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April 24, 2014

Posts in "North Carolina"

April 17, 2014

Republican Whacks Harry Reid in New North Carolina Senate Ad

Thom Tillis 8 092413 445x312 Republican Whacks Harry Reid in New North Carolina Senate Ad

Tillis is a Republican running for Senate in North Carolina. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

Earlier this week, Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic group, went up with an ad attacking Republican state Speaker Thom Tillis for his connection to former aides who had inappropriate relationships with lobbyists.

Now, the Tillis campaign is set to go on television with a response ad.

The 30-second spot, titled “Meddling,” accuses Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., of “trying to fool Republican voters, meddling in our primary to get a weak opponent for Kay Hagan.”

The North Carolina Senate race is rated Toss-up/Tilt Democrat by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call, in part, because of uncertainty in the GOP primary.

According to a source with the Tillis campaign, the ad will be placed in rotation in a previous, ongoing ad buy, including $554,683 placed from April 14 to May 4.

Here is the transcript of the ad, produced by OnMessage, Inc.: Full story

February 7, 2014

How Candidates Share Without Coordinating With Outside Groups

With each passing election cycle, both parties are figuring out new ways to skirt campaign finance laws.

A couple years ago, I wrote about how the official and independent expenditure wings of the campaign committees share opposition research and message points through less-traveled regions of the Web. That “IE Strategy Borders on Art Form” might be worth a second glance as the cycle heats up.

Some candidates are also conveniently sharing video footage for potential use by independent groups for television ads through links that are sometimes difficult to find unless you know where to look.

For example, Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is running for the open Senate seat in Iowa. includes a trio of b-roll videos, but the webpage is found only by a small link at the bottom of the main page.

Need video of Braley talking with old people? No problem. There’s “Bruce Braley Stands With Iowa Seniors” — one minute and 23 seconds of gripping b-roll of the congressman with senior citizens layered with smooth elevator music, unencumbered by audio of Braley or a narrator actually talking. Full story

February 5, 2014

Ratings Update: North Carolina’s 2nd District

Everyone take a deep breath. Thanks to Clay Aiken, North Carolina’s 2nd District just became the most talked-about House race in the country. Unfortunately, the hype doesn’t match up with the reality.

The truth is that Aiken’s challenge to GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers doesn’t even make the list of 50 most competitive House races. Political handicapping might seem like some sort of mysterious and magical formula, but for the vast majority of contests, it’s very simple. And in this case, Aiken is a Democrat running in a very Republican district.

That’s about all you need to know. Running as a Democrat in a Republican district in President Barack Obama’s second midterm election will very likely trump any celebrity appeal gained from “American Idol” or “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

Let’s put an Aiken candidacy into context: Ellmers was first elected in 2010 by defeating Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge by less than 1 point in a great Republican year. But that was in a dramatically different district. Obama won that district in 2008 with 52 percent, but Republicans subsequently redrew the congressional lines, and the 2nd became a district that John McCain would have won 56 percent to 43 percent. That’s a dramatic partisan shift, and Ellmers won re-election with 56 percent in 2012.

The bottom line is that, if Aiken were elected, North Carolina’s 2nd District would be the second-most-Republican district represented by a Democrat. (Mitt Romney had 57 percent of the vote there to Obama’s 42 percent in 2012.) If Democratic Rep. Nick J. Rahall II loses re-election in West Virginia’s 3rd District (where Obama had 33 percent), Aiken would be a Democrat representing the most Republican district in the country.

Can Aiken become the next Jim Matheson, Mike McIntyre, John Barrow, or Collin C. Peterson? It would be very difficult, considering that those Democratic congressmen have been able to hold on to their seats because they were incumbents and demonstrated deep ties to their districts. Aiken is a political neophyte who will be more easily defined as a national Democrat now that he has stepped onto the partisan stage.

North Carolina’s 2nd District is more Democratic than Utah’s 4th District (30 percent of the vote went to Obama) and North Carolina’s 7th District (40 percent), where the incumbents are retiring, and less Democratic than Georgia’s 12th District and Minnesota’s 7th District, where Obama had 44 percent.

The natural question is whether Aiken’s celebrity profile gives him unique crossover appeal. The answer is probably not. Last fall, I spoke with former Minnesota candidate Patty Wetterling, who started her congressional campaign in 2004 with a reservoir of name identification and goodwill as a child safety advocate after her son was abducted in 1989. But that didn’t translate into electoral success.

“Once I became a candidate, 50 percent automatically didn’t like me,” Wetterling recalled. “I was surprised. I was naive. But I was also altruistic in my reasons for doing it.”

Aiken must quickly prove that he is an independent, conservative Democrat beyond getting appointed to a commission by President George W. Bush. Let’s also not ignore the elephant in the room. Aiken is gay at a time when the seven openly gay members of the House represent districts that Obama carried with an average of 58 percent, and none of them represent a district won by Romney.

Until Democrats demonstrate that this is a serious contest, we’re maintaining the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race as Safe Republican.

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 14, 2014

Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

tennis004 050813 445x300 Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats

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

January 8, 2014

Ratings Change: North Carolina’s 7th District

tennis004 050813 445x300 Ratings Change: North Carolinas 7th District

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

The House handicapping whiplash continues. Just days after Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., announced his retirement and gave Democrats an opportunity to win his 6th District seat, Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., announced his retirement, moving his 7th District from Pure Tossup to Safe Republican.

