Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 20, 2014

April 18, 2014

Michele Bachmann Endorses in Florida Special Election

Michele Bachmann Endorses in Florida Special Election

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., endorsed in a Florida special election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has endorsed businessman Curt Clawson with days to go in the Republican primary race to replace former Florida Rep. Trey Radel.

Clawson’s announcement of the endorsement offered no statement from the retiring congresswoman, but the candidate heaped praise on Bachmann, the founder of the House Tea Party Caucus.

“Congresswoman Bachmann was tea party before there was a tea party, and after this year she will be missed in Congress,” Clawson said. “With a victory next Tuesday, we can continue the work she has started to protect our Constitution and restore fiscal integrity to Washington.”

Clawson faces a competitive primary on Tuesday. His chief rivals are state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto and former state Rep. Paige Kreegel.

Bachmann joins several national Republicans who backed candidates in the race for Florida’s 19th District. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., also endorsed Clawson. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and two members of Congress recently backed Benacquisto.

The winner of the primary is likely to win the June 24 special election. The race is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Jack Kingston Works His Base at Rural Cookout

Jack Kingston Works His Base at Rural Cookout

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., greets supporters as he arrives at an annual cookout. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Jack Kingston Works His Base at Rural CookoutGLENNVILLE, Ga. — Rep. Jack Kingston, who’s represented Savannah in Congress for the last two decades, was at home Thursday evening in nearby Tattnall County, where elected officials and candidates streamed in to put their face in front of the loads of sheriffs, police and first responders gathered on the grounds of a rural pond house.

The Republican was one of three candidates vying for the party’s Senate nomination to attend the 27th annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Cookout, held just outside Kingston’s district. More than 1,000 people from around the state were on hand, sipping light beer and munching on pork barbecue, smoked chicken, Cadillac rice and Brunswick stew. Kingston, the only candidate with a campaign booth, could barely turn around without running into someone he knew, inevitably wearing his campaign sticker.

Southeast Georgia is Kingston country. His campaign has been working for months to broaden his brand beyond this area and into vote-rich Atlanta ahead of the competitive May 20 primary. But on this day, the congressman was sewing up his base.

Full story

Where Is Democratic Super PAC Spending Money? These 24 Districts Get Fall TV Reservations

Where Is Democratic Super PAC Spending Money? These 24 Districts Get Fall TV Reservations

Raul Ruiz, seen here during his 2012 campaign in California, is among the freshmen Democrats getting a boost from a super PAC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority PAC, a super PAC with the aim of electing House Democrats, announced its first round of television reservations for the fall.

The reservations, totaling about $6.5 million, are for “the final weeks of the election in 24 districts,” a news release stated.

The super PAC during the 2012 cycle made its first round of reservations in early July in partnership with the Service Employees International Union.

“By placing these reservations early, we will make our dollars go further and ensure we have the air time to effectively fight back against the flood of Koch brothers’ dollars,” House Majority PAC Executive Director Alixandria Lapp said in a statement.

The super PAC is on offensive in six Republican-held districts and on defense in 18 Democratic districts. Often, releasing ad reservations to the press is a means to telegraph to allies, like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, how outside groups intend to spend money.

Below is a breakdown of the buys, categorized by offensive and defensive targets:

Full story

April 17, 2014

Republicans Prepare for Primary Fight in Wisconsin House Race

Republicans Prepare for Primary Fight in Wisconsin House Race

Petri is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For the first time in 35 years, Wisconsin Republicans are gearing up for a divisive primary in the 6th District.

GOP Rep. Tom Petri’s retirement announcement last week has made the district more competitive, but Republicans are expected to hold the seat. (The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates this race as a Safe Republican contest.)

Two Republicans have thrown their hats into the ring so far.

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Republican Hits Vulnerable West Virginia Democrat in First TV Spot

Updated 5:48 p.m. | State Sen. Evan Jenkins, a Republican challenging Rep. Nick J. Rahall II in West Virginia, is up with his first ad — an attack on Democrats’ attack on Jenkins.

