Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 24, 2014

Posts in "Virginia"

August 28, 2014

Top 5 Races to Watch in the South

 Top 5 Races to Watch in the South

Landrieu’s race could decide the majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The South continues to be dominated by big Senate races, with a couple of interesting House races sprinkled in for fun.

There have been two changes to the 5 races to watch list since last summer. North Carolina’s 7th District dropped off after Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre chose retirement instead of another competitive race against Republican David Rouzer. The Kentucky Senate race is still competitive between Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, but everyone will be watching that race regardless of whether I include it on the list.

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

July 11, 2014

Imperfect People Get Elected to the Senate

banking004 070814 445x295 Imperfect People Get Elected to the Senate

Warren is a Democrat from Massachusetts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the heat of the campaign, it can be easy to disqualify or dismiss candidates based on unsettling, or sometimes unseemly, revelations. But all you have to do is look at the current lineup of senators to realize that imperfect people win elections.

Connecticut is a great place to start.

In 2010, The New York Times pointed out inconsistencies between Democratic state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s rhetoric and his military service during the Vietnam era. It became a major issue in the campaign, but Blumenthal prevailed, 55 percent to 43 percent, over former wrestling executive Linda McMahon. Full story

June 11, 2014

How and Why Eric Cantor Lost

gop003 030514 445x296 How and Why Eric Cantor Lost

Eric Cantor lost his primary on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary in convincing fashion, but there appear to be two separate questions: How did he lose? And why was it a surprise?

One thing that everyone should be able to agree on is that Cantor’s loss was historic. According to CQ Roll Call research, he is the first majority leader to lose in a primary since the creation of the position in 1899.

So how did Cantor lose? Full story

June 5, 2014

Why Do We Suddenly Care About Races for Lt. Governor?

The office of lieutenant governor is so important that five states don’t even have one, yet that hasn’t stopped the national political media from treating some contests for the office as crucial indicators of something.

In the recent primary runoff in Texas, anti-establishment conservative state Sen. Dan Patrick unseated incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst by a sizable margin. The result received considerable attention since it fit neatly into the “tea party takeover of the Republican Party” narrative that has been struggling to survive since all but one GOP member of Congress won his or her primary through the end of May.

Maybe it’s the proliferation of political reporters and news outlets or the lack of other serious contests, or a mixture of both, but the conclusion that a race for lieutenant governor has some larger, long-term political impact is still unproved. 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 16, 2014

Ratings Change: Virginia Senate

Republicans continue to expand the Senate map in their quest to win back the majority in 2014. With former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie in the race, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner can no longer take his re-election race for granted. But Virginia is still a long way from the most competitive contests in the country.

Gillespie should be a credible contender who can raise considerable money, given his national connections. At the same time, he isn’t parachuting into the commonwealth. He is a former chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia and has been active in federal and state campaigns for almost a decade. But while he is well-known to political reporters and insiders, Gillespie is far from a household name in Virginia. 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

December 17, 2013

Race Ratings Change: Wolf’s Retirement Moves Virginia’s 10th District

FtHood 003 073112 445x288 Race Ratings Change: Wolf’s Retirement Moves Virginia’s 10th District

Wolf is retiring. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf’s retirement gives Democrats an opportunity to win Virginia’s 10th District next year.

Democratic strategists have had their eye on the Northern Virginia seat, but the 17-term congressman has been a considerable roadblock in their efforts to take over the seat.

On paper, the district is competitive, but still slightly Republican after redistricting. Full story

November 11, 2013

Why Most Postmortems of Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race Are Wrong

The dust has settled (mostly) from last week’s elections, so I thought it time to present a very different assessment of what happened in Virginia than the snapshot I’ve seen from others.

For example, Democracy Corps and Women’s Voices, Women Vote Action Fund distributed a wholly self-serving and unconvincing memo titled “Unmarried Women Cast Deciding Votes in Virginia Election.” It’s unconvincing, of course, because Republicans always lose unmarried women, regardless of an election’s outcome. Unmarried women are more liberal than most voters and are not part of any winning Republican coalition.

NBC’s Domenico Montanaro and The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart credited African-American turnout for Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s victory, as did Jamelle Bouie of The Daily Beast. Wrong as well, I’m afraid.

Others have noted, quite incorrectly, that the partisan makeup of the 2013 electorate wasn’t very different from the makeup of the 2012 electorate in Virginia, suggesting that Democrats have found some formula for turning out key voting groups in lower turnout elections that could help them offset what most expect to be a less Democratic-inclined electorate for the 2014 midterms.

While these assessments tell a part of the story and certainly should force Republican voters and strategists to take a clear-eyed look at the long-term prospects of the current GOP coalition, they don’t explain last week’s results in Virginia, nor do they offer meaningful insights into 2014. 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

September 9, 2013

Ratings Change: Virginia Governor

DEMS 04 11072011 445x305 Ratings Change: Virginia Governor

McAuliffe now has a small advantage in the race for governor. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the stretch run for the Virginia gubernatorial election begins, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has established himself as a narrow but clear front-runner over state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican.

Polling generally shows the Democrat with a consistent mid-to-upper single digit lead, a significant advantage in a three-way race at this point in the cycle given the TV advertising that has already aired.

Cuccinelli’s strong TV ads attacking McAuliffe on jobs and China have not helped him transform the race, and the coverage surrounding GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell and the state’s first lady has diluted the impact of Cuccinelli’s message about McAuliffe’s ethics. Full story

July 22, 2013

Want to Run for Congress? Prepare to Ask People for Money 8 Hours a Day

As a political analyst, it’s easy to criticize candidates for not raising enough money. But it’s also easy to forget how hard it is to raise money. And it’s no wonder that most potential candidates pause before taking the plunge into a congressional race because of the burden of fundraising.

The dirty secret of campaigns is that unless a candidate is independently wealthy, the vast majority of his or her time will be spent raising money. Those kitchen table meetings with struggling parents and standing up for the Constitution on a street corner soapbox? They’re put on the back burner compared with fundraising for candidates who hope to win. 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 19, 2013

RATINGS CHANGE: Virginia’s 2nd District

rigell 15 081910 445x284 RATINGS CHANGE: Virginias 2nd District

Democrats want to target Rigell. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When you’re 17 seats short of a majority in the House, it’s easy to say that every competitive district is a “must win” for Democrats. But Virginia’s 2nd District is a microcosm of Democratic difficulties.

The 2nd District is anchored in the politically competitive Hampton Roads region. President Barack Obama won the seat twice (albeit narrowly), in the 2008 and 2012 elections. Meanwhile Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., was elected to the House in 2010, 53 percent to 42 percent, over one-term Democratic Rep. Glenn Nye. Full story

May 21, 2013

Todd Akin, Virginia Style?

Until Saturday night, I had never heard of E.W. Jackson, a Harvard Law School graduate and minister who served three years in the Marine Corps and attended Harvard Divinity School.

I’ve never met the man, but I already know that Republicans in the commonwealth of Virginia have a problem with their new nominee for lieutenant governor.

The combination of material on Jackson’s own website and the videos of Jackson speaking for himself suggest that Republicans have nominated a no-holds-barred social conservative who seems destined to utter the sort of controversial comments reminiscent of former Missouri Republican Rep. Todd Akin. Full story

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