Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 3, 2015

November 5, 2013

Ex-FEMA Director Seeks Open House Seat in Arkansas

Witt, right, served as the director of FEMA under Clinton. (Manny Ceneta/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt, a Democrat, announced on Tuesday he is running in the open-seat contest in Arkansas’ 4th District.

“I’ve spent my adult life bringing people together at the toughest times of their lives and dealing with disasters,” Witt said in a conference call announcing his bid, according to the Associated Press. “Nowhere needs disaster relief more than Washington. No place needs to be brought together more than Congress.”

Full story

Illinois Democrat Estimates $2.5 Million Race for Top Competitive Seat (Video)

The candidate: Former chief judge Ann Callis, a Democrat
The member: Freshman Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican
The district: Mitt Romney narrowly won this district with 49 percent of the vote.
The candidate’s team: Marshall Cohen (manager), Travis Lowe and Clare Gannon of Three Point Media (media), Jason McGrath and Mike Bocian of GBA Strategies (polling), Emily Parcell and Beth Hernandez of The Pivot Group (mail)

Former chief judge Ann Callis said she will need to raise $2 million to $2.5 million to wage a competitive campaign in the 13th District next year, according to an Oct. 10 interview she gave CQ Roll Call.

Callis is seeking to oust freshman Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., in the competitive district that split nearly evenly between the two presidential candidates. Davis first faces a primary against former Miss America Erika Harold. Full story

NRSC: We’ll Spend in Primaries if Necessary

Senate Republicans are now open to spending money to help a preferred candidate through a competitive primary — a change from last cycle when the committee was under different leadership.

While briefing reporters Tuesday morning on the GOP’s path to winning control of the Senate, Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the NRSC will “do what we think gets us to a majority.”

“Would we spend money in primaries? Yes, if that’s the right move at the right time,” Collins said. “There’s no rules — I treat every state differently. The path to getting a general election candidate who can win is the only thing we care about.” Full story

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 12:38 p.m.
DSCC, NRSC, Senate 2014

Democratic Super PAC Defends Hagan on TV

A Democrat-aligned super PAC is coming to the defense of North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, who was hit last week in a TV ad from a conservative outside group.

Senate Majority PAC launched a TV ad today that attempts to debunk the attack ad from Americans for Prosperity, which slammed the Democrat over her support for the health care law. The new spot, backed by a $400,000 buy, also highlights Hagan’s record, calling her an “independent senator working to help balance budgets and create jobs.”

Full story

November 4, 2013

Martha McKenna to Lead DSCC’s Independent Expenditure Program

Veteran strategist Martha McKenna will lead the independent expenditure program for Senate Democrats in the 2014 midterms.

It’s the second straight cycle that McKenna will lead the unit for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that controls the tens of millions of dollars spent on Senate races each cycle. In 2012, McKenna became the first woman to head a Senate committee’s IE arm.

“Martha McKenna is one of the best Democratic operatives in the country who has helped oversee some of the top campaigns in the last decade, and I am thrilled she will again head the DSCC’s independent expenditure arm in 2014,” DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

Alabama Special Election Is Proxy Battle for National GOP

With one day until the special-election runoff in Alabama’s 1st District, conservative groups are making a final push to affect the GOP contest that has become a national bellwether for Republicans.

Business groups are trying to boost former state Sen. Bradley Byrne over Dean Young, a tea-party-backed businessman who’s already made some controversial comments. Over the weekend, Ending Spending Inc., a PAC launched in 2010 by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, spent $102,000 in ads to promote Byrne, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

“Who can you trust with your money? Career politician Dean Young started numerous PACs, then paid most of the money raised to his own company,” says the ad.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBaC13o5P7g&noredirect=1 Full story

Ohio Democrat: Obama Endorsement Would Not Be Helpful

The candidate: Democrat Jennifer Garrison, former state lawmaker.
The member: Two-term Rep. Bill Johnson, a Republican from Ohio.
The state:
In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney carried the district with 55 percent.
The candidate’s team
: Charlie Hale (campaign manager), Mark Riddle (senior adviser), The Campaign Group (media consultant), Benenson Strategy Group (pollster), New Partners (research), New Blue Interactive (digital strategist)

Former state Rep. Jennifer Garrison said any campaign help from President Barack Obama would not help her chances of winning the 6th District in southeastern Ohio.

“Obama isn’t very popular in my part of the state, and I respect the office of the presidency of the United States,” Garrison said in an Oct. 8 interview with CQ Roll Call. “But I suspect that the president would not be campaigning for someone unless he thought that would be helpful, and in my case it probably would not.” Full story

Potential Senate Opponent Instead Backs Cassidy in Louisiana

Cassidy is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A potential GOP rival to Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy reversed course over the weekend and endorsed the three-term Louisiana congressman, who is running for Senate.

