Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 16, 2014

February 27, 2013

Shop Talk: Obama Manager Messina Starts New Political Firm

Shop Talk: Obama Manager Messina Starts New Political Firm

Messina will start his own firm (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign manager, Jim Messina, announced Wednesday the launch of his new political firm, The Messina Group.

The new firm “will employ innovative strategies and techniques developed and utilized during the 2012 election, including the advances in technology and data-analytics that were integral to the campaign’s success,” according to a news release.

The three principles — Messina, Ty Matsdorf and Tara Corrigan — are veterans of Obama presidential campaigns:

  • Prior to the most recent campaign, Messina was White House deputy chief of staff and held a leading role on the 2008 campaign. He is a former Capitol Hill staffer, serving as a top aide for both Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and former Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D. He also worked for Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.
  • Matsdorf most recently was the war room director for American Bridge, an opposition research super PAC, and worked for Obama’s Nevada campaign. Earlier in his career, Matsdorf was a communications director for Baucus.
  • Corrigan was part of Obama’s 2007 effort to win Iowa. She worked on both campaigns, as well as in the political affairs department in the White House.

February 26, 2013

Illinois: Kelly Wins Democratic Primary to Succeed Jackson

Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly won the Democratic nomination in the special election to replace former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. on Tuesday and is now poised to succeed him in Congress.

Kelly had 55 percent, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson had 21 percent and Alderman Anthony Beale had 11 percent, with 63 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.

Kelly’s win also marks a victory for New York City Michael Bloomberg, whose super PAC spent more than $2 million in the race. Bloomberg supports gun control, which became a central issue in the race for the district on Chicago’s south side. The area has endured a spike in gun violence in the past few years.

This was Bloomberg’s first foray into congressional races since the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last year. He spent millions of dollars knocking Halvorson, who received support from the National Rifle Association in her previous races, and boosting Kelly. Full story

Shop Talk: RNC Names Mike Shields as New Chief of Staff

Shop Talk: RNC Names Mike Shields as New Chief of Staff

Shields has a new gig at the RNC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican National Committee named Mike Shields, a longtime House GOP operative, as its new chief of staff on Tuesday.

“Mike brings a wealth of political experience with him to the RNC, having worked on the Hill and in the field, for national committees and at the state level,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

Last cycle, Shields served as political director of the National Republican Congressional Committee — an entity housed in the same building as the RNC. In 2010, Shields ran the NRCC’s independent expenditure arm.

Shields was also one of the final contenders to be National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director.

The RNC’s current chief of staff, Jeff Larson, will continue as a senior adviser to the committee, according to a press release.

Politico first reported the Shields news.

McConnell Campaign Slams Liberal Group’s Tweets About His Wife

McConnell Campaign Slams Liberal Groups Tweets About His Wife

McConnell's team criticized tweets from a local liberal group that targeted the lawmaker's wife. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

UPDATED 4:30 p.m. | The campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky slammed tweets from a liberal group criticizing his wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.

On Feb. 14, Progress Kentucky tweeted: “This woman has the ear of @McConnellPress–she’s his #wife. May explain why your job moved to #China!”

The tweet linked to a fringe website alleging that Chao wanted to undermine American workers.

Another tweet said: “China Premier grateful to McConnell father-in-law/@KYGOP contributor-4 his role in developing China industry.” That linked to a press release from China State Shipbuilding Corporation.

The news was first reported by Louisville NPR affiliate WFPL.

McConnell Campaign Manager Jesse Benton criticized the Progress Kentucky tweets in a Tuesday statement.

“Secretary Chao and her family are shining examples of the American Dream: salt-of-the-earth folks who escaped oppression, came here with nothing, joined our great melting pot, worked exceptionally hard to build a thriving business, and then dedicated so much of their lives to giving back,” he said. “It is unconscionable that anyone would use blatant race-baiting for political gain. Progress Kentucky should be ashamed of themselves.”

Progress Kentucky Executive Director Shawn Reilly denied charges of race-baiting and said Benton’s statement is “an attempt to divert attention from the fact that Mitch McConnell has engaged in the selling of the American middle class overseas for decades.”

McConnell is up for re-election in 2014, and Democrats are recruiting actress Ashley Judd to challenge him.

For her part, Judd tweeted Tuesday: “Whatever the intention, whatever the venue, whomever the person, attacks or comments on anyone’s ethnicity are wrong & patently unacceptable.”

CQ Roll Call rates the Kentucky Senate race as Likely Republican.

Georgia: Potential Senate Field Graded in New Club for Growth Scorecard

The influential Club for Growth released a scorecard Tuesday showing how faithfully every member of Congress hewed to the group’s fiscally conservative views during votes in 2012.

