in "States"

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 10, 2015

Mark Kirk Starts 2016 as an Underdog

Elections 2016

Kirk has “a significantly uphill fight for a second term,” Rothenberg writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Where does Illinois Republican Sen. Mark S. Kirk start in his bid for re-election? It depends on whom you ask.

The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call currently rates the 2016 race as a Tossup, while the Cook Political Report says it is a “Lean Republican” contest. The folks in the statistical wing of the handicapping world are invisible, because the race hasn’t formed and there are no meaningful polls. 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 5, 2015

What the ‘Big Ten’ Tells Republicans They Need in 2016

Elections 2016

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker finished second in CPAC’s presidential straw poll. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

We won’t know the 2016 Republican presidential nominee for more than a year, but we already know the 10 states — the electoral “Big Ten” — that will select the next occupant of the White House.

Because of that, we can evaluate the GOP’s general election prospects over the next 12 to 18 months by watching the party’s trek through its primary and caucus calendar. Will the Republicans select someone who can carry enough of the key 10 states to win 270 electoral votes? Full story

March 3, 2015

Pat Toomey Is a Strong Candidate. Will That Be Enough in 2016?

Elections 2016

Toomey. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Yes, I know Pennsylvania Democrats don’t have a 2016 Senate candidate who excites the entire party yet. I also know the election is 20 months away — plenty of time for them to rally around a nominee.

GOP Sen. Patrick J. Toomey’s re-election prospects in Pennsylvania next year depend to a large extent on the state’s political environment when voters go to the polls. If it is like 2010 or 2014, he is likely to win. If it’s like 2006 or 2008, he is likely to lose. 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 17, 2015

Past and Precedent: What Makes This Mississippi Special Election Interesting

You might think the best way to understand Mississippi’s upcoming 1st District special election to fill the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s seat is to examine the 2008 special election in the same district. After all, that previous special election to fill the seat left open by Roger Wicker’s appointment to the Senate happened less than seven years ago.

If you think that, you are wrong. Full story

February 12, 2015

Why Early Senate Polling Is Usually Useless

Elections 2016

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I never pay too much attention to early polls, since snapshots of a race more than 18 months before Election Day can be misleading.

And political parties ought to be careful about crowing too loudly about early polls for fear someone will look too closely into them. 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

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 27, 2015

First Look: Can Democrats Win the Senate in 2016?

Elections 2016

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For Republicans, the fight for control of the Senate in 2016 is all about playing defense.

Unlike 2014 (and 2018), the Senate races of 2016 offer few, if any, opportunities for the GOP as the election cycle begins. The map strongly favors Democrats and suggests the possibility of considerable Democratic gains. Full story

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