Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 30, 2015

January 3, 2014

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Florida’s 13th District


Jolly, left, and Peters, right, are Republicans. (CQ Roll Call composite)

The competitive composition of Florida’s 13th District makes this race fascinating, but it’s also the first big contest on the calendar for 2014. This special election will serve as a test balloon for the parties to check their messaging with a split electorate months ahead of Election Day.

Longtime Rep. C.W. Bill Young’s death has spurred the first competitive race for the western Florida district in a few decades. Young carried the district easily, but President Barack Obama narrowly won the seat with 50 percent in 2012.

Full story

January 2, 2014

Iowa Republican Drops Senate Bid, Will Run for Open House Seat

Former Capitol Hill aide David Young announced Thursday that he will drop his bid for Iowa’s open Senate seat and instead run for the House seat being vacated by longtime Rep. Tom Latham, according to the Des Moines Register.

Young, who served as chief of staff to Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley, was one of at least seven Republicans running for the open Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

When Latham announced his retirement from the 3rd District last month, however, Young said he decided to shift gears.

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Tillis Drops First Ad of Midterm Cycle in North Carolina Senate Contest

State Speaker Thom Tillis, one of a handful of Republicans looking to take on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan in the midterm elections, released his first ad of the cycle, Tillis’ campaign announced Thursday.

“Obamacare is a disaster, but the president won’t admit it. The debt is out of control, and neither party has stopped it,” Tillis says in the 30-second spot. “Kay Hagan has enabled the president’s worst ideas. She refuses to clean up his mess. So you and I have to clean up hers.”

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Alex Sink Stomps Republican Competition Fundraising

Sink is off to a strong start. (Tim Boyles/Getty Images File Photo)

Updated 5:28 p.m. | Former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink raised exponentially more money than any of her Republican rivals in the the special election to replace the late Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young in Florida’s 13th District.

Sink, a Democrat, raised $1.1 million and will report “over” $1 million in cash on hand, according to a release. Candidates in the tossup race were required to file pre-primary fundraising reports by Thursday.

Her closest Republican fundraising rival was GOP lobbyist David Jolly, who raised $388,000 and reported $141,000 in cash on hand. Jolly donors included former Republican Reps. Henry Bonilla and Robert Livingston and retired game show host Bob Barker. Barker, a friend of Jolly’s, notably cut an ad for Jolly that aired in early December.

Sink, who narrowly lost to Republican Rick Scott in the gubernatorial election of 2010, is the likely Democratic nominee in the tossup race. The Republican primary is shaping up to be a three-person field, featuring Jolly, state Rep. Kathleen Peters and veteran Mark Bircher. The primary is on Jan. 14.

Peters raised nearly $170,000 in her pre-primary report filed Thursday.

Peters entered the race in mid-November, but the campaign had a high burn rate going into the final stretch before the primary against GOP lobbyist David Jolly and veteran Mark Bircher. She spent about $152,000 and reported around $18,000 in cash on hand. Full story

Report: Edwin Edwards Mulls Congressional Bid

Cassidy is gearing up for a Senate run. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Disgraced former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who spent eight years in federal prison after being convicted of a litany of racketeering, extortion and money laundering charges, is mulling a bid for Louisiana’s 6th District, according to a local report.

Edwards, 86, is allegedly considering a bid for the seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy because he believes the field on both sides of the aisle is weak, according to the Hay Ride, a Louisiana politics blog.

Three Republicans are currently running in the open-seat contest: state Sen. Dan Claitor, businessman Paul Dietzel and attorney Cassie Felder. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a Republican, is also considering a bid.

Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 2:33 p.m.
House 2016, La.-6, Really?

Martha Roby Takes Sides in Florida Special Election

Roby, center, is the latest female GOP lawmaker to rally around Peters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama has joined a handful of other House Republican women who are supporting a female candidate in the competitive GOP primary to succeed the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young in Congress, according to a recent Federal Election Commission filing.

Roby’s leadership political action committee, MARTHA PAC, donated $1,000 to state Rep. Kathleen Peters, according to a 48 hour notice the Peters campaign filed with the FEC on Dec. 31.

A slew of House Republican women are either overtly or quietly helping Peters in her race against GOP lobbyist David Jolly in the Jan. 14 special election primary. The winner of that campaign will likely face the Democrats’ all-but-certain candidate, former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the March 11 general election.

In early December, freshman Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri endorsed Peters. That same week, a band of GOP women hosted a fundraiser on the Peters’ behalf — they included Wagner and Reps. Susan W. Brooks of Indiana, Diane Black of Tennessee, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas. The invitation also listed one male host, Rep. Daniel Webster of Florida.

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Republican Opts Out of Open Iowa House Contest

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP state Sen. Jack Whitver announced on Thursday that he will not seek the seat being vacated by longtime Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, the Des Moines Register reported.

Whitver was one of a host of Republicans reportedly looking to replace Latham in the Hawkeye State’s 3rd District.

Latham’s surprise retirement last month created a competitive, open-seat contest in the 2014 midterms. President Barack Obama carried the district by a 4-point margin in 2012, making Latham one of 17 Republicans representing a district Obama carried last cycle.