Dizzy yet? Just wait.

The Jenkins spot seeks to tie Rahall to a flare up between the Jenkins campaign and House Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to electing Democrats to the House.

“Nick Rahall, a lying politician, just like Obama,” the male narrator says.

Runoff Likely in Crowded N.C. Open-Seat Race

Runoff Likely in Crowded N.C. Open Seat Race

Coble will leave Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican nominee in the crowded race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Howard Coble likely won’t be known until mid-summer.

Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger Jr., the son and namesake of one of North Carolina’s most powerful Republican officials, has a firm grip on the front-runner position. But GOP operatives in the Tar Heel State said Berger, whose father Phil Berger Sr. is president pro tem of the state Senate, is unlikely to surpass the 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff in the May 6 primary.

“I believe [Berger Jr.] has a name ID advantage just because of who his dad is,” said Matt Bales, a researcher with the non-partisan FreeEnterprise Foundation in North Carolina.

The primary has become a race for second place, and many North Carolina operatives said the rest of the nine-candidate GOP field is largely unknown, unwieldy and hard to assess.

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Republican Super PAC Ad Attacks Club for Growth

Republican Super PAC Ad Attacks Club for Growth

Simpson, left, conducts a hearing in early April. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A super PAC that defends Republican incumbents went up on air Thursday with an ad that both touts Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson’s conservative credentials and attacks the outside groups seeking to oust him in an upcoming primary.

The ad, released by Defending Main Street, seeks to discredit the Club for Growth — the main group attacking Simpson in the May 20 primary. It ties Club for Growth President Chris Chocola to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., a villain to the Republican Party, and questions the club’s priorities.

“His group spends more money trying to defeat Republicans than defeating Democrats,” the narrator accuses, before going on to highlight Simpson’s votes against the Affordable Care Act and his endorsement from the National Rifle Association.

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House Republicans Promote Seven Candidates

The National Republican Congressional Committee has elevated seven more candidates to the second-level “Contender” status of its Young Guns program for top House GOP prospects.

All GOP House candidates are eligible to apply for the Young Guns program. According to the NRCC, “Contender candidates have completed stringent program metrics and are on the path to developing a mature and competitive campaign operation.” The NRCC does not release any specifics on those benchmarks.

These seven additions are either running against Democratic incumbents or in open-seat races that the NRCC has deemed “favorable to the GOP candidate.”

The seven candidates are:

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Michelle Nunn Hits Bipartisan Tone in Georgia Senate Stump Speech

Michelle Nunn Hits Bipartisan Tone in Georgia Senate Stump Speech

Michelle Nunn leaves a campaign event in Shellman, Ga. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Michelle Nunn Hits Bipartisan Tone in Georgia Senate Stump SpeechSHELLMAN, Ga. — Michelle Nunn strolled along train tracks stretching past a depleted downtown lined with empty storefronts and toward a crowd of supporters hoping to meet the state’s next senator.

At a private home in the southwestern corner of the state, the first-time candidate greeted a bipartisan duo of state legislators, chatted up some 50 curious admirers and delivered a rhythmic 10-minute stump speech that was heavy on bipartisanship and light on an unpopular president.

“We have a real viable race here,” Nunn said.

How viable depends in part on which Republicans emerge from the May 20 primary and who is nominated in the July 22 runoff. That crowded race remains up in the air, with five Republicans capable of advancing. As a result, the contest to replace retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss is stuck in idle until mid-summer, giving Nunn another three months to prepare for the general. Full story

‘Desperate Housewives,’ Spielberg Donate in L.A. Race

Desperate Housewives, Spielberg Donate in L.A. Race

Actress Marcia Cross, seen at a 2008 Capitol Hill press conference about breast cancer, is among the stars donating in California's 33rd District race. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., counts many of Hollywood’s biggest names among his constituents in his 33rd District, located in the wealthy areas of L.A. County including Santa Monica, Malibu and Beverly Hills.

