Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2014

February 13, 2013

Mississippi: Cochran Puts Off Re-Election Decision

Mississippi: Cochran Puts Off Re Election Decision

Cochran will decide later this year whether he will seek a seventh term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While several senators have already announced retirement plans ahead of the 2014 cycle, Sen. Thad Cochran said he’s putting off his decision until “the end of the year or the beginning of the next year.”

“I haven’t decided yet — too early,” said the affable Mississippi Republican Wednesday. “I’m deferring making a decision until later in the term.”

Cochran’s measured approach may not be welcome news to ambitious Mississippi Republicans, who have waited decades to run for his seat in this solidly GOP state. Cochran was elected to the Senate in 1978, the first Republican elected to the Senate from Mississippi since reconstruction.

Full story

Romney’s Pollster Warns GOP Members Not to Count on Six-Year Itch

House Republicans got a refresher course in why they lost the White House this morning and a warning to beware of President Barack Obama’s bully pulpit this election cycle.

At their first political conference meeting of the 113th Congress, held at Republican National Committee headquarters a stone’s throw from the Capitol, National Republican Congressional Committee Vice Chairman Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia and top GOP pollster Neil Newhouse told members to be on guard for Obama’s campaign machine.

Westmoreland warned that just because the Obama for America campaign has relaunched as Organizing for Action and Obama is not eligible for re-election does not mean he will not be present on the political scene.

“His attention has gone from getting himself elected to keeping the majority in the Senate and winning the majority in the House,” Westmoreland said in an interview, paraphrasing his remarks. “They need to be prepared for him being involved, because he made it quite clear at their retreat that he wanted his last two years to be like his first two years and that means, of course, having Pelosi as the speaker.”

Westmoreland’s prediction is already ringing true. Organizing for America is planning its first official day of action to back up Obama’s call for gun control measures. Full story

New Jersey: Andrews Defends Booker’s Lautenberg Challenge

New Jersey: Andrews Defends Bookers Lautenberg Challenge

Andrews defended Booker's decision to explore a Senate bid. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Robert E. Andrews defended Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s primary challenge to his fellow New Jersey Democrat, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, on Tuesday.

“I think he’s tried to be respectful of the senator’s choice, but made it clear he’d like to serve in the Senate and I think that’s very legitimate,” Andrews told CQ Roll Call.

Andrews knows what it’s like to be in Booker’s position. In 2008, he challenged Lautenberg in the Democratic primary; he lost by a whopping 24-point margin.

Booker announced his intention to explore a bid for Lautenberg’s seat late last year, when speculation had already started over whether the 89-year-old senator would run again in 2014.

Full story

NRCC Raised $4.4 Million in January

NRCC Raised $4.4 Million in January

The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $4.4 million in January, Stivers announced Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee raised $4.4 million in January.

Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, the committee’s vice chairman for finance, made the announcement Wednesday morning to the House Republican Conference, which responded with cheers, according to a source in the room.

Stivers told House Republicans it was the NRCC’s best haul for a January in an odd-numbered year since 2007.

The NRCC ended last month with $2.8 million in cash on hand.The committee paid off $1 million of its debt in January, leaving it $11 million in debt at the end of that month.

At the conference meeting, a number of members announced sizable donations to the NRCC. Rep. John Campbell of California said he was giving more than $250,000 to the committee.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has not yet released its January fundraising numbers, which are not due to Federal Election Commission until next week.

Iowa: Democrat Murphy Announces Bid for Braley’s Seat

Iowa state Rep. Pat Murphy announced Wednesday that he will seek the 1st District seat, becoming the first Democrat to jump in to what will likely to be a crowded and competitive open-seat race.

The House seat opened last week after Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley announced his intention to vie for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. The Democratic-leaning district in northeastern Iowa is anchored by Cedar Rapids, Dubuque and Waterloo. Full story

Illinois: Schakowsky to Endorse Robin Kelly in Special Election

Illinois: Schakowsky to Endorse Robin Kelly in Special Election

Schakowsky will endorse Kelly on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly has picked up another endorsement from the Illinois congressional delegation in her bid to replace former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., told CQ Roll Call late Tuesday night she will endorse Kelly in the upcoming special election.

“One of the reasons is the gun issue,” Schakowsky said. “She has the view that we need to do some sensible violence prevention legislation.”

