Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 30, 2014

Posts by Shira T. Center

34 Posts

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

July 30, 2014

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

July 8, 2014

RNC 2016 Convention Heads to Cleveland

RNC 2016 Convention Heads to Cleveland

The RNC convention in 2016 will be in Cleveland, and Portman played a leading role in Congress to bring the confab there. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican National Convention is headed to The Cleve in 2016.

The party’s site selection committee has picked Cleveland as the host city for the quadrennial conference that will nominate the GOP’s presidential ticket over the other finalist, Dallas.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told Fox News Tuesday that the convention will either start on June 28 or July 18.

Top Ohio Republicans in Congress — Sen. Rob Portman and House Speaker John A. Boehner — lobbied the RNC to bring the convention to the lakeside city. Supporters argued the city could host more delegates near the Quicken Loans Arena and there were political benefits of picking a swing state like Ohio.

Full story

By Shira T. Center Posted at 12:10 p.m.
Uncategorized

July 7, 2014

Ohio Republicans Crusade for Cleveland Convention

Ohio Republicans Crusade for Cleveland Convention

In the fight to host the Republican Convention in 2016, Portman has taken a top role in working to bring the quadrennial confab to Cleveland. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Who will be next to call Cleveland home: LeBron James, or the 2016 Republican National Convention?

In the coming days, GOP officials are expected to announce their pick — Cleveland or Dallas — to host the quadrennial confab that officially nominates the party’s presidential ticket. For months, Ohio’s most powerful GOP players in Congress have put the full-court press on the Republican National Committee’s site selection committee to bring the 2016 convention to the re-emergent lakeside city.

Looking for delegate-friendly tourist attractions in The Cleve, or as those less charitable may refer to it, The Mistake by the Lake? Speaker John A. Boehner has some tips. Another top Buckeye Republican, Sen. Rob Portman, keeps in touch with site selection committee members in between their Cleveland visits. Their efforts stand out compared to the Texas delegation, which left much of the city’s bid work to Dallas pols and business leaders.

Full story

April 9, 2014

John Tierney Survived 2012. Now What?

John Tierney Survived 2012. Now What?

Tierney at a recent event in Peabody, Mass. (Shira T. Center/CQ Roll Call)

John Tierney Survived 2012. Now What?SALEM, Mass. — Rep. John F. Tierney may have successfully put a family legal scandal far enough behind him to win re-election in 2012, but he’s facing another test. And this time, the Massachusetts Democrat’s challenge is primarily political.

Last cycle, Democrats had all but written off Tierney as a goner, but he managed a 4,300-vote victory — about 1 percent — over the Republicans’ best candidate for the seat in years, the affable former state Sen. Richard Tisei.

This year, Tierney first faces a Sept. 9 primary challenge from Seth Moulton, a Marine with a stellar résumé. Tisei, who is openly gay, is aiming for a rematch and will face the Democratic victor.

CQ Roll Call talked with voters in the 6th District — which includes the swath of suburbs north of Boston, is peppered by coastal towns and curves all the way to the New Hampshire border — over the past two months. The picture that emerged is that voters know and like their congressman, despite his recent ethics issues and his family’s legal foibles.

On a chilly March morning as he courted voters at the Salem Democratic Caucuses, Tierney sported a charcoal blazer and pressed pants and appeared certain the storm was behind him. The coiffed congressman told CQ Roll Call he is confident that this cycle’s battle will be easier than his last. But his supporters, like Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, are more cautious.

“I think it’s definitely going to be a challenging race,” Driscoll said in the three-story Salem High School library reminiscent of 1985’s classic film, “The Breakfast Club.” “We had a lot more turnout last time. We’re talking about an election that had the president and Elizabeth Warren on the ballot. So you had just a lot more grass-roots effort going on, a lot of help in terms of field organization statewide.”

Full story

March 27, 2014

Gary Peters Debuts Bio Spot During Sweet 16 Games

Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., locked in an increasingly competitive race for Senate, will debut his first television spot this week during two Wolverine State college basketball games.

Peters’ first spot will air Friday as fans settle in to watch the games featuring Michigan State University and the University of Michigan — two teams that have made it to the Sweet 16 round of the March Madness college tournament. (The Spartans play No. 1 ranked Virginia, while the Wolverines face off against surprise challenger Tennessee.)

Peters will most likely face former Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land this November. Public polling shows the race for retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin’s seat to be close, but Peters has held a lead of a few digits.

The Democrat’s campaign will air two spots — a 30-second ad and a 60-second version — over a seven-week period as part of a seven-figure buy, according to the Peters campaign. Full story

January 8, 2014

Longtime Dems McIntyre, McCarthy to Retire (Updated) (Video)

Longtime Dems McIntyre, McCarthy to Retire (Updated) (Video)

(CQ Roll Call File Photos)

Updated 1:09 p.m. | Two longtime House Democrats — Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Carolyn McCarthy of New York — will not seek re-election in 2014, according to multiple Democratic sources.

The duo of House Democrats mark the third in that caucus to announce he or she won’t return to Congress after 2014. Last month, vulnerable Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, announced he would not seek an 8th term, also nearly assuring Republicans will pick up his seat.

McIntyre was one of this cycle’s most vulnerable Democrats and his departure will likely allow the GOP to pick up his seat. Mitt Romney carried the 7th District a 19-point margin in 2012, while McIntyre won re-election by a slim margin.

