Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 18, 2014

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June 5, 2013

Environmental Group Helps Markey in Massachusetts Special Election #MASEN

Environmental Group Helps Markey in Massachusetts Special Election #MASEN

Markey leads a new poll of the Senate special election in Massachusetts. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The League of Conservation Voters launched a direct-mail program Wednesday to assist Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey in the Massachusetts special election for Senate.

With just three weeks left, the group announced it is spending almost $400,000 to highlight Markey’s leadership on environmental issues and the positions of Republican nominee Gabriel Gomez — which the LCV labels as “extreme.”

The first mail piece lands at homes this week. The glossy paper states that “no one has fought harder than Ed Markey” for clean-energy jobs and reducing the dependence on foreign oil. It also hits Gomez as a “Wall Street insider” and accuses him of being “in the pocket of Big Oil.” Full story

Conservative Group Launches Second Attack Against Pryor #ARSEN

Senate Conservatives Action will launch Wednesday the second in a series of three TV ads in Arkansas against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor.

The latest ad, “Deciding Vote,” features a North Little Rock business owner directly criticizing Pryor for his vote to support the health care law. It’s a line of attack Pryor will likely see for the next 17 months and one Republicans believe can move votes in this GOP-trending southern state. Full story

May 31, 2013

First Senate Democrat Airs 2014 Ad (Video) #ARSEN

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., doesn’t have an opponent yet, but he’s being forced to play defense anyway.

Hit from both sides on the air this week, Pryor launched the first television ad of his re-election campaign on Friday. The ad, coming about 17 months before the general election, is backed by a “significant statewide buy,” according to a Democratic spokesman.

Full story

May 29, 2013

Mark Pryor Going on the Air #ARSEN

Mark Pryor Going on the Air #ARSEN

Pryor is running advertisements for his re-election bid. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., will launch a television ad campaign on Friday — 17 months before this cycle’s most vulnerable incumbent faces voters in the general election.

“It’s an ad in response to the attacks we’re getting on both sides,” Pryor campaign manager Jeff Weaver said. “These outside groups are trying to affect the election. So we’ve produced an ad.”

Pryor has been hit on the air by the conservative groups Club for Growth and Senate Conservatives Fund for his ties to President Barack Obama. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, just launched a $350,000 ad buy hitting Pryor for his vote against expanded background checks.

(See also in Roll Call: Pryor Can’t Escape 2010 Comparison) Full story

May 20, 2013

Why the IRS Mess Bares Big Campaign Finance Problems

To many on Capitol Hill, the burgeoning scandal dogging the IRS looks like a simple case of partisan political targeting by an overbearing federal agency.

But the IRS controversy has laid bare a far more serious and far-reaching problem: the agency’s utter failure to keep pace with drastically changing campaign finance laws. For decades, the IRS has taken heat for its muddy rules governing politically active tax-exempt groups, a recent CQ Weekly story notes. Among other problems, the recent inspector general’s report found:

  • IRS employees did not understand and bickered over the agency’s own rules, repeatedly changing course over how to screen groups seeking tax-exempt status.
  • The IRS went so far as to reject the IG’s recommendation that the tax agency clear up guidelines for how to handle such groups. The IRS instead recommended  more staff training, an alternative the IG in turn rejected.
  • Though lawmakers and watchdogs urged the IRS to curb deep-pocketed nonprofits spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the 2012 campaign, the IRS ignored the top-spending players and instead went after shoestring groups.

As the story notes:

The fallout has exposed an agency that lacks the tools, the will or even the rules to regulate increasingly wealthy and influential tax-exempt groups unfettered by the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling to deregulate political spending. Full story

May 16, 2013

EMILY’s List Backs Six House Candidates

EMILY’s List, an organization that backs female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, rolled out six candidates who made their “On the List” designation.

Most of the EMILY’s List candidates are in line with the plans of other Democratic groups, but at least one has the potential to upset other national Democratic groups.

“On the List” is a tier below the group’s full endorsements, which are typically doled out later in the cycle.

Those “On the List” are:

California’s 31st: Attorney Eloise Reyes
Incumbent: Republican Rep. Gary G. Miller
This race is one of  the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s biggest regrets from 2012. This EMILY’s List support could complicate Democratic plans. They lost this winnable seat in 2012 because no Democrat made it through California’s jungle primary system. This year, the DCCC has made it plain that it prefers Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar. Former Democratic Rep. Joe Baca is also running for the seat after losing re-election in another district. Until making EMILY’s List, Reyes was hardly mentioned in campaign coverage, but the backing gives her credibility. No organized Republican has emerged as a threat to block out Democrats again, but a primary with three organized candidates has to make Democrats nervous.

Full story

May 15, 2013

DeMint-Linked Group Eyes Louisiana Senate Candidate

Retired Air Force Col. Rob Maness announced his candidacy this week for Senate in Louisiana, and now the PAC formerly associated with Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint is considering supporting him.

The Senate Conservatives Fund emailed supporters on Wednesday highlighting Maness and making clear that it won’t be supporting Rep. Bill Cassidy, the leading Republican in the race to take on Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.

