Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 21, 2014

July 24, 2013

The Most Unpredictable Senate Primary of 2014

An unknown Baptist, Korean-American businessman from Augusta, Ga., delivered a speech July 19 to a regional conference of the National Federation of Republican Women. Sources say he shelled out $5,000 to serve as a “presenting sponsor” of the Atlanta event for 300 top Republicans, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.

So who was he?

Eugene Yu had just joined the most intriguing primary in the country: the GOP race for Georgia’s open Senate seat. He and at least six other Republicans are vying for the nomination in one of the Senate’s top contests of 2014.

As Democratic recruit Michelle Nunn entered a nearly empty primary field this week, Yu’s candidacy — even as an underdog — is emblematic of the free-for-all that has ensued on the Republican side since Sen. Saxby Chambliss announced his retirement in January. Full story

Minnesota Businessman Eyes Peterson Challenge #MN07

Minnesota Businessman Eyes Peterson Challenge #MN07

Peterson might have a new challenger soon. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Scott Van Binsbergen, a Minnesota businessman and former staffer for retired Rep. Vin Weber, R-Minn., confirmed to CQ Roll Call on Wednesday that he is eyeing a bid against Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., in the 7th District.

Van Binsbergen said in a phone interview that he didn’t have a timeline for his decision but said he has met with the National Republican Congressional Committee, as well as delegates from the Minnesota Republican Party, as he considers the race.

“I’m extremely interested,” said Van Binsbergen, who in 2006 ran an unsuccessful bid for state House in Minnesota. “I’ve been out meeting with delegates and political people from around the district and around the state, but I haven’t put a timeline on [an announcement].”

Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 3:14 p.m.
House 2016, Minn.-7, NRCC

DesJarlais Will Run for Re-Election in 2014 #TN04

DesJarlais Will Run for Re Election in 2014 #TN04

DesJarlais will seek re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., announced officially on Wednesday that he will seek re-election in 2014, according to a local news report.

DesJarlais will announce his re-election at an Aug. 7 official kickoff event in the 4th District — exactly one year from the primary, reported the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

His announcement comes a little more than a week after he posted a paltry second-quarter fundraising haul, casting doubts as to whether he could run a competitive campaign for Congress.

Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 2:30 p.m.
House 2016, Tenn.-4

Well-Known Businessman Joins Crowded Georgia Senate Primary #GASEN

Businessman David Perdue has joined the crowded Georgia primary for Senate, further shaking up the GOP field in one of the cycle’s top races.

Perdue, the former CEO of Dollar General and cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue, has been exploring a bid for a few months. He announced his campaign Wednesday with a video on his campaign website.

“The career politicians have created this mess, and we just can’t expect them to clean it up,” Perdue says. “If we want different results from Washington, we just have to send a different kind of person to Washington. Full story

The Race to Define McConnell’s Primary Challenger #KYSEN

It’s the race to define Matt Bevin in Kentucky, as the Republican primary challenger kicks off his Senate campaign and a statewide tour Wednesday.

The campaigns of both Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Bevin, McConnell’s primary challenger, released TV ads this morning introducing the businessman to Kentucky.

While Bevin took shots at McConnell’s votes and leadership in the Senate in his opening salvo, he also made sure to lay out his résumé: “Matt Bevin: Small-town roots, successful businessman, father of nine, veteran, conservative, Republican for U.S. Senate.”

Full story

GOPAC Branches Into Federal Races for 2014

GOPAC, the organization that aims to build the local Republican bench, will announce on Wednesday a new initiative to push its candidates to seek federal office in 2014.

Called Up is a program that will direct a larger portion of GOPAC’s resources to federal elections, both with independent expenditures and strategic advice for the candidates running.

“Much like in Major League Baseball, we have diligently worked to foster the talents of young leaders and build a deep bench of battle-tested candidates,” GOPAC Chairman Frank Donatelli said in a news release. ”These rising conservative stars have proven themselves on the state and local levels, and it is now time to call them up to higher office.”

Full story

July 23, 2013

National Tea Party Group Defends Endorsement of Mitch McConnell

National tea party leaders are not backing down from their endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite pushback from local tea party factions in Kentucky.

Speaking with reporters outside an event that featured appearances by all of the prominent tea-party-backed senators, Scottie Hughes of TPNN.com defended her group’s decision to back the Kentucky Republican. McConnell helped the group organize the event in the Capitol.

Both Hughes’ Tea Party News Network and its umbrella organization TheTeaParty.net have endorsed McConnell, even though he is expected to pick up a tea-party-inspired primary challenger on Wednesday. Local groups in Kentucky have asked the national groups to rescind their support.

“The national tea party doesn’t want to sit here and go against anything a local tea party group says. That being said, however, we need to look to make sure that we’re properly vetting our candidates, which is something the tea party has done very badly in the past,” Hughes told reporters gathered outside the event. “We as a national tea party are encouraging this local tea party group: You need to sit down and vet the candidate you’ve picked, vet his background, make sure that he’s not just coming out as kind of a loose cannon as a tea party candidate.”

Full story

The 7 Most Dysfunctional State Parties

In the past two years, one state party chairman was investigated by the local bar association. Elsewhere, an about-to-be-ousted party leader changed the locks at the headquarters. Two more state parties were threatened with eviction.

Traditionally, state parties have been the meeting point between the national political organizations and the local ground game. But in recent cycles, many of them have become so dysfunctional that they are now irrelevant — or even worse, detrimental, to the national party’s efforts.

