Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

March 7, 2014

DCCC Adds Nick Rahall to Incumbent Protection Program

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel has named Rep. Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia to the committee’s Frontline program.

Frontline is a designation for endangered Democratic incumbents.

“As a battle-tested campaigner, Nick Joe Rahall has been the overwhelming choice of southern West Virginians because he stands for commonsense values, will protect Social Security and Medicare and will relentlessly fight for good-paying West Virginia jobs,” Israel said in a release.

“We won’t stand on the sidelines while outside groups spend millions of dollars to deceive voters about an incumbent.”

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Cochran Upbeat About Primary Fight, Not Running Scared

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran was upbeat this week that he will prevail over his tea-party-backed Republican primary challenger when voters go to the polls in June.

“I’m very pleased. I’m enjoying getting around the state and visiting with friends and supporters,” Cochran said in a brief interview. “We’re making good progress, I think, in our campaign. We have more candidates than we’ve had in a Senate race I think since my first race for Congress in 1972 — independents, a Democrat or two and a Republican or two.”

Cochran and his supporters, including a super PAC, are making the case about the importance of the clout of the longtime GOP senator. A recent super PAC ad specifically highlighted Cochran’s work to bring federal funds to rebuild the ravaged Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, dinging challenger state Sen. Chris McDaniel for his comments on the aid question.

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Tea Party Senate Candidates Descend on CPAC

Maness is running for Senate in Louisiana. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Much of the attention surrounding the Conservative Political Action Conference is understandably focused on the plethora of Republicans here who may be running for president at this time next year.

But, mostly offstage and behind the scenes, a handful of tea-party-backed Senate candidates — each running uphill against better-funded Republicans — are here among the thousands of conservative activists. They’re shaking hands, meeting potential supporters and raising some money.

They include Matt Bevin of Kentucky and Milton Wolf of Kansas, each waging primary challenges to Republican senators. Also in attendance are lesser-known hopefuls Rob Maness of Louisiana, Greg Brannon of North Carolina and David Clements of New Mexico, plus Joe Miller of Alaska, who are fighting for their party’s nomination to take on Democratic senators.

Kentucky, Louisiana, Alaska and North Carolina are on the front lines of the battle for Senate control. Republicans need to pick up a net six seats to win the majority.

“It’s a good opportunity in one centralized location to meet as many people as possible, and get your name and face in front of them,” said Maness, a retired Air Force colonel who is battling GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy and Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu in Louisiana’s jungle primary. Full story

Rand Paul Headlining CPAC Fundraiser for N.C. Senate Hopeful

Paul will make time for a fundraiser for a Senate hopeful while at CPAC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is headlining a fundraiser Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference for a tea-party-backed Senate candidate in North Carolina.

Greg Brannon, a physician, is one of a handful of Republicans hoping to take on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who is a top GOP target in her bid for a second term. Brannon has collected the endorsements of Paul and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, though state Speaker Thom Tillis is the GOP front-runner.

Paul will follow up his mid-afternoon address at CPAC by appearing with Brannon at a McCormick & Schmick’s near where the conference is being held. Tickets to the event cost up to $500, according to the online invitation. Full story

Bill Shuster Begins Major TV Ad Campaign

Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster is leaving nothing to chance in his campaign for a seventh full term.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman is going up Friday with a monthlong, $400,000 TV ad campaign ahead of the Keystone State’s May 20 Republican primary.

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A Campaign’s Favorite Spokesperson: the Daughter

A candidate recently aimed to make a positive impression on voters by starring his female offspring in a TV ad.

It happens nearly every cycle — and it did again last week, with a new Senate campaign spot from Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont.

His two daughters, Annie and Caroline, told voters all about the positive points of his biography, highlighting the fact that he is a “fifth-generation Montanan.”

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Rodney Davis Dwarfs Competition in Fundrising Ahead of Primary

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., far outraised his opposition in the competitive 13th District, according to fundraising reports filed Thursday — less than two weeks before the March 18 primary.

Davis raised $328,000 from Jan. 1 to Feb. 26, according to his pre-primary filing with the Federal Election Commission. Davis also reported $1.1 million in cash on hand.

The first-term congressman’s fundraising dwarfs that of his competitors.

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March 6, 2014

Sinema Will Run for Re-Election in Current District

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema will seek re-election in the 9th District of Arizona.

Since fellow Democratic Rep. Ed Pastor announced his retirement last week, speculation swirled that Sinema might move to his safer seat and seek a second term there.

However, she announced Thursday on Facebook that she is staying put.

“I am flattered that some of my old neighbors and friends asked me to consider running for Congress in District 7,” she wrote. “But I love my job representing the people of the 9th district and there is so much more to be done on behalf of the middle class.”

“I am proud of the work I have accomplished but I have only just begun to change the way Congress does business,” she added.

The congresswoman met with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York at the DCCC offices earlier Thursday, according to a House Democratic aide, who added, “They spoke at the DCCC, as they do regularly.”

The 9th District is currently rated Democratic Favored by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call, while the 7th District is rated Safe Democratic.

McConnell Dodges Criticism From Both Sides With Vote on Gillibrand Bill

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made what appeared to be a politically savvy move Thursday, voting to advance a measure from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to remove the prosecution of serious crime, including sexual assault, from the military chain of command.

McConnell was one of 11 Republicans to vote to break a filibuster of the bill, which had the support of conservative firebrands Rand Paul, also of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz. Though the measure failed to receive the 60 votes necessary to proceed, McConnell’s vote could potentially inoculate him from attacks on both his left and right flank.

McConnell, who has the endorsement of Paul, has been careful this Congress especially to vote with the junior senator on as many measures as possible. The veteran Kentucky lawmaker is facing a challenge from conservative Matt Bevin, who likely would have attacked McConnell for breaking with Paul and Cruz.

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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.

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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.

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