- Both Parties Brace for Obama Immigration Decision
- Iowa Lawmaker Guilty of Receiving Illegal Payments
- The ISIS Economy
- Walker Holds Edge in Wisconsin
- Deadlocked in Iowa
Posts by Meredith Shiner
January 21, 2014
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, might not want her Democratic colleague, Mark Begich, to win re-election in 2014, but her habit of breaking with the GOP on several key votes could give him some political cover ahead of 2014.
“As an Alaska delegation, we’ve got to be working on those issues that are important to our constituents,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News this week. “Sen. Begich has been keying in on the issues that I think Alaskans are worried about and doing what he was tasked to do.”
“I’m going to be working to get Republicans elected,” she later added.
Murkowski’s more moderate voting record could help Begich, given how much the two Alaskans overlap on some issues. Begich faces a tough re-election fight this year in a state that has traditionally elected Republicans to Congress. There’s a competitive GOP primary in August to determine his opponent. Full story
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., announced Tuesday that he will run for governor next year, confirming the biggest open secret in Bayou State politics and on Capitol Hill.
“After much thought, prayer and discussion with Wendy and our children, I’ve decided to run for governor of Louisiana in 2015,” the second-term Republican says in a video on his redesigned campaign website. Full story
January 16, 2014
January 14, 2014
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended Tuesday the decision of Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., to skip an event in the Tar Heel State, citing the Senate’s potential voting schedule.
The Senate is currently considering an extension of unemployment benefits, and North Carolina ranks 15th in highest jobless rates by state. Senators could also vote on legislation to avert a government shutdown.
“I think Sen. Hagan’s office has addressed that,” Carney said in his daily press briefing. “I think she’s here working on important business. The president looks forward to his visit to North Carolina.” Full story
January 13, 2014
Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., and her top 2014 opponent, Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La., are in a de facto race to pass competing flood insurance legislation pending in both chambers.
As one of this cycle’s most vulnerable incumbents, Landrieu has emphasized her seniority in her re-election. She’s argued it makes her a powerful voice for Louisiana in Washington — powerful enough to convince leaders to push forward flood insurance extension.
For Cassidy, getting enough support for the flood insurance bill would demonstrate an ability to put his state above the conservative politics that often drive the House GOP. Disaster relief, even though historically bipartisan, has proven to be a lightning rod over the past few years, with a near-revolt among GOP ranks over a delayed Hurricane Sandy relief bill in 2012. Full story
January 9, 2014
Lawmakers issued reviews ranging from nondescript to positive of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s Thursday news conference, largely reserving judgment on the bridge scandal that’s embroiled the potential presidential candidate’s administration.
That could spell trouble for Christie in the weeks ahead.
The GOP governor asserted at the news conference that he had no involvement in the scandal involving unannounced lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. His comments could come under fire as Congress awaits answers to outstanding questions and plans to press authorities further.
In December, Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sent multiple letters — both to the New Jersey Port Authority and to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx — demanding explanations for the traffic jam and oversight over the Port Authority itself. His original request asked the Port Authority for answers by Jan. 15.
Rockefeller said Thursday he does not yet plan to hold hearings, but said he is continuing to monitor the situation closely. If the requested response from New Jersey officials does not come back complete, or at all, either Rockefeller or other senators on the committee, such as freshman New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker, could take further action.
“I’ve spent all day watching MSNBC,” he told reporters.
“I don’t know, I’m never satisfied,” he teased, when asked if Christie’s answers allayed his previous concerns.
Booker said in an afternoon statement that he also demanded answers Thursday from the Department of Transportation. In the Capitol, Booker repeatedly rebuffed attempts for comment on Christie, noting only by the evening that he had heard part of the governor’s remarks.
Any congressional investigations would test Christie’s greater political viability for 2016, and his national ambitions would likely only amplify the debate, at least compared to other typical state scandals. And the longer unanswered questions linger, the more likely it is that senators and representatives will want to get involved or call hearings.
March 15, 2013
Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller has lost the office suite his staff tried so hard to keep to Sen. Jerry Moran, the Kansas Republican’s office confirmed Friday.
