Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2015

January 22, 2014

Lankford to Conservative Groups: ‘I’m Not Their Enemy’

Lankford is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A political unknown just four years ago, Rep. James Lankford has swiftly positioned himself as the front-runner in what could be a crowded GOP primary field to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

Conservative groups quickly panned Lankford after he announced his Senate bid on Monday. But the 5th District lawmaker starts the contest both with $450,000 in the bank and an established base of faith-based conservatives that GOP operatives argue will be tough for other Senate hopefuls to overcome — especially in a runoff.

“[Lankford] has that incredible base that nobody else has in terms of the Baptist community, which is huge here,” said one Oklahoma Republican operative, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “The faith-based community has always been very influential and important in these types of things. I mean, this is the Bible Belt.” Full story

In Radel District, Florida Republicans Demand Super PAC Remove Ad

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican Party of Florida has demanded a local television affiliate cease airing a spot from a GOP super PAC, according to a letter obtained by CQ Roll Call.

At issue is an ad backed by supporters of former state Rep. Paige Kreegel, a candidate who is challenging Rep. Trey Radel in the GOP primary for Florida’s 19th District. Radel faces an increasingly competitive nomination fight in this safe Republican district, thanks to his recent legal issues. Radel pleaded guilty last year to cocaine possession.

But Radel is not the subject of the ad. Full story

McConnell Releases First Two TV Ads of 2014

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released his first two TV ads of the election year on Wednesday — positive spots emphasizing that he has utilized his position on Capitol Hill to help Kentuckians in need.

Facing a competitive re-election, the Kentucky Republican’s new ads tout his efforts on behalf of workers who got cancer after being exposed to high levels of radiation at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in southwestern Kentucky. One of the workers, Robert Pierce, who suffered from throat cancer, is featured in both ads and can only speak in a whisper.

“These days I don’t I have much of a voice, but I and so many Kentuckians have been helped by someone with a strong voice, Mitch McConnell,” he says. McConnell ran an ad highlighting this same theme at the start of the 2008 election year.

The ads are backed by a “significant, six-figure buy” and will air statewide. McConnell is defending his seat against fellow Republican Matt Bevin in the primary and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Full story

Va. GOP Losses May Help Gillespie’s Convention Fight

Gillespie should be able to get through Virginia's GOP nominating convention. (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images File Photo)

With the stink of their party’s statewide sweep not yet three months old, Virginia Republicans said Ed Gillespie should have little trouble winning the GOP Senate nomination in June and advancing to take on Democrat Mark Warner.

Republicans concede that Gillespie, a former lobbyist and political consultant who announced his candidacy last week, faces a challenging fight against the first-term senator and popular former governor. But getting through the state GOP’s nominating convention, which invites a more conservative swath of the party than a primary and last year produced a surprising result, should not be nearly as significant a hurdle.

As former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s felony indictment Tuesday and a state Senate victory for the Democrats added to Republicans’ woes, elected officials and party insiders said last year’s stinging losses in races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general have left GOP activists clamoring for, above all, a conservative candidate who can raise the kind of money it will take to legitimately compete with Warner.

Gillespie “does have to take [the convention] seriously, but I think people want to win a statewide race in Virginia,” Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Va., said. “Having lost three races last fall, I think they recognize we need a candidate who is in the hunt when it comes to the last part of the race … and that means somebody who is capable of raising the money.” Full story

January 21, 2014

House GOP Reserves $725,000 in TV Time for Florida Special

Updated 12:02 p.m. | The ad war in Florida’s 13th District special election has officially begun.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has reserved about $725,000 in broadcast and cable advertising from Wednesday until Feb. 10 to support the GOP nominee, lobbyist David Jolly, according to two sources — a Democrat and a Republican — who track media buys.  Full story

Republican Could Help Honda in Ultimate California House Primary

A little-known Republican could bust attorney Ro Khanna’s well-funded quest to defeat another Democrat, longtime Rep. Michael M. Honda, in a Silicon Valley-based House district.

The two California Democrats are facing off in one of the cycle’s most competitive and expensive intraparty House contests of the cycle. Khanna has raised more than $3.2 million for the race to date, with $2 million in the bank. That number dwarfs the $622,000 that seven-term lawmaker Honda had on hand at the end of last year.

Despite Khanna’s financial assets, Republican Vanila Singh, an anesthesiologist, could serve as a spoiler for the Democratic newcomer in the June 3 primary. In the Golden State, the top two vote recipients in the primary proceed to the general election, regardless of party. Until recently, most California Democrats believed Honda and Khanna would fight a protracted battle until November.

Full story

California Democrat Continues to Clear Field in Open Seat Race

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, a Democrat, continues to clear the field in the race to replace retiring Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., in a Bay Area House seat.

