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January 25, 2013

Priebus Easily Re-Elected RNC Chairman

Priebus Easily Re Elected RNC Chairman

Priebus was re-elected as Republican National Committee chairman. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Reince Priebus was re-elected as chairman of the Republican National Committee on Friday, garnering the near unanimous support of the 168 RNC voting members.

The challenges facing Priebus as the head of the Republican Party entering the 2014 cycle are different than what he dealt with when he took over in 2011. Then, Priebus was tasked with overhauling RNC operations, including paying off a $24 million debt and rehabilitating its image among GOP donors. But he was buoyed at the time by fresh enthusiasm from big wins in the 2010 midterm elections.

This time around, the RNC is in good shape financially — the committee ended 2012 debt free and with $4.7 million in the bank. But the result of the 2012 elections left the party faithful deflated: The party’s brand is in the tank nationally, emerging demographic voting blocs favor the Democrats, and the GOP also finds itself trailing its opposition in the ability to target and turn out voters. Full story

January 23, 2013

DNC Re-elects Wasserman Schultz; Honda Steps Down as Vice Chairman

DNC Re elects Wasserman Schultz; Honda Steps Down as Vice Chairman

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was re-elected as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic National Committee members re-elected Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., as their chairman Tuesday, a committee spokesman confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

President Barack Obama indicated last month that he wanted Wasserman Schultz to continue in her role as head of the committee. DNC members confirmed his pick at their meeting Tuesday.

However, there were other major personnel changes at the DNC meeting:

The party’s longtime secretary, Alice Germond, stepped down, according to CNN. Germond had served in that position since 2002.

The network also reported additional departures: Vice Chairmen Linda Chavez Thompson and Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., plus National Finance Chair Jane Stetson.

January 18, 2013

Obama Relaunches Campaign as Grass-Roots Advocacy

Obama Relaunches Campaign as Grass Roots Advocacy

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated March 5 | President Barack Obama is turning to the grass-roots supporters who helped re-elect him to now help carry out his legislative agenda, announcing Friday a new advocacy group dubbed Organizing for Action.

The group will be configured as a 501(c)(4) social welfare group and accept unrestricted corporate funding, the Associated Press has reported, raising questions about transparency on the heels of an election that saw record sums in undisclosed campaign spending.

Such tax-exempt organizations are not required to publicly report their contributors, and during the recent elections, Obama and congressional Democrats assailed the undisclosed “dark money” that helped politically active nonprofits spend hundreds of millions on campaign ads. Organizing for Action will reportedly take no money from lobbyists or political action committees.

Full story

January 11, 2013

West Virginia: Rockefeller Retirement Spurs Search for Conservative Candidate

West Virginia: Rockefeller Retirement Spurs Search for Conservative Candidate

GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito announced her intention to run for Senate last year, but some conservative groups aren't impressed by her. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Republicans’ primary problems from the past two cycles are floating to the surface once again in West Virginia.

Conservatives immediately jumped on the news of West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s retirement, noting that there is now no reason a “conservative” candidate can’t win the seat next year with the five-term iconic Democrat absent from the ticket. Conservatives and establishment Republicans have battled in recent election cycles over which GOP Senate primary candidate was best positioned to win a general election.

In a statement Friday morning, Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins said “the door is wide open for Republicans in West Virginia to nominate a true conservative,” citing President Barack Obama’s 26-point loss in the state in 2012 as evidence that a conservative would have no trouble winning. The Senate Conservatives Fund and other like-minded groups oppose Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who jumped into the race a few weeks after the Nov. 6 elections and was immediately hailed by many Republicans in Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

“We’re not going to stop looking for a conservative challenger in this race until the primary is over,” Hoskins said. “The voters in West Virginia get to decide who represents them and they should have a conservative choice.” The Senate Conservatives Fund is a super PAC founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who resigned his seat and jumped to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think thank.

Full story

December 26, 2012

Hawaii: Abercrombie Appoints Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to Senate

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday appointed his lieutenant governor, Democrat Brian Schatz, to fill the state’s vacant Senate seat for the next two years.

