Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

February 27, 2014

Udall Campaign Hits Gardner for ‘Shady Scheme’

Udall is seeking re-election in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Now faced with a top-tier Republican challenger, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall’s campaign on Thursday painted the GOP’s swap of candidates between races as a partisan backroom deal unfit for the state’s independent nature.

GOP Rep. Cory Gardner dropped his House bid Wednesday in favor of the Senate race, which immediately put Udall’s seat in more danger. Meanwhile, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, an unsuccessful Senate candidate in 2010 and a long-shot to defeat Udall, dropped out of the Senate race to run for Gardner’s seat.

“It’s no surprise that a Washington ideologue like Congressman Cory Gardner worked with party bosses to cook up the ‘Centennial State Swap,’ the shady scheme hatched behind closed doors that enabled him to swoop into the Senate race,” Udall spokesman Chris Harris said in a statement. “Rather than bring Colorado’s independence to Congress, Gardner is bringing Washington-style backroom deals to Colorado.”

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Ed Pastor to Retire in 2014 (Updated) (Video)

Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., will not seek a 12th term (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:38 p.m. | Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., announced Thursday he will not seek a 12th term in the 7th District.

“I’ve been in public office for 39 years and it’s been a pleasure to serve the people of Arizona,” Pastor, 70, said in a statement. “After 23 in Congress, I feel it’s time for me to seek out a new endeavor. It’s been a great honor, a great experience and a great joy for me to serve in Congress. I think it’s time for me to do something else.”

Pastor’s district, located in the heart of downtown Phoenix, is not likely to switch party control. President Barack Obama carried the district by a 45-point margin in 2012, making it one of the most heavily Democratic districts in the country. Full story

Tea Party Group Doubles Down on Colorado Senate Race

The Tea Party Express reiterated its endorsement of state Sen. Owen Hill in the wake of a major shake-up in the race for Senate in Colorado.

In a surprising move, Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., opted Wednesday to run against Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck subsequently dropped out of the Senate race to run for Gardner’s 4th District instead. Likewise, state Rep. Amy Stephens reportedly dropped out of the Senate race as well.

But not Hill.

The Tea Party Express backed Buck’s bid for Senate in 2010, but endorsed Hill this cycle. In fact, the Tea Party Express blasted Buck in a Wednesday evening solicitation for donations:  Full story

Rangel Primary Challenger To Announce Rematch

Rangel's 2012 primary challenger is running again in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat is scheduled to announce at noon Thursday that he will once again challenge 22-term Rep. Charles B. Rangel in New York’s 13th District.

Rangel narrowly defeated Espaillat, another Democrat, in 2012. The New York state legislator’s candidacy for the Harlem and Bronx-based district was widely expected. Full story

February 26, 2014

Harry Reid’s War On Koch

“The Koch Brothers are ‘un-American'” is the new “Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years” in the Senate, per a series of floor speeches given Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Reid, who has picked up the habit of making political floor statements, took the conservative mega-donors to task as part of an emerging narrative from Senate Democrats that such massive campaign spending — and the negative ads that come with it — are destroying the political process.

The Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity already has poured tens of millions of dollars into the 2014 cycle in an attempt to knock out vulnerable incumbent Democrats, and it appears Democrats are trying to discredit the effort knowing they might never be able to match it financially.

“You see, when you make billions of dollars a year, you can be as immoral and dishonest as your money will allow you to be,” Reid said in his second floor speech of the day on the Kochs. “It’s too bad they’re trying to buy America, and it’s time that the American people spoke out against this terrible dishonesty of these two brothers who are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine.”

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Ken Buck Drops Senate Bid to Run for Cory Gardner’s Seat

With Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner vacating his 4th District seat to run for Senate, Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck is dropping his Senate bid to vie for Gardner’s open seat.

The maneuver partially clears the primary field for Gardner, while giving Buck a better shot at coming to Congress. Buck won the GOP Senate nomination in 2010 before losing to Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

“Ken has decided to step aside because Cory is in a potentially stronger position to pick up the seat,” Buck consultant Walt Klein told CQ Roll Call.

But, he added, “there’s no deal” between the two men to swap places on the ballot. Full story

Manchin Heading to Alaska for Begich Fundraiser

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., will travel to Anchorage this weekend to campaign for Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska., according to multiple sources in both camps familiar with the trip.

Manchin will appear at two fundraisers at the home of former Democratic Gov. Bill Sheffield, each with a different suggested contribution level. Sources would not confirm the specific, suggested dollar amounts. The events are co-hosted by Sheffield and Wally Hickel Jr., son of former Gov. Wally Hickel.

Manchin, who has a penchant for state fairs, also will appear at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the 2014 Anchorage Fur Rendezvous (aka “Fur Rondy”), the annual 10-day festival kicking off the famous Iditarod race.

“Senator Manchin will be in Alaska to support Senator Begich because he believes he is the independent-minded Senator who always fights for Alaska and will help move our country forward,” a Manchin campaign spokesman said in an email.

