Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 13, 2015

October 22, 2013

Special Election Gives Florida Democrats a Pick-Up Opportunity

A special election in Florida will present House Democrats with their best test case yet this cycle to see if they can put a dent in the GOP’s majority — or perhaps even take the speaker’s gavel.

Later this week, Floridians will lay to rest the dean of their congressional delegation, Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young. Even as respects are being paid, both parties will be gearing up to elect his successor in the 13th District.

In recent cycles, Young’s political dominance papered over the competitive nature of the district. He never won re-election with less than 56 percent of the vote, but President Barack Obama carried the district in both of his national campaigns. Full story

The 7 Republican Senators Most Vulnerable to a Primary

Enzi is vulnerable to a primary challenge in 2014. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Hard-line conservatives are rising out of the ashes of a weekslong government shutdown, emboldened by the possibility of adding to their ranks in the Senate next year — whether by picking up Democrat-held seats or taking out Republican incumbents.

Just two Republican senators have lost in primaries in the last two election cycles, but that’s not stopping a growing number of intraparty challengers this cycle. Conservative third-party groups and candidates hope to give more backup to folks like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, who led an effort to defund the health care law.

The GOP brand overall may have taken a significant hit this month and caused at least some concern within the party about obtaining or keeping the majority in either chamber in the next couple of election cycles. But the shutdown only fueled challenges to sitting Republicans.

It’s still too early to know exactly how competitive many of the challengers can be. At this point, there is a big difference in the competitiveness of the races from the top three to bottom three on this list. And as the most recent fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission illustrated, nearly all of the incumbents’ opponents are starting out in deep financial holes.

Still, with outside groups such as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund beginning to engage, a challenger’s money isn’t the only threat — and any of these races could theoretically take off.

Here are the seven Republican senators most vulnerable to a primary challenge, in order: Full story

Alan Grayson Ties Tea Party to KKK (Updated)

Grayson sent a controversial fundraising email. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:11 p.m. | Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., an outspoken liberal, is taking heat from Republicans for raising money off an email that associates the tea party with the Ku Klux Klan.

On Monday, a Grayson fundraising email sent to supporters features an image of two KKK members in full regalia looking at a flaming cross, which is used as the “T” in tea party. “Now You Know What the ‘T’ Stands For,” reads a title under the image.

Full story

Senate Conservatives Fund Endorses in Nebraska Senate Race

The Senate Conservatives Fund has endorsed Midland University President Ben Sasse in the GOP primary for Nebraska’s open Senate seat.

On Tuesday, the conservative group backed Sasse, choosing him over another top candidate, Shane Osborn, a former state treasurer and war hero, in this unpredictable race to replace retiring Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb.

Full story

October 21, 2013

GOP Retirement Sparks Competitive House Race in Arkansas

Griffin will not seek a third term. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two-term Rep. Tim Griffin’s unexpected retirement announcement will likely spur a crowded GOP primary for a competitive seat that Democrats hope to pick up in 2014.

Democrats had been targeting Arkansas’ 2nd District even before the Republican lawmaker announced Monday he wasn’t running for re-election. On Sunday, Griffin alerted GOP leadership of his retirement after just two terms in the House, according to a national Republican operative.

Hours after Griffin’s announcement, local Republican operatives say there are now a host of potentially strong candidates eyeing bids to succeed him. Some of those GOP candidates are: Full story

Democratic Super PAC Ad Hits Congressman for Shutdown Vote

A Democratic super PAC hit the airwaves Monday with an ad attacking Rep. Steve Southerland II, criticizing the vulnerable Florida Republican for voting against last week’s bill that ended the government shutdown.

House Majority PAC, which aims to support House candidates, put $70,000 behind the two-week ad television buy.

Full story

Club for Growth Boosts Senate GOP Primary Challenger on TV

The Club for Growth will hit the Mississippi television airwaves Tuesday to boost a GOP primary challenger to Sen. Thad Cochran.

The conservative group’s ad — which comes from its political action arm — declines to mention Cochran, who has not yet announced whether he is seeking re-election. Instead, it introduces his challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, to the state and sells him as “the new strong, conservative leader Mississippi needs in the U.S. Senate.” Full story

Tim Griffin to Retire After 2 Terms (Updated)

Griffin will not return to Congress after 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Two-term Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Ark., announced Monday that he will not seek a third term in the House, according to a local news outlet.

