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

January 28, 2014

Schock, Hensarling Contribute $1 Million Each to NRCC

Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., and Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, gave $1 million each to boost the House GOP’s efforts in 2014.

At a closed-door Tuesday morning conference meeting, Schock presented his $1.1 million check to National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon. Hensarling also gave Walden a $1 million check at the meeting, according to a Republican source who attended the Capitol Hill Club confab.

The NRCC also announced Tuesday that Schock will serve as chairman of the NRCC’s March dinner — one of the committee’s top fundraising events of the year. Schock pledged to raise an additional $1 million for the committee before the March 26 event. Full story

Tom Cole: Outside Groups Will Waste Money in Okla. Special

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole says conservative outside groups that consider getting involved in the race to replace Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., will be wasting their money.

The Senate Conservatives Fund and Madison Project have encouraged GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine to enter the special election field as a conservative alternative to Rep. James Lankford, who is so far the only declared candidate in what’s expected to be a competitive race.

In an interview with CQ Roll Call, Cole said he doesn’t believe well-financed outside groups interested in assisting a particular candidate will have a great effect on the outcome of the race — no matter how much they spend.

“Groups coming from outside the state, coming to try and set the agenda, sorry,” Cole said. “You are welcome to come, but you ought to look at your track record.”

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January 27, 2014

Republican Field for Radel’s Seat Expected to Grow (Updated) (Video)

An already brewing and nasty battle to oust an embattled Florida Republican escalated Monday when Rep. Trey Radel announced his resignation from Congress.

Now local GOP operatives only expect the field to grow with familiar faces — a couple of whom have run in Florida’s 19th district before.

Radel pleaded guilty to a cocaine possession charge last year and, until recently, insisted he would seek re-election. On Monday, he wrote in his letter of resignation that he could not “fully and effectively serve” in Congress anymore.

Under Florida election law, GOP Gov. Rick Scott is tasked with scheduling the special election to fill Radel’s seat. He had not made an announcement on timing as of Monday evening, but Florida Republicans speculate the special election could happen in the late spring or run concurrent with the regularly scheduled primary and general election later this year.

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Kirk Vs. Duckworth for Senate in 2016?

Duckworth is a first-term House Democrat. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Political circumstance could one day bring Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., and Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., together on a ballot against each other. But for now, military service and traumatic injury have united them at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where they often run into one another and visit with troops.

Kirk, who is partially paralyzed from a stroke he suffered two years ago, does rehabilitation at the center when he’s in Washington for Senate sessions. He is diligent about his treatment there, in part because he is getting in shape for a grueling 2016 re-election bid.

Duckworth, a former assistant secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs, spent a year at Walter Reed after she lost her legs in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2004. She frequently visits the center that’s now in Bethesda, Md., and bumps into Kirk while he’s making his rounds.

Duckworth tops the Democrats’ list of lawmakers who could run for Senate in Illinois someday. But in a recent extended interview with Roll Call, Kirk talked about his “good” relationship with Duckworth, showing off the braces he wears on his legs to help him walk — equipment he says is very similar to hers.

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DesJarlais Primary Challenger Flush With Cash for 2014

DesJarlais faces a tough primary in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

State Sen. Jim Tracy, a Republican challenging embattled GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais in Tennessee’s 4th District, raised $150,000 in the fourth quarter, according to figures provided first to CQ Roll Call.

Tracy’s fourth-quarter haul brings his cash-on-hand total to $840,000 with about six months until the primary.

DesJarlais has yet to file his end-of-year fundraising report, which is due to the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 31. At the end of September, DesJarlais reported he had $170,000 in the bank.

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Connie Mack, Florida Republicans React to Radel Resignation (Updated)

Mack is a former member of Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:55 p.m. | Rep. Trey Radel’s former rivals and potential successors in Florida’s 19th District reacted Monday to his resignation from Congress.

“Trey’s decision to resign from Congress was undoubtedly very difficult, but it was the right decision,” former Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., said in a statement. “Trey’s been a friend for many years, and I just can’t imagine how difficult this situation has been for his entire family.” Full story

John Warner Endorses Mark Warner (Updated)

Mark Warner, John Warner

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:45 p.m. | Former Virginia Sen. John Warner is crossing party lines to support Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s re-election campaign this year.

Warner, a former five-term Republican senator, told the Associated Press on Monday he is backing his successor in the Senate over former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie.

Speaking later with CQ Roll Call, John Warner said he encouraged Mark Warner to seek re-election, citing the state’s need for seniority in the Senate.

“I’m not jumping my traces,” John Warner said. “I’m just exercising what I think is a responsible judgment, because Mark Warner is gaining seniority and stature, and has a proven ability to cross the aisle and make things happen.”

The two Warners faced off in a 1996 Senate race, with the incumbent holding on by a 5-point margin. After the loss, Mark Warner went on to win a term as governor in 2001, before running again for the Senate seat of the retiring John Warner.

This is the second time this cycle the former Republican senator has backed a Democratic Senate candidate. Warner contributed to the campaign of Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, who is running for an open seat in Georgia. Full story

Ex-Congressman Hints at Comeback Bid in Kansas (Updated)

Update 3:02 p.m. | Former Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., said this weekend he has not ruled out a primary challenge to two-term Rep. Mike Pompeo in Kansas’ 4th District.

