Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 21, 2014

Posts by Niels Lesniewski

83 Posts

August 18, 2014

John McCain Holds Court in ‘Second Favorite State’

John McCain Holds Court in Second Favorite State

Brown, left, and McCain, right, campaign in New Hampshire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

DERRY, N.H. – Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has returned to New Hampshire to campaign — but this time, it’s for former Sen. Scott P. Brown. 

“It is with great nostalgia I come back again to my second favorite state,” McCain told a Pinkerton Academy auditorium, where he stumped for Brown, a Massachusetts Republican waging an uphill battle to unseat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Granite State Democrat. 

John McCain Holds Court in Second Favorite StateIn predictable fashion, McCain joined Brown for what was billed as a foreign policy town hall meeting, at times taking charge as Monday’s star attraction. The event was part of a broader “New Hampshire Speaks” tour for Brown, but audience questions ran the gamut, even touching on impeachment.

“I’m a realist. That’s not going to happen,” Brown said of impeaching the president, instead pushing his stump speech about Shaheen’s record of voting with President Barack Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. 

“It would require 67 votes in the United States Senate for an impeachment,” McCain said. Full story

August 13, 2014

Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding Majority

Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding Majority

At an event in Springfield, Ill., Durbin was optimistic about the Senate majority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., — Back in their home states for the August recess, the Senate’s two top Democrats said Wednesday they are optimistic about the prospects of maintaining control of the chamber in November.

Back Home, Top Senate Democrats Upbeat About Holding MajoritySenate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a union audience in Nevada that he believed Democrats would keep the Senate if the elections were held today, while also pushing steelworkers to work to get out the vote. And in Springfield, Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin spoke to a gaggle of reporters outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel, where Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and other statewide elected officials spoke to mark Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair.

The Senate leaders discussed the state of play with each other as recently as Tuesday, Durbin said.

Democrats face a challenging map and are likely to lose at least three open seats, but they are optimistic about their most-endangered incumbents and not allowing Republicans to pick up an additional three.

“Right now we have 55 seats. We lose six and we lose the majority,” Durbin said. “There are two or three that are tough, tough states, but the rest of them we feel pretty good about.” Full story

August 7, 2014

Hurricane Iselle Could Cause Havoc for Hawaii Primary (Video)

Hurricane Iselle Could Cause Havoc for Hawaii Primary (Video)

(Courtesy Jeff Schmaltz/NASA)

The Hawaii primary is in a state of uncertainty, as Hurricane Iselle and a second storm barrel toward the islands and get-out-the-vote pushes are intermixed with information on where to find emergency assistance.

In preparation for their competitive Democratic Senate primary Saturday, Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa have been forced to alter their plans and help their constituents prepare for what could be damaging storms. Hurricane Iselle was projected to hit the Big Island late Thursday, in what would be Hawaii’s first hurricane in 22 years.

“On the forecast track, the center of Iselle is expected to pass over the Big Island tonight, and pass just south of the smaller islands Friday,” the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Thursday.

Full story

July 22, 2014

Democrats Tout Walsh Bill to Bring Back Jobs — Without Walsh

Democrats Tout Walsh Bill to Bring Back Jobs — Without Walsh

John Walsh was appointed to the Senate earlier this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Politics is overtaking the Senate floor schedule again this week, with a vulnerable Democrat leading the charge on a bill to give tax breaks to employers who return jobs to the United States.

But Sen. John Walsh, the Democrat appointed to fill the term vacated by the departure of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to be ambassador to China, didn’t appear before an array of cameras Tuesday afternoon with Senate colleagues, automobile and steel workers to tout his legislation.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., a longtime leader on the issue, indicated Walsh had a schedule conflict.

Full story

July 1, 2014

Ted Cruz Doesn’t Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz Doesnt Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz is a Republican from Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A conservative outside group whose efforts Sen. Ted Cruz backed has called for defunding the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Cruz, an NRSC vice chairman and Texas Republican, has not rebuked the effort.

This weekend, Senate Conservatives Fund launched a campaign calling on conservatives to pledge not to give any money to the NRSC in the aftermath of last week’s runoff in the Mississippi Senate race. As is typical, the NRSC backed Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, while the SCF and other outside groups backed his failed challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“The Senate Republican establishment betrayed the grassroots and recruited Democrats in Mississippi to defeat Chris McDaniel,” the SCF petition said. ”Fight back by pledging not to donate to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

Full story

May 23, 2014

Judge Orders Conyers on Primary Ballot (Updated)

Judge Orders Conyers on Primary Ballot (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:47 p.m. | A federal judge has ruled that 25-term Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. shall appear on his party’s Aug. 5 primary ballot.

