Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 29, 2015

February 10, 2014

Tea Party Express Endorses Colorado Senate Candidate

The Tea Party Express has endorsed state Sen. Owen Hill in his bid for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in the fall.

“I have no doubt that Hill will join the new wave of conservative leaders in the Upper Chamber that have bucked the establishment of both parties to tackle America’s unsustainable debt, crippling taxes, and intrusive, big-government policies,” Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer said in a statement.

The backing of the national tea party organization signals Hill’s potential conservative support in the competitive GOP primary, which will be held June 24. Still, none of the contenders so far appear to be giving Udall or national Democrats much of a scare, despite recent polling that indicates otherwise. Full story

Vote on Pryor Bill Just the Start of Senate’s 2014 Political Madness (Updated)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Update 6:28 p.m. | It’s officially open political vote season on the Senate floor, and Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., is the latest vulnerable 2014 incumbent to benefit from Majority Leader Harry Reid’s power of the calendar.

The Senate voted Monday evening on legislation championed by Pryor — and co-sponsored by five Democrats who also are in-cycle — to repeal $6 billion in cost-of-living adjustments to military pensions agreed to in the 2013 bipartisan budget agreement. The legislation, which is not offset by spending cuts elsewhere, is unlikely to garner any Republican support in its current form, even though GOP senators moved to open debate Monday. Republicans likely would object to spending increases and to date have not offered Democrats alternatives they would accept. But Reid circumvented a committee markup to bring the bill straight to the floor so Democrats could record an up-or-down vote. The result? Just one of many votes Democratic leaders hope to hold in the months to come to benefit their most embattled members.

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Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity Leader to Vie for Waxman Seat (Updated)

Updated 2:30 p.m. | Elan S. Carr, a veteran, Los Angeles County deputy district attorney and the head of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, will announce his bid Monday for the open California 33rd District seat, according to an email obtained by CQ Roll Call.

AEPi is a prominent, international Jewish fraternity, and Carr is currently the supreme master. With his announcement, Carr would likely become the first Republican to announce a bid for the seat of retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman in this solidly Democratic, Los Angeles-based district.

“With the retirement of legendary Congressman Henry A. Waxman, West Los Angeles faces an historic election for an open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Carr said in an email to the AEPi fraternity. “After consulting with a team of political professionals and reaching out to supporters, Dahlia and I have decided to enter that race.”

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Coburn Endorses in Competitive Nebraska Senate Primary

Coburn voiced his support for a candidate in Nebraska. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has declared his support for Midland University President Ben Sasse’s bid for Senate in Nebraska.

“Ben is just the kind of person we need in Washington,” Coburn told the Lincoln Journal Star in a Sunday story. “He is a totally open and honest guy who is very responsive and responsible. If Ben was running in Oklahoma, I’d vote for him.”

Sasse, a Republican, faces a number of other GOP candidates in the primary, including former state Treasurer Shane Osborn, banker Sid Dinsdale and attorney Bart McLeay, among others. The seat is open because Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., is retiring.

Conservative groups are divided between two Republicans: Sasse and Osborn.

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Aaron Schock Drops $25K for Ex-Bears Player to Attend Fundraiser

Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., spent $25,000 last fall for a former Chicago Bears linebacker to headline his re-election campaign’s kickoff fundraising event, according to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Brian Urlacher, a former NFL Rookie of the Year, headlined “Schocktoberfest” on Nov. 7, a $50-per-head fundraiser held at a brewery in Peoria, Ill.

“My family understands the important role of public service,” Urlacher said in a statement before the event. “My brother, Casey Urlacher, was elected mayor of Lake County’s Mettawa, Ill., earlier this year. In Peoria, he was fullback-linebacker for the Peoria Pirates. So we’re both looking forward to visiting our friends in central Illinois.”

An event appearance fee was paid to B.U. Enterprises, according to the Schock Victory Committee’s year-end filing. Illinois public records show B.U. Enterprises is a company registered to Urlacher.

Schock’s campaign did not return a request for comment on the appearance fee.

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February 7, 2014

Democratic Super PAC to Defend Joe Garcia

House Majority PAC, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, is making an approximately $90,000 ad buy in Miami next week to defend Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla.

The group’s move to buy a week of airtime is intended to match conservative outside group Americans for Prosperity’s media campaign against Garcia. The conservative super PAC announced last week a $400,000 media campaign in three Florida House districts, including Garcia’s 26th.

The new ad that will air was not immediately available. House Majority PAC’s buy will begin on Wednesday and run for a week. Full story

Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh Appointed to Replace Baucus

Walsh, far right, visited the Capitol in November along with West Virginia Senate candidate Natalie Tennant. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Win or lose in November, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Walsh will be the next senator from Montana.

Gov. Steve Bullock appointed his former running mate to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, who is leaving the Senate early after being confirmed Thursday as ambassador to China.

Walsh was already running for the seat, but he’ll now run as the incumbent senator. That change could provide some inherent advantages in his quest to hold one of the party’s most vulnerable seats.

“I wanted to appoint someone who I truly believed would wake up each and every day wanting to put Montana and Montanans first,” Bullock said in a Friday news conference to announce the appointment. Full story

Jesse Ferguson Named DCCC Independent Expenditure Director

Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Steve Israel announced Friday that Jesse Ferguson, a longtime staffer, will be the committee’s independent expenditure director in 2014.

This position is tasked with spending tens of millions of dollars late in the campaign. But, like other IE directors, campaign finance law will prohibit Ferguson from directly coordinating with committee staff.