“The other two have A ratings from the National Rifle Association,” added the congresswoman, referring to Kelly’s rivals,  former Rep. Debbie Halvorson and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson. “I think that’s an important issue.”

Full story

February 12, 2013

Obama to Create Bipartisan Commission on Voting Problems

President Barack Obama announced his intention to create a nonpartisan commission to “improve the voting experience in America” during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“I’m asking two longtime experts in the field, who, by the way, recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Gov. [Mitt] Romney’s campaign, to lead it,” Obama told lawmakers gathered in the House chamber.

Bob Bauer, a lawyer at Perkins Coie who served as Obama’s White House counsel, also chaired his re-election committee and counsels the Democratic National Committee.

Benjamin Ginsberg, a lawyer at Patton Boggs, advised the Romney campaign and was also national counsel to the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2000 and 2004.

The commission would focus on specific Election Day issues and not delve into more comprehensive voting overhaul efforts, according to media reports.

Obama referenced the need to overhaul voting procedures in both his November victory speech and his inaugural address, saying on Election Day of the long lines: “We need to fix that.” He echoed that sentiment Tuesday evening. Full story

Live Blog: Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address

11:15 p.m.: Thus concludes the State of the Union live blog. Obama delivered a rather energetic speech, with some added policy flairs, such as a proposed minimum wage increase, to his usual government-centered approach. Democrats are likely to be very happy with what they heard, and Republicans not so much, leaving as still unknown the prospects for bipartisan cooperation on looming fiscal issues such as the budget and the debt ceiling.

Rubio’s rebuttal, meanwhile, will initially be remembered for that reach for a gulp of water in the middle of his speech — at least on social media. But for the difficult task that the rebuttal is, Rubio performed capably and probably helped his career because of it.

Good night from Roll Call in Washington.

10:16 p.m.: Obama concludes. Next up, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with the Republican rebuttal.

10:10 p.m.: The president is closing his State of the Union address with an emotional appeal for Congress to take up Democratic gun control legislation that he is pushing. While some proposals have bipartisan support, many of them do not. “They deserve a vote,” is a phrase the president is repeating over and over. “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he says. “The families of Newtown deserve a vote.” — “The families of Aurora deserve a vote.” — The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg …”

This portion of the #SOTU is likely to stick the most with Democrats, at least. Easily the emotional portion of Obama’s address.

10:08 p.m.: “It has been two months since Newtown,” Obama says.

10 p.m.: Obama calls for the federal government to address threats to U.S. cybersecurity, as part of the latter sections of the State of the Union that declared victory over the “core” elements of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons capability. The Iran comment drew the most bipartisan applause. Less noted by the members but sure to generate much opposition from Republicans: the president’s proposal for the U.S. to unilaterally reduce its nuclear weapons stockpile to set an example.

9:45 p.m.: Immigration makes an appearance, and for the first time it appears that most in the chamber, Democrat and Republican, stand and applaud, with some cheering to boot. Interestingly enough, Obama does not call specifically for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants though he suggests that legalization should involve “going to the back of the line” behind those trying emigrate legally.

9:40 p.m.: Speech is full of the usual Obama flourishes — “reasonable” this, “common sense” that — expressions of incredulity that certain issues engender partisanship. But unusual for any president’s State of the Union, far fewer applause interruptions than normally occur. Meanwhile, Biden exhibits his usual earnestness as he looks on. Boehner actually looks less grumpy than in the past.

Full story

Club for Growth Bites Back at Barbour’s Critique

The Club for Growth fired back Tuesday at former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour for discouraging GOP donors, including Congressional aides, from giving to the fiscally conservative organization.

“Haley Barbour is a good guy. When he was thinking of running for President, he was more than pleased to attend the Club for Growth’s winter economic conference, and he had nothing but nice things to say about us!” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement. “Now that he’s back to his more familiar roles as a lobbyist and Republican Party insider, he is singing a different tune. That’s politics.”

The club included this photo of Barbour speaking to that conference in 2011:

Club for Growth Bites Back at Barbours Critique

(Courtesy Club for Growth)

Full story

Shop Talk: Booker Aide Says Finance Director Leaving Campaign, Politics

Shop Talk: Booker Aide Says Finance Director Leaving Campaign, Politics

Booker's finance director has left his Senate campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker‘s Senate campaign fundraiser has suddenly left her position with his nascent Senate campaign to seek a gig outside of politics, his aide confirmed.