Former state Sen. David Rouzer, who lost to McIntyre by just 654 votes in 2012, is running again this cycle. Prior to McIntyre’s retirement announcement, the 7th District was rated a Tossup by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

By comparison, McCarthy’s Long Island-based 4th District is much less of a political opportunity for Republicans. She won re-election in 2012 by a near 2-to-1 margin, and President Barack Obama carried the seat by 12 points in 2012.

McCarthy went public with her battle against lung cancer in June.

The Long Island local parties wield enormous power in selecting a congressional nominee, but in Roll Call’s recent look at the New York State Republican Farm Team, state operatives named state Sen. Jack Martins and Hempstead Councilman Anthony J. Santino as potential contenders in an open-seat race.

Democrats named Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice as a potential successor prior to McCarthy’s announcement.

McCarthy came to Congress in 1997 as a gun-control activist. Her husband was killed in 1993, when a gunman went on a shooting rampage on the Long Island commuter rail.

See all House retirements on Roll Call’s Casualty List.

January 6, 2014

Jim Gerlach Won’t Seek Re-Election (Updated)

Jim Gerlach Wont Seek Re Election (Updated)

(Douglas Graham/Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:48 PM, 2:20 PM, 4:53 PM | Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Pa., announced Monday he will not seek re-election in 2014, marking yet another moderate House Republican to leave Congress.

“Nearing the end of my sixth term in the House and following 12 years of public service in the Pennsylvania House and Senate, it is simply time for me to move on to new challenges and to spend more time with my wife and family,” Gerlach said in a statement to PoliticsPA.com, which first reported the news.

Gerlach’s departure gives Democrats a decent opportunity in southeastern Pennsylvania. Mitt Romney carried the 6th District with 51 percent in 2012. Full story

January 3, 2014

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Florida’s 13th District

 

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Floridas 13th District

Jolly, left, and Peters, right, are Republicans. (CQ Roll Call composite)

The competitive composition of Florida’s 13th District makes this race fascinating, but it’s also the first big contest on the calendar for 2014. This special election will serve as a test balloon for the parties to check their messaging with a split electorate months ahead of Election Day.

Longtime Rep. C.W. Bill Young’s death has spurred the first competitive race for the western Florida district in a few decades. Young carried the district easily, but President Barack Obama narrowly won the seat with 50 percent in 2012.

Full story

January 2, 2014

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: North Carolina Senate

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: North Carolina Senate

Hagan is vulnerable in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This cycle’s best bellwether for Senate control is North Carolina, where Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, is seeking re-election in this increasingly frequent battleground state.

Senate Republicans must pick up a net of six seats to win control, and the Tar Heel State has served as that chamber’s best barometer in recent cycles. Since 2000, the party of North Carolina’s Senate victor has picked up seats across the country.

That’s what happened in 2008, when Hagan defeated then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole, and Democrats picked up several Senate seats on the coattails of President Barack Obama’s first election. Hagan won’t have that benefit in 2014, when the president’s poor approval rating will not help her re-election efforts. Full story

January 1, 2014

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Pennsylvania’s 13th District

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Pennsylvanias 13th District

Schwartz is running for governor, leaving an open race for her House seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House isn’t very popular these days, so why would anyone want to return there after a 20-year hiatus? The answer — if there is one — is just one reason why the crowded primary for this suburban Philadelphia, strong Democratic district is so fascinating.

Former Rep. Marjorie Margolies, D-Pa., is waging a comeback bid for the 13th District nearly tw0 decades after she supported President Bill Clinton’s budget and famously lost re-election in 1994. The 71-year-old is back with a vengeance and strong political connections: Her son is married to Chelsea Clinton. Full story

December 31, 2013

How Roll Call’s Best Politics Stories of 2013 Happened

Like many politics news consumers/news people working during the holidays, I’ve read a lot of listicles in the last couple weeks (some even on Roll Call). My eyes now glaze over when the words “best of” run across my Tweetdeck.

So here’s something slightly different for the end of 2013. Hopefully, you read our best politics stories of 2013 when they originally published.  But here’s a closer look at how the year’s best stories from Emily Cahn, Abby Livingston, Kyle Trygstad, Nathan L. Gonzales and Stu Rothenberg happened.

Warning: Story generation isn’t often sexy or even interesting. To my knowledge, no Roll Call politics reporter secretly met a source in a Rosslyn parking garage this year. Mostly, they get their best ideas by dialing sources outside the Beltway. Other times, they get lucky with a news tip. Regardless, I think it’s valuable to our readers to see the origins of our best coverage.

In no specific order, here’s how Roll Call’s 13 best politics stories of 2013  happened:

1. 6 Things Losing Candidates Say (Aug. 22). Nathan didn’t think this story would get much attention during a sleepy, off-year August recess. He and Stu Rothenberg meet with scores of congressional hopefuls every cycle, and Nathan thought his advice to candidates seemed obvious (for example, don’t hire your spouse as a campaign manager). But the story quickly became one of Roll Call’s most popular pieces, and operatives tell us they now give it to candidates before they do interviews with national media — especially prior to meeting Stu and Nathan. The list spurred a few fun spin-offs too: 5 Things Winning Candidates Say and 4 More Things Losing Candidates Say (Readers Edition).

Full story

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