Griffin, who was elected in 2010 in the tea party wave, told Talk Business Arkansas that he decided not to run in order to spend more time with his family, including his son, who was seen around the Capitol during the shutdown debate.

Full story

October 19, 2013

Riser, McAllister Advance to Runoff in Louisiana House Special Election

GOP state Sen. Neil Riser and Republican businessman Vance McAllister advanced to a runoff Saturday night in a special election in Louisiana’s 5th District, rising above a crowded field of 14 candidates from all over the political spectrum.

Riser received 33 percent, with 88 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. McAllister captured the second spot in the runoff, garnering 18 percent.

This is the contest to replace former Rep. Rodney Alexander, who resigned in September to take a job in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s cabinet.

Full story

October 18, 2013

Bill Young Dies at Age 82 (Updated)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8:06 p.m. | Rep. C.W. Bill Young, the longtime Florida Republican who announced his retirement last week, died Friday after a long hospital stay due to a back injury. He was 82.

“U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young (FL-13) passed away this evening at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the company of his family,” said a statement from his family. “The cause of death was complications related to a chronic injury. Information on services will be forthcoming.”

Young, the longest-serving Republican in the House, has been receiving rehabilitation for his back at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He announced his retirement last week, telling the Tampa Bay Times, “It’s time.”

Full story

Special Teams: The Louisiana House Special

In less than 24 hours, voters will go to the polls to choose a successor to former Rep. Rodney Alexander of Louisiana’s 5th District.

Both state and national operatives are involved in the crowded field. The race is highly unpredictable and the possibility of a Democrat making the runoff is not altogether impossible. But because this seat is rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call, CQ Roll Call profiled the teams behind the GOP campaigns.

Polls close at 8 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Saturday. The anticipated runoff will be Nov. 16.

Here is who is involved in the race, in alphabetical order by candidate: Full story

Cruz-Aligned Group Endorses McConnell Challenger

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Conservatives Fund, a group Sen. Ted Cruz helped raise money for by appearing in an anti-Obamacare ad, has for the second time in two days endorsed a challenger to a Republican senator — this time the minority leader of the Senate.

The move was not surprising — the Jim DeMint-founded group announced Friday that it will support Louisville businessman Matt Bevin’s uphill primary battle against Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. On Thursday, the SCF endorsed state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s primary challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

The endorsements are the latest addition to an increasingly awkward position for Cruz, the Texas Republican who serves as a vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which supports all incumbents, including McConnell. Full story

House Democrats Break Fundraising Record in September

Israel is the DCCC chairman. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced on Friday that it raised $8.4 million in September, a record monthly haul for the committee.

The fundraising haul brings the DCCC’s total cash on hand to $21.6 million, double the amount of cash it had at the same point last year, according to a DCCC aide. Full story

October 17, 2013

Tea Party Candidate Challenges Thad Cochran

Cochran is considering retirement. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Thursday afternoon that he will challenge six-term Sen. Thad Cochran, potentially setting up a dynamic and divisive GOP primary in the Magnolia State in 2014.

McDaniel kicks off his bid with support from several national conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project.

The seat is safely in GOP hands, but Cochran is still mum on whether he will seek re-election. He’s said he will make a decision by the end of the year. A longtime appropriator, Cochran has leveraged his seniority to bring home funds for decades.

Full story

October 16, 2013

Cory Booker Elected Senator in New Jersey

Booker greets a supporter after casting his own vote in the special election. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the Twitter star with a Rolodex of Hollywood contacts, was elected to the Senate on Wednesday following a New Jersey special election campaign that lacked suspense.

After leading in the polls by double digits for the duration, the Democrat handily defeated conservative activist Steve Lonegan. The Associated Press called the race for Booker with 55 percent of precincts reporting, and the mayor ahead 55 percent to 44 percent.

Booker will fill the remaining term of the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J. The senator’s June 3 death led to the interim appointment of Republican Jeff Chiesa and a special election four months later.

The rise to the Senate is the latest move for a politician whose ambitions are believed to reach even higher. He has already been mentioned as a potential vice presidential running mate in 2016. Full story

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