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Most Fascinating Races of 2014: North Carolina Senate

Hagan is vulnerable in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This cycle’s best bellwether for Senate control is North Carolina, where Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, is seeking re-election in this increasingly frequent battleground state.

Senate Republicans must pick up a net of six seats to win control, and the Tar Heel State has served as that chamber’s best barometer in recent cycles. Since 2000, the party of North Carolina’s Senate victor has picked up seats across the country.

That’s what happened in 2008, when Hagan defeated then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole, and Democrats picked up several Senate seats on the coattails of President Barack Obama’s first election. Hagan won’t have that benefit in 2014, when the president’s poor approval rating will not help her re-election efforts. Full story

January 1, 2014

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Pennsylvania’s 13th District

Schwartz is running for governor, leaving an open race for her House seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House isn’t very popular these days, so why would anyone want to return there after a 20-year hiatus? The answer — if there is one — is just one reason why the crowded primary for this suburban Philadelphia, strong Democratic district is so fascinating.

Former Rep. Marjorie Margolies, D-Pa., is waging a comeback bid for the 13th District nearly tw0 decades after she supported President Bill Clinton’s budget and famously lost re-election in 1994. The 71-year-old is back with a vengeance and strong political connections: Her son is married to Chelsea Clinton. Full story

December 31, 2013

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Kentucky Senate

McConnell has primary and general challenges in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There isn’t too much to see in Kentucky, really. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s re-election only features a primary fight for the future of the Republican Party and a well-connected Democrat who’s benefiting from an entire party’s interest in taking him out.

The messaging in the race shifts fast enough to cause whiplash. As the top target of both national Democrats and the tea party, McConnell has been charged for being both the biggest obstructionist in Congress and for failing to obstruct President Barack Obama’s agenda enough. Full story

How Roll Call’s Best Politics Stories of 2013 Happened

Like many politics news consumers/news people working during the holidays, I’ve read a lot of listicles in the last couple weeks (some even on Roll Call). My eyes now glaze over when the words “best of” run across my Tweetdeck.

So here’s something slightly different for the end of 2013. Hopefully, you read our best politics stories of 2013 when they originally published.  But here’s a closer look at how the year’s best stories from Emily Cahn, Abby Livingston, Kyle Trygstad, Nathan L. Gonzales and Stu Rothenberg happened.

Warning: Story generation isn’t often sexy or even interesting. To my knowledge, no Roll Call politics reporter secretly met a source in a Rosslyn parking garage this year. Mostly, they get their best ideas by dialing sources outside the Beltway. Other times, they get lucky with a news tip. Regardless, I think it’s valuable to our readers to see the origins of our best coverage.

In no specific order, here’s how Roll Call’s 13 best politics stories of 2013  happened:

1. 6 Things Losing Candidates Say (Aug. 22). Nathan didn’t think this story would get much attention during a sleepy, off-year August recess. He and Stu Rothenberg meet with scores of congressional hopefuls every cycle, and Nathan thought his advice to candidates seemed obvious (for example, don’t hire your spouse as a campaign manager). But the story quickly became one of Roll Call’s most popular pieces, and operatives tell us they now give it to candidates before they do interviews with national media — especially prior to meeting Stu and Nathan. The list spurred a few fun spin-offs too: 5 Things Winning Candidates Say and 4 More Things Losing Candidates Say (Readers Edition).

Full story

December 30, 2013

West Virginia House Hopeful Says He’s No Carpetbagger (Video)

The candidate: Former Maryland state Sen. Alex Mooney
The member: Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is running for Senate, leaving an open race for her House seat in 2014.
The district:
 In 2012, Mitt Romney won the 2nd District, which includes Charleston and the Eastern Panhandle, by more than 20 points. But Democrats continue to win local office in this region in West Virginia, making the race somewhat competitive.

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Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Arkansas Senate

Pryor is a top Senate GOP target in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a year with a few contenders, Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor is widely considered the most vulnerable Democrat up for re-election. For Republicans, his seat is a must-win for the party to recapture the Senate majority.

With the president’s job approval rating dropping and southern Democrats disappearing from the congressional ranks, Pryor’s successful bid for a third term would be the ultimate proof that Senate elections are truly a choice between the two candidates on the ballot and the quality of the campaigns.

First elected in 2002, Pryor remains as the last Democrat from a congressional delegation filled with them just a few years ago. With the unpopularity of the president in Arkansas and Pryor’s vote in favor of the president’s health care overhaul law, Republicans believe they have a good shot at a clean sweep in the state’s federal races next November thanks to freshman Rep. Tom Cotton’s candidacy. Full story

December 29, 2013

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Alaska Senate

Begich is vulnerable in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There is so much to like about the 2014 Alaska Senate race, starting with the fact that there is a competitive race there at all.

In 2008, Mark Begich became the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alaska since 1974. Without that upset victory over an incumbent Republican senator — who was convicted on corruption charges, which would later be thrown out, a week before the election — it’s highly unlikely Democrats would be competing in this solidly Republican state. Full story

December 28, 2013

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: Arizona’s 2nd District

Barber, center, was at top aide to Giffords, right, before he ran for the seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the simplest terms, Democratic Rep. Ron Barber faces a rematch with retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, a Republican, in this highly competitive district based in Tucson, Ariz.

But over the past four years, this district’s story has proven anything but simple.

Full story

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