A U.S. district judge in the Eastern District of Michigan decided Friday to grant an injunction ordering the state to put him on the ballot.

Earlier Friday, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson had ruled the longtime lawmaker ineligible, according to The Detroit News.

“As Secretary Johnson implicitly acknowledged in her ruling today, if the signatures excluded pursuant to the Registration Statute may not be excluded from Mr. Conyers’ total — and this Court holds that they may not be — then Mr. Conyers has enough signatures to qualify for placement on the ballot,” Judge Matthew F. Leitman wrote. “He shall be placed on the ballot.” (The full opinion is here.)

Leitman was nominated to the federal bench last year by President Barack Obama. He was confirmed in March 2014.

A local county clerk had previously decided Conyers, 85, was ineligible. The secretary of State decision on Friday was the result of a Conyers campaign appeal.

But the Conyers campaign had also appealed to federal court on the constitutionality of the state’s law requiring campaigns’ petition circulators be registered voters. That’s what tripped up the longtime lawmaker’s bid. Full story

May 21, 2014

Paul: McConnell Win ‘Consistent With the Tea Party’

Sen. Rand Paul is dismissing the idea that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Republican primary victory in Kentucky Tuesday night was a defeat for the tea party movement.

Paul, who upset the establishment-backed candidate in his own 2010 primary, had endorsed McConnell early in the race, which was a sour point for some on the right who viewed the incumbent as too entrenched and insufficiently conservative.

“I’m probably considered to be from the tea party, but I supported Sen. McConnell because I like, you know, that he’s a conservative,” Paul told reporters Wednesday in the Capitol. “I don’t know that that’s a defeat of the tea party necessarily when he wins. I think he stands for conservative principles, and him winning is consistent with the tea party.” Full story

March 7, 2014

Cochran Upbeat About Primary Fight, Not Running Scared

Cochran Upbeat About Primary Fight, Not Running Scared

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran was upbeat this week that he will prevail over his tea-party-backed Republican primary challenger when voters go to the polls in June.

“I’m very pleased. I’m enjoying getting around the state and visiting with friends and supporters,” Cochran said in a brief interview. “We’re making good progress, I think, in our campaign. We have more candidates than we’ve had in a Senate race I think since my first race for Congress in 1972 — independents, a Democrat or two and a Republican or two.”

Cochran and his supporters, including a super PAC, are making the case about the importance of the clout of the longtime GOP senator. A recent super PAC ad specifically highlighted Cochran’s work to bring federal funds to rebuild the ravaged Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, dinging challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel for his comments on the aid question.

Full story

January 6, 2014

Enzi Encourages Prayers for Cheney Family After High-Fives on Senate Floor (Video)

Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., sought to tamp down the upbeat reception he received on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, emphasizing the severity of the medical situation that prompted Liz Cheney to drop her primary challenge in the Wyoming Senate race earlier in the day.

“Not many of them knew the reason that she was pulling out, so I asked for them to support her and her family with their prayers,” the Wyoming Republican told reporters outside the chamber.

A few minutes earlier, a group of senators greeted Enzi on the floor with high-fives.

Full story

December 10, 2013

Watt Confirmation Kicks Off North Carolina Special Election

Watt Confirmation Kicks Off North Carolina Special Election

Several Democrats are seeking Watt's House seat. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After more than seven months of delays, a special election for North Carolina’s 12th District will begin in earnest now that the Senate confirmed Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Tuesday.

Watt was ultimately confirmed to head the FHFA, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac overseer, 57-41, after Senate Republicans previously rejected a bid to cut off debate on the nomination. That was back before Democrats set a new Senate precedent using the “nuclear option,” a move that made Watt’s confirmation inevitable.

Watt’s departure from the district will kick off a frenzy among Tar Heel State Democrats looking to succeed him in the safe Democratic seat he has held for two decades.

The special election will probably take place on previously scheduled election dates, according to a source familiar with North Carolina election law. That would mean a primary in February, with a runoff on May 6 — the same day as the previously scheduled midterm election primaries in North Carolina. The special election could then be held July 15 — the same day as the regularly scheduled runoff date for 2014 elections.

