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

October 18, 2013

Cruz-Aligned Group Endorses McConnell Challenger

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Conservatives Fund, a group Sen. Ted Cruz helped raise money for by appearing in an anti-Obamacare ad, has for the second time in two days endorsed a challenger to a Republican senator — this time the minority leader of the Senate.

The move was not surprising — the Jim DeMint-founded group announced Friday that it will support Louisville businessman Matt Bevin’s uphill primary battle against Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. On Thursday, the SCF endorsed state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s primary challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

The endorsements are the latest addition to an increasingly awkward position for Cruz, the Texas Republican who serves as a vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which supports all incumbents, including McConnell. Full story

House Democrats Break Fundraising Record in September

Israel is the DCCC chairman. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced on Friday that it raised $8.4 million in September, a record monthly haul for the committee.

The fundraising haul brings the DCCC’s total cash on hand to $21.6 million, double the amount of cash it had at the same point last year, according to a DCCC aide. Full story

October 17, 2013

Tea Party Candidate Challenges Thad Cochran

Cochran is considering retirement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Thursday afternoon that he will challenge six-term Sen. Thad Cochran, potentially setting up a dynamic and divisive GOP primary in the Magnolia State in 2014.

McDaniel kicks off his bid with support from several national conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project.

The seat is safely in GOP hands, but Cochran is still mum on whether he will seek re-election. He’s said he will make a decision by the end of the year. A longtime appropriator, Cochran has leveraged his seniority to bring home funds for decades.

Full story

October 16, 2013

Cory Booker Elected Senator in New Jersey

Booker greets a supporter after casting his own vote in the special election. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the Twitter star with a Rolodex of Hollywood contacts, was elected to the Senate on Wednesday following a New Jersey special election campaign that lacked suspense.

After leading in the polls by double digits for the duration, the Democrat handily defeated conservative activist Steve Lonegan. The Associated Press called the race for Booker with 55 percent of precincts reporting, and the mayor ahead 55 percent to 44 percent.

Booker will fill the remaining term of the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J. The senator’s June 3 death led to the interim appointment of Republican Jeff Chiesa and a special election four months later.

The rise to the Senate is the latest move for a politician whose ambitions are believed to reach even higher. He has already been mentioned as a potential vice presidential running mate in 2016. Full story

Challenger Knocks McConnell for Forging Senate Shutdown Deal

McConnell will seek re-election in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s GOP primary challenger jumped on the news that the incumbent helped craft a deal that would reopen the federal government and extend the debt limit.

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin has criticized McConnell’s conservative credentials and argued that the minority leader had not adequately led the charge to defund President Barack Obama’s health care law. That ultimate effort  prompted the recent budget stalemate, but the urgency of the debt limit led to a bipartisan deal that was announced Wednesday on the Senate floor.

In an extensive statement, Bevin said McConnell “can always be counted on to sell out conservatives.” Full story

Democrats Recruiting Challenger to Bentivolio in Michigan

Democrats may have landed a candidate to run for the House seat currently occupied by Republican Rep. Kerry Bentivolio.

Interim Wayne State University Law School Dean Jocelyn Benson attended Wednesday’s House Democratic Caucus meeting and told attendees she is considering a run for the seat, according to two Democratic sources.

One of the sources said that House Democrats had unsuccessfully attempted to recruit her in the past, but the current government shutdown is a source of motivation for her run.

Bentivolio is in potential re-election trouble in both the primary and the general. In September, attorney David Trott announced he would challenge the incumbent in the primary.

Bentivolio produced a grim Federal Election Commission report this week — he raised just $59,000 — but he picked up several local endorsements over the past two days.

Five state party vice-chairmen endorsed Bentivolio on Tuesday, according to his Facebook page. Also, Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema endorsed Bentivolio on Wednesday, per a news release.

The race is rated Favored Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Ring, Ring: Dems Make It Easy to Call GOP to Complain About Shutdown (Updated)

Israel is the chairman of the DCCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:09 p.m. | Ring, Ring: It’s the voters.

This week, House Democrats have started a round of automated phone calls that allow recipients to connect directly to the campaign offices of their Republican opponents. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will target 16 GOP challengers in competitive districts with the calls, according to a party source.

The political benefits of this tactic are unclear. But it has the potential to be pretty annoying.

Callers are read a negative profile of the Republican that accuses him or her of supporting the shutdown. Then the caller is given the option to be transferred to the GOP candidate’s campaign to tell their office that “the shutdown is hurting our families” and the candidate “shouldn’t be part of the problem.”

Here are the targeted GOP challengers:

Full story

DSCC Outraised NRSC in September

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised more money than its Republican counterpart in September, increasing its fundraising advantage for the year to $13 million.

The DSCC raised $4.6 million last month and ended September with more than $10 million in cash on hand, the committee announced on Wednesday. A committee spokesman said the DSCC has also paid down its debt to $7.5 million.

