Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 23, 2014

Posts by Shira T. Center

45 Posts

November 14, 2014

Mark Kirk: ‘No Frickin’ Way Am I Retiring’

Mark Kirk: No Frickin Way Am I Retiring

Kirk says he'll run for a second term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., has a message for anyone who doubts his will or appetite for a second term.

“No frickin’ way am I retiring,” he told CQ Roll Call in an exclusive interview Thursday from his Capitol Hill office, following some speculation in local press over the senator’s future and his shifting political operation. ”With all this rehab, for me just to walk was a huge effort. I had to re-learn how to walk again after the stroke. And all the rehab and all the effort shows the mental determination times 10 to keep serving.”

In an extended interview, Kirk sought to dispel any notion he’s ready to leave the Senate — or that he lacks the stamina to seek re-election after suffering an ischemic stroke in January 2012. Kirk said he feels great, and any opponents who question his fitness to serve will regret it.

“That would not be taken well by the people of Illinois, who would not like that kind of attack,” Kirk said. “That would be an advantage to me if they did that.”

Full story

November 11, 2014

How Elise Stefanik Became the Youngest Woman Ever Elected to Congress

How Elise Stefanik Became the Youngest Woman Ever Elected to Congress

Stefanik leaves the Capitol Hill Club with aide Anthony Pileggi. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep.-elect Elise Stefanik’s path to victory in New York reflected the trajectory of the midterms nationally, as Republicans invaded Democratic territory to make double-digit gains in the House.

But in so many other ways, Stefanik’s dominant win was of her own making.

Stefanik defeated a wealthy Democrat, Aaron Woolf, by more than 20 points in a district the president carried just a couple years ago. At 30 years old, she’s the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, and New York Republicans now tout her as the future of their party.

But that’s nowhere close to where Stefanik started the cycle in the upstate wilderness. Full story

November 10, 2014

The Best Congressional Campaigns of 2014

The Best Congressional Campaigns of 2014

Ernst is the senator-elect from Iowa. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As a national Republican wave crested on Election Day, there were several campaigns in both parties that stood out as outstanding operations.

The GOP expanded its House majority and obtained control of the Senate. As a result, more Republican campaigns emerged deserving of the spotlight. But there were also several Democratic operations worthy of recognition.

Roll Call has compiled a list of the cream of the crop of 2014. Many faced long odds, crowded primaries, an unpopular president and millions in targeted attack ads. But through all that and more, these campaigns ably managed the curves of the cycle — and all but one were victorious.

In alphabetical order by candidate, here are the best congressional campaigns of the midterms: Full story

November 5, 2014

After GOP Wave, Williams Won’t Challenge Walden for NRCC

After GOP Wave, Williams Wont Challenge Walden for NRCC

Walden is an Oregon Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With House Republicans winning their largest majority since 1929, the posturing to challenge National Republican Congressional Committee Greg Walden may be over.

While there are still some questions whether Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., — or any other House Republican — will challenge Walden, at least one potential contender is out.

Texas Republican Roger Williams sent House Republicans a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter Wednesday saying — in less than clear terms — he would not be challenging Walden to head the NRCC. Full story

November 2, 2014

Roll Call Event With Top Senate Campaign Aides Thursday

Roll Call Event With Top Senate Campaign Aides Thursday

Collins is the executive director of the NRSC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

The cycle’s top campaign operatives will delve inside the races that decided the Senate majority in a special post-election briefing at CQ Roll Call’s Election Impact Conference.

Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, will discuss the top Senate contests of 2014 — their first joint appearance after Election Day.

The duo will be interviewed by Roll Call’s Editor-in-Chief, Christina Bellantoni, at the Liaison Hotel on Capitol Hill. It’s part of our larger look into what the election’s results signal for the 114th Congress (Register here!).

I’ll moderate a discussion later that morning a panel of reporters and pollsters who will take a deep dive into the election results, including Nathan L. Gonzales, deputy editor, Rothenberg Political Report and Roll Call Contributor; Perry Bacon, NBC News Senior Political Reporter; Mark Blumenthal, Huffington Post Senior Polling Editor; and Abby Livingston of our Roll Call Politics team.

The Election Impact Conference also features: Full story

September 24, 2014

Last Call: Where Should We Travel to Cover the Midterms? (Video)

Less than 36 hours remain for readers to vote on a locale to send two Roll Call politics reporters to cover the midterms.

Readers can pick one of two Senate races in Colorado and Kansas, and one of two House races in California and Nebraska.

Have an opinion on which race we should cover? Tweet your thoughts to @RollCall with the #RCReadersChoice tag.

Otherwise, polls close Thursday at 5 p.m. Vote below:

Full story

September 23, 2014

Democrats Cut Ad Time in Upstate New York Race

House Majority PAC has canceled a large television reservation in a competitive upstate New York district, the super PAC spokesman confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

The cancellation could be a sign the Democratic super PAC is throwing in the towel on The Empire State’s 21st District. The television buy, scheduled for Oct. 7 through 20 and totaling $300,000, is in a district that is considered a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.

