Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 29, 2015

September 17, 2013

Special-Election Candidate Trashes Obamacare in New TV Ad | #AL01

Former Republican National Committee aide Wells Griffith, a candidate in Alabama’s 1st District special election, released his second television spot on Tuesday — one week out from the primary.

In the 30-second spot, Griffith throws a thick pile of Obamacare pages in the trash bin and says that repealing the law is why he decided to run for the seat. The campaign spent about $18,000 on the ad, according to a source with knowledge of ad buys in the district.

“This document, Obamacare, is why I’m running for Congress. Because we won’t get back to creating jobs until these thousands of pages of economic destruction are relegated to the trash pile of history,” Griffith says in the ad.

Full story

House Republican Super PAC Hires New Spokeswoman

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that helps House Republicans, announced Tuesday that GOP operative Emily Davis has joined the group as deputy communications director.

Davis is a veteran of former Republican Sen. George Allen’s 2012 campaign, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the office of Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas. Full story

House Candidate ‘Comes Out’ in TV Advertisement | #MA05

State Rep. Carl Sciortino, a candidate in next month’s 5th District special election in Massachusetts, released his first campaign ad of the primary cycle on Tuesday, marking the second candidate in the five-person field to go up on air.

The 60-second ad will begin airing Wednesday on MSNBC, CNN and Comedy Central, according to the campaign. A campaign aide said they have bought more than $100,000 of airtime but did not disclose an exact dollar amount. The campaign will be on air through the duration of the primary cycle, which ends Oct. 15.

In the ad, Sciortino, who is openly gay, comes out as a “Massachusetts liberal” to his father, a member of the tea party. In a witty back and forth, Sciortino’s father describes the progressive policies Sciortino has worked on during his time in the Massachusetts state House.

“This one drives him crazy,” Sciortino says, to which his father replies, “He wants to go to Congress to take on the NRA and the tea party.”

Full story

Natalie Tennant Enters West Virginia Senate Race | #WVSEN

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant announced her campaign for Senate on Tuesday morning, filling in one of the final holes on Democrats’ recruitment map for the 2014 cycle.

Her entrance into the race marks the start of the last chapter of this cycle’s recruitment season for Senate races. Democrats cannot lose more than five seats and retain their Senate majority, but recruitment in three of those open-seat races — South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana — has complicated their efforts until recently. Full story

September 16, 2013

First Candidate on Television in Massachusetts Special Election | #MA05

State Sen. Katherine Clark, one of five Democrats in the Massachusetts 5th District special election, will air her first television ad on Tuesday, according to information obtained exclusively by CQ Roll Call.

The campaign plans to run ads through the Oct. 15 primary, according to a source with knowledge of the ad buy. The initial, approximately $60,000 buy will keep Clark’s spot on the airwaves Tuesday through Sept. 23 on six cable markets in the district: Cambridge, Lexington, Malden, Newton, Revere and Woburn.

Clark’s ad comes as the candidates are fighting for attention from voters, who are inundated with ads from a high-profile mayoral race in nearby Boston. She  is the first candidate to go on air in the five-person Democratic primary field. The five candidates are seeking to replace Edward J. Markey, the district’s longtime member of Congress who was elected to the Senate in June following a separate special election.

Full story

Republican Blasts Spending ‘Boondoggles’ in Special Election Spot | #AL01

Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne released his second advertisement in the crowded special primary for Alabama’s 1st District on Monday —  a week before voters head to the polls.

The $60,000 buy, split between broadcast and cable television, seeks to contrast Byrne with President Barack Obama by citing government spending on “robotic squirrels,” “money for a circus foundation,” and a “futuristic food menu from Mars.”

“Obama’s wasted billions of dollars on boondoggles,” Byrne says in the spot that will run through the Sept. 24 GOP primary, according to his campaign.

Full story

Jennifer Granholm Endorses Democrat in House Race | #MI14

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm urged her fellow Democrats to support state Rep. Rudy Hobbs’ bid for an open House seat in Detroit.

“Rudy is exactly the right person to represent this diverse district,” she wrote in a Monday email to Hobbs’ supporters. “Nowhere will you find a candidate with the breadth of experience, passion, dedication and deep roots that Rudy has.” Full story

September 13, 2013

Democrats Land Recruit for West Virginia Senate Race | #WVSEN

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, a Democrat, is expected to roll out her campaign for the open-seat Senate race next week, according to West Virginia MetroNews.

Her candidacy comes as good news for Senate Democrats, who were hunting for a top candidate to run for the competitive seat.

West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio declined to confirm any impending announcement to CQ Roll Call but said Tennant had been widely recruited from within the state to run. A spokesperson for Tennant could not be reached for comment.

Full story

Iowa GOP Chairman Takes Heat for Changing Convention Date | #IASEN

Grassley is frustrated with his party's rescheduled nominating convention. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Some Iowa Republicans are frustrated with their state party chairman, A.J. Spiker, for changing the GOP’s nominating convention date — and at least one top local operative has called for his resignation.

