Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Posts in "Virginia"

January 27, 2016

Ratings Changes in 5 House Races


While voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are poised to kick off the presidential primaries, the national House landscape continues to take shape.

You can read updated analysis on 102 districts across the country in the Jan. 25 issue of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, but here is a quick list of ratings changes for five seats, in coordination with Roll Call.
Full story

January 14, 2016

Rigell Retirement Shifts Seat Out of Safe for GOP


UNITED STATES - APRIL 4: Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., arrives at the Capitol for the last vote of the week on Friday, April 4, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rigell’s retirement will likely cause Democrats to take a look at the seat he is vacating. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Scott Rigell is retiring from Virginia’s 2nd District, leaving a competitive open seat for his party to defend. The news, first reported by the Virginian-Pilot, was a surprise to some people who have worked closely with the congressman in the past.

The Virginia Beach-based district is competitive. President Barack Obama won it 50 percent to 49 percent in 2012 and 51 percent to 48 percent in 2008 and Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly won the 2nd, 47 percent to 46 percent, in the 2013 gubernatorial election against conservative Republican Ken Cuccinelli, under the current lines. But a court-ordered map would improve the GOP performance of the seat by a couple of points.

Full story

December 17, 2015

Why House Races Still Matter (Even in Safe Districts)


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Brat’s primary upset over then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 interrupted the GOP’s succession plan, which was years in the making. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The media is laser focused on Donald Trump and the presidential race and any scraps of attention are given to the fight for the Senate majority, while House races are deemed irrelevant.

But even though the majority is not in imminent danger, there are at least three reasons to pay attention to House races.

Full story

December 3, 2015

4 Court Cases That Could Impact the 2016 Elections


UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 2: Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., listens during the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing on "Saving Medicare for Seniors Today and in the Future," in the Cannon House Office Building on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The court will review whether Virginia lawmakers improperly “packed” minority voters into Scott district to minimize their influence elsewhere. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Breaking news can be hard to predict, except when it’s tied to a controversial court case.

Candidates and consultants spend their time, energy and dollars staying on message — trying to focus voters on winning issues. But breaking news, even something such as a court decision that can be anticipated, often derails those plans by interjecting a subject that wasn’t in the campaign prospectus into the national conversation. 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

November 24, 2014

What Did — and Didn’t — Surprise Me This Cycle


Every election cycle is filled with twists and turns, upsets and surprises. And every cycle is filled with goofy arguments, warnings about things that never happen and unsurprising outcomes that surprise only the politically uneducated.

For me, the biggest surprises included Dave Brat’s primary upset of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Thad Cochran’s win in the Mississippi Republican Senate runoff and Larry Hogan Jr.’s victory and margin in Maryland’s gubernatorial race.

Primary upsets happen, in part because reliable polling is so scarce. Without it, local observers have to rely on anecdotal evidence, which often is unreliable. But the idea that some underfunded college professor might deny renomination to Cantor, whatever his flaws and vulnerabilities, struck me as somewhere between silly and delusional.

Apparently, I was the one who was delusional.

Full story

August 28, 2014

Top 5 Races to Watch in the South


Mary Landrieu

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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