Schatz surprisingly got the nod over Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who was endorsed by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye just before he died last week. The choice of Schatz means Democrats will not have to hold a special election for Hanabusa’s seat, which Republicans briefly won control of in a 2010 special election. The appointment is good until the 2014 elections, when another election will be held for the right to serve out the final two years of Inouye’s term, which expires in 2016.

In an afternoon press conference, Abercrombie, a former congressman and colleague of Inouye, said he “of course” took Inouye’s wishes into account but felt he had to act “in the overall best interest of the party.” He said he also took into account Hanabusa’s placement on the House Armed Services Committee, a vital post for the military-heavy state.

“No one and nothing is preordained,” he said. Full story

December 20, 2012

Report: Mark Sanford to Run for House

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plans to run in the special election for Rep. Tim Scott’s seat, CNN reports.

The Republican’s entrance into the race shakes up a field that could include his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, among other candidates.

Scott’s seat will be vacant soon because Gov. Nikki R. Haley appointed the GOP congressman to the Senate following Sen. Jim DeMint’s announced plans to resign in January to join The Heritage Foundation.

A few days ago, Roll Call reported Sanford was “studying” a comeback bid in Scott’s district.

Full story

November 30, 2012

California: Hernandez Will Look at a Rematch Vs. Denham

California: Hernandez Will Look at a Rematch Vs. Denham

Denham, above, was the only targeted California Republican to hold onto his seat this cycle. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Astronaut Jose Hernandez confirmed he’s interested in challenging Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., again.

Hernandez, a Democrat, just isn’t sure when that will be: 2014 or 2016?

“Democrats tend to show up in lower numbers than Republicans in off-years. It’s one of the concerns I need to worry about,” he told Roll Call in a brief Friday afternoon telephone interview. “Is it more winnable in two years or four years?”

Earlier this month, Denham survived as the only targeted California Republican on the November ballot. Democrats defeated many of his California GOP colleagues; for example Rep.-elect Ami Bera toppled Rep. Dan Lungren in a 2010 rematch.

Now Hernandez, who lost by 5 points, hopes he might follow his friend Bera’s success. He plans to talk to him and senior Congressional leaders on a yet-to-be-scheduled trip to Washington.

But Hernandez cautioned that he hasn’t made a decision yet about running.

“I’m not saying I’m running, but I’m not saying I’m not running,” he said. “I’m keeping my options and exploring what would make sense to do.”

November 29, 2012

South Dakota: Club for Growth ‘Not Focused’ on Rounds

The conservative Club for Growth is taking a hands-off approach to former Gov. Michael Rounds’ Senate bid — at least for now.

“We are not focused on South Dakota’s Senate race at this time, and we do not feel the need to comment on every candidate that announces for office,” said Barney Keller, a spokesman for the group, in response to an email inquiry from Roll Call. “We will continue to watch every race and go through our normal evaluation process.”

That’s good news for Rounds, a Republican who announced his bid against Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Thursday morning. Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

Full story

November 26, 2012

lllinois: Halvorson Jumps Into Jackson Special

Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill., will run in the special election to replace her former political nemesis, former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.

Halvorson declared herself “the only candidate who could avoid freshman orientation and hit the ground running,” in a statement to local reporters Monday morning.

Jackson announced his resignation from Congress last week amid reports that he had negotiated a deal with federal investigators for alleged campaign fund misuse.

Full story

November 25, 2012

West Virginia: Capito Running for Senate

West Virginia: Capito Running for Senate

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito plans to run for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia will announce a bid for the Senate on Monday, taking aim at Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Roll Call has confirmed.

Rockefeller, 75, and a West Virginia institution first elected to the Senate in 1984, is considered a top potential Senate retirement.

Full story

November 17, 2012

Arizona: Barber Defeats McSally

Democratic Rep. Ron Barber has defeated Republican Martha McSally in the over-time ballot counting for Arizona’s 2nd District, according to The Associated Press.