So far, at least seven Democrats filed federal paperwork to run for the safe Democratic seat: Full story

Texas Filing Deadline Solidifies 2014 Contests

Sen. John Cornyn is not the only Texas Republican to face a race in 2014. Several House members will face challenges within their own party this March, or competitive races this November.

The filing deadline passed on Monday evening to run for Congress from the Lone Star State. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, served up the biggest surprise with his last-minute challenge to Cornyn.

“He obviously was going to be looking at a difficult race in his own congressional seat, so he decided to try something different,” Cornyn said Tuesday at the Capitol. “He wasn’t on my radar screen, but neither were the other five or so other people who filed in … the primary and the other five or so who filed in the general.”

Stockman faces an extremely difficult path to the GOP nomination. But so could a couple of his House colleagues seeking re-election. Here are some of the more interesting races:

Full story

September 10, 2013

Team Mitch Makes Syria Fundraising Pitch

Not long after President Barack Obama finished his Syria speech Tuesday evening, people on Mitch McConnell’s campaign mailing list received a fundraising pitch touting the Kentucky Republican’s decision earlier in the day to oppose a military strike in the war-torn country.

The email featured a letter to supporters from McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton, who included the full text of McConnell’s floor speech on Tuesday morning. During the speech, McConnell announced his opposition to a resolution authorizing military intervention.

“Mitch made it very clear to me from the beginning that he does not politicize issues of national security. He believes that America’s strength in the world should not be subject to the political theatre that so often takes hold of Washington these days,” Benton wrote.

Before joining “Team Mitch,” Benton was a longtime political aide to the libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and his father, former GOP Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Rand Paul delivered his own critical response to Obama’s national address on Tuesday evening, saying any effort to intervene in Syria would help rebels aligned with the terrorist group al-Qaida.

Benton’s letter appears below:

Full story

By Niels Lesniewski Posted at 10:58 p.m.
Ky. Senate

August 12, 2013

Reid: West Virginia Democratic Recruit to Announce ‘Shortly’ #WVSEN

Reid: West Virginia Democratic Recruit to Announce Shortly #WVSEN

Reid assessed his party's recruitment status in a recent interview. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After eight months of searching, have Senate Democrats finally found a recruit in West Virginia? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yes in a recent interview.

“I think we’re going to be very competitive in — in West Virginia, we have a candidate there who should be announcing shortly,” the Nevada Democrat told a local PBS affiliate about the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

Reid did not divulge the Democrat’s name during the interview on “Nevada Week in Review.” Several Democrats have passed on the race, and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant remains as the only prominent recruit who has not declined to run yet. Full story

August 7, 2013

Rand Paul Backs RNC on Primary Debates

Rand Paul Backs RNC on Primary Debates

Paul has openly acknowledged his interest in running for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said he supports a move by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus to take more control of GOP presidential primary debates.

“Should we be scheduling debates and allowing people who used to, and still do, have contact with the active Democrat party? Should we be subjecting ourselves to that or should we try to have more neutral or objective type of moderators?” Paul said in a radio interview Wednesday morning, referring to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ past work as a top adviser to President Bill Clinton.

On Tuesday, Priebus sent letters to the heads of NBC Entertainment and CNN Worldwide calling on the executives to scrap planned features on former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — or else they might be barred from holding RNC-sanctioned debates in 2016. Full story

July 23, 2013

National Tea Party Group Defends Endorsement of Mitch McConnell

National tea party leaders are not backing down from their endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite pushback from local tea party factions in Kentucky.

Speaking with reporters outside an event that featured appearances by all of the prominent tea-party-backed senators, Scottie Hughes of TPNN.com defended her group’s decision to back the Kentucky Republican. McConnell helped the group organize the event in the Capitol.

Both Hughes’ Tea Party News Network and its umbrella organization TheTeaParty.net have endorsed McConnell, even though he is expected to pick up a tea-party-inspired primary challenger on Wednesday. Local groups in Kentucky have asked the national groups to rescind their support.

“The national tea party doesn’t want to sit here and go against anything a local tea party group says. That being said, however, we need to look to make sure that we’re properly vetting our candidates, which is something the tea party has done very badly in the past,” Hughes told reporters gathered outside the event. “We as a national tea party are encouraging this local tea party group: You need to sit down and vet the candidate you’ve picked, vet his background, make sure that he’s not just coming out as kind of a loose cannon as a tea party candidate.”

Full story

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