Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 1, 2015

February 26, 2014

Manchin Heading to Alaska for Begich Fundraiser

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., will travel to Anchorage this weekend to campaign for Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska., according to multiple sources in both camps familiar with the trip.

Manchin will appear at two fundraisers at the home of former Democratic Gov. Bill Sheffield, each with a different suggested contribution level. Sources would not confirm the specific, suggested dollar amounts. The events are co-hosted by Sheffield and Wally Hickel Jr., son of former Gov. Wally Hickel.

Manchin, who has a penchant for state fairs, also will appear at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 2014 Anchorage Fur Rendezvous (aka “Fur Rondy”), the annual 10-day festival kicking off the famous Iditarod race.

“Senator Manchin will be in Alaska to support Senator Begich because he believes he is the independent-minded Senator who always fights for Alaska and will help move our country forward,” a Manchin campaign spokesman said in an email.

Full story

D.C.’s Democratic Mayoral Candidates, Potential Challenger Pick Up Endorsements

With little more than a month until the District’s April 1 primary election, endorsements are rolling in for the candidates vying to be the next mayor of the nation’s capital.

Incumbent Vincent Gray has scored support from five big labor groups, including the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Building Trades Council.

Gray’s leading challenger, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, gained the backing of EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for Democratic women in politics, as well as the influential endorsement of the Washington Post editorial board.

But, the latest winner has not yet entered the mayoral race. Full story

Walter Jones Blasts Primary Challenger’s Hill Fundraiser

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:30 p.m. | Rep. Walter B. Jones blasted his primary opponent Wednesday, implying that he is a “puppet of Washington” after CQ Roll Call reported that a cadre of plugged-in Republican operatives are hosting a fundraiser for his challenger this week.

The North Carolina Republican said the Capitol Hill fundraiser with a handful of longtime GOP aides shows the influence of Washington insiders and campaign money in politics, rather than ideas and principles.

“This is again an example of the influence of Washington. I am an independent. The people back home know I’m an independent. And I don’t think the people back home want a puppet of Washington to go down there and represent them,” he said. Full story

GOP Operatives Fundraise to Oust House Republican

A handful of Republican operatives are scheduled to host a fundraiser later this week to boost a challenger to a longtime House Republican.

Political consultant Taylor Griffin is running against Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., a 10-term member who is frequently at odds with his party.

Griffin’s backers include a cadre of Republicans who worked with him during the Bush administration. Hosts for the fundraiser include Brian Walsh, a Republican consultant who works with the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager; and several of Griffin’s colleagues from his former political consulting firm, Hamilton Place Strategies. Full story

Poll: Lindsey Graham Close to Avoiding Runoff

South Carolina Republican primary voters don’t think the country is on the right track, but they’re not yet blaming Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The two-term incumbent, who faces a handful of GOP primary challengers, led a Winthrop University poll released Wednesday with 45 percent of the vote. Graham needs more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 10 primary to escape a runoff, but none of Graham’s challengers made it out of single-digit support, while 35 percent remained undecided.

Graham kicked off his TV advertising campaign two weeks ago, highlighting his efforts to fight the Obama administration on health care and Benghazi.

That plays well in a state where just 3 percent of GOP primary voters said they think the country is on the right track and 90 percent disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job. Full story

February 25, 2014

McConnell Says Bill Clinton Is His Electoral Rabbit’s Foot

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that former President Bill Clinton can stump in Kentucky whenever he wants, characterizing the Democratic icon as his election good-luck charm.

Clinton campaigned in Louisville earlier Tuesday for McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has put the Republican-leaning state in play for Democrats. Grimes’ father, Jerry Lundergan, is a longtime Democratic operative and ally of the powerful Clinton family.

McConnell, who faces opposition from Grimes on his left and tea-party-backed Matt Bevin on his right, seemed unfazed by the political activity at home.

“I welcome him back,” McConnell told reporters in the Capitol.

“The last time he ran in 1996 he eked out a narrow victory in Kentucky, while I beat the current governor by 160,000 votes, 10 points,” McConnell said. “In 2008, both Bill and Hillary Clinton came to town, including the day before the election, and I won by 100,000 votes. So I welcome President Clinton back to Kentucky. Every time he’s come its been really good for me.”

Full story

Debbie Dingell to Announce House Bid

John D. Dingell, left, and his wife, Debbie Dingell, are from Michigan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell is expected to announce her candidacy for Michigan’s 12th District on Friday, according to multiple news outlets.

The news comes only a day after her husband, Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., announced his retirement from the House after 29 full terms. Full story

LGBT Group Picks Sides in Crowded Northern Virginia Race

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed state Sen. Adam Ebbin on Tuesday in the crowded Democratic primary for Virginia’s 8th District.