As CQ Roll Call reported earlier this week, Heller’s staff had been using stalling tactics to prevent more senior member offices from viewing the space, which includes an unusually large personal office. Several complaints had been lodged with the Senate Rules and Administration Committee about the aggressive behavior of Heller staffers through the course of the months-long lottery process.
Heller had inherited his space from former Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., but at the beginning of each Congress, junior member offices are available for more senior members. Moran is 74th in overall Senate seniority; while Heller is only 85th.
Though other offices encountered unhelpful staffers and apparent ruses for why the office suite couldn’t be seen in its entirety, Moran’s staff reported a pleasant experience when they visited this week.
“We’ve selected Sen. Heller’s office. His staff was great to work with and showed Sen. Moran and our staff their suite multiple times,” Moran spokeswoman Garrette Silverman said via email.
Each office in the lottery has a 24-hour window to decide whether to move. In a particularly fractious exchange with the staff of Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Heller staffers cracked jokes about a potential primary challenger in the event Chambliss, who has since announced his retirement, took the Russell suite.
The episode caused some heartburn for Heller, with Nevada Democrats seizing on the issue as a scandal for the freshman senator’s office.
Now, Heller’s staff will have to tour other offices to find a new space before the lottery process ends in May. But they’ll have to wait their turn. Ten senators are ahead of them in the lottery.
March 8, 2013
Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin will seek a fourth term, a source close to the Illinois Democrat confirmed.
The Chicago Tribune reported the news Friday afternoon.
Durbin is the second-ranking Senate Democrat. He is actively involved in immigration reform negotiations and recently took the gavel of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.
This essentially keeps the seat in the Safe Democratic column. Had he not run, it might have been competitive, although Republicans have a relatively weak bench in the state.
November 7, 2012
Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) — a top surrogate for failed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney — said early this morning that his party needs to be more inclusive of “minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it.”
President Barack Obama won by huge margins across the country with Hispanic and African-American voters, just days after telling the Des Moines Register that if he were to win “a big reason … is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.”
Rubio, a prominent Cuban politician considered in the mix for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, released a statement calling out his party on its failures this cycle with minority and immigrant voters, perhaps setting the stage for future elections and work on immigration reform next Congress.
“Now comes the hard part. America faces monumental challenges in putting people back to work, reducing our crushing debt and advancing our interests around the world,” Rubio said.
Democrat Tammy Baldwin made history tonight, winning in Wisconsin to become the first openly gay candidate elected to the Senate.
In one of the most expensive and bruising races in the country, Baldwin defeated former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R), the establishment favorite who narrowly won a four-way August primary.
Baldwin was able to ride the coattails of President Barack Obama, who won the Badger State, after mounting an extraordinarily effective media strategy that turned the tables on Thompson early in the general election. Her team was able to take Thompson’s high statewide name recognition and popularity and flip it on its head. She spent millions of dollars to paint the former Health and Human Services secretary as an out-of-touch Washington lobbyist who was “no longer for” Wisconsin.
Both Thompson and Baldwin were more unpopular with Wisconsin voters than they were popular in the closing days of the race, but clearly Badger State voters decided the Republican’s branding of Baldwin as “too extreme” was less damaging than the Democrat’s attack of Thompson.
“We nominated more women candidates than ever. We placed confidence every day and we never let up and now Joe Donnelly and Tammy Baldwin and Tim Kaine … they’re all coming to join us in the Senate,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.) told a ballroom of supporters, well before the Wisconsin race was even called.
In a packed ballroom of a Capitol Hill hotel, a gleeful Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) addressed cheering supporters in celebration of a political reality few thought likely two years ago: He is still the No. 1 leader in the Senate.
Reid took the stage here at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel just minutes after both CNN and NBC News called the presidential race for Barack Obama and seconds after Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Wash.), who pumped her fists in the air and waved.
Murray took the job no one wanted: defending 23 Democratic-held seats. With the assist of gaffe-prone Republican candidates in key races, the Washington Democrat succeeded and it could pay huge dividends for her future within the caucus.
“Whenever there’s been something that’s hard to do, we [look] to Patty. And she delivers,” Reid said to cheers. “I am so satisfied, proud, elated and feel so, so much in debt to Patty Murray, with her many … responsibilities.
“There is no one who has ever done a better job of running the [Democratic] Senatorial Campaign Committee than Patty Murray.”
