Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2014

July 31, 2014

McConnell Declines NRSC Intervention for Re-Election Bid

McConnell Declines NRSC Intervention for Re Election Bid

Moran is a Kansas Republican and NRSC Chairman. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Republicans eyeing the Senate majority and his own job title poised to change, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has told the National Republican Senatorial Committee not to worry about his race.

In a briefing with reporters Thursday at the committee headquarters, NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran said McConnell is raising money for the committee as it seeks to add at least six Republican senators and retake control of the chamber — but the NRSC is “not actively engaged in Kentucky.” Full story

Scott DesJarlais’ Re-Election Hopes Rise, Despite Abortion Scandal (Video)

Scott DesJarlais Re Election Hopes Rise, Despite Abortion Scandal (Video)

Scott DesJarlais practices ahead of the congressional football game. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Two years is a lifetime in politics. Just ask Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

GOP operatives had all but written off the Tennessee Republican. In October 2012, it was revealed the anti-abortion rights physician had encouraged an ex-wife to have two abortions prior to their marriage and had carried on multiple affairs with patients and co-workers — an infraction for which he was fined $500 by a medical board.

It was too late for DesJarlais to face a serious challenge that cycle, but he soon became one of 2014′s most vulnerable House members. As DesJarlais’ campaign cash flow dried up, he faced a formidable foe: state Sen. Jim Tracy.

Until recently, Tennessee Republicans expected Tracy, a longtime state politician, to cruise past DesJarlais in the Aug. 7 primary. But in the final days of the race, DesJarlais is in a better position than Republicans ever anticipated.

He might even win. Full story

July 30, 2014

Lamar Alexander Still Up Big in Internal Primary Poll

Lamar Alexander Still Up Big in Internal Primary Poll

Alexander's internal polling shows him with a strong primary lead. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A fresh poll conducted for Sen. Lamar Alexander’s campaign found he continues to hold a comfortable lead with just more than a week to go in the Tennessee Republican primary.

Alexander took 53 percent in the poll, according to a memo the Alexander campaign provided at CQ Roll Call’s request. State Rep. Joe Carr, Alexander’s most prominent challenger, took 24 percent, followed by physician George Flinn with 5 percent. The four other candidates in the race took 1 percent or less. Full story

Mark Pryor Up 2 Points in Democratic Poll

Mark Pryor Up 2 Points in Democratic Poll

Pryor is in a dead-heat re-election race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor led his Republican challenger by 2 points in a recent Democratic poll, which is the third survey on the race released in the last two days.

The polling memo, obtained by CQ Roll Call, stated Pryor led by a 48-46 percent margin, with 6 percent undecided — a lead within the 4-point margin of error. The survey included a sample of 600 likely voters and was conducted July 20-24 by Democratic firm Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, which counts as a client the Arkansas gubernatorial campaign of former Rep. Mike Ross.

The memo comes one day after the Pryor campaign released an internal poll (taken July 7-10) showing him ahead 45-39 percent and an independent poll from Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College (taken July 22-25) found Cotton up 44-42 percent. Full story

GOP Congressman’s Abortion Scandal Broadcast in New TV Ad

GOP Congressmans Abortion Scandal Broadcast in New TV Ad

DesJarlais is a Republican from Tennessee. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Scott DesJarlais, the Tennessee Republican who came under fire in 2012 after unearthed divorce proceedings revealed he encouraged an ex-wife to have two abortions, is contending with the scandal again, days out from the Volunteer State primary.

State Sen. Jim Tracy, the top Republican challenging DesJarlais in the Aug. 7 GOP primary in the 4th District, is airing a scathing ad in the final two weeks of the contest. It’s on the airwaves during the pivotal early voting period, which began July 18 and runs through Aug. 2.

“The press says Congressman DesJarlais no longer has credibility,” a narrator says in the 30-second spot. “Reprimanded, fined for unethical conduct, he deliberately deceived the voters. Conservatives said DesJarlais should resign because of his hypocrisy. Scandal makes DesJarlais ineffective in Washington.”