The club uses the scores as part of the process to judge whether they will endorse a candidate — a move that sometimes results in millions of independent expenditures on the candidate’s behalf.

But the 2012 scores  — from one to 100 percent with 100 percent being the most “pro-growth” — are particularly illuminating in states like Georgia, where a number of Republican House members are angling for potential Senate bids:

  • Rep. Paul Broun, the only officially declared candidate for the open Senate seat currently held by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., scored 100 percent in 2012. He has a lifetime score of 99 percent.
  • Rep. Phil Gingrey, a likely candidate, got 89 percent in 2012 and has a lifetime score of 85 percent.
  • Rep. Jack Kingston, another likely candidate, got 85 percent in 2012 and has a lifetime score of 82 percent.
  • Rep. Tom Price, a potential candidate, scored 86 percent last year and has a lifetime score of 94 percent. Price said he won’t make a decision about a campaign until May.
  • Rep. Tom Graves, who may also run for Senate, scored 93 percent, in 2012. He has a lifetime score of 96 percent.

South Carolina: Turner Launches New TV Ad as Special Election Heats Up (VIDEO)

Congressional candidate Teddy Turner launched a potent new ad Tuesday, looking to differentiate himself from a crowded field of Republicans with South Carolina’s 1st District special election primary just weeks away.

“We’ve come a long way. I know I’ve spent too much, but what’s a few trillion? It was all for you,” a Lothario-looking politician in a candle-lit room says in the spot. “But I’ve changed. I’ll keep my promises this time. It’ll be different. I’m sorry for all the mistakes I’ve made. Sugar, just give me one more chance.”

A female narrator then chimes in as video of framed photos of a number of the other GOP candidates, including former Gov. Mark Sanford, comes on the screen. “Break up with career politicians!” she says. “The right guy: Teddy Turner. Conservative Republican. Economics teacher. Not a politician.”

Full story

NRCC Announces Regional Chairmen; DCCC Names Frankel, Pingree to ‘Women LEAD’ Effort

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced Tuesday its new regional chairmen for the 2014 cycle. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named Reps. Chellie Pingree of Maine and Lois Frankel of Florida as leaders of the committee’s “Women LEAD” campaign, aimed at recruiting and supporting female candidates.

The NRCC regional chairmen are:

  • Alabama Rep. Martha Roby, who will serve as the Southern regional chairwoman
  • Montana Rep. Steve Daines, who will serve as the central west regional chairman
  • Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who will serve as the Midwest regional chairman
  • California Rep. Devin Nunes, who will serve as the western regional chairman
  • New York Rep. Tom Reed, who will serve as the northeast regional chairman Full story

Arkansas: Boehner to Fundraise for Tom Cotton

Arkansas: Boehner to Fundraise for Tom Cotton

Cotton will have some fundraising help. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner will attend a Wednesday fundraiser for freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., in Washington, D.C., CQ Roll Call has learned.

With his compelling biography, conservative credentials and fundraising prowess, Cotton is one of the highest-profile members of the freshman class.

“Cotton brings energy and enthusiasm to the House Republican Conference, and he’s definitely someone with leadership potential,” emailed a GOP aide, who confirmed the Boehner event was taking place.

The fundraiser with the Speaker will take place at the Capitol Hill Club on Wednesday evening.

Republicans on the other side of the Capitol complex have been giving Cotton attention too. Despite only having taken the oath of office last month, Republicans are recruiting him to run against Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., in 2014. Full story

February 25, 2013

Nebraska: State Auditor Considers National Campaign

Republican state Auditor Mike Foley announced last week that he is considering a number of options for his political future.

He is currently mulling runs for the Senate, governor’s office, the House or another term as state auditor.

“All those options are being discussed and prayed about and thought about,” he told Nebraska Radio Network.

A House seat would open up if Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry decides to run for the Senate. Other names on the GOP radar include state Attorney General Jon Bruning and Treasurer Don Stenberg, who both lost Senate bids in 2012; Republican Reps. Adrian Smith and Lee Terry; businessman Pete Ricketts; and former state Treasurer Shane Osborn.

This is an open-seat race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Mike Johanns; CQ Roll Call rates it as Safe Republican.

West Virginia: McKinley Opts Not to Run Against Capito

West Virginia: McKinley Opts Not to Run Against Capito

McKinley will not run for Senate in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. David B. McKinley finally declared what most West Virginia Republicans anticipated — that he would not run against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito for the state’s GOP Senate nomination.

“We were tempted by the devil,” McKinley told the Charleston Daily Mail editorial board Feb. 22. “I finally said no, this is Shelley. I went to Shelley and said, ‘Have I been tempted? Yeah. But I’m going to back you.’”