Samantha Maltzman left the campaign after less than two weeks on the job, although a Booker aide characterized the departure as amicable.

Maltzman came to the Booker campaign as one of her party’s most prominent finance directors in New Jersey. Her résumé, which CQ Roll Call profiled as part of Booker’s team, includes stints with Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Booker is challenging Lautenberg for the Democratic nomination in 2014, although the five-term senator has not said yet whether he will seek re-election.

Maltzman did not return a request for comment. Full story

NRSC Will Link Incumbent Democrats to Obama Agenda

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran released a memo Tuesday warning that  his committee “is ready to capitalize” on President Barack Obama’s “aggressively liberal and partisan” second-term agenda

In his lengthiest statement since taking the helm of the NRSC, Moran cites Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Dakota, Arkansas and Alaska as examples of states where the committee will actively highlight ties between the president and the Democratic incumbent or candidate.

The NRSC released the Kansas Republican’s memo ahead of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

“The reality is while President Obama and his team burns the political capital that he believes was earned last November, he is lighting an inferno under the electoral prospects for a number Democratic Senate candidates in 2014,” Moran wrote.

Meanwhile, Democratic opposition research firm American Bridge released a video Tuesday morning that features news clips covering Republican infighting. The clips are largely related to a new GOP effort to help nominate the strongest Senate candidates possible, which invited immediate criticism from conservative corners of the party.

February 11, 2013

Massachusetts: Gomez Pulls Papers for GOP Senate Run

Massachusetts Republican Gabriel Gomez, a private equity investor and former Navy SEAL and aircraft carrier pilot, pulled nomination papers Monday for a Senate bid in the special election, a Republican official confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

Gomez will have until Feb. 27 to collect 10,000 valid signatures of Republican and nonpartisan voters to get on the primary ballot — a daunting challenge for any candidate.

There is only one other GOP candidate vying for the open Senate seat who is seen as likely to get on the ballot: state Rep. Dan Winslow, who announced his campaign last week.

Two congressmen, Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch, are squaring off for the Democratic nomination for the seat formerly held by their Democratic colleague, Secretary of State John Kerry.

CQ Roll Call rates the Massachusetts Senate special election as Likely Democratic.

The Boston Globe reported the news about Gomez earlier Monday evening.

South Carolina: Skelly Exits Special Election; Colbert’s Sister Now Top Democratic Contender

Wealthy businessman Martin Skelly on Monday dropped out of the special election for South Carolina’s 1st District and endorsed fellow Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.

“Elizabeth Colbert Busch has demonstrated that she is an outstanding candidate,” Skelly said in a statement released by the Busch campaign. “She inspires both the party faithful and the political center that we need to generate consensus and end gridlock in Congress.”

Busch is now the odds on favorite to win the Democratic nod, although she remains a decided underdog in the special election. Still, she is expected to raise serious money for the race. Her brother is hosting fundraisers in New York City and Charleston, S.C., next week on behalf of her campaign. Full story

Georgia: Price Will Wait on Senate Decision Until May

Georgia: Price Will Wait on Senate Decision Until May

Price will decide later this year about a Senate bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price on Monday announced he would not make a decision on a Senate run until May, citing his responsibilities as vice chairman of the Budget Committee.

“The election of Georgia’s next senator is 21 months away and there is plenty of time for campaigning,” Price said in a statement. “To announce a decision prior to the completion of the work on the debt ceiling and critical fiscal policy in May 2013, would be distracting and unwise. At that time, Betty and I will then be prepared to come to a decision on my candidacy for the U.S. Senate as Georgia’s conservative voice.”

Since Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said he would not run for re-election last month, a number of Peach State congressmen have eyed the seat. Rep. Paul Broun announced his run last week.

But Price’s decision to wait to make a decision could complicate other potential candidates’ strategies. In his statement, Price signaled that his delay was not a sign of weakness.

Full story

Iowa: Democrat Sherzan Announces Bid in 3rd District

Businessman Mike Sherzan, a Democrat, announced Monday that he will run for Iowa’s 3rd District in what could be an open-seat race next year.

“I look forward to meeting with people all across Iowa, working together to begin to break through the old Washington ways, and instead solving problems to move Iowa forward – together,” Sherzan said in a statement.

The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Tom Latham, who has indicated interest in running for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat next year. Latham defeated Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, a Democrat, in a targeted member-vs.-member battle last year. Full story

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