Full story

Roger Williams Makes Play for NRCC Chairman (Updated)

Roger Williams Makes Play for NRCC Chairman (Updated)

Williams wants to mount a challenge to Walden. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:22 p.m. | Freshman Rep. Roger Williams of Texas is gunning to challenge current National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden’s bid for a second term and is actively seeking meetings with members for his bid, CQ Roll Call has learned.

“He told me that he was thinking about doing that, and I think Roger would be a good, viable candidate for that job,” Rep. Randy Neugebauer said late Wednesday afternoon. “The Texas delegation is a pretty tight delegation. I can’t speak for my other colleagues, but I would look favorably on Roger’s candidacy.”

“I understand he is running for NRCC Chairman,” fellow Texas Rep. John Carter said, adding he would support Williams for the gig. “I think he does” have a chance at defeating Walden with “new ideas, new blood.”

Williams has also made his intent clear to Speaker John A. Boehner, who told House GOP leadership in a private Monday meeting that he will be backing Walden as chairman, multiple sources confirmed. On Tuesday afternoon, Walden announced to reporters he plans to run for chairman of the committee again after the November elections.

“The speaker made it very clear in recent meetings that he’s going to be supporting Walden,” a Republican aide told CQ Roll Call.

Without Boehner’s support, Williams’ chances of upsetting Walden are slim. House Republicans elect their NRCC chairman. The House’s Democratic leader picks the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Williams’ office did not immediately return repeated requests for comment Wednesday morning. After this story was published, Williams would not confirm or deny his intention to run for the NRCC slot. Full story

Republicans Make Massive TV Reservation For Mike Coffman’s… Wife

Republicans Make Massive TV Reservation For Mike Coffmans... Wife

Mike Coffman is a Colorado Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Republican group reserved $2.6 million in Denver television time for a House incumbent’s wife who is running for Colorado Attorney General.

The Republican Attorneys General Association Colorado PAC reserved the air time from Oct. 7 through Election Day to boost Colorado Chief Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. She is the wife of Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., who faces one of the most competitive House races of the cycle.  

“RAGA is investing heavily in this race because Colorado voters are rejecting the Obama agenda and making it clear that they want leaders like Cynthia Coffman who will rein in the federal government,” RAGA political director Scott Will said in a statement.

Full story

July 29, 2014

Greg Walden to Seek Second Term Running NRCC (Updated)

Greg Walden to Seek Second Term Running NRCC (Updated)

Walden is the current NRCC chairman. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:54 p.m. | National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden announced Tuesday he will seek a second term running the House GOP’s campaign arm.

“I fully intend to seek re-election as NRCC chairman,” Walden told reporters at an afternoon briefing at the committee’s headquarters. Full story

NRSC Chairman: Senate Map Has Expanded to 12 States

NRSC Chairman: Senate Map Has Expanded to 12 States

In the 2014 elections, Moran leads the NRSC. (CQ Roll Call)

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran said Tuesday the GOP’s pickup opportunities have expanded to around a dozen states — twice as many as needed to take control of the Senate.

“I think we have a good map in the sense that we have good candidates and good states,” Moran told CQ Roll Call’s Niels Lesniewski. “The map has expanded over time. In my view, [it] started out with six or seven — now 10 or 12.” Full story

Obama Lawsuit, Impeachment Threats Raise Cash for House Democrats

Obama Lawsuit, Impeachment Threats Raise Cash for House Democrats

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

House Republican threats of suing or impeaching President Barack Obama have unleashed a flood of donations to House Democrats, their campaign chief told reporters Tuesday morning.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel said those threats helped him raise $1 million in online contributions in 24 hours on Monday, mostly from small-dollar donors.

“The Republican strategy of lawsuits and approaching impeachment is fundamentally misfiring,” the New York Democrat said at a breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor. “It’s amassing resources for us.”
Full story

In Kansas, Conservatives Suffer From Mississippi Hangover

In Kansas, Conservatives Suffer From Mississippi Hangover

Roberts faces a primary challenge on Aug. 5. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As conservatives reel from a bruising loss in Mississippi, they are looking to the primary in Kansas to knock off an incumbent and salve their wounds.

