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September 4, 2015

Posts in "Nebraska"

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.

Full story

July 2, 2015

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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November 3, 2014

Election Eve Updates from The Rothenberg Political Report

With just hours before Election Day, the only question is how good of a night it will be for Republicans.

In the Senate, the following states have been updated: Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky and West Virginia.

In the House, we’ve updated the state of play in the following districts: Arkansas’ 2nd, California’s 52nd, Georgia’s 12th, Michigan’s 6th, Nebraska’s 2nd, New York’s 1st and Utah’s 4th.

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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October 21, 2014

A Good Year May Not Save These Three Vulnerable House Republicans

Steve Southerland

Southerland has disappointed in his bid for re-election, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In his recent column, “Weak GOP Candidates May Need More Than a Good Year,” Stu Rothenberg pointed out how a handful of under-performing Senate candidates could cost Republicans the majority. Similarly, though the House of Representatives is not in play, a trio of GOP incumbents could cost their party larger gains in the House.

Even as the House landscape continues to shift in Republicans’ favor, Reps. Lee Terry of Nebraska, Steve Southerland II of Florida and Michael G. Grimm of New York are perched atop the list of most vulnerable incumbents. And it’s not hard to see why.

Terry, Southerland and Grimm are all vulnerable because of self-inflicted wounds, and a great Republican year might not be enough to save them. Meanwhile, some of their colleagues, such as Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois, David Valadao of California and Chris Gibson of New York, are facing much brighter re-election prospects — despite being early targets and representing more Democratic districts than Terry or Southerland. Full story

September 26, 2014

GOP Opportunities Expand in the House

Regardless of whether you want to call it a wave, the fight for the House continues to creep into Democratic territory.

Many of the Republican incumbents who were expected to have challenging races this cycle, including New York Rep. Chris Gibson, Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman and Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, are starting the general-election sprint in stronger-than-expected position. Also, some Democratic incumbents, such as New York’s Dan Maffei, are in much closer races than anticipated. And now some hot spots, such as Hawaii’s 1st District, are popping up as potential Democratic headaches and look vulnerable.

We changed the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating in nine House races this week, one in favor of the Democrats and eight in favor of Republicans.

Once race moved in the Democrats’ direction:

  • Nebraska’s 2nd District – From Tossup/Tilts Republican to Pure Tossup

Eight races moved in the Republicans’ direction: Full story

August 25, 2014

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Plains States

Joni Ernst

Ernst campaigns at the Iowa State Fair. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There aren’t many competitive races in the Plains States, but the region features some critical contests that could signal how well Republicans and Democrats are faring across the country.

A trio of races dropped off the regional top five list since last summer. The South Dakota Senate race is a likely Republican takeover and not worth watching at this point. Neither is the Nebraska Senate race after former Bush administration official Ben Sasse won the Republican primary. And Iowa’s 1st District is a long shot for Republicans.

Here are the top five races to watch in the Plains States: Full story

July 21, 2014

Rating Change: Nebraska’s 2nd District

Lee Terry

Lee Terry is a Nebraska Republican. Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., has a history of making races closer than they need to be — and 2014 appears to be no different.

Even though midterm turnout in Nebraska’s 2nd District should benefit the Republican, his inability to boost his own numbers and the potential that two third party candidates will make the November ballot raise questions about the Republican’s electoral health. Full story

May 14, 2014

Ben Sasse, Mystery Man

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I am not at all certain who or what Ben Sasse is. I interviewed him in February, and heard him speak to a large, sympathetic group not long after that. And, of course, I’ve seen him interviewed by others. But I still don’t have a handle on what kind of senator he will be.

In that regard, at least, the Nebraska GOP Senate nominee is very different from Sen. Ted Cruz. After talking with Cruz a couple of times when he was still seeking the GOP nomination last cycle, I understood the Texan’s philosophy and his approach to politics in general and the legislative process in particular.

“Cruz is not willing to compromise even if it means being irrelevant to the legislative process,” I wrote in a July 31, 2012, Roll Call column, adding, “If elected, Cruz certainly will join the GOP’s ‘Uncompromising Caucus,’ which includes [then-South Carolina Sen. Jim] DeMint, [Utah Sen. Mike] Lee, Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a handful of others, making it more difficult for his party’s leadership …”

But Sasse (pronounced “sass”) seems to have been able to be all things to all people during his Senate bid this year. That means he’s a skilled politician, but it could also mean that some Republicans will feel terribly misled after seeing him in action in the Senate. Full story

January 24, 2014

Ratings Change: Nebraska’s 2nd District

Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry has a knack for making races closer than they need to be, but it will be tough for the Republican congressman to lose to no one.

Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen was the poster child for national Democratic efforts to get candidates into races in the wake of the government shutdown. On the ground, Festersen was considered a very legitimate threat to Terry and was viewed as the type of Democrat who could win Nebraska’s 2nd District.

Two months later, Festersen dropped out.

Democrats would love to get another candidate into the race (they have until March 3), but after hyping up Festersen so much, it will be difficult for them to make the case that the next candidate they find is just as good.

We’re moving Nebraska’s 2nd District to Republican Favored from Lean Republican in the Rothenberg Political Report/CQ Roll Call ratings. The move is in spite of Terry’s campaign, which couldn’t even spell his campaign pollster’s name correctly in a news release.

November 14, 2013

Ratings Change: Nebraska’s 2nd District

Democrats think Terry is vulnerable. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats think Terry is vulnerable. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After seven unsuccessful attempts, Democrats believe 2014 will finally be the year they knock off Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb.

The congressman does have a knack for making his re-election races in the 2nd District more difficult than they need to be. And Democrats are ecstatic about their recruit, Omaha City Council President Pete Festersen. But it remains to be seen whether Democrats missed their window of opportunity.

Terry garnered just 51.2 and 51.9 percent in his last two re-elections in presidential years. In 2008, he narrowly won as Barack Obama carried the Omaha-based district and earned an electoral vote because of the state’s allocation system. But Terry’s lowest winning percentage in a midterm election was 54.7 percent in 2006 — a great Democratic year. Full story

September 20, 2013

House Strategists Continue Search for 2014 Candidates

My colleague Kyle Trygstad nearly declared the end to the Senate recruitment season recently, but House strategists on both sides of the aisle still have their work cut out for them.

With a little more than a year before Election Day, Republican and Democratic operatives are searching for quality candidates in more than a handful of districts. Both sides want as many offensive opportunities as possible to keep the other side pinned down in their own territory.

Down 17 seats, Democrats need more GOP takeover opportunities to make up for any losses and so they don’t have to win all of the competitive seats to get back to the majority next November. Full story

July 12, 2013

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Plains States

The Hawkeye State dominates the list of competitive races in the Plains. After the region hosted the high-profile North Dakota and Missouri Senate races in 2012, its trio of Senate races this cycle are likely to see action in the primaries — but not in November.

Here are the top five races to watch in the Plains states:

South Dakota Senate. Gov. Mike Rounds is the front-runner for the GOP nomination and the general election. His new primary challenger, state Sen. Larry Rhoden, does not fundamentally change the race, even if he runs as a conservative alternative to Rounds. Meanwhile, former House candidate Rick Weiland is running on the Democratic side, but his own party’s leadership is openly unhappy with their prospects if he is the nominee. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating: Lean Republican. Full story

June 7, 2013

Where Will the Millionaire Cattle Rancher Run in Nebraska?

A cattle rancher and a university president get into a Senate race. Sounds like the opening of a bad joke, but it could describe the new political terrain in Nebraska.

Now that GOP Gov. Dave Heineman has declined to run to replace retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, a handful of Republicans are weighing their options for a seat that should stay in GOP hands. Former state Treasurer Shane Osborn didn’t waste any time announcing his candidacy, but he won’t have the field all to himself. Wealthy former state party chairman/2006 nominee Pete Ricketts will apparently decide on a bid within the next month.

According to Leavenworth Street, a conservative blog in Nebraska, millionaire cattle rancher Charles Herbster is a potential candidate for Senate or governor. Herbster — not to be confused with Jeffster! (see video below) — owns Herbster Angus Farms and Conklin, and has personal money and inroads in the evangelical Christian community that could boost his candidacy (via Nebraska Politics in Stereo).

Full story

May 28, 2013

Nebraska Senate: Osborn Likely to Announce Candidacy Soon

Republicans are also waiting to see if Fortenberry runs for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans are also waiting to see if Fortenberry runs for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Nebraska Treasurer Shane Osborn is likely to announce his candidacy for the Senate within the next few days, according to usually reliable GOP insiders.

While in the Navy, Osborn was detained by the Chinese in 2001 after the plane he was piloting was forced to land following a collision with a Chinese fighter jet. Osborn was elected state treasurer in 2006, but did not seek re-election in 2010. He was involved in a messy divorce. Full story

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