McIntyre has been a consistent GOP target, particularly after the last round of redistricting, when Republicans mapmakers redrew his district to be much more Republican. Mitt Romney won the 7th District, 59 percent to 40 percent, in 2012. John McCain carried it, 58 percent to 42 percent, in 2008 and President George W. Bush won it, 62 percent to 38 percent, in 2004.

In the face of long odds, McIntyre prevailed last cycle, 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, over Republican David Rouzer. Full story

Pay No Attention to That Title of Speaker in Front of My Name

As speaker of the state House, Thom Tillis is one of the most powerful politicians in North Carolina. But you wouldn’t know it from the Republican’s first ad in the U.S. Senate race.

“In the private sector, businesses are built on accountability,” Tillis says. “But accountability is a foreign language in Washington.” He goes on to couple Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan with President Barack Obama in the ad titled, “Let’s Clean Up Her Mess.”

Full story

January 7, 2014

Early TV Ads: Not New and Mostly a Waste of Money

By mid-December, more than $17.5 million had been spent on TV ads in just four Senate contests: in North Carolina ($8.3 million), Kentucky ($3.5 million), Arkansas ($3.4 million) and Louisiana ($2.3 million), according to a recent piece by Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad.

The numbers are interesting and newsworthy. But it’s important to understand the dirty little secret of early TV ads: At the end of the day, most of the ads, and most of the money spent on them, won’t make a dime’s worth of difference in the November results.

I know because I’ve seen this movie before — almost 30 years ago. Full story

October 1, 2013

Republican Senate Hopefuls Vary in Quality, Approach

I recently interviewed four Republican Senate candidates in the space of one week, and if I had to draw a single assessment from those meetings it would be that there is plenty of diversity in the GOP’s class of Senate hopefuls.The four differed in stature, style and background, and they dealt with the party’s internal debate of style and strategies in a variety of ways.

Republicans must hold South Carolina and win at least one — maybe more — of the other three races to have any chance of taking back the Senate next year. And that makes these contests in South Carolina, North Carolina, Iowa and Alaska all worth watching.

On one end of the continuum was state Sen. Lee Bright, one of three conservatives who hopes to deny South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham renomination and win the GOP nod himself.

Bright, whose professional career started with selling televisions at Circuit City, has experienced a series of business setbacks. In fact, I’m not entirely clear how he makes a living, though he said something about truck brokerage and credit card processing. He seems affable, but he lacks gravitas. Full story

September 23, 2013

Family Politics: When Water Is Thicker Than Blood

The relationship between parents and children can be complicated, particularly when both are politicians.

On Monday, state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger announced that he wouldn’t challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina.

In an interview with Reid Wilson of The Washington Post before his decision, Berger mentioned professional commitments to his colleagues at the state level as well as personal commitments to his family.

Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr. wants to run for Congress when GOP Rep. Howard Coble’s 6th District seat becomes open, and local sources say the elder Berger wasn’t interested in taking a political step this cycle that might hurt his son’s chances.

Berger wouldn’t have to give up his post as one of the most powerful politicians in the state just because his son was running for Congress. But he has been openly supportive of his son’s political aspirations in private conversations and realized that a Senate run could make his son’s life more complicated. Full story

July 11, 2013

Top 5 Races to Watch in the South

This cycle, the South is dominated by competitive Senate races. That doesn’t mean there won’t be critical House races (including Florida’s 18th and 26th districts) or other interesting contests (such as the crowded Republican primary in Georgia).

Here are the top five races to watch in the South next year:

Arkansas Senate. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, is one of the most vulnerable senators in the country, and he represents a state where President Barack Obama has never been popular. Republicans are likely to nominate Rep. Tom Cotton, who appears to be a rare breed in that he appeals to both the tea party and the establishment. If Republicans can’t defeat Pryor, they ain’t getting back to the majority anytime soon. Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Rating: Pure Toss-Up. Full story

June 14, 2013

Whither the Competitive Open-Seat Race?

NRCC 02 111312 445x295 Whither the Competitive Open Seat Race?

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden, left, of Oregon might have to contend with fewer open seats this cycle. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Open seats are supposed to be opportunities. Without longtime incumbents on the ballot, these districts should be easier to takeover. But six months into the 2014 cycle, that just isn’t the case on the House side.

So far, there are 10 districts slated to be open seats because the member is running for higher office or retiring in 2014.  Either President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney won all of them with at least 55 percent last year.

Full story

March 29, 2013

What State Political Trends Portend for the 2014 Midterms

PryorCollins032813 445x267 What State Political Trends Portend for the 2014 Midterms

Neither Pryor, left, or Collins have a party identification that fits with the political bend of their state. But while Collins has a strong brand and is not viewed as particularly vulnerable in 2014, Pryor is a top target for Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Correction, 2:12 p.m. | There probably isn’t a better demonstration of the nation’s partisan political polarization than the makeup of the Senate. Only 17 states have split delegations, while 33 states have either two Republicans or two Democrats (or two senators who caucus with the same party, in the case of independents).

Compare those numbers to the Senate makeup three decades ago, and the change is clear. After the 1982 elections, 24 states had split delegations, while 26 had two members of the same party.

Some of the changes show how state (and national) politics have evolved.

Thirty years ago, Kentucky had two Democratic senators, Walter Huddleston and Wendell Ford. But in 1984, Ronald Reagan carried the state by almost 20 points, running so strongly that he helped drag in an obscure GOP Senate nominee. That upset winner, Mitch McConnell, narrowly defeated Huddleston to begin the state’s transformation into a Republican stronghold in federal races. Full story

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