But on Aug. 5, when GOP Sen. Pat Roberts faces Milton Wolf in a primary, they will likely realize they are not in Mississippi anymore.

Roberts has been in office for several decades — much like Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, who survived a runoff with state Sen. Chris McDaniel last month by a narrow margin but galvanized conservatives to make it a close contest. The Kansan has been criticized for spending more time in Washington than in his home state — another accusation McDaniel leveled at Cochran.

But unlike McDaniel, Wolf’s bark might be stronger than his bite.

Full story

Ex-Congressman Tacks to Center in GOP Comeback Bid

Ex Congressman Tacks to Center in GOP Comeback Bid

Tiahrt dressed up as Wyatt Earp as a delegate at the 2012 Republican National Convention. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A former congressman is attempting a comeback by appealing to an unconventional bloc of GOP primary voters: moderates.

And that’s not even strangest thing about former Rep. Todd Tiahrt’s campaign to oust his successor, GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo, on Aug. 5. With the help of one of Pompeo’s former foes, wealthy oilman Wink Hartman, Tiahrt is taking on his one-time backers and the GOP’s ultimate Goliath, the Koch brothers, in their own backyard.

Tiahrt’s eleventh-hour bid comes four years after he lost a bitter Senate primary to now-Sen. Jerry Moran. After that, the former eight-term appropriator endorsed Pompeo — twice.

Then there’s the ex-congressman’s message: Tiahrt is running to the left of Pompeo, striking a populist tone in the conservative district.

“It’s tough to get to 50 [percent] that way in a Republican primary in the 4th District of Kansas,” said David Kensinger, a former chief of staff to Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

Full story

Congressman Says Gwen Graham’s Dad ‘Not on the Ballot’

Congressman Says Gwen Grahams Dad Not on the Ballot

Southerland faces a tough re-election in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., said he isn’t buying the hype around his opponent, attorney Gwen Graham, the daughter of Bob Graham, a former senator and governor.

“The Grahams aren’t from Northwest Florida,” Southerland said in a recent sit-down interview with CQ Roll Call. “They’re a South Florida family.”

“We respect the Graham name,” the two-term Republican continued. “We respect greatly the governor’s service and the senator’s service, but unfortunately, he’s not on the ballot.”

National Democrats have touted Graham as one of their best recruits this cycle, saying she’ll be able to close the deal with voters in Florida’s 2nd District, thanks in part to her father’s legacy. Southerland’s re-election is quickly becoming one of the most competitive House races in the country, and it’s ratedTossup/Tilts Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Democrats also boast Graham is better equipped than their 2012 nominee, Al Lawson Jr. Southerland disagreed. Full story

July 28, 2014

Campaign Spotlight: Father Pitches Best (Video)

Campaign Spotlight: Father Pitches Best (Video)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

How does a female Democratic candidate in the South distance herself from President Barack Obama? Call on Dad.

Attorney Gwen Graham released a pair of ads Monday morning that did just that. Her father, former Sen. Bob Graham, made her case to voters.

Graham wasn’t the first. Two other candidates, nonprofit executive Michelle Nunn and Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, produced ads featuring their well-known politician fathers.

Here is a look at all three ads: Full story

July 27, 2014

Exclusive: NRCC Chairman Predicts Wave Election for Republicans

Exclusive: NRCC Chairman Predicts Wave Election for Republicans

Walden is the chairman of the NRCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One hundred days from Nov. 4, National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden said he expects House Republicans will ride a political wave in November.

In an exclusive sit-down interview with CQ Roll Call, the Oregon Republican was bullish about his party’s prospects, predicting they would pick up 11 House seats in November. That number would bring their majority to 245 members — the biggest Republican majority since 1945.

“I know what it felt like in ’06 to be us,” Walden said in the interview, referring to the year Democrats picked up 31 seats and took control of the House for the first time in 12 years. “When you get that gale force wind in your face, you get blown away.”

Full story

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