“Jesse Ferguson has a relentless approach to strategizing and winning tough campaigns making him an excellent leader of the IE team,” Israel said. “Jesse has an unmatched understanding of the 2014 battlefield and the experience to elect problem solving Democrats to Congress.” Full story

Biden Boasts Democrats Want Him to Campaign for Them

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. speaks with Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Del. Donna Christensen, D-V.I., and Del. Madeleine Bordallo, D-Guam, before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As he discussed his interest in a run for the presidency in 2016, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. noted Friday that he is in demand on the stump in the midterm elections.

In an interview with CNN’s Kate Bolduan where he said he could not see any reason not to run for president, Biden acknowledged that there are some states where President Barack Obama didn’t win in 2012, and senators from those states may not want the president to come.

But Biden said he personally is in demand.

“I’ve been invited to go into, well over 128 races so far,” he said. “And so there are some places the president is considerably more popular than I am, but there’s some places where I can go in and the president can’t. There are some places where it makes no sense for me to go in or for the president to go in.”

Biden also wouldn’t predict a Democratic takeover in the House.

“I’m not suggesting you won’t have a divided Congress,” Biden said. “But in terms of the prospects of Democrats running for Congress, incumbents in the Senate, I think we are in the best shape we can be, because the American public agrees with us on the issues.” Full story

EMILY’s List Endorses in Race to Replace Henry Waxman

EMILY’s List, an organization that seeks to boost women who support abortion rights into elected office, announced their endorsement of former Los Angeles Controller Wendy Greuel in her race in California’s 33rd District.

Greuel is one of two Democrats looking to replace Rep. Henry A. Waxman, who announced last week he will retire after a 40 year career in the House. State Sen. Ted Lieu is also running, with other Democrats mulling whether to enter the contest.

“Wendy Greuel has demonstrated outstanding leadership as a public servant fighting for education, small businesses, and government accountability for California families,” Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, said in a news release.

The EMILY’s List endorsement, which often comes with fundraising and organizational support, could be instrumental in this race, which is likely to see a crowded field of Democratic contenders.

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Republican Eyes Hamptons House Seat (Video)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The candidate: Republican state Sen. Lee Zeldin
The member: Six-term Rep. Timothy H. Bishop, D-N.Y.
The district: New York’s 1st District. It covers the eastern half of Long Island, encompassing both working-class regions and the tony Hamptons. Bishop won re-election in 2012 by 5 points, as President Barack Obama carried the district by 1 point.
The candidate’s team: Brabender Cox (media); John McLaughlin of McLaughlin & Associates (polling); Majority Strategies (direct mail); Chapin Fay (campaign manager). Full story

Ami Bera Challenger Gets Tea Party Backing

The Madison Project, a group that seeks to boost tea-party-aligned candidates, will endorse former Capitol Hill aide Igor Birman on Friday morning in the crowded GOP field in California’s 7th District, according to a release provided first to CQ Roll Call.

Birman, a former chief of staff to Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., faces a competitive top-two primary against former Rep. Doug Ose and autism activist Elizabeth Emken. All three are looking to oust freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, a top GOP target in 2014.

The Madison Project plans to back up its endorsement by opening a get-out-the-vote headquarters in the district to help mobilize voters for Birman in the June 3 primary.

“Igor is uniquely articulate in communicating all the principles of conservative public policy and is the only candidate in this race who will not be beholden to liberal special interests,” Madison Project Political Director Drew Ryun said in a statement. “He won’t need to be pressured or shamed into keeping his campaign promises because he will pursue constitutional governance, even when the party leaders stray from its principles.”

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February 6, 2014

Montana Gov. Going ‘Through a Process’ to Replace Max Baucus (Updated) (Video)

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont.

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:15 p.m. | The Senate’s confirmation Thursday of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., as ambassador to China immediately sets off the need for an appointment to replace him.

The onus falls on Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who must choose someone to fill out the remaining year of Baucus’ term. The governor has scheduled a press conference for Friday at noon ET.

Lt. Gov. John Walsh, who was elected on the same ticket as Bullock in 2012, is already running for Senate. While he’s the odds-on favorite to be appointed, his selection to replace Baucus is no sure thing.

An ally of the administration confirmed to CQ Roll Call that Bullock “has gone through a process, been very hands on, but kept it really close to him and top aides — he’s watched failed appointments in the past and he’s not the kind of guy to make stupid errors.

“He’s a lawyer and he’s thorough,” the source continued. “I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Bullock picks someone close to him — his lieutenant governor or someone from the cabinet — but I would be surprised if he does it without having spent a great amount of time weighing pros and cons.” Full story

February 5, 2014

Pryor Launches TV Ads Aimed at Cotton Record

Sen. Mark Pryor launched two TV ads Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor’s campaign launched two TV ads Wednesday going directly after his Republican opponent’s legislative record on Medicare.

The Democrat’s ads, airing statewide behind a “substantial” six-figure buy, feature one woman in each looking at their computers and highlighting what they had read about Rep. Tom Cotton.

The ads fit into the theme Democrats have pushed from the outset of the campaign — that Cotton has been “reckless and irresponsible” during his first term in the House. That messaging continued last week when Cotton voted against the farm bill conference report. Full story

Sandra Fluke Decides Against Congressional Bid

Women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke will not run for Congress in California’s open 33rd District, instead opting to run for a seat in the state Senate, according to a local report.

Fluke’s decision to run for lower office comes just one day after news broke that she had filed paperwork with the California Democratic Party to seek the seat of retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman.

“I am extremely moved by the outpouring of local and national support I have received since I announced that I was considering running for office. My entire career has been devoted to the public interest, whether representing victims of human trafficking or advocating for working families,” Fluke told the Los Angeles Times. “I am committed to continuing that fight in Sacramento, working to protect our environment, ensure our access to health care, and create the jobs that are desperately needed. While I strongly considered offering my candidacy for Congress, I feel there is a better way for me to advance the causes that are important to our community.”

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