As first reported by the New Orleans Times-Picayune, state Rep. Alan Seabaugh, who had seriously considered running, instead endorsed Cassidy in a statement on Sunday. The move rids one potential hurdle for Cassidy in his attempt to defeat Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu.

The Cassidy campaign touted the news Monday, releasing another statement from Seabaugh, who had recently criticized Cassidy as not sufficiently conservative. Full story

House Democrats Promote Alex Sink to Jumpstart Program

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has named former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink to its Jumpstart program for top recruits. It’s yet another sign House Democrats have given the former gubernatorial nominee their seal of approval for the upcoming special election in Florida’s 13th District.

“In the first few days since she launched her campaign, Alex Sink is again demonstrating what the people of Florida know — she is results-oriented, and her approach to solving problems would help get Washington focused on the right priorities, like creating good jobs,” DCCC Chairman Steve Israel said in a statement.

The Jumpstart program provides specific candidates with “early financial communications, operational and strategic support,” according to the committee. In the past, the DCCC announced batches of candidates to the program at a time.

But this singular announcement also shows the DCCC prefers Sink as a candidate over another Democrat in the race, attorney Jessica Ehrlich. Full story

November 1, 2013

Obama Hits the Road Next Week for Delayed DSCC Fundraisers

President Barack Obama will finally hit the road next week for fundraisers benefiting Senate Democrats.

The events in Dallas on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee were previously scheduled for Oct. 21, but the trip was delayed because of the federal government shutdown.

The president will now appear Nov. 6 at two DSCC fundraisers in the Lone Star State, then head south to Miami on Nov. 8 for more DSCC functions.

Obama has already appeared at two Senate campaign fundraisers this year, as well as a joint fundraiser benefiting both the DSCC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DSCC is working to hold its five-seat majority in the Senate, while the DCCC has the more difficult challenge of picking up 17 seats to win back the House. Full story

Can These 2016 Prospects Seek Higher Office and Re-Election?

Rubio could run for president in 2016. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate class of 2010 produced a handful of GOP rising stars, some whom may run for president or vice president as soon as 2016.

But the timing presents a problem for these Republicans: Not all states allow candidates to appear on a ballot twice. This would negate their ability to run for re-election to the Senate and president or vice president at the same time.

Roll Call often addresses this issue in its weekly series “Farm Team,” which examines the future candidates and politicking in every state. Here is how three could-be contenders stack up with state laws: Full story

October 31, 2013

Daines Holding ‘Special Event’ Next Week

Montana Rep. Steve Daines, who is widely expected to run for Senate, is inviting supporters to a “special event” next week.

According to an invitation distributed by the Daines campaign on Thursday, the Republican’s event will take place Nov. 6 at a Holiday Inn in Bozeman. The missive included an unchanged logo, “Daines U.S. Congress.”

“Steve wants an opportunity to thank supporters like you — we hope to see you there!” the invitation reads. Full story

Obama: I’m ‘Very Proud’ of John Tierney

Obama visited Boston on Wednesday. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama praised embattled Democratic Rep. John F. Tierney at a fundraiser held at a private residence near Boston.

The Wednesday event sought to raise funds for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at a private home in Weston, Mass. According to a White House transcript, Obama called out Tierney to praise his work in Congress during his remarks. Full story

Uncertainty Reigns in Race for Watt’s House Seat

Watt has been nominated for a post in the administration. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The future of North Carolina’s 12th District remains uncertain after Senate Republicans filibustered Rep. Melvin Watt’s confirmation to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency on Thursday.

Seven Democrats have announced campaigns for Watt’s seat since President Barack Obama nominated him in April. They assumed Watt would be confirmed and there would be a special election to fill the vacancy in his seat.

However, Watt told CQ Roll Call earlier this month that he could still run for re-election if his confirmation fails in the Senate. He added that the Democrats who have announced bids for his seat told him they would suspend their campaigns if his nomination failed and if he chose to run for re-election. Full story

New Hampshire Braces for Ayotte Race in 2016

Ayotte is serving her first term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If there’s anything to be gleaned from this week’s edition of Roll Call’s “Farm Team” series, it’s that the most exciting Senate race of 2016 could take place in New Hampshire.

Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte is not even halfway through her first term, but Granite State Democrats are already sizing up their 2016 recruiting field — and state tea party activists are making noise about a primary challenge. Full story

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