Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 5, 2016

March 6, 2014

Condoleezza Rice Headlines McConnell Fundraiser at Rupp Arena

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is headlining a fundraiser in Lexington, Ky., Thursday for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a spokesperson for the campaign confirmed.

The event, which will also feature McConnell’s wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, is scheduled to be held in the locker room at Rupp Arena, where the University of Kentucky plays basketball.

Full story

McConnell Vows Conservative Agenda if He’s Senate Leader

McConnell brandishes a musket on stage during the speech. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell promised a ballroom full of activists Thursday that he would fight “tooth and nail” for a conservative agenda if he takes the helm of a Republican majority next year.

That, of course, will require Republicans to pick up six Senate seats in November and McConnell to win his own re-election in Kentucky. The five-term incumbent faces a GOP primary challenger who regularly attacks him as an insufficient conservative leader.

McConnell walked on stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference to applause, thanks in part to a large rifle he held over his head before handing it to conservative icon Tom Coburn, who is resigning from his Oklahoma Senate seat at the end of the year. He went on to blast President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid before laying out how the Senate would be run under his leadership. Full story

Steve Cohen to Draw Primary Opponent in Tennessee

Cohen faces another primary challenge this cycle. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., will face yet another primary in the 9th District in 2014.

Ricky Wilkins, an African-American attorney with the ability to self-fund a campaign, is likely to wage a primary bid against Cohen in this majority-minority district based in Memphis, according to a source with knowledge of Wilkins’ plans.

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Potential 2016 Contenders Dominate CPAC Lineup

Rand will return to CPAC to speak on Friday. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Five Republicans who could share a presidential primary debate stage next year will all deliver speeches by lunchtime at today’s start of the Conservative Political Action Conference.

Potential 2016 White House contenders, elected officials and conservative darlings are lining up over the next few days to address thousands of conservative activists descending on the nation’s capital for the annual retreat.

The three-day program kicks off with a speech by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a freshman who’s built substantial support within the conservative movement since his upset victory in 2012. Other possible presidential candidates following him on the main ballroom stage throughout the morning include (in order of appearance) House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Full story

Lessons and Regrets Precede Florida Special Election

With just days to go in the smash-mouth special election on Florida’s Gulf Coast, both parties are managing expectations ahead of what could be a narrow margin of victory.

The race to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla., is the most competitive special election of the 2014 cycle. Neither party is exuding confidence about the contest for the swingy 13th District, and nearly anyone who claims to have seen an internal poll says this tossup race will go down to the wire. Full story

Virginia Republican Launches TV Ad in Race to Replace Frank Wolf

Retired Naval officer Howie Lind will hit the airwaves Thursday with his first TV ad of the GOP primary in Virginia’s 10th District.

Lind is one of a half-dozen Republicans vying for the Northern Virginia seat vacated by the retirement of Rep. Frank R. Wolf. His first ad appears to be aimed at the front-runner, state Del. Barbara Comstock, a former Wolf aide who has long been expected to run for the seat.

“Howie Lind for Congress,” the announcer says. “Because it’s not about whose turn it is, but who’s going to stand up for us.”

The ad, shared first with CQ Roll Call, comes with less than two months to go in the fight for the GOP nomination. It’s set to air on cable and satellite TV throughout the district, according to a campaign source who declined to provide the exact buy size.

Full story

March 5, 2014

Vote on Controversial Nominee Exposes Political Risk of Nuclear Option

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Likely fearful of attack ads, seven Senate Democrats joined Republicans on Wednesday to block the nomination of Debo P. Adegbile to be the next assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.

Three of those Democrats — Chris Coons of Delaware, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and John Walsh of Montana — are on the ballot this fall. The others either had regional ties to the controversy dogging Adegbile or are from red states. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa. voted against cloture, as did Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.

Full story

Obama Headlines DSCC Fundraiser

President Barack Obama addressed a group of donors Tuesday night at a fundraiser for Senate Democrats, who are hoping to maintain their majority in the upcoming midterm elections.

The Democrats gathered at the home of former Sen. Chuck Robb and Lynda Robb in McLean, Va.  Sen. Michael Bennet, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Virginia Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner attended the event, where tickets ranged from $10,000 to $32,400, a DSCC official said.