This is a race to replace Democratic Rep. Bill Owens, who is retiring. The race is currently rated Tilts Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call. Full story

Vote Now in the #RCReadersChoice Runoff

Vote Now in the #RCReadersChoice Runoff

Peters is a freshman in California's 52nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Readers will have one more opportunity this week to pick the House and Senate races Roll Call will cover from the ground in the final weeks of the midterms.

Last week, thousands of votes were cast to send reporters @cahnemily and @alexis_levinson on the road in our first #RCReadersChoice survey. Two House races and two Senate races lead their packs, and now readers have until Thursday at 5 p.m. for the runoff contest.

On the Senate side, readers can select between Kansas, where GOP Sen. Pat Roberts is unexpectedly fighting for his re-election, and Colorado, where Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is attempting to fend off a strong challenge from GOP Rep. Cory Gardner. In the first round of voting, Kansas was the clear front-runner, and Colorado beat out the North Carolina Senate race by just two votes to make the final round.

The finalist House races are California’s 52nd District, located in San Diego, and Nebraska’s 2nd District, located in Omaha. Both incumbents in these races — Democrat Scott Peters in California and Republican Lee Terry in Nebraska — are on Roll Call’s list of the 10 Most Vulnerable House Members.

Have an opinion on which race we should cover? Tweet your thoughts @RollCall with #RCReadersChoice. Otherwise, vote below:

Full story

September 19, 2014

Top Campaign Aides Reveal Picks for #RCReadersChoice

If the campaign committees had their way, Roll Call reporters would be heading to disparate locations during the final stretch of the midterms.

Top Campaign Aides Reveal Picks for #RCReadersChoice

As part of our survey to determine our final campaign stops of the midterms, Roll Call asked top communications aides at each of the four congressional campaign committees for their picks for our next road trip. Not a single one of them chose the same race.

Voting for this round ends Friday at 5 p.m., and two finalists in each category will be announced next week. Until then, here are picks from each communications guru at the House and Senate campaign:

Justin Barasky, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

“There are so many great options where Democratic candidates are clearly contrasting their fight for the middle class with the Republicans allegiance to the Koch brothers, but I would vote for North Carolina where Speaker Tillis’ devastating education cuts are ending his chances.

Brad Dayspring, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee:

“Kansas is lovely this time of year. It’s about time reporters asked the Obama supporting, Reid donating, felon-friendly Democrat Greg Orman a few questions. The first couple should be centered on Orman’s shady business deals with convicted insider trader Rajat Gupta. ” Full story

September 17, 2014

Vote Now: Where Should Roll Call Travel to Cover the Midterms?

Vote Now: Where Should Roll Call Travel to Cover the Midterms?

Roll Call's Alexis Levinson, left, talks with a House candidate in Iowa, David Young, during August recess. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Will it be Omaha or San Diego? Raleigh or Topeka? Lexington or Denver?

Two days of voting have passed in Roll Call’s first reader survey to determine where we should send reporters cover the midterms. The polls for this round close Friday at 5 p.m.

As of Wednesday morning, the Kansas contest held a clear lead among Senate races. But that could change quickly if the state Supreme Court refuses to let the Democrat off the ballot, which could complicate the path for a wealthy independent candidate, Greg Orman, to take on GOP Sen. Pat Roberts in November. A decision is expected this week.

House contests in Nebraska and San Diego keep trading the top spot in that category. That might have something to do with a Facebook campaign from the Democratic nominee in Nebraska’s 2nd District, Brad Ashford, who is challenging GOP Rep. Lee Terry. Roll Call Politics’ House Reporter Emily Cahn has even acquired her own Twitter hashtag for this race choice: #CahntoNebraska.

Two finalists in each category will be announced Monday.

Have an opinion on which race we should cover? Did we miss one of your favorite contests this cycle? Email your feedback or race of choice to Politics Editor Shira T. Center, or tweet your thoughts or race at @RollCall with #RCReadersChoice.

Otherwise, the voting continues below. Full story

September 15, 2014

You Decide: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

You Decide: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

Associate Politics Editor Kyle Trygstad, left, interviews GOP Senate candidate David Perdue on the campaign trail in Georgia. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In our unprecedented effort to cover the midterm elections, Roll Call has hit the campaign trail in 14 states so far this year, covering 24 congressional races and writing 36 datelined stories from Adel, Iowa, to Tallulah, Louisiana.

We’ve written about House and Senate races in ArizonaGeorgiaIllinoisIowaMassachusettsMississippiNew HampshirePennsylvania, TexasWest Virginia and more. Later this week, we’ll head back to Louisiana to cover this cycle’s most vulnerable senator.

You Decide: Where Should Roll Call Travel for the Midterm Elections?

Unfortunately, there are still a few races we haven’t covered yet from the ground — and we’re running out of time. We’d like help from you, our readers, to pick two of Roll Call’s final campaign stops this cycle.