She is set to hold a news conference Saturday in Tucson.

Barber led McSally by 1,400 votes at the time The Associated Press called the race.

The close margin surprised many in Arizona politics. National Republicans have been quick to credit McSally for making the race so competitive. Still, it was just not enough.

Redistricting improved the district slightly for Democrats but it will likely be a competitive seat for the lifetime of the state’s new congressional map.

November 14, 2012

Walden, NRCC Fundraise Off of Pelosi News

Walden, NRCC Fundraise Off of Pelosi News

Walden, the expected new National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, wasted little time in fundraising off of Pelosi's decision to stay as Democratic leader. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Greg Walden, Ore., is not officially the new National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, but he is already fundraising like he is.

Walden, who is running unopposed for the post, emailed NRCC supporters Wednesday about the news that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Calif., will continue to lead the Democratic Caucus.

“So Pelosi is not going to retire — even though you and I have put her in the Minority for two straight elections,” Walden wrote. “They’re going to let the most liberal Democrat there is run the most liberal House Democratic Caucus ever…We want to send a message to former Speaker Pelosi and her far-left colleagues that America can’t afford what they’re selling.” Full story

November 13, 2012

Illinois: Walsh Floats Statewide Bid

Illinois: Walsh Floats Statewide Bid

Rep. Joe Walsh is considering his political future after he his lost re-election bid. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Outgoing Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., didn’t rule out a statewide bid in 2014 in a recent interview with The Daily Herald.

Last week, Walsh, one of the House GOP’s most outspoken and controversial conservatives, lost re-election to Democratic Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth. Walsh had this to say to the suburban Chicago newspaper when asked about a gubernatorial bid in 2014:

“Am I going to do something? Oh gosh, I don’t know,” he said. “People approach me every day and ask, ‘Walsh, are you going to run for the governor? Are you going to run for Senate?’ I want to do my part to lead a movement to present a vision to this. I’d rather go down fighting. Democrats have ruined this state but they’ve been able to do it because the Republicans have allowed them to.”

Full story

November 10, 2012

Arizona: Reid Adds Voice to Arizona Ballot Counting Frustrations

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed to echo the frustrations of Arizonans today when he issued a statement on the ongoing ballot counting in the state.

“All of the votes in Arizona must be counted promptly, accurately and equally!” the Nevada Democrat said in a written statement. “The uncounted votes in Maricopa County alone represent a major portion of the total votes cast in Arizona on Tuesday.”

“I expect state and local officials in Arizona to ensure that every vote is counted promptly, accurately and equally,” he added.

The Associated Press and most news organizations called the Senate race between Republican Rep. Jeff Flake and former Surgeon General Richard Carona earlier this week. There are two outstanding House races in Arizona.

But the outstanding ballot sum is much greater than the margin between Flake and Carmona. At least one smart state Democrat is not completely ruling out an upset when the votes are finally tallied.

Arizona’s 2nd is the House race with the most uncertainty. As of this writing, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally was barely leading Democratic Rep. Ron Barber. Sources from both parties strongly warn that any lead until after the weekend is tenuous. Expect more see-sawing.

In Arizona’s 9th, former Democratic state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has held onto her lead over Republican Rep. Vernon Parker, but it has yet to be called.

Arizona political strategists became increasingly frustrated with the state’s slow ballot counting for several reasons, most notably, clerical errors and a large number of provisional ballots.

November 9, 2012

Day Three: Outstanding House Races

Here is the state of some House races that have yet to be officially called or have a victor declared.

Arizona 2nd

Rep. Ron Barber (D) has taken a 600 vote lead over retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally (R), but it is still too early to assume that his lead will hold. There are simply too many outstanding ballots to be counted to do much tea leaf reading at this point.

Arizona 9th

Former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) saw her lead over former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker increase from Thursday. While there are a number of ballots still to be counted, at least one Republican operative familiar with this race is growing more pessimistic about his party’s chances of winning this seat.

Full story

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