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Steady Simms Guides House Republicans Through Tumultuous 2016

Rob Simms, executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, speaks with a reporter in his office on Capitol Hill. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A framed collection of 10 Post-It notes hangs on the wall above Rob Simms’ desk. Each yellow square has a different emotion written in black Sharpie, but with the same stern looking face. It’s a monument to Simms’ steadiness from former co-workers, and that’s precisely what House Republicans need this cycle.

As Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Simms presides over the tension between Republicans’ holding their largest House majority in 80 years and the prospect of a polarizing presidential nominee who could wipe it all away in November.

Ratings Shift in Three Senate Races

McCain will probably never be safe from a primary challenge as long as he stays in the Senate (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

A year out from the 2016 elections, the playing field of competitive Senate races is still taking shape, with ratings changes in three contests.  

The new Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call ratings are listed below — with more analysis is included in Friday’s edition of the Report.  

Top Races to Watch in 2016: The South

Rubio's decision not to run for re-election while he runs for president creates a hot race for a pivotal Senate seat.

   

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of looks at the most competitive House and Senate races in the 2016 election cycle. The South region includes: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Florida Senate:  From competitive primaries to the general election, the race to replace GOP Sen. Marco Rubio should have it all. Rubio left his party a competitive open seat to defend in the wake of his White House bid. The Republican field is still taking shape, but a competitive primary looks likely. Reps. Ron DeSantis and Jeff Miller, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera are running. Rep. Patrick Murphy is running on the Democratic side, but could be joined by colorful Rep. Alan Grayson in what would be an entertaining primary. Even though there is uncertainty about the nominees, the general election is likely to be one of the most competitive in the country, and a virtual must-win for Democrats to get back to the majority. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race as a Pure Tossup .  

Senator Discloses Parkinson's, Still Plans to Run in '16

Sen. Johnny Isakson has Parkinson's disease, he announced Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:53 p.m. | Sen. Johnny Isakson announced Wednesday that he suffers from Parkinson's disease, but will still run for re-election in 2016.

Senate Races, Pro Salaries and Perspective on Spending

Reid, pictured here with fellow Las Vegas native and Washington National Bryce Harper, has railed against the influence of money in politics. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Complaining about campaign spending is a time-honored tradition, along with the Kentucky Derby and Major League Baseball. But a closer look reveals the dollars spent on controlling government pales in comparison to spending in other areas of life. Speaker John A. Boehner tried to make that point recently with Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press ." "We spend more money on antacids than we do on politics,” the Ohio Republican said. "We live in an imperfect democracy. But as bad as it is, let me tell you this. It’s better than any other place in the world."  

Even though Politifact rated Boehner’s statement as false,  because his spending figure apparently accounted for worldwide sales and not just domestic, his overall call for perspective on spending is worth considering.  

Georgia Senator to Seek Re-Election

Isakson, left, is running for re-election. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Johnny Isakson will seek a third term in the Senate and will soon launch his campaign.  

The Georgia Republican will kick off his campaign on Nov. 17 at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, according to an email to supporters. Only a week ago, the Peach State found itself at the center of the fight for the Senate. Democrats invested heavily in the bid of their candidate, Michelle Nunn. Republican David Perdue prevailed, holding retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss' seat for the GOP.  

GOP Candidates More Popular Than Democrats in Top Senate Races

Landrieu arrives at a rally with supporters in Shreveport. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Here is an emerging surprise of the midterm elections: Republican candidates are more popular than Democratic candidates in top Senate contests.  

It’s no secret the path to victory for Democrats in the Senate was to demonize GOP candidates in the eyes of voters who are dissatisfied with President Barack Obama. For much of the cycle, Democrats were banking on their incumbents’ personal popularity and connection to each of their states being enough to carry them to victory.  

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 .  

The Recount Rules Guide for 2014

recount rules

After the polls close Tuesday, it's likely at least a handful of House and Senate races will be too close to call .  

What would happen next for these tight contests? In most cases, once all the votes are collected and counted, it's a pesky procedure that keeps candidates and canvassers up at night for days or weeks: the recount.  

Weak GOP Candidates May Need More Than a Good Year

Tillis hopes to unseat Hagan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans have the wind at their backs this year. But not every GOP nominee is taking advantage of that dynamic. As usual, some candidates are under-performing, proving once again that candidates and the campaigns they choose to run actually matter.  

That should come as no surprise to anyone who watched Republican Senate nominees Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana implode in 2012 or Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell and Colorado Republican Ken Buck lose in 2010.