“How can we hold Republican incumbent elected officials accountable if they don’t have a a primary?” Tiahrt asked the Kansas City Star.

In 2010, Tiahrt lost a primary for Senate to Jerry Moran, R-Kan., who was also a House member at the time. Prior to that failed bid, Tiahrt served the Wichita-based district for eight terms.

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Tea Party Group Endorses Candidate in West Virginia

The Madison Project PAC, a national group aligned with the tea party, announced Monday it endorsed former Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney for West Virginia’s 2nd District.

“When we research candidates that have held prior elected office, we hold their voting record to the same level of scrutiny as we do the words they use in their campaign speeches and political rhetoric — few pass that scrutiny as well as Alex Mooney,” Madison Project political director Drew Ryun said in a news release. Full story

Trey Radel Submits Letter of Resignation (Updated)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:32 a.m. | First-term Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., will resign from Congress at 6:30 p.m., according to his letter of resignation sent Monday to Speaker John. A. Boehner of Ohio.

In his letter, Radel says he cannot “effectively serve” anymore.

Radel was arrested in October for cocaine possession and later pleaded guilty to that charge. He would have faced several primary challengers if he sought re-election.

“Unfortunately, some of my struggles had serious consequences,” he wrote in his letter to Boehner. “While I have dealt with those issues on a personal level, it is my belief that I cannot fully and effectively serve as a United States Representative to the place I call home, Southwest Florida.”

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Fifth Democrat to Enter Race to Replace Jim Moran

State Del. Mark Sickles, state House minority caucus chairman, will announce his candidacy in Virginia’s 8th District on Monday, according to a news release shared first with CQ Roll Call.

Sickles now becomes the 5th Democrat looking to succeed Rep. Jim Moran, the 12-term Democrat who announced his retirement from this northern Virginia district earlier this month.

“Congressman Jim Moran casts a long shadow on the civic and legislative landscape of Northern Virginia. His ability to make things happen – and his seniority on key committees important to our region and Commonwealth – cannot be replaced,” Sickles, whose district is located in Fairfax, Va., said in a news release. “I worked on his first campaign for Congress in 1990 and have been part of his team for the last 24 years, and am announcing my candidacy today to succeed him in the House of Representatives.” Full story

January 24, 2014

Democrat Don Beyer Will Run to Replace Jim Moran in Virginia

Updated 10:15 AM | Former Virginia Lt. Gov. Don Beyer will enter the crowded Democratic field seeking to replace retiring Rep. Jim Moran in the 8th District.

Beyer confirmed to CQ Roll Call Friday morning that he is interested in the seat and will likely make an announcement on his intentions sometime next week.

“I’m still in the stage of trying to gather the right folks and put together the right plan,” Beyer said in a Friday morning phone interview. “But I have spent almost my entire adult life trying to do politics and public service, and this just seems the next best opportunity.”

Beyer was one of President Barack Obama’s bundlers, helping raise $117,000 for Obama in the 2008 campaign, according to Open Secrets. His fundraising abilities could help him stand out in this district, where television air time comes at a premium in the expensive Washington, D.C., market.
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January 23, 2014

Schumer: Administration, IRS Must ‘Redouble Efforts’ on Campaign Finance Enforcement

Schumer is a Democrat from New York. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday that Democrats, the administration and the IRS must immediately “redouble” efforts to close loopholes created by a recent Supreme Court ruling that opened the floodgates for money into politics.

“One of the great advantages the tea party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created this ill-advised decision,” said Schumer, referring to Citizens United, in an afternoon speech at the Center for American Progress. “Obviously, the tea party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government.” Full story

Clay Aiken Preparing Congressional Bid in North Carolina

Clay Aiken

(Ethan Miller/Getty Images File Photo)

“American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken is preparing to run for Congress as a Democrat in North Carolina’s 2nd District, multiple Democratic sources confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

But his candidacy is being met with skepticism by some Tar Heel State Democrats, who are holding out hope of making it a race in this Republican-leaning district.

Aiken, a Raleigh native, is looking to take on second-term GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers in the central North Carolina district, which President Barack Obama lost by 15 points in 2012. Raleigh-based WRAL reported Thursday that Aiken is building a campaign team and is expected to formally announce next month.

Democratic operatives said Aiken has met with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee about the campaign. When asked, the DCCC declined to comment on whether any such meeting took place. Full story

January 22, 2014

Republican Drops Bid for Wolf’s Seat in Virginia

Controversial GOP state Sen. Dick Black announced Wednesday he will withdraw his candidacy in Virginia’s 10th District.

“I seriously considered running for the 10th Congressional seat,” Black said in a statement to a local conservative blog. “However, after meeting with Republican Caucus leaders in Richmond, it is imperative that I remain in the Senate where I am needed to maintain our 20/20 split.”

Black’s exit from the contest paves the way for Republican Del. Barbara Comstock to earn the party’s nomination in the competitive, open-seat district that includes the Northern Virginia suburbs near Washington, D.C. Comstock is now the only GOP candidate in the race.

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