By pushing back the party’s nominating convention by a month, Democrats will have an advantage in a rare open Senate race, Republicans argue. Spiker has called a Sept. 23 meeting for the state central committee to address the convention date, according to The Iowa Republican blog. CQ Roll Call confirmed the meeting.

In Iowa, candidates must receive 35 percent of the vote in a primary or delegates decide the nominee in an unpredictable convention process. (Read Roll Call’s primer on the situation here.) At least six Republicans have announced bids to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, almost ensuring a nomination convention will be held in the Hawkeye State for the first time since 2002.

Full story

Conservative PAC Wades Into Alabama Special | #AL01

Citizens United Political Victory Fund, a PAC that supports candidates who embody conservative principles, announced on Friday that it will run a $25,000 radio ad in support of Quin Hillyer, a candidate in Alabama’s upcoming 1st District special election.

The 30-second radio ad, which will run up until a day before the Sept. 24 primary, features former Sen. Rick Santorum touting Hillyer’s conservative values. Santorum endorsed Hillyer’s campaign early in the special election.

“Hi, this is Senator Rick Santorum and I’m proud to support a true conservative – Quin Hillyer for Congress – because he shares my values,” Santorum says in the ad.

McConnell Touts Obamacare Opposition in Fundraising Appeal | #KYSEN

With the subject line “I’m Still Fighting Against Obamacare,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell laid out his record of working against President Barack Obama’s health care law in a lengthy fundraising appeal to supporters Thursday night.

In the face of attacks from a Republican primary challenger in Kentucky regarding his conservative credentials, the McConnell campaign distributed the email Thursday night — a day after the Republican leader introduced an amendment to the energy bill that would delay implementation of the individual mandate. He also reminded supporters that he led the effort in 2009 for unanimous GOP opposition to Obamacare. Full story

Byrne Leads Special Election Fundraising Race | #AL01

Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne far outraised the crowded GOP primary field in the special election to replace former Rep. Jo Bonner in Alabama’s 1st District.

Byrne, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2010, raised $241,363 between July 1 and Sept. 4 and has $183,629 cash on hand going into the Sept. 24 primary, according to his filing with the Federal Elections Commission.

Byrne’s haul is nearly $80,000 more than former Republican National Committee aide Wells Griffith. He raised the second-highest amount at $162,250 in the same period and has $87,730 in cash on hand, according to his FEC filing.

Full story

This Cycle’s Top 8 Most Fascinating Recruits (So Far)

Walter, a former star quarterback at Arizona State University who went on to play for the Oakland Raiders, is aiming to unseat Sinema. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images File Photo)

A beekeeper, a Gitmo commander and a Bosnian war refugee all want the same thing. It’s not a riddle; it’s the 2014 election cycle.

Congressional candidates often boast a résumé that includes time in local office, terms in the legislature or experience running a business. It’s a formula that instantly boosts name identification with voters.

But the cast of congressional candidates usually offers some upstarts — people with an unusual background, a unique curriculum vitae or an unconventional motivation that gives them a shot at Congress.

Of course, a special résumé does not translate to victory. Several of last cycle’s most-hyped candidates — including Ret. Air Force Col. Martha E. McSally, an Arizona Republican, and former astronaut Jose M. Hernandez, a California Democrat — lost their House races, to Ron Barber and Jeff Denham, respectively. (McSally is running again in 2014).

But an out-of-the-box background can help a candidate break through a tough field. Just ask the former world champion USA Volleyball team member, the double-amputee war hero or the reindeer farmer who won House races last cycle.

In no special order, here are several of this election’s most fascinating candidates for Congress: Full story

September 12, 2013

Alaska GOP Primary Set to Expand #AKSEN

Updated 1:22 p.m. | Republican Dan Sullivan resigned his post as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources on Thursday and is set to launch a bid for Senate.

Sullivan consultant Art Hackney said Sullivan would file for the race no later than Sept. 24, the date Sullivan’s resignation becomes effective. He will join Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller in a competitive nomination battle to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell announced Sullivan’s departure in a press release on Thursday, including a copy of Sullivan’s resignation letter.

“As I explore new opportunities and challenges in the next phase of my life, I intend to seek ways to continue to serve my fellow Alaskans,” Sullivan wrote. Full story

Conservative Preacher Joins North Carolina Senate Primary | #NCSEN

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

The Rev. Mark Harris told a meeting of more than 200 supporters in North Carolina Thursday that he will formally launch a Senate campaign on Oct. 2, according to his consultant Tom Perdue.

Speaking to the group in Clemmons, a suburb of Winston-Salem, Harris confirmed that after 117 meetings during a 70-county listening tour this summer, he has decided to challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

According to Perdue, a longtime consultant to Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Harris also announced that former Rep. Robin Hayes, who most recently served as state party chairman, and longtime state political activist Mary Frances Forrester would chair the campaign.

“Now Mark is the conservative in this campaign,” Perdue told CQ Roll Call. Full story

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