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D.C.’s Democratic Mayoral Candidates, Potential Challenger Pick Up Endorsements

With little more than a month until the District’s April 1 primary election, endorsements are rolling in for the candidates vying to be the next mayor of the nation’s capital.

Incumbent Vincent Gray has scored support from five big labor groups, including the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Building Trades Council.

Gray’s leading challenger, Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser, gained the backing of EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest resource for Democratic women in politics, as well as the influential endorsement of the Washington Post editorial board.

But, the latest winner has not yet entered the mayoral race. Full story

Walter Jones Blasts Primary Challenger’s Hill Fundraiser

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:30 p.m. | Rep. Walter B. Jones blasted his primary opponent Wednesday, implying that he is a “puppet of Washington” after CQ Roll Call reported that a cadre of plugged-in Republican operatives are hosting a fundraiser for his challenger this week.

The North Carolina Republican said the Capitol Hill fundraiser with a handful of longtime GOP aides shows the influence of Washington insiders and campaign money in politics, rather than ideas and principles.

“This is again an example of the influence of Washington. I am an independent. The people back home know I’m an independent. And I don’t think the people back home want a puppet of Washington to go down there and represent them,” he said. Full story

GOP Operatives Fundraise to Oust House Republican

A handful of Republican operatives are scheduled to host a fundraiser later this week to boost a challenger to a longtime House Republican.

Political consultant Taylor Griffin is running against Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., a 10-term member who is frequently at odds with his party.

Griffin’s backers include a cadre of Republicans who worked with him during the Bush administration. Hosts for the fundraiser include Brian Walsh, a Republican consultant who works with the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Matt Rhoades, Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager; and several of Griffin’s colleagues from his former political consulting firm, Hamilton Place Strategies. Full story

Poll: Lindsey Graham Close to Avoiding Runoff

South Carolina Republican primary voters don’t think the country is on the right track, but they’re not yet blaming Sen. Lindsey Graham.

The two-term incumbent, who faces a handful of GOP primary challengers, led a Winthrop University poll released Wednesday with 45 percent of the vote. Graham needs more than 50 percent of the vote in the June 10 primary to escape a runoff, but none of Graham’s challengers made it out of single-digit support, while 35 percent remained undecided.

Graham kicked off his TV advertising campaign two weeks ago, highlighting his efforts to fight the Obama administration on health care and Benghazi.

That plays well in a state where just 3 percent of GOP primary voters said they think the country is on the right track and 90 percent disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job. Full story

February 25, 2014

McConnell Says Bill Clinton Is His Electoral Rabbit’s Foot

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that former President Bill Clinton can stump in Kentucky whenever he wants, characterizing the Democratic icon as his election good-luck charm.

Clinton campaigned in Louisville earlier Tuesday for McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who has put the Republican-leaning state in play for Democrats. Grimes’ father, Jerry Lundergan, is a longtime Democratic operative and ally of the powerful Clinton family.

McConnell, who faces opposition from Grimes on his left and tea-party-backed Matt Bevin on his right, seemed unfazed by the political activity at home.

“I welcome him back,” McConnell told reporters in the Capitol.

“The last time he ran in 1996 he eked out a narrow victory in Kentucky, while I beat the current governor by 160,000 votes, 10 points,” McConnell said. “In 2008, both Bill and Hillary Clinton came to town, including the day before the election, and I won by 100,000 votes. So I welcome President Clinton back to Kentucky. Every time he’s come its been really good for me.”

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Debbie Dingell to Announce House Bid

John D. Dingell, left, and his wife, Debbie Dingell, are from Michigan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic National Committeewoman Debbie Dingell is expected to announce her candidacy for Michigan’s 12th District on Friday, according to multiple news outlets.

The news comes only a day after her husband, Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., announced his retirement from the House after 29 full terms. Full story

LGBT Group Picks Sides in Crowded Northern Virginia Race

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund endorsed state Sen. Adam Ebbin on Tuesday in the crowded Democratic primary for Virginia’s 8th District.

Ebbin is one of two openly gay state legislators in Virginia. The other, state Del. Mark Sickles, who announced his orientation in a Washington Post op-ed, is also running in the 8th District race.

“Adam Ebbin has distinguished himself as an outspoken voice of progressive values,” Torey Carter, chief operating officer at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, said in a Tuesday news release. “After ten years in the state legislature, he has remained committed to his goal of increasing equality and opportunity for those that are often left behind.”

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Democrat Hits the Air in Top Illinois Race

Former Judge Ann Callis, a Democrat running in Illinois’ competitive 13th District, went on the air Tuesday with her first ad of the cycle.

Callis is challenging freshman GOP Rep. Rodney Davis in this downstate district — the state’s most competitive seat. Davis won here in 2012 by one of the slimmest margins of the cycle, while President Barack Obama and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney each received 49 percent of the district’s vote.

The ad, which highlights Callis’ support for veterans — a bipartisan issue — will air on broadcast and cable in the Springfield market, and is backed by a $20,000 buy, according to a source tracking ad buys. The Callis campaign has already distributed the ad as an email fundraising pitch.

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