“We still need to vet Col. Maness to see if he’s someone SCF can support, but we’re excited about his potential,” SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote. “It’s encouraging to see people run for office who aren’t career politicians and who aren’t part to the political establishment.” Full story

May 8, 2013

Super PACs Fuel GOP Civil War

Republicans who have long pushed for campaign finance deregulation are now paying for one of its consequences: the rise of influential conservative super PACs vying for the soul of a fractured GOP.

That Republicans crushed by the 2012 election results are feuding over what went wrong and what comes next is nothing new. Less noticed has been the big money bankrolling GOP factions and the influential new super PACs and outside groups that hold the party’s future in their hands.

More than a dozen such groups have sprung up since Election Day, CQ Weekly reports this week — some promoting centrists, minorities or liberalized immigration rules, others championing conservatives at odds with “establishment” party leaders. As the story notes: Full story

April 30, 2013

Rand Paul, FreedomWorks Endorse Mark Sanford #SC01

Rand Paul, FreedomWorks Endorse Mark Sanford #SC01

Paul, above, endorsed Sanford. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 1:35 p.m. | Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., endorsed embattled former Gov. Mark Sanford’s bid for the 1st District special election.

“Mark has proven during his time in office that watching out for taxpayers and holding the line on spending are his top priorities,” Paul said in a press release from the Sanford campaign.

“What we absolutely cannot afford is someone like his opponent, who will be yet another vote for a return to the Pelosi speakership, for disastrous programs like Obamacare, and for more spending and debt,” he added. “I am pleased to endorse Mark and stand with him in this race,” he added.

Full story

House Majority PAC Targets Women With Closing Mark Sanford Attack #SC01

House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC, targeted GOP women in its closing spot for the South Carolina’s 1st District special election.

The woman featured in the ad identifies herself as a Republican before she laces into Republican nominee former Gov. Mark Sanford for the extramarital affair that led to his political downfall in 2009.

Sanford faces Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch on May 7.

Full story

April 22, 2013

Monday Remainders: Mark Sanford and Sons

Monday Remainders: Mark Sanford and Sons

Sanford had a rough week on the campaign trail. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images File Photo)

What we’re mulling on Monday …

  • #MIsen: Michigan’s Democratic primary waters are clear now — so when will Rep. Gary Peters jump into the Senate race? Debbie Dingell announced in a Saturday Facebook post that she will not seek the Democratic nomination to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. No word yet from Peters on an announcement.
  • #SC01: Not everyone has abandoned former Gov. Mark Sanford’s special election bid. National Right to Life PAC spent almost $6,000 on mailers for Sanford, according to online records with the Federal Election Commission.
  • #HIsen: Your move, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will back Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary, via the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

What you might have missed “At the Races” on Monday…. Full story

April 17, 2013

South Carolina: Sanford Makes TV Buy Amid Trespassing Accusations

Updated 12:05 p.m. | Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is set to appear in court this week, facing accusations that he trespassed on his ex-wife’s property in early February, according to The Associated Press.

The news comes as he enters the final weeks as the GOP nominee in a special election against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Continued drama in one of the messiest divorces in modern politics will add another layer of complication in his attempt at a political comeback.

But Sanford will have an outlet to make his case — television.

Democratic sources who track media buying tell CQ Roll Call that the Sanford campaign and the South Carolina Republican Party have 1,000 points (a major television buy worth $90,000 to $100,000) reserved in the Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C., media markets. It is set to begin Wednesday and last through April 22. Full story

April 9, 2013

West Virginia: Club for Growth Invites Capito Challenger to Meet

The Club for Growth has not met with Rep. Shelley Moore Capito’s new GOP opponent for Senate yet, but it’s definitely interested in getting to know him better.

Chris Chocola, president of the deep-pocketed conservative group, reached out to former state Del. Pat McGeehan over Twitter on Tuesday — just hours after he announced that he’s challenging Capito, the heavy GOP favorite in the race and a club target:

Full story

EMILY’s List Adds Six to House GOP Target List

EMILY’s List will add six House GOP members to its “On Notice” status Tuesday, signaling the group will make each of them a priority target in 2014:

  • Joe Heck in Nevada’s 3rd District
  • John Kline in Minnesota’s 2nd District
  • Tom Latham in Iowa’s 3rd District
  • Tom Reed in New York’s 23rd District
  • Scott Tipton in Colorado’s 3rd District
  • David Valadao in California’s 21st District

Full story

April 4, 2013

Shop Talk: Carville Joins Draft-Hillary Super PAC

Shop Talk: Carville Joins Draft Hillary Super PAC

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:34 a.m. | The Ready for Hillary super PAC will announce on Thursday that Democratic strategist James Carville has joined its efforts, CQ Roll Call has confirmed.

Carville is the highest-profile Clinton loyalist to join the group, which aims to build a campaign infrastructure for former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton if she decides to run for president in 2016.

(See Shop Talk’s rundown of other Ready for Hillary hires here and here.)

Ready for Hillary is not directly affiliated with Clinton. Carville worked on President Bill Clinton’s campaigns for the White House.

The Washington Post first reported the Carville news early Thursday morning.

Update 9:34 a.m. 

Carville clarified his role to Politico. He said that he would not be “directly affiliated” with the group but is enthusiastic to help any organization that supports Clinton. Carville frequently lets groups like the campaign committees use his name in fundraising emails. A source at the PAC had previously confirmed the entire content of the Washington Post report to CQ Roll Call.

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