Vote for your race by 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 19. Readers will pick two races from the finalists next week. Full story

August 24, 2014

Temps and Tensions Max Out in Arizona Primary

Temps and Tensions Max Out in Arizona Primary

Gallego speaks to Arizona primary volunteers before they canvass. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

PHOENIX — It’s a dry 108-degree heat this August afternoon, and Tony Valdovinos only prays it gets hotter. The curly-haired field director for Ruben Gallego, a Democrat running in the open House race here, has his reasons.

“We know when it’s hot, we’re the only ones out there,” says Valdovinos, slighting the opposition’s turnout operation as he drives through a wide boulevard en route to an early evening canvass.

Temps and Tensions Max Out in Arizona Primary

In Arizona’s 7th District, a generational party brawl has consumed urban Latino politics, pitting a longtime local pol, former Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, against Gallego, a former two-term state representative three decades her junior.

The decisive Democratic primary for retiring Rep. Ed Pastor’s seat is Tuesday, but the race has been culminating for weeks thanks to Arizona’s burgeoning permanent early voter list. In the Valley of the Sun’s prohibitively expensive media market, the victor will be decided by direct mail and, most importantly, a month-long get-out-the-vote push in the late summer heat.

In the weeks leading up to the primary, Gallego’s team expressed more confidence they will prevail. They’re probably right: A high-tech ground game has served him well, even in some of the southwest’s oldest barrios.

Full story

August 18, 2014

Martha McSally Tries to Fly to Victory

Martha McSally Tries to Fly to Victory

McSally is running for Congress in Arizona. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

TUCSON, Ariz. — Operatives couldn’t make up a better candidate résumé if they tried: retired Air Force Colonel, first in her class at the U.S. Air War College, the first female fighter pilot in combat who flies the very plane — an A-10 Warthog — that’s economically essential to the 2nd District.

At a time when Republicans wrangle with messaging to female voters, this 48-year-old’s spunk and articulate bite is made for television — and unlike anything the House GOP Conference has seen in a while.

Martha McSally Tries to Fly to VictoryBut can Martha McSally finally win this House seat on her third try, and, more pressing for this Friday evening, can the Republican spell “logomachy”?

“L-O-G-O-M-A-C-H-Y,” McSally enunciates to the judges, who nod in approval at a spelling bee fundraiser just off the Old Pueblo’s newly booming downtown strip. It means an argument about words — something of which there’s plenty in her race.

After nearly a dozen rounds, the competition has dwindled from 15 local celebrities and the judges have to regroup because they’ve run out of pre-selected words to challenge the two finalists. McSally is one of them, and when it’s her turn, she walks into the single spotlight on stage and tries to spell “sayonara.”

She blows it. Full story

August 12, 2014

Freshman Congresswoman Moves to the Middle

Freshman Congresswoman Moves to the Middle

Sinema greets voters at Giant Coffee in Phoenix. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

PHOENIX — Once known for her progressive politics, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has coasted to the center in her first re-election.

The freshman bills herself as bipartisan, and now party operatives — even Republicans, privately — view her as the safest of the state’s three vulnerable Democrats. But that’s also because she’s lucky: A brutal Republican primary is bound to leave her future foe broke and bruised 10 weeks before Election Day.

Freshman Congresswoman Moves to the MiddleOn the campaign trail, Sinema stresses her work across the aisle. It’s a political necessity for a member who represents a district President Barack Obama won by just four points.

“I’m working to make it cool to compromise in Congress,” Sinema tells 30 mostly baby boomers at a Thursday lunch with the Phoenix West Rotary Club. “I don’t know if we’re quite there yet, but I’m working on it.”

Sinema started her elected career nearly a decade ago at the state House, 10 miles away from this Sheraton conference room.

Some of her first political experience came working for Ralph Nader’s spoiler 2000 presidential bid. She tried her own third party attempt in a losing race for the state House as an independent affiliated with the Green Party two years later. She finally won the seat as a Democrat in 2004. Full story

August 8, 2014

Shooting in the Rear View, Ron Barber Drives His Own Way

Shooting in the Rear View, Ron Barber Drives His Own Way

Barber gives a tour of Tucson. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

TUCSON, Ariz. — Rep. Ron Barber guides his Ford through the flat, four-lane paved streets, ticking off landmarks on the corners of his desert city surrounded by jagged mountains.

That’s Rincon High School, where he enrolled as a sophomore in 1959. There’s the middle school his grandson attends. As he makes a left turn, Barber points to St. Cyril of Alexandria Church, where he married his wife, Nancy, 47 years ago.

Shooting in the Rear View, Ron Barber Drives His Own Way“It was the middle of the summer, and what do you know, the air conditioner broke,” he recalled, driving by rows of adobe office parks.

On the opposite corner of the church is another Barber landmark, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ office, where he worked as her district director for several years. One memory sticks out: On the night of the Affordable Care Act vote, he put out a press release and left around midnight. A couple of hours later, someone shattered the office door and window. He said they later discovered bullets inside.

It’s not the most notorious time Barber risked gunfire — not even close. At the main gate of the University of Arizona campus, the former state bureaucrat gestures up the road toward the trauma center where he was treated after a gunman killed six and injured a dozen more, including Barber and Giffords, in January 2011. Full story

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