Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 27, 2015

March 5, 2014

Vote on Controversial Nominee Exposes Political Risk of Nuclear Option

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Likely fearful of attack ads, seven Senate Democrats joined Republicans on Wednesday to block the nomination of Debo P. Adegbile to be the next assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Three of those Democrats — Chris Coons of Delaware, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and John Walsh of Montana — are on the ballot this fall. The others either had regional ties to the controversy dogging Adegbile or are from red states. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa. voted against cloture, as did Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.

Full story

Obama Headlines DSCC Fundraiser

President Barack Obama addressed a group of donors Tuesday night at a fundraiser for Senate Democrats, who are hoping to maintain their majority in the upcoming midterm elections.

The Democrats gathered at the home of former Sen. Chuck Robb and Lynda Robb in McLean, Va.  Sen. Michael Bennet, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Virginia Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner attended the event, where tickets ranged from $10,000 to $32,400, a DSCC official said.

According to a transcript of his remarks, Obama stressed the importance of the midterm elections, pledging to “spend a lot of time and energy” supporting Democratic candidates. The president said Democrats must passionately support their candidates, especially since midterm elections typically have lower voter turnout rates.

Referring to the 2010 midterms, when Democrats lost their House majority and a half-dozen Senate seats, Obama said, “We paid a dear price for not paying enough attention to these midterm elections. We cannot repeat the same mistake this year.” Full story

Mitt Romney Endorses Candidate in Iowa Senate Race

Romney has endorsed a candidate for Senate in Iowa. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday endorsed state Sen. Joni Ernst in the crowded Republican primary in Iowa’s open Senate seat.

“It is going to take an incredibly strong Republican to defeat the Democrats as they look to defend this open seat that has been in their control for over three decades. Thankfully, Iowa Republicans have such a candidate in Joni Ernst,” Romney said in a mailer endorsing Ernst, according to the Des Moines Register. Full story

Alex Sink Ends Special Election Campaign With Positive Spot

In what is likely her final ad in the special election for Florida’s 13th District, the Democrat nominee, Alex Sink, struck a bipartisan tone in positive spot that started to air Wednesday.

Polls show Sink in a virtual tie with the GOP nominee, lobbyist David Jolly, in the race to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla. Full story

Ann Callis Launches Second Ad in Illinois Primary

Former judge Ann Callis is launching her latest TV ad on Wednesday, less than two weeks out from the Democratic primary in Illinois’ 13th District.

Callis is the national party’s pick to oust freshman Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill, in this highly competitive downstate district. But she must first take care of business against physics professor George Gollin in the March 18 primary.

“As parents, we teach our children to do what’s right,” Callis says in the 30-second bio spot. “As a judge, I held people accountable when they did wrong. That’s why I cracked down on violent criminals, and stopped the big banks when they tried to kick families out of their homes.”

Full story

March 4, 2014

John Cornyn Wins GOP Nomination for Senate in Texas

Cornyn is seeking a third term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas won the GOP nod outright in his re-election battle, clobbering a congressman and his tea party supporters in the first primary of the midterm elections.

Cornyn had 63 percent of the vote, and Rep. Steve Stockman had 17 percent of the vote, when the Associated Press called the election for the two-term senator. The Senate’s No. 2 Republican cleared the necessary majority threshold to avoid a runoff against Stockman. Full story

Ralph Hall Heads to Runoff; Sessions, Veasey Defeat Primary Challengers

Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, will face a late-spring runoff against a self-funded primary challenger.

As election results poured into the Lone Star State on Tuesday night, it was clear that freshman Rep. Marc Veasey, a Democrat, and Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican, would be all-but-certain to return to Congress for another term.

Across the state, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, easily defeated Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas. There will be a runoff for Stockman’s seat in the 36th District.

All primary runoff races will take place on May 27. Full story

Paul Ryan Endorses Mike Simpson in Idaho

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan endorsed Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson on Tuesday, praising his fellow Republican’s work on debt reduction.

Simpson, an eight-term incumbent and ally of Speaker John A. Boehner, is facing primary opposition from tea-party-backed attorney Bryan Smith in a marquee battle between competing wings of the GOP.

“Mike Simpson has been in the trenches fighting to reform runaway spending and has been a critical voice in passing our plan to balance the budget and pay down our debt,” the Wisconsin Republican and former vice presidential nominee said in a statement.

Full story

Connie Mack Endorses in Special Election for Radel’s Seat

Mack has endorsed Clawson in the race for Radel's seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Rep. Connie Mack endorsed businessman Curt Clawson, a fellow Republican, in the upcoming special election for the seat Mack held until 2012.