Ebbin is one of two openly gay state legislators in Virginia. The other, state Del. Mark Sickles, who announced his orientation in a Washington Post op-ed, is also running in the 8th District race.

“Adam Ebbin has distinguished himself as an outspoken voice of progressive values,” Torey Carter, chief operating officer at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said in a Tuesday news release. “After ten years in the state legislature, he has remained committed to his goal of increasing equality and opportunity for those that are often left behind.”

Full story

Democrat Hits the Air in Top Illinois Race

Former Judge Ann Callis, a Democrat running in Illinois’ competitive 13th District, went on the air Tuesday with her first ad of the cycle.

Callis is challenging freshman GOP Rep. Rodney Davis in this downstate district — the state’s most competitive seat. Davis won here in 2012 by one of the slimmest margins of the cycle, while President Barack Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney each received 49 percent of the district’s vote.

The ad, which highlights Callis’ support for veterans — a bipartisan issue — will air on broadcast and cable in the Springfield market, and is backed by a $20,000 buy, according to a source tracking ad buys. The Callis campaign has already distributed the ad as an email fundraising pitch.

Full story

The Candidate Who Bounced a $42 Check Might Be a Problem for Central Valley Democrats

Hernandez is back in California's 21st District race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

California’s Central Valley was home last cycle to a botched open-seat opportunity for Democrats, and the party could be facing a replay in 2014.

After squeaking out of the 2012 top-two primary over the party’s preferred candidate, Democrat John Hernandez was defeated by Republican David Valadao by a 16-point margin for the new 21st District, even as President Barack Obama won there with 55 percent.

This cycle, Democrats are again targeting the seat and have recruited former Capitol Hill aide Amanda Renteria to run.

But back as a potential spoiler is Hernandez, a former president of the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The issues many say contributed to his 2012 loss — a disorganized campaign and difficulty raising money — seem to be plaguing him once again.

Full story

First Republican Goes Up on Air in Georgia House Primary

State Sen. Buddy Carter, one of more than a half-dozen Republicans running for Georgia’s open 1st District, will go up on television Tuesday with an ad touting his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

“As a pharmacist practicing for over 30 years, I’ve seen a lot of changes in health care, and I still maintain we have the greatest health care system in the world,” Carter says in the 30-second spot. “But Obamacare’s a train wreck, and it has to go. In Congress, I’ll continue my pursuit to get rid of it.”

Full story

February 24, 2014

Hilda Solis Endorses in California House Primary

Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis endorsed attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes on Monday in the crowded primary field in California’s open 31st District.

Gomez Reyes is one of four Democrats running for the seat of retiring GOP Rep. Gary G. Miller — a race that’s splitting the party establishment. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, another Democrat in the race, has the backing of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“In this day and age when the powerful special interests are gaining even more power, the working families that make our country strong need a strong voice and their own tenacious fighter in Congress. Eloise Gomez Reyes is the person for the job,” Solis, who represented the area from 2001 through 2009, said in a statement. “She has spent her entire career fighting for working families and people who can’t fight for themselves.”

Full story

Will Debbie Dingell Succeed Her Husband in Congress?

Dingell, left, announced his retirement this morning. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For the first time in 81 years, Michigan Democrats are contemplating a Congress without a Dingell.

Maybe not.

Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., announced his retirement on Monday, finishing his 29th full term in the House after succeeding his father in the southeastern Michigan district. In the wake of his announcement, Democrats are already touting the congressman’s wife, Debbie, as the most serious contender for his seat.

(Update: Indeed, Debbie Dingell is expected to announce her candidacy on Friday.)

Full story

Outside Group Ad Touts McConnell’s Coal Efforts

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican primary challenger in Kentucky hammer each other over the airwaves, a nonprofit group has launched another spot highlighting McConnell’s efforts to oppose the Obama administration.

The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a 501(c)4, released Monday a 60-second radio touting McConnell’s Saving Coal Jobs Act. The ad is backed by a $75,000 buy.

“Senator Mitch McConnell is fighting to save Kentucky jobs from Barack Obama’s job killing regulations, which have already cost us thousands of jobs and put families and communities at risk,” said Scott Jennings, a senior adviser to the group. Full story

Cruz, Lee Top Club for Growth’s 2013 Conservative Scorecard

Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, were the only two senators to receive perfect scores from the Club for Growth for their 2013 voting records, according to the conservative group’s annual scorecards released Monday.

Four House Republicans, including three from Arizona — Matt Salmon, Trent Franks and David Schweikert — also had 100 percent rankings.

Scorecards like those released by Club for Growth and other groups like Heritage Action have played a significant role since the Republican takeover of the House in 2010 in pressuring lawmakers to hold the conservative line on votes the groups deem key. The club’s political action arm also financially supports primary challenges to low-scoring Republican incumbents, including Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, who was one of the lowest-scoring Republicans last year. Full story

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