Full story

Rand Paul Endorses in North Carolina Primary

Paul picked a side in a top Senate primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., offered an endorsement on Wednesday to a tea party activist running for the GOP Senate nomination in North Carolina — a top pickup opportunity for Republicans.

Physician Greg Brannon, one of several Republicans vying to take on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, touted the endorsement from the conservative senator and potential presidential contender as a momentum boost for the campaign. The campaign’s announcement referred to Brannon as “an anti-establishment candidate … who will oppose the Big Government, big spending status quo in both parties.”

In a statement, Paul called Brannon “a true constitutional conservative who will join me in fighting against business as usual in Washington.” Full story

October 15, 2013

Clark Wins Democratic Nod in Massachusetts Special Election

State Sen. Katherine Clark won a crowded special primary in Massachusetts’ 5th District on Tuesday night, defeating  four other Democrats and most likely becoming the sixth woman ever elected to Congress from the Bay State.

Clark received 30 percent of the vote, beating Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, who recieved 22 percent of the vote, with 83 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.

Full story

Mississippi Tea Party Candidate to Announce Possible Cochran Primary Challenge

Cochran is considering retirement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel is scheduled to announce on Thursday whether he will challenge six-term Sen. Thad Cochran in the GOP primary, according to invitations to the event from local tea party groups.

“Mississippi state senator Chris McDaniel, a favorite of many Mississippi for Liberty and Tea Party members, stated just minutes ago that he plans to make an important announcement regarding his future political aspirations this coming Thursday, October 17th,” wrote Mississippi for Liberty’s Jim Cunningham to supporters, according to an email obtained by CQ Roll Call. Full story

Senate Candidates Report Strong Fundraising

McConnell will seek re-election. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The biggest news out of Tuesday’s Senate fundraising? Kentucky Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes raised more than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the third quarter.

Several other Senate challengers and incumbents also announced their hauls from June through September:

  • #ARSEN: Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor raised about $1.1 million and had $4.4 million in the bank. His GOP challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton, raised “just over $1 million” and had about $1.8 million in cash on hand, per National Journal.
  • #COSEN: Democratic Sen. Mark Udall raised $1.1 million and had $4.1 million in cash on hand, per The Denver Post. Republican state Sen. Owen J. Hill raised $250,000 and had $190,000 on hand, according to KDVR.
  • #KYSEN: Grimes outraised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the third quarter.
  • #LASEN: Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu raised $1.35 million and had $5.8 million in cash on hand, per a news release. Her Republican challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy, raised “nearly $700,000″ and had $3.4 million in the bank, according to The Baton Rouge Advocate.
See more numbers after the jump. Full story

House Campaigns Rush to File Fundraising Reports

A deluge of House challengers and incumbents announced their fundraising tallies for the third quarter Tuesday. Here are the financial reports that caught our attention:
  • #CA07: Republican Igor Birman will report raising nearly $163,000 in the third quarter, with $139,000 in cash on hand. The former chief of staff to Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., is running in the GOP primary against former Rep. Doug Ose and autism activist Elizabeth Emken. The GOP trio is looking to unseat freshman Rep. Ami Bera. Ose reported raising $247,000 with $256,000 cash on hand. Emken and Bera have yet to release their third-quarter numbers.
  • #CA10: Republican Rep. Jeff Denham raised $354,000 and had $1.1 million in the bank.
  • #CA31: Former Rep. Joe Baca, a Democrat, raised $36,000 and had $37,000 in the bank.
  • #CA45: Republican state Sen. Mimi Walters raised $445,000, according to a news release. A campaign spokesman said Walters will report $395,000 in cash on hand.
More numbers after the jump.

Veteran Congressman Raises $10 in Third Quarter

Watt is up for a position in the Obama administration. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Longtime Rep. Melvin Watt, D-N.C., reported raising just $10 in the third quarter — the smallest haul of any incumbent in recent memory.

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Watt chalked up his low total to the fact that he halted his fundraising operation during a prolonged Senate confirmation process for a role at the Federal Housing Finance Agency. President Barack Obama nominated the 11-term Democrat to head the agency in May.

“Actually once I found out I was going to be nominated for this position from the president, and once I was nominated, I thought I had shut down my entire operation,” Watt said in a phone interview with CQ Roll Call. “So I’m surprised I have $10 in this quarter. Somebody didn’t get the message I guess.” Full story

Special Election Whirlwind Week Starts Today

A week of rapid-fire congressional special elections kicks off Tuesday with a primary in Massachusetts’ 5th District, followed by two more contests in the following days to fill vacant seats on Capitol Hill.

Both the Massachusetts contest and a special election primary in Louisiana’s 5th District on Saturday are taking place in safe Democratic and Republican seats respectively, leaving little chance for either party to flip a new seat into their column. Yet with crowded primary fields in both races, it’s not clear which candidates will emerge with the nominations.

There’s a third special election on Wednesday in New Jersey to fill the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg. Newark Mayor Cory Booker is favored to keep that seat in Democratic hands.

Full story

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