Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 27, 2014

November 24, 2014

Democrats Announce Finalists for 2016 Convention (Updated)

Democrats Announce Finalists for 2016 Convention (Updated)

Columbus, Ohio, is one of three possible locations for the 2016 Democratic National Convention. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:15 p.m. | The Democratic National Committee announced Monday that Philadelphia, New York and Columbus are the three finalists to host its 2016 national convention.

Two cities, Phoenix and Birmingham, Ala., were knocked from contention after party officials conducted a series of visits to assess whether they could withstand the thousands of elected officials, delegates and media expected for the event. A final decision on location will come early next year.

Democrats also narrowed down the timing for the convention: It will be held during the week of July 18, July 25 or Aug. 22 of 2016. Full story

Bill Cassidy Utilizes Weekly GOP Address, Again

Bill Cassidy Utilizes Weekly GOP Address, Again

Cassidy gave the weekly Republican address again last weekend. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Heading into a Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana against Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Rep. Bill Cassidy took a second crack at the Republican weekly address to make his case for election to the Senate.

Just as in his first address in June, the doctor by trade recalled interactions with patients as a prominent forum to hear constituent concerns on the direction of the country.

“When my patients tell me about their health concerns,” Cassidy said, “they also tell me they are worried about the economy, their jobs, the direction of our country.” Full story

Roger Wicker Looks for Fast Start at NRSC

Roger Wicker Looks for Fast Start at NRSC

Wicker sat down in his office on Nov. 19 for an exclusive interview. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Twenty-one Republican senators up for re-election in 2016 filed into the National Republican Senatorial Committee on the morning of Nov. 19 to meet with party strategists about campaign preparations.

Leading the confab with the incumbents and their chiefs of staff were incoming NRSC Chairman Roger Wicker, the Mississippi senator elected to the position a week earlier, and Ward Baker, the 2014 political director who was promoted to executive director for the new cycle. Unlike the past four NRSC administrations, this one is charged with defending a Senate majority.

Later that day, in his first newspaper interview since being elected chairman, Wicker spoke candidly about the challenges ahead. He declined to detail the meeting but said, “I guarantee you the issue of fundraising arose.” While Republicans are primed to net nine seats in 2014 with a win next month in Louisiana, the party faced two noteworthy hurdles in the midterms: a late organizational start and being significantly outraised by Democrats.

With Baker in place — about two months earlier than when Rob Collins took the helm of the committee in 2013 — Wicker already has avoided the first issue. Now, his goal is to overcome the financial disparity.

“It’s all about putting together a good staff and fundraising,” Wicker told CQ Roll Call. “And getting the right message, and more fundraising. And it all comes back, every other day, to fundraising — then spending it smart.” Full story

November 21, 2014

New DCCC Chairman Rides on Air Force One

New DCCC Chairman Rides on Air Force One

Luján was named DCCC chairman on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Four days after being named chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján was among several lawmakers who flew to Las Vegas Friday on Air Force One with President Barack Obama for an immigration event.

Obama, who unveiled an executive action on the issue Thursday night, was set to speak at a high school “to talk about the actions that he’s taken,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters during the flight. Full story

DSCC Announces 2016 Staff Roster

DSCC Announces 2016 Staff Roster

Tester was appointed DSCC chairman Nov. 13. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced on Friday its top staffing decisions for the 2016 cycle.

Many of the key staffers have previously worked for incoming DSCC Chairman Jon Tester of Montana, who is tasked with helping win back a Democratic majority. The party would need to net five seats to ensure a majority if Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu loses the runoff next month in Louisiana.

“This is an experienced team with a long history of winning incredibly tough races,” Tester said in a statement.

November 20, 2014

Democrats Look for Comebacks From Members Ousted in 2010

Democrats Look for Comebacks From Members Ousted in 2010

Murphy, a Democrat, is a former member from Pennsylvania. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats are looking to two former members — both of whom lost re-election in 2010 — as potential recruits for 2016, according to three senior House Democratic operatives.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruitment officials have discussed ex-Reps. Patrick J. Murphy of Pennsylvania and Michael E. McMahon of New York as potential candidates this cycle.  Full story

Kelly Ward Will Stay on as DCCC Executive Director

Kelly Ward Will Stay on as DCCC Executive Director

Ward is the first to remain in the job for more than one cycle. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Newly minted Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján said Kelly Ward will stay on as executive director of the committee for the second straight cycle.

In an interview with CQ Roll Call earlier this week, Luján said he hoped Ward would stay for another stint at the top of the committee tasked with helping Democrats regain a majority of seats in the House. On Thursday, Luján announced Ward had accepted the position, and noted she is the first person to spend two consecutive cycles as a DCCC leader.

“Kelly Ward brings infectious energy, unrivaled determination and key strategic insights to her job, and I am so pleased that she has agreed to stay on at the DCCC,” Luján said in a news release. “After working with Kelly for the past two years, I’ve been so impressed with her ability to both develop the strategy and operationalize the day-to-day work needed to aggressively take the fight to Republicans, and we’re lucky to have her lead our team.”

Full story

Josh Holmes, the Mastermind of Team Mitch

Josh Holmes, the Mastermind of Team Mitch

Holmes, right, accompanied McConnell at an election eve campaign stop at an airport in Bowling Green, Ky. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Much of the movie “Fargo” takes place in Minnesota, the home state of the aide in charge of the campaign that propelled Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell to the role of Senate majority leader in the next Congress.

