Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 22, 2014

Posts in "New Jersey"

August 20, 2014

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Mid-Atlantic

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s a bad sign for Democrats when they have more Mid-Atlantic congressional opportunities in West Virginia than in Pennsylvania.

But that’s symbolic of the 2014 midterm election cycle in which numerous Democratic opportunities that look good on paper just haven’t materialized. Four out of five races have dropped off the regional Top 5 Races to Watch list since last summer.

GOP Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick is running strong in Pennsylvania’s 8th District, and his race with Democrat Kevin Strouse should barely be considered competitive at this point. The West Virginia Senate race is competitive, but it doesn’t look like Natalie Tennant has the independent profile necessary to overcome President Barack Obama’s abysmal job rating in the state.

In New York’s 23rd District, GOP Rep. Tom Reed finds ways to make races closer than they need to be, but he is polling well heading into the general-election sprint. And in New York’s 11th District, GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm is still in the game, despite his numerous indictments. But as Democrats remind voters about his legal troubles, it seems unlikely Grimm will be able to survive and that this will be a hot race come November.

Here are the top five races to watch in the Mid-Atlantic region this fall: Full story

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

July 11, 2014

Rating Change: New Jersey’s 3rd District

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Runyan is stepping down, leaving open a competitive seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Jon Runyan is only in his second term, but he quickly established himself as a very difficult target. His retirement from New Jersey’s 3rd District gives Democrats a better opportunity there, but this is no longer a pure tossup race.

The South Jersey area has been competitive, and President Barack Obama has carried the district twice. But the only time a Democrat has won the congressional seat in recent history was 2008, when John Adler won the open seat. Full story

February 19, 2014

Please Don’t Call It an Exodus From Congress

holt021814 445x296 Please Don’t Call It an Exodus From Congress

Holt announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of this Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two more members of Congress decided this would be their final term, but their exits don’t change the battle for the majority in the House. And contrary to an all-too-common media narrative, their departures do not signal an exodus from the House of Representatives.

“Two Democrats Join Exodus From U.S. Congress,” according to a recent Reuters headline and accompanying story, which described “44 Members of the House and Senate” leaving Congress after this year. But that is very misleading because it conveys the sense that we are witnessing an atypical, wholesale exit from Washington. But that’s simply not borne out by the data.

This cycle, congressional retirements have come in bunches, with House members announcing their decisions within days (or sometimes hours) of each other.

Reps. Gloria Negrete McLeod and Rush D. Holt are two good examples of the importance of making distinctions when counting retirements. I don’t consider Negrete McLeod, a California Democrat, a retirement since she is running for another office — granted, one that is outside the Beltway. I am counting the New Jersey Democrat as a true retirement since he is not seeking another office this year.

But the only way the Reuters reporter (and others) can come up with a higher number of “retirements” is to include House members who are running for another office, including the dozen representatives who are running for the Senate. It’s not an exodus from Congress if members are trying to stay in Washington and merely move their offices from one side of the Hill to the other. Full story

January 27, 2014

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up — and It’s Only January

Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell the difference between a real news story and something from The Onion.

Earlier reports that entertainer Clay Aiken was considering a run for the Democratic nomination in North Carolina’s 2nd District have been overtaken by new stories about the singer “putting together a team” and preparing to run — one post in Roll Call, plus stories in several dozen other news outlets that don’t typically cover the tick-tock of recruitment in third-tier House races.

How exciting. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the announcement. Full story

January 15, 2014

The Christie Investigation: From Inquiry to Lynching?

011514christie 426x335 The Christie Investigation: From Inquiry to Lynching?

Christie is the second-term governor of New Jersey. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The two key questions are obvious. What did New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie know, and when did he know it?

When I first heard about the George Washington Bridge scandal, I assumed that the governor knew about the phony “traffic study” and the plan to stick it to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich. Like almost every political reporter and analyst in Washington, D.C., I’m incredibly cynical, making it easy for me to believe the worst about any politician.

We still don’t know whether Christie told the entire truth at his news conference last week or whether the many investigations that are now developing — about the bridge scandal but also about other decisions made by the governor during his time in office — will show poor judgment or even malfeasance. Full story

January 14, 2014

Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

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McIntyre is retiring, giving Republicans a strong opportunity to pick up his House seat in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

I wrote my first Dangerous Dozen open House seats column in this space 14 years ago, so I figured I might as well keep the streak going, though it isn’t nearly as impressive as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak.

As in my Jan. 17, 2000, column, the districts are listed in order of vulnerability. “All of the races on the list currently are worth watching, but I’ve concluded that the races at the top of the list are more likely to change party control than those at the bottom,” I wrote back then. The same applies now.

Utah’s 4th District (Jim Matheson, a Democrat, is retiring.)