Murray touted the success of Democratic women especially in maintaining the party’s majority in the Senate. Though the Associated Press had not called the race yet, Murray said that Democratic candidate and Rep. Tammy Baldwin had defeated Republican former Gov. Tommy Thompson.
“Harry Reid, I am proud to tell you, you will be Majority Leader!” Murray yelled to the crowd.
Reid also took a less-than-subtle jab at Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), opening his remarks with a taunt, claiming that this result was what happens when one party says its No. 1 goal is defeating the president.
There are still several races that are too close to call, but several Democratic aides circulated through the press room at the hotel touting exit polls in Nevada that indicated the Hispanic vote was even greater this year than it was in 2010, when Reid eked out a victory over tea-party-backed Sharron Angle. Operatives were keeping information on the tight Montana Senate race between incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) and challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) close to the vest.
November 4, 2012
Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who suffered a debilitating stroke 10 months ago, is becoming increasingly more open about his recovery and granted his first interview with a reporter today since his health scare.
Kirk climbed 37 flights of the Willis Tower, formerly known as the Sears Tower and one of the word’s tallest buildings, as part of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago’s Stair climb. Upon completion of the event, he talked to a reporter from Chicago’s NBC affiliate.
Late last week, the campaign of Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.), who is engaged in one of the tightest House races in the nation, released a video of Kirk and Dold campaigning together.
Though Kirk did not address his possible return date in the brief footage of his conversation with the NBC affiliate, the reporter, Mary Ann Ahern, said both before and after the segment that Kirk now hopes to return to Congress in January.
Full video here.
October 29, 2012
Welcome to the kitchen sink, Wisconsin.
“Nuclear Iran.” … “Uranium.” … “Big oil.” … “Body armor.”
Feeling scared? Because it seems the Senate campaigns of former Gov. Tommy Thompson (R) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) hope so, at least if you’re a Wisconsin voter.
With about a week left before Election Day, Baldwin and Thompson are continuing to pursue an advertising strategy, implemented last week, that seeks to spook Wisconsonites with negative spots that deal with 9/11 and the Iranian nuclear threat and bolster the existing themes of the election. Baldwin’s campaign has been running on “Tommy: He’s just not for you anymore,” and Thompson’s campaign has been running on Baldwin being “too extreme for Wisconsin.”
Today, Thompson’s camp unveiled another brutal ad, this one called “Body Armor,” which accused Baldwin of fighting to “block funding that provides body armor for our troops just to make a political point.”
October 26, 2012
By the end of the night in Wisconsin, the exchanges between former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson and Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin seemed less like a debate than a fight between two candidates desperate to beat one another and exhausted from the battle.
The blows have become personal in the Badger State, where the Senate race has devolved from big issues such as the economy and health care to the candidate’s responses to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
That Senate candidates in Wisconsin are re-litigating a dark period from more than a decade ago, through both television ads and verbal sparring sessions, reveals a stark reality: The effort by each campaign to make the other candidate seem less appealing in the election’s closing days knows few bounds and is deemed essential to capture the open seat.
“I believe you should never politicize 9/11,” Baldwin said during a charged moment in the debate.
With fewer than two weeks before Election Day, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has stopped running ads in Maine against front-running Independent Angus King, sources confirm.
Outside groups, including Crossroads GPS, are still engaged in the ad war in the Senate contest, however. Most operatives say the race is slipping out of reach for Republican Charlie Summers, but that’s not the only motivation for the NRSC, which also pays attention to where outside groups are committed to spending, allowing the party committee to allocate resources elsewhere.
Crossroads GPS went up with a $330,000 one-week buy against King beginning Tuesday in the only truly three-way race in the country.
Outside involvement on the part of the NRSC and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been tricky throughout the race, given that King has not declared which party he will caucus with if elected. The NRSC decided to go up with negative ads, while the DSCC never officially endorsed Democratic candidate Cynthia Dill.
Though the NRSC pulling out of the state is not a death knell for Summer’s bid, it certainly is a sign that the group believes its money is better spent elsewhere, especially with so many close races across the country and control of the Senate up for grabs.
The news of the NRSC backing out of Maine media was first reported by Politico.