Only days before, former Democratic Sen. Carte P. Goodwin told West Virginia Metro-News that he, too, would sit out the Senate race.

Capito is the only organized Republican contender at this time. Democrats considering runs include businessman Ralph Baxter, state Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Robin Davis, Rep. Nick J. Rahall II and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

CQ Roll Call rates the open-seat race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller as a Tossup.

Illinois: Voters Head to Primary Polls to Replace Jackson

Chicago-area voters head to the primary polls Tuesday to select former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s successor.

Among the Democrats in the race, Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly is the candidate most political observers expect to win, but special elections are unpredictable. There are narrower paths to victory for former Rep. Debbie Halvorson and Alderman Anthony Beale.

Adding to the uncertainty in the 2nd District special election is a crowded lower tier of candidates. The winner of the Democratic primary is all but certain to win the general election in this heavily Democratic district. Full story

Shop Talk: Manchin Picks New Chief of Staff

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia announced Monday he has tapped Hayden Rogers to be his new chief of staff. Rogers was a candidate for Congress in 2012 and previously served as chief of staff to former Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C..

Rogers, an affable, garrulous 42-year-old, hewed an independent profile on the campaign trail, running for North Carolina’s 11th District. He appears to be a good fit for Manchin, one of the Democratic senators most comfortable bucking his party.

“I’m thrilled by the opportunity,” Rogers said in short interview with CQ Roll Call. He called Manchin “pragmatic, practical in his thinking” and someone who is good at “building consensus to get things done.”

Manchin praised Rogers in a statement.

“Hayden brings to our office a unique range of talents and a commonsense, solutions-driven approach that I truly admire,” he said. “He embodies the values important to West Virginians and has the knowledge, experience and expertise to lead our team effectively.”

Rogers, a graduate of Princeton University, officially started his new position last week.

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Contribution Limits Case

Advocates of campaign finance restrictions breathed a small sigh of relief Monday when the Supreme Court declined to take up a challenge to the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates and political parties in a case known as U.S. v. Danielczyk.

The high court made news last week when it agreed to consider a separate challenge to the aggregate limit on how much an individual may donate to political parties, candidates and PACs in one election cycle. The court’s decision to take up that case, known as McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, had triggered speculation that direct campaign contribution restrictions may be in danger, too.

But the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the Danielczyk case, first reported by SCOTUSBlog, cheered defenders of political money regulations, who’ve been playing defense since the court’s landmark 2010 ruling to throw out long-standing limits on independent corporate and union spending.

The Campaign Legal Center applauded the decision not to take up U.S. v. Danielczyk, which turned on criminal allegations that donors had directed illegal corporate contributions to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The decision “does nothing to mitigate the court’s disturbing decision last week to revisit the aggregate contributions passed in the wake of the Watergate scandals,” which, if reversed, would enable individuals to make aggregate donations into the millions, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel Tara Malloy said in a statement. “But at least today the court has decided to stay its deregulatory hand.”

 

Shop Talk: EMILY’s List Snags Marcy Stech

Marcy Stech is leaving Priorities USA Action, the top-grossing Democratic super PAC in the 2012 election cycle, to be national press secretary at EMILY’s List.

Stech joins EMILY’s List on the heels of a banner year for the organization that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights. EMILY’s List helped elect 19 new women to the House and nine female Senate candidates, including six incumbents and three newcomers.

Stech signs on as national press secretary and succeeds Jess McIntosh, who moved up to replace Jen Bluestein as communications director. Bluestein is serving as a senior adviser to Americans for Responsible Solutions, the new gun safety super PAC run by ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, Mark Kelly.

Stech has “an incredible wealth of experience fighting for progressive causes,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement.

Stech’s former posts include working on the 2010 campaign of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and in the public affairs division of the strategic communications firm The Glover Park Group. Priorities USA Action raised $79 million in the previous cycle to help re-elect President Barack Obama.

Kentucky: Liberal Group Launches Second Spot Targeting McConnell on Guns

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal third-party group, launched its second gun control advertisement aimed at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Monday.

The spot opens with Gary Nutt of Cub Run, Ky., holding a rifle and walking down a road.

“I am a Vietnam vet and a hunter,” he says. “I only shot my rifle one time this last season. One shot, one deer. But I’d be a pretty bad hunter if I needed an assault rifle to shoot that buck.”

Nutt goes on to say that he supports an assault weapons ban. “The NRA and the gun manufacturers have given a ton of money to Sen. Mitch McConnell,” Nutt says. “And now he’s blocking reform. Senator, whose side are you on?”

Full story

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