The reasons behind their ineptitude vary: Some parties struggle with finances, others with competing personalities. For Republicans, many of the problems stem from power struggles between tea party activists and old guard operatives.

Does it matter if the state party is dysfunctional, especially in the age of shadow campaigns and ubiquitous third-party spending? It depends whom you ask. Full story

Jo Bonner Announces Resignation on Aug. 2 #AL01

Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Ala., announced on Tuesday that he will officially resign from Congress on Aug. 2.

Bonner, who is leaving to take a job at the University of Alabama, initially planned to resign on Aug. 15, according to numerous reports. But Bonner said he decided to resign earlier to ensure that a new member of Congress is in place for the start of the second session of the 113th Congress.

“Earlier today, I notified House Speaker John Boehner of my intent to leave Congress at 11:59PM on August 2, 2013,” Bonner wrote in a news release. ”It was always my intent for this seat to be vacant as little time as possible; therefore, I am moving up my original resignation date to ensure that a new representative can be elected and seated in time for the Second Session of the 113th Congress in January 2014.”

Full story

Ex-Redskins Receiver Not Likely to Seek Rematch #ID01

Ex Redskins Receiver Not Likely to Seek Rematch #ID01

Labrador will likely not see a rematch from a former NFL player. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Washington Redskins wide receiver Jimmy Farris told a local news source on Tuesday that he is eyeing a run for the Idaho Legislature instead of another bid against GOP Rep. Raúl R. Labrador.

Full story

Nebraska Senate Field Grows #NESEN

Nebraska Senate Field Grows #NESEN

Osborn is running for Senate. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

The Nebraska Senate GOP field is beginning to take shape this week, as one Republican moves toward entering the race and another appears likely to seek a different office.

According to The Associated Press, Midland University President Ben Sasse filed paperwork Monday with the Nebraska secretary of state’s office to incorporate “Ben Sasse for U.S. Senate.” If Sasse, who has been on a statewide listening tour, has filed with the Federal Election Commission, it is not yet available online.

Meanwhile, sources close to Pete Ricketts, a wealthy businessman and 2006 Republican nominee for Senate, indicated that he is leaning toward seeking the governorship rather than another bid for Senate. Leavenworth Street, a conservative blog in Nebraska, reported July 18 that Ricketts is all but officially running for governor. Full story

Super PAC Launches New Ad Against McConnell #KYSEN

A Democratic super PAC is up with a new TV ad targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, part of a media campaign that will run through Election Day 2014.

The Senate Majority PAC ad is running statewide with a buy size of nearly $270,000, according to a spokesman. It plays up the label national Democrats are attaching to McConnell in an effort to defeat him next year: “guardian of gridlock.”

The goal is for voters to see McConnell as someone solely focused on obstructing government, rather than on his home state.

“He calls himself the guardian of gridlock, grinding the Senate to a halt, even when it hurts Kentucky,” the ad’s announcer says.

Full story

July 22, 2013

Nunn to Announce Senate Candidacy Tuesday #GASEN

Democrats will finally and officially have their candidate in the party’s top pickup opportunity on Tuesday, when Michelle Nunn announces her campaign for Senate in Georgia.

Nunn, the daughter of Democratic former Sen. Sam Nunn, will enter the race for the open seat that her father once held, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday night.

“Part of what I bring to the table, and what Georgians are eager for, is coming together,” Nunn said in an interview with the newspaper. “They’re tired of the partisanship, tired of what feels like political infighting versus actually trying to accomplish things.” Full story

Senate Republicans Dial for Dollars En Masse

Senate Republicans Dial for Dollars En Masse

Senators dialed for dollars during a NRSC fundraising drive last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Twenty-six senators raced in and out of the Ronald Reagan Republican Center last week with varying enthusiasm for a most-often-dreaded, but necessary, activity: fundraising.

Inside the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s marathon call day, even the GOP’s weakest fundraisers were on hand to dial for dollars to help the party gain the net six seats necessary to win the majority.

“I’m not real good at it, asking people to give money,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who had one of the lowest fundraising hauls in the second quarter. “But I do, because it’s just part of it. People are nice when you talk to them. They understand the process.”

South Dakota Sen. John Thune made it look easy. He strolled in just after a vote, took a seat toward the back and placed a plastic cup of lemonade and bag of Nutter Butter cookies on the table. With the phone to his ear, he leaned back in his chair and said, “Hey, Al, how’s it going?” Al did much of the talking.

More than half of the caucus stopped in July 18 to fundraise for the NRSC, and CQ Roll Call was given exclusive access to the marathon call session.

The effort to get more senators personally involved was intended, in part, to help reverse a trend. Recently, Democrats have been far more generous in committee donations out of their personal campaign accounts.

In the 2012 cycle, 20 of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s top 25 largest contributors were senators’ campaigns, and they gave a total of $8.6 million, according to figures compiled by Political MoneyLine. By comparison, nine of the NRSC’s top 25 contributors were senators’ campaigns and collectively gave just more than $1 million. Many of the GOP’s top donations came from joint fundraising committees.

Full story

EMILY’s List Puts 6 House Candidates ‘On the List’

EMILY’s List announced their preliminary support for six new female House candidates from across the country on Monday.

The organization, which supports female Democratic candidates who back abortion rights, stopped short of giving the contenders their full endorsements.

But the following candidates have been placed “On the List,” giving them access to EMILY’s List’s fundraising and grass-roots supporters:

Full story

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