On Tuesday, DeSaulnier announced that potential opponent, state Assemblymember Joan Buchanan, had endorsed his candidacy for California’s 11th District. Another potential candidate, Democratic Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, endorsed DeSaulnier on Monday.

Full story

How Murkowski’s Voting Record Could Help Begich in Alaska

Sen. Lisa Murkowski

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, might not want her Democratic colleague, Mark Begich, to win re-election in 2014, but her habit of breaking with the GOP on several key votes could give him some political cover ahead of 2014.

“As an Alaska delegation, we’ve got to be working on those issues that are important to our constituents,” Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News this week. “Sen. Begich has been keying in on the issues that I think Alaskans are worried about and doing what he was tasked to do.”

“I’m going to be working to get Republicans elected,” she later added.

Murkowski’s more moderate voting record could help Begich, given how much the two Alaskans overlap on some issues. Begich faces a tough re-election fight this year in a state that has traditionally elected Republicans to Congress. There’s a competitive GOP primary in August to determine his opponent. Full story

David Vitter Announces Run for Governor

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., announced Tuesday that he will run for governor next year, confirming the biggest open secret in Bayou State politics and on Capitol Hill.

“After much thought, prayer and discussion with Wendy and our children, I’ve decided to run for governor of Louisiana in 2015,” the second-term Republican says in a video on his redesigned campaign website. Full story

January 19, 2014

Lankford Seeks Senate as Cole Declines in Oklahoma

Lankford is reportedly running for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:57 p.m. | Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., intends to run for GOP Sen. Tom Coburn’s seat and could make a formal announcement as early as Monday, according to NewsOK.

Meanwhile, six-term Republican Rep. Tom Cole announced Sunday that he would pass on running for the seat.

“I am very flattered to be among those mentioned, as any Oklahoma Republican would be honored to succeed someone as distinguished as Tom Coburn,” Cole said in a news release. “After considerable thought, however, I have decided not to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014.”

Cole cited his seniority, role as a Republican deputy whip and committee assignments as his reasons for not running. These roles “make me much more valuable to Oklahoma and the Fourth District in the House than I could be as a freshman U.S. Senator,” he said.

Coburn, who is battling cancer, announced last week that he will exit the Senate two years before the end of his second term. The special election will take place concurrent with the 2014 midterm elections, with a primary on June 24.

Full story

January 18, 2014

GOP Frets About Year-End Fundraising Thanks to Shutdown

A financially damaging mix of a government shutdown and the holiday shopping season has prompted top Republican operatives to temper expectations for fourth-quarter fundraising reports, which are due at the end of the month.

The final three months of the year are always a notoriously difficult time for members to raise money, as donor interest and candidate call time decline during the holidays. But the 16-day government shutdown in October further poisoned the financial well, especially for House Republicans, who polls show took most of the blame for the standoff.

As year-end fundraising reports trickle in over the next few weeks, GOP campaign operatives and consultants are setting a low bar for the first financial numbers candidates will announce in the election year. They argue that the president’s website woes did not serve as a fundraising specter to boost their bottom line. Full story

January 17, 2014

DCCC Slams Jolly’s Lobbyist Past in Major TV Buy

Sink is the Democratic nominee in the competitive special election in Florida. (Tim Boyles/Getty Images File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will soon begin a six-figure television advertising campaign in Florida’s 13th District, its first foray onto the airwaves in the competitive special election.

The House Democrats’ political arm has reserved “more than $200,000″ in advertising between Jan. 21-27, according to a Democratic official. Full story

Special Election Dates Set to Replace Coburn

Coburn is resigning at the end of 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The special election to replace Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., will take place concurrent with the regularly scheduled 2014 primary and general elections, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin announced Friday.

The primary will be held June 24, a runoff would be Aug. 26, and the general will be Nov. 4. The timeline ensures that the Sooner State will not have to spend extra funds to choose the two-term senator’s replacement.

Coburn announced late Thursday night that he will resign at the end of the 113th Congress. His exit will likely set off a crowded and competitive primary for the seat in this solidly Republican state.

Full story

January 16, 2014

NRCC Spends Almost $100,000 in Florida Special Election

The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $93,500 this week against Democrat Alex Sink in Florida’s 13th District special election, according to a Federal Election Commission report filed Thursday.

According to an NRCC source, at least part of that money will go toward this Web ad:

This is the first expenditure the NRCC has placed in the race this year. The committee is backing the newly minted GOP nominee, David Jolly, in this race.

Full story

Pro-McConnell Super PAC Slams Democrat on Coal

Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a super PAC backing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has hit the radio airwaves with an ad that slams his Democratic rival over the issue of coal.

The minute-long ad rails against Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on the issue of coal.

Full story

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