In backing Clawson in Florida’s 19th District, Mack cited the candidate’s endorsement of the former congressman’s “Penny Plan,” a proposal to reduce the federal budget by 1 percent every year.

“Simply put, I am concerned that most politicians don’t have the strength of their resolve in order to make these tough choices,” Mack said in a statement. “It will take an outsider to help us accomplish this goal and ultimately pass the Penny Plan. For these reasons, I endorse Curt Clawson for Congress and look forward to working with him to make the Penny Plan a reality.” Full story

Ralph Hall’s Jiujitsu Advertising Move

On Nov. 27, 2012, Rep. Ralph M. Hall became the oldest person to cast a vote  in Congress. Fifteen months later, that milestone is a campaign issue, and Hall is attempting to swing it his way.

Hall faces off Tuesday against a self-funded Republican rival, attorney John Ratcliffe. In case voters weren’t already aware of Hall’s age, Ratcliffe drove the point home with an ad released last week.

Titled “A New Generation of Conservative Leadership,” the narrator uses terms including “energy,” “passion” and “new” (five times).

Full story

Mike Lee Backs Sasse in Nebraska Primary

Nebraska candidate Ben Sasse is backed by Sen. Mike Lee (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Utah Sen. Mike Lee is backing Ben Sasse for Senate in Nebraska, adding another congressional endorsement for the Midland University president in his competitive GOP primary.

Sasse is building a “diverse, conservative coalition,” his campaign said in a statement Tuesday. Along with Lee, Sasse has the support of House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, as well as outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth. Full story

Texas: What to Watch in the First Primaries of 2014

(By Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The nation’s first primary election of the 2014 cycle arrives today, and Lone Star State campaigns have braced themselves for low turnout thanks to unusually frigid weather.

Or as they say in some parts of Texas, it’s colder than a tin toilet in the Yukon.

Few places are prepared to handle ice and 30-degree temperatures, which could keep voters at home. As a result, many campaigns predict early voting and early media buys will have an outsized influence on the primaries.

A candidate must receive a majority of the vote to win Tuesday’s primary outright. Otherwise, the top two candidates will advance to a May 27 runoff.

Polls close at 8 p.m. EST. Here are six things to watch as results come in: Full story

March 3, 2014

Obama Endorses Second Freshman Democrat in Past Week

President Barack Obama endorsed Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., for re-election on Monday, his second endorsement of a freshman congressman in the past week.

“Since day one, Eric has shown unwavering dedication to the needs of his constituents — helping veterans secure the benefits they’ve earned, protecting seniors, and ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work,” Obama said in a statement released by the Swalwell campaign. “I enthusiastically support Eric Swalwell’s reelection to Congress so the East Bay can continue to move forward.”

The endorsement of Swalwell, who represents the Bay Area-based 15th District, followed Obama’s announcement of support on Feb. 28 for Texas Rep. Marc Veasey, who is facing a self-funding challenger in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

Full story

Virginia Democrats Gather to Celebrate, Replace Moran

Lavern Chatman was one of nearly a dozen candidates to compete in a Saturday night straw poll to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hundreds of Northern Virginia Democrats packed into a Volvo dealership outside of Washington, D.C., Saturday night to celebrate the career of longtime Rep. James P. Moran and begin the process of replacing him.

Since Moran’s January announcement that he wouldn’t seek a 13th term, at least 11 Democrats have thrown their hats into the ring. Nearly all of them appeared at the Saturday event to rub elbows with potential supporters and stake their claim to the safe Democratic seat.

Former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer, who hosted the festivities at his dealership in Alexandria, won the night’s straw poll decisively with 25 percent of the vote. Community activist Lavern Chatman and state Del. Patrick Hope took second and third place.

The straw poll was held as part of an annual Mardis Gras celebration to raise money for the Mount Vernon District Democratic Committee. Nearly 500 people attended the event, where tickets cost $45 and up, depending on the sponsorship level.

Moran, the guest of honor, donned Mardis Gras beads and greeted attendees with a beer in hand. He predicted that the winner of the June 10 Democratic primary will likely win by the same margin Beyer did on Saturday.

“I think that anybody that gets 25 percent of the vote will win. It’ll be a plurality,” Moran told CQ Roll Call. Full story

Democrats Announce House Targets for 2014

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee rolled out the first 35 districts of its “Red to Blue” program Monday, highlighting the GOP-held seats the party believes it can flip and open seats it hopes to keep in the Democratic column in the 2014 midterms.

Needing to net 17 seats to win back the House majority, the announcement makes clear where the party believes its most important fights will take place.

“This is our initial roll out,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said Monday morning on MSNBC’s “Daily Rundown.” “There will be more, and we will have a very competitive battlefield as we go deeper into the cycle.” Full story

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