It’s fitting that Josh Holmes, the senior adviser whom McConnell commended on stage at his election night gathering in Louisville, would hail from Minnesota, given that another former chief of staff, Billy Piper, once said McConnell was the wood chipper in the movie’s gruesome final scene.

Personality-wise, Holmes does not fit the billing for a Coen Brothers film. The hard-nosed operative behind one of the cycle’s best campaigns is classic “Minnesota nice,” said former Sen. Norm Coleman. Holmes was regional coordinator for the Minnesota Republican’s 2002 Senate campaign and then joined his office on Capitol Hill.

Full story

Congressman to Consider John McCain Primary Challenge

Congressman to Consider John McCain Primary Challenge

Schweikert could challenge McCain in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., plans to keep his options open for 2016, saying he would consider future runs — including a primary challenge to Sen. John McCain — after the holidays.

“My wife and I made an agreement that we would wait until after the holidays, and then we would have a family meeting,” Schweikert told CQ Roll Call in between votes Tuesday, his wife by his side. “The whole thing: whether you’re gonna run at all over again, do you weigh options for other things.”

Full story

November 19, 2014

Democrats Win 2 Contested California House Contests

Democrats Win 2 Contested California House Contests

Bera is a California Democrat. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:53 p.m. | In a boost for California Democrats, Reps. Jim Costa and Ami Bera will return to Congress in January, after The Associated Press called both races Wednesday night.

Costa, a Central Valley-based Democrat, defeated little-known Republican, Johnny Tacherra, by a 1,319-vote margin.

In the Sacramento-based 7th District, Democratic Rep. Ami Bera defeated former Rep. Doug Ose, R-Calif., by 1,432 votes after Sacramento County released another batch of ballots Wednesday.

The calls come more than two weeks after Election Day, as the counties in both districts slowly counted thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots.

Their victories serve as welcome news for House Democrats, who lost 12 seats in the midterms — and perhaps one more. The race for Arizona’s 2nd District will proceed to a recount in December. 

Full story

Huelskamp Open to Moran Primary Challenge

Huelskamp Open to Moran Primary Challenge

Huelskamp, center, is a Kansas Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., is not ruling out a primary challenge to Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., in 2016.

“We haven’t decided what we’re doing yet, so that’s a good question,” Huelskamp told CQ Roll Call when asked if he was considering a Senate bid.

Asked if he thought he would be competitive in the primary, Huelskamp, “We’ve done very well with conservatives. But now, that’s a long time down the road.”

“I don’t know if he has even announced that he’s running again,” he added in between Tuesday votes on Capitol Hill.  Full story

November 18, 2014

New DCCC Chairman Eyes Current Executive Director

New DCCC Chairman Eyes Current Executive Director

Ward served as the DCCC's executive director in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Incoming Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján said Tuesday he hopes the current Executive Director, Kelly Ward, will stay on for the 2016 cycle.

House Democrats endured sweeping losses in 2014, but Ward earned top praise from Luján, who said she is respected by the caucus.

“I have tremendous respect for Kelly Ward,” Luján told CQ Roll Call in a Tuesday interview. “It’s been an honor working with her throughout the years, getting to know her, she reaches out to members, she respects members, and I think she’s incredible. So someone like Kelly, if not Kelly herself is someone that I hope that we would serve.”

Full story

The Survivor: How Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick Held On

The Survivor: How Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick Held On

Kirkpatrick beat the odds to win re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican operatives called her race “cooked.” One national news organization put her chances at victory of 12 percent. After all, voters in Arizona’s 1st District had already fired Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick once before — in a toxic climate in 2010.

But as House Democrats fell across the country on Nov. 4, Kirkpatrick didn’t just win re-election. She expanded her margin from 2012, proving naysayers wrong thanks to one, simple political maxim: To win, a candidate has to be better than his or her opponent.

And she was.

Her rival, state Speaker Andy Tobin, was a top recruit for national Republicans. The party went all in for him, spending millions against Kirkpatrick on television.

But, “people know me,” she said in a phone interview last week. “They’re common-sense people, and I think they saw through the partisan games.”

Full story

The One-Term Caucus? Top House Targets in 2016

The One Term Caucus? Top House Targets in 2016

Poliquin arrives last week for check-in for new members. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

They haven’t even been sworn in yet, but these members start off the cycle as underdogs in their quests for re-election in 2016.

Most of 2016′s initial targets are incoming Republicans, swept into office in a GOP midterm wave. They will represent districts Democrats carried with big margins in presidential election years — seats the newly minted Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján will probably want back. Only one vulnerable Democrat made this list.

What’s more, the window for either party to oust these freshman could close quickly. It’s easier to defeat an incumbent in their first re-election, before they solidify a stronghold on the seat.

In alphabetical order, here are the incoming members who start the 2016 cycle as underdogs:

Full story

November 17, 2014

Pelosi Chooses Ben Ray Luján as DCCC Chairman (Updated)

Pelosi Chooses Ben Ray Luján as DCCC Chairman (Updated)

Luján will lead the DCCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:47 p.m. | In a shock to her caucus, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi selected Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2016 cycle.

Luján will lead his caucus’ political arm and all aspects of the campaign to take back the gavel: fundraising, messaging, recruiting and getting out the vote.

The choice is Pelosi’s lone decision, but it was a total shock to most Democrats on Capitol Hill.

“I am pleased recommend to our colleagues Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, a dynamic and forward-looking leader with a fresh energy and ideas that demcorats need for victory in 2016,” Pelosi said in a Monday news conference. “He has bold vision and determined leaership to deliver wins in difficult districts. I am confident [he] will prove a tireless champion.”

Full story

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