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.
“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.”
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
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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
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
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.”
The leader of the Senate Conservatives Fund emailed supporters on Friday promising to back primary challenges against three Republican incumbents who voted for the Senate immigration bill that passed the chamber Thursday.
“There are three incumbents up next year who supported the amnesty bill,” SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote, calling out Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lamar Alexander or Tennessee, and Susan Collins of Maine. “If strong, conservative challengers emerge in these races, we will support them.”
Senate Conservatives Fund is a tea-party aligned group that was founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint. The South Carolina Republican is no longer with the group. Graham, a member of the bipartisan “gang of eight” that drafted the underlying immigration overhaul, indicated in a Thursday Senate floor speech that he knew his position on immigration might create primary problems for him.
“I have never been more proud to be involved in an issue than I have trying to fix illegal immigration because it is a national security threat, it is an economic threat, and it is a cultural threat,” Graham said.
“As to my politics, I am doing great among Hispanics in South Carolina. The bad news is that there are not very many who vote in the Republican primary,” he added. Full story
A local newspaper reported Bonner will resign soon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Updated 3:57 p.m. | Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., will resign from Congress later this year to take a job at the University of Alabama, CQ Roll Call has confirmed.
Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., told reporters about Bonner’s imminent departure. Bonner sent a personal note to Shelby a few hours ago explaining the move. He will take on the newly created position of vice chancellor of government relations and economic development. Full story
Graham is up for re-election in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. offered Sen. Lindsey Graham his support for re-election — including a pledge to “rip your skin off for you” if it helps the South Carolina Republican’s 2014 prospects.
“I told him I’ll come to South Carolina and campaign for him or against him, whichever will help the most — I know which it’ll be,” Biden said at an April 26 forum hosted by The McCain Institute for International Leadership. ”I’m going down there to to the JJ next weekend, Lindsey, and I assure you I will rip your skin off for you, and I expect a thank-you note.”