Barack Obama received 41 percent of the vote in this district in 2008, but only 30 percent in his bid for re-election. No Democrat will begin with Matheson’s goodwill or moderate record, making the district impossible to hold for his party. After November, Republicans will control all four of the state’s House districts and both Senate seats. Full story

November 6, 2013

Victory Is in the Eye of the Beholder in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama

 Victory Is in the Eye of the Beholder in New Jersey, Virginia and Alabama

McAuliffe, left, and Christie won last night. (Getty Images)

Tuesday’s election results offer something for everyone.

Democrats can look at Virginia and conclude that Republican “extremism” on social issues like abortion, contraception and guns, combined with the deep divisions that appeared in the Alabama 1st District GOP primary results, continue to offer them opportunities for 2014 and virtually guarantee victory in 2016.

Republicans can look at the tightness of the Virginia contest and conclude that the unpopularity of Obamacare strengthens their hand for 2014 and will be an albatross around the neck of the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016. Full story

New Jersey’s 3rd District Now Open, Now a Tossup

runyan001 062111 226x335 New Jersey’s 3rd District Now Open, Now a Tossup

Runyan is retiring. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP Rep. Jon Runyan’s retirement takes New Jersey’s 3rd District from the outskirts of the competitive race conversation to close to the epicenter.

Democrats have had their eye on the seat, considering President Barack Obama carried the district with 52 percent, although Runyan didn’t look particularly vulnerable. But as an open seat, the race should be much more competitive.

Obama won the district with 51 percent in 2008, but President George W. Bush carried it 52 percent to 47 percent in 2004, demonstrating the competitive nature of the district. Full story

October 3, 2013

Bad Polling + Wishful Thinking = Bad Journalism

I’m not sure which is worse — a silly Steve Lonegan poll in the New Jersey Senate race or the way a handful of conservative “news” outlets treated it. They are both pretty terrible.

Lonegan’s pollster, Rick Shaftan of Neighborhood Research/Mountaintop Media, released results Tuesday from a Sept. 27-30 survey of definite and very likely voters in the Oct. 16 special election. He found the Democrat nominee, Corey Booker, leading his client by only 6 points, 48 percent to 42 percent. Full story

October 2, 2013

Surprise! Christie Looks Strong for Re-Election in New Jersey

Christie 009 070912 445x315 Surprise! Christie Looks Strong for Re Election in New Jersey

Christie is seeking re-election in November. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Gov. Chris Christie has had a significant advantage for months. But the Democratic lean of the Garden State, and the potential that his good standing would wane after Superstorm Sandy, gave us some pause in the certainty of the governor’s re-election.

That caution looks unnecessary at this point. Full story

July 9, 2013

Top 5 Races to Watch in the Mid-Atlantic

A lone competitive Senate race in West Virginia and a few competitive House seats set the stage in the Mid-Atlantic region next year.

The bad news for Democrats is that the early list of top House races contains just one district in Pennsylvania. They would likely need closer to a handful of competitive House seats in the Keystone State, a traditional battleground, to get back to the majority after 2014.

Here are the top five races to watch in the Mid-Atlantic region next year: Full story

June 3, 2013

New Jersey Senate Remains Safe for Democrats in Long Term

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The New Jersey Senate seat will stay in Democratic hands in the long term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For the first time in more than 30 years, there will likely be a Republican senator from New Jersey.

But unless New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, pulls a rabbit out of the hat, it’s likely that Republicans will have the seat only briefly — from six months to as long as a year and a half, depending on what Christie does and how the state law is interpreted. Full story

March 20, 2013

History May Tell Us Little About GOP’s 2014 Senate Prospects

Landrieu032013 445x331 History May Tell Us Little About GOPs 2014 Senate Prospects

Some vulnerable Democrats up in 2014, such as Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, might take comfort in the fact that only a half-dozen Senate incumbents have lost since the 1990s. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A recent National Journal item caught my attention. Entitled “Expanding the Map,” it began: “When Republicans gloat about the seven Democratic-held, red-state Senate seats up in 2014, Democrats can note that only six of their incumbents have lost since the 1990s.”

The statement is true … but potentially misleading.

Yes, over the past seven elections, Republicans have defeated only six Democratic senators seeking re-election. But there are two reasons for that. First, political waves have favored Democrats more than Republicans over the past dozen years. And second, weak Republican candidates who emerged from ideological primaries failed to win very winnable races.

We have seen two Democratic wave elections in the past dozen years — in 2008 and 2006 — and only one Republican Senate wave, in 2010. But in reality, we had a third Democratic Senate wave — in 2000, when the relatively weak Republican Senate class elected in the 1994 wave came up for re-election for the first time. Five GOP incumbents lost that year, a large number considering that the presidential contest was a tie and the House results were a virtual wash. Full story

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