Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 5, 2015

November 18, 2013

First Lady Urges Donors to ‘Max Out’ to Senate Democrats

First lady Michelle Obama urged donors in New York on Monday to contribute to Democrats’ efforts to hold the Senate majority in 2014, saying “the midterm elections matter” in helping the president’s agenda move forward.

“There’s something that we and all of you can do right now, today, to make a huge difference, and it’s simple: You can write a big old fat check,” Obama said, according to a transcript of her remarks.

Obama headlined the women-focused Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee event at a midtown Manhattan hotel, where female senators and candidates running in 2014 were among those in attendance. More than 300 donors who gave at least $250 each gathered around 25 tables in a Sheraton ballroom, according to a White House pool report.

In her remarks, the first lady highlighted bills like Obamacare that barely survived a Senate vote, as well as those that came up short, including the expansion of background checks on gun purchases.

“So we need you all to max out,” Obama said. “And just as important, once you’ve maxed out, we need you to get everyone you know to give whatever they can, as well.” Full story

Pelosi, Democrats to Fundraise for Alex Sink in Washington

Pelosi is the House Minority Leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Democrats in House leadership and the Florida delegation are scheduled to host a Dec. 4 fundraiser in Washington, D.C., for former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, according to an invitation obtained by Roll Call.

Sink is running in the special election to replace the late Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Lobbyist David Jolly is running for the GOP nomination and it remains unclear if he will have a primary rival, although state Sen. Kathleen Peters will announce on Tuesday whether she will run.

Full story

Mitt Romney Endorses in House GOP Primary in Idaho

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney endorsed Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, for re-election in the 2nd District on Monday, touting the congressman as a “true conservative” in a fundraising email.

Simpson, an eight-term Republican, is facing a primary challenge from tea-party-backed attorney Bryan Smith, who is receiving support from groups such as the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks.

The primary will feature one of the marquee battles between the tea party and business in the fight for control of the GOP in the midterm cycle.

Full story

DSCC Outraised NRSC in October

The 16-day government shutdown was clearly no detriment to campaign fundraising, as both Senate committees posted solid numbers in October.

Still, Senate Democrats again outraised their GOP counterparts. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced raising $4.8 million in October — $1 million more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The DSCC finished the month with $11.1 million in cash on hand and $6.2 million in debt. The NRSC had $5 million on hand and no debt as of Oct. 31.

An NRSC release said the committee had its strongest fundraising month of the year, while the DSCC said it had its best off-year October ever.

Republicans must net six seats to win the majority in 2014. The committees’ monthly fundraising reports are due to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday.

 

November 16, 2013

Newcomer McAllister Wins Special Election in Louisiana

GOP businessman Vance McAllister won a special election in Louisiana’s 5th District Saturday night, stunning the heir apparent in the contest to become the next member of Congress.

McAllister, a self-funding newcomer, defeated Republican state Sen. Neil Riser 58 percent to 42 percent, with 78 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.

Riser had long been considered a shoo-in to win the special election to replace Rep. Rodney Alexander, who resigned over the summer to take a post in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. Full story

November 15, 2013

Will Republicans Have a Primary to Replace C.W. Bill Young?

In the final days before the filing deadline, Republicans remain unsure whether lobbyist David Jolly has cleared the GOP field in the competitive special election to succeed the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla.

In recent days, state Rep. Kathleen Peters expressed interest in running for the St. Petersburg-based district, and she has yet to back off.

Democrats cleared the field early for former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who is all but certain to win the party’s nod on Jan. 14. Republicans rivals to Jolly have talked about running, but all of them have declined bids so far.

Except for Peters.

Full story

NRCC Chairman Promises Competitive Special Election in Florida

Walden is chairman of the NRCC. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden said the upcoming special election in Florida’s 13th District will be a challenging race for the party, but vowed that Republicans will make it a competitive contest.

Last month, GOP Rep. C.W. Bill Young’s death forced a special election in the Tampa Bay-area seat, making it one of the most competitive House contests in 2014. Operatives from both sides have characterized the March 11 special election as a bellwether contest for the 2014 cycle.

“We all knew that Bill had a special relationship with his constituents in that district, and that district had changed over the years and that when he no longer was serving, that that district would be a competitive district,” Walden, an Oregon Republican, told reporters Friday morning at a Christian Science Monitor Breakfast in Washington, D.C.

Full story

GOP Front-Runner Emerges in Targeted Open House Seat in Maine

Raye is running for Congress in the 2nd District. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former state Senate President Kevin Raye, a Republican, is solidifying his support as the GOP front-runner in Maine’s competitive 2nd District — a strong pick-up opportunity for the GOP in 2014.

An internal poll from Raye’s campaign released last week showed him far ahead of the two other GOP candidates — thanks in large part to his high name recognition in the district. Meanwhile, Maine Office of Policy and Management Director Richard Rosen, a top Republican who had been eyeing a bid, appears poised to stay out of the GOP primary, according to local sources.