But now that he’s retiring from Congress after 20 terms, many of those famous names are appearing in the fundraising reports of the more than one dozen candidates seeking to replace him.

Full story

April 16, 2014

Ted Cruz Endorses Candidate in Oklahoma Senate Race

 

Ted Cruz Endorses Candidate in Oklahoma Senate Race

Cruz is a Republican from Texas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, endorsed former state Speaker T.W. Shannon in Oklahoma’s Senate special election, marking the latest tea party leader to back his candidacy in the Sooner State.

Shannon will face GOP Rep. James Lankford, as well as a handful of other lesser-known Republicans, in a June 24 special election primary. There is a special election because Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has announced he will vacate his Senate seat at the end of this Congress, two years before his term expires in 2016.

“T.W. Shannon is a strong Constitutional conservative who will fight for individual liberty and help turn our country around,” Cruz said in a Wednesday news release. “T.W. embodies the American dream. I’m proud to offer T.W. my enthusiastic endorsement because not only will he vote the right way, but he’ll stand up and fight with us in the Senate to stop President Obama’s assault on our liberties and defend America’s founding principles.”

Bentivolio’s Republican Rival Goes On the Air

The Republican challenger to Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, R-Mich., is on the air with a positive spot and is putting big money behind it.

Attorney David Trott’s campaign aired a spot featuring him commuting to work and touts him as a job creator and Washington outsider. A spokeswoman said the campaign’s ad buy was well into the six figures.

Trott has plenty of money to spend on advertising. He raised $587,000 in the first quarter of this year and reported a little more than $1 million in cash on hand. Part of his haul was self-funded: Trott contributed $400,000 to the campaign earlier this year.

Full story

Tony Strickland Up With First TV Ad in California House Contest

Former state Sen. Tony Strickland released his first ad in his bid for California’s open 25th District on Wednesday, laying out his priorities, including GOP favorites like repealing the Affordable Care Act, cutting spending and balancing the budget.

Strickland, a Republican, is one of a number of candidates seeking to succeed retiring Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif. He will face GOP state Sen. Steve Knight, podiatrist Lee Rogers, a Democrat, and several other candidates in a June 3 top-two primary. The two candidates with the highest vote totals advance to the general election in November, regardless of party.

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A Low-Key Paul Broun Campaigns for Senate in Georgia

A Low Key Paul Broun Campaigns for Senate in Georgia

Broun speaks with supporter Jim Serrate, of Acworth, Ga., at the conclusion of the Cobb County Republican Women's Club candidate forum on Tuesday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Low Key Paul Broun Campaigns for Senate in GeorgiaMARIETTA, Ga. — If one knew of Rep. Paul Broun only from a 90-minute Senate candidate forum Tuesday, it wouldn’t be obvious he is the cause of so much heartburn among Republican strategists from Capitol Hill to Atlanta — all hoping to hold the party’s most vulnerable open seat.

Broun, known widely for his controversial comments on evolution and other topics, sat stoic and expressionless on the dais as four other Georgia Republican hopefuls professed their conservative credentials. Each time the moderator called on him, Broun took a slow, deep breath before calmly — though sometimes haltingly — laying out his views and record on a range of issues.

That included his bill to prohibit “amnesty” in any comprehensive immigration overhaul, his bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act and his staunch support of the Second Amendment. All are firmly conservative positions, but his answers lacked any hint of the rhetoric that has some party insiders concerned his nomination would put in jeopardy a seat the party must hold for any hope of winning the Senate majority. Full story

House Democrats Bank Over $10 Million in March

House Democrats Bank Over $10 Million in March

Steve Israel of New York is the Chairman of the DCCC. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $10.3 million in March, according to a committee aide.

The haul comes in the same month that President Barack Obama headlined a Miami fundraiser for the House Democrats’ campaign arm. The DCCC will report $40.2 million in cash on hand. Full story

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