According to a transcript of his remarks, Obama stressed the importance of the midterm elections, pledging to “spend a lot of time and energy” supporting Democratic candidates. The president said Democrats must passionately support their candidates, especially since midterm elections typically have lower voter turnout rates.

Referring to the 2010 midterms, when Democrats lost their House majority and a half-dozen Senate seats, Obama said, “We paid a dear price for not paying enough attention to these midterm elections. We cannot repeat the same mistake this year.” Full story

Mitt Romney Endorses Candidate in Iowa Senate Race

Romney has endorsed a candidate for Senate in Iowa. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday endorsed state Sen. Joni Ernst in the crowded Republican primary in Iowa’s open Senate seat.

“It is going to take an incredibly strong Republican to defeat the Democrats as they look to defend this open seat that has been in their control for over three decades. Thankfully, Iowa Republicans have such a candidate in Joni Ernst,” Romney said in a mailer endorsing Ernst, according to the Des Moines Register. Full story

Alex Sink Ends Special Election Campaign With Positive Spot

In what is likely her final ad in the special election for Florida’s 13th District, the Democrat nominee, Alex Sink, struck a bipartisan tone in positive spot that started to air Wednesday.

Polls show Sink in a virtual tie with the GOP nominee, lobbyist David Jolly, in the race to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRf5mq_t2q8&feature=youtu.be Full story

Ann Callis Launches Second Ad in Illinois Primary

Former judge Ann Callis is launching her latest TV ad on Wednesday, less than two weeks out from the Democratic primary in Illinois’ 13th District.

Callis is the national party’s pick to oust freshman Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill, in this highly competitive downstate district. But she must first take care of business against physics professor George Gollin in the March 18 primary.

“As parents, we teach our children to do what’s right,” Callis says in the 30-second bio spot. “As a judge, I held people accountable when they did wrong. That’s why I cracked down on violent criminals, and stopped the big banks when they tried to kick families out of their homes.”

Full story

March 4, 2014

John Cornyn Wins GOP Nomination for Senate in Texas

Cornyn is seeking a third term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas won the GOP nod outright in his re-election battle, clobbering a congressman and his tea party supporters in the first primary of the midterm elections.

Cornyn had 63 percent of the vote, and Rep. Steve Stockman had 17 percent of the vote, when the Associated Press called the election for the two-term senator. The Senate’s No. 2 Republican cleared the necessary majority threshold to avoid a runoff against Stockman. Full story

Ralph Hall Heads to Runoff; Sessions, Veasey Defeat Primary Challengers

Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, will face a late-spring runoff against a self-funded primary challenger.

As election results poured into the Lone Star State on Tuesday night, it was clear that freshman Rep. Marc Veasey, a Democrat, and Rep. Pete Sessions, a Republican, would be all-but-certain to return to Congress for another term.

Across the state, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, easily defeated Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas. There will be a runoff for Stockman’s seat in the 36th District.

All primary runoff races will take place on May 27. Full story

Paul Ryan Endorses Mike Simpson in Idaho

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan endorsed Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson on Tuesday, praising his fellow Republican’s work on debt reduction.

Simpson, an eight-term incumbent and ally of Speaker John A. Boehner, is facing primary opposition from tea-party-backed attorney Bryan Smith in a marquee battle between competing wings of the GOP.

“Mike Simpson has been in the trenches fighting to reform runaway spending and has been a critical voice in passing our plan to balance the budget and pay down our debt,” the Wisconsin Republican and former vice presidential nominee said in a statement.

Full story

Connie Mack Endorses in Special Election for Radel’s Seat

Mack has endorsed Clawson in the race for Radel's seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Rep. Connie Mack endorsed businessman Curt Clawson, a fellow Republican, in the upcoming special election for the seat Mack held until 2012.

In backing Clawson in Florida’s 19th District, Mack cited the candidate’s endorsement of the former congressman’s “Penny Plan,” a proposal to reduce the federal budget by 1 percent every year.

“Simply put, I am concerned that most politicians don’t have the strength of their resolve in order to make these tough choices,” Mack said in a statement. “It will take an outsider to help us accomplish this goal and ultimately pass the Penny Plan. For these reasons, I endorse Curt Clawson for Congress and look forward to working with him to make the Penny Plan a reality.” Full story

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