“The fact is that Kevin Raye looks like he is the presumptive front-runner of the seat, and that’s a big deal for Republicans up here,” said one Maine GOP operative unaffiliated with any candidates in the race. “It’s been a long time since we’ve held that seat.” Full story

November 14, 2013

Top Consultants Join Primary Campaign Against Democratic Incumbent (Updated)

Updated 10:10 p.m. | Former Marine Seth Moulton’s campaign announced Thursday that two top Democratic consulting firms have joined his effort to unseat six-term Rep. John F. Tierney, D-Mass.

Mark Mellman of The Mellman Group will handle Moulton’s polling, while Dover Strategy Group will be his direct mail vendor, according to a campaign news release. They join Joe Trippi & Associates, which signed on with the campaign in July.

This is the same team of consultants that worked for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who is also a military veteran.

But it’s notable that two high-profile firms are going to work against an incumbent. It’s unlikely the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee approves, but a committee spokesperson declined to comment. Full story

Ex-NRCC Chairman to Raise Money for Democrat in New York

Reynolds retired from Congress in 2008. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three former GOP congressmen, including former National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Reynolds, will co-host a fundraiser for Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins next month, according to the Buffalo News.

The New York Republicans — Reynolds, plus former Reps. Jack F. Quinn and Amo Houghton — will co-host the Higgins fundraiser on Dec. 16 at the home of GOP fundraiser Anthony Gioia.

“The message I want to convey is Congressman Higgins has done a darn good job for Buffalo and Western New York, and it doesn’t matter whether he’s a Democrat or Republican, he’s a congressman and, in doing his job as a congressman, he’s done a fine job for our community,” Reynolds said in a Thursday morning phone interview.

Full story

Ex-S.D. Senator: Comeback Bid Based on ‘Idealistic Concept’

If he runs at all, former Sen. Larry Pressler’s, R-S.D., bid for Senate as an independent won’t look like your traditional campaign.

He said his campaign is running on an “idealistic concept” in a Wednesday phone interview with CQ Roll Call. Pressler, 71, referred to a famous line by William F. Buckley about his third-party bid for New York mayor in 1965.

“If I win, I might demand a recount,” Pressler told CQ Roll Call.

Pressler wasn’t even his own first choice to run, but everyone he’s spoken with about it has declined to step forward. Asked if he would be hiring a campaign manager or consulting team, Pressler said no. Full story

November 13, 2013

‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Cuts Ad for Louisiana House Hopeful

Willie Robertson, a reality television show celebrity on the popular “Duck Dynasty” series, will star in a new kind of program starting Thursday: a campaign television spot for Louisiana’s 5th District special election.

In the advertisement, Robertson proclaims his support for GOP businessman Vance McAllister, the underdog in Saturday’s contest.

“Hey this is Willie Robertson, reminding you to get out Saturday, Nov. 16 and vote for my good buddy Vance McAllister. Let’s send somebody from the 5th District who speaks for us to help turn Washington around,” Robertson says in the ad, produced by RedPrint Strategy.

http://youtu.be/MupSbApjNrE Full story

Schweitzer Not Helping Senate Democrats With Montana Primary

 

Schweitzer is in the middle of a new Senate primary in Montana. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Former Montana Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger’s decision to seek the Democratic Senate nomination invited a primary the party didn’t want to have — and pushed a former player in that race back into the picture: former Gov. Brian Schweitzer.

Schweitzer, who turned down the chance to run for the open seat, spoke with his former lieutenant before Bohlinger’s announcement last week. But Montana Democratic sources said he declined pleas from state party leaders to dissuade Bohlinger from running, with Lt. Gov. John Walsh already in the race.

In a phone interview with CQ Roll Call on Tuesday, Schweitzer said only that he had “conversations” with Bohlinger about “the good, the bad and the ugly” about the Senate and Washington, D.C. He thinks both Democrats would make “very good senators” and could defeat likely GOP nominee Rep. Steve Daines, but deciding the nominee is up to Montana voters.

In his trademark brashness, Schweitzer also claimed some credit for the fight.

“In fact, I guess I’m responsible since I plucked both of them from obscurity,” Schweitzer said. “To ask me to pick favorites is like asking a father to pick his favorite son.” Full story

November 12, 2013

Iowa’s GOP Senate Field Grows Again

Iowa Businessman Mark Jacobs will enter the open-seat Iowa Senate race next week, according to a local news outlet, making him the seventh Republican to join a crowded GOP field.

Jacobs, who has been exploring a bid for the seat since June, will make the announcement Nov. 19 at a series of events across the state.

Full story

A Former Congressman’s Under-the-Radar Comeback Bid

Canseco is running for his former seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco filed his statement of candidacy in December to take back the most competitive House district in the Lone Star State.

But nearly a year later, the Republican’s comeback bid against Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Texas., remains something of a mystery to Texas GOP operatives.

So far, Canseco’s campaign has consisted of low five-figure fundraising reports, a Facebook account that was dormant until August and a handful of campaign emails over the past few months. That same Facebook page advertised his first campaign event on Oct. 13.

The order of events marked one of the softest campaign launches from a former member in recent memory. But in a Tuesday phone interview with CQ Roll Call, Canseco said he was fired up for the race. Full story

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