Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 28, 2014

January 15, 2013

Shop Talk: Democratic Polling Firms Anzalone Liszt, Grove Insight Merge

Democratic pollsters John Anzalone, Jeff Liszt and Lisa Grove announced Tuesday morning that their two firms, Anzalone Liszt Research and Grove Insight, will merge to form Anzalone Liszt Grove Research.

According to a press release announcement, the three “collaborated closely for the first time” in 2012 on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Anzalone Liszt Research polled in Virginia, Florida and Nevada, while Grove Insight concentrated on “polling and focus groups for women’s outreach.”

“Lisa Grove is not only the pre-eminent pollster for progressive issue advocacy, she’s one of the best people in the business,” Anzalone said. “We’re excited about a partnership that will bring new expertise, a progressive client base, and excellent service for clients of both our firms. Just as important, we plan on having a lot of fun together.”

“I couldn’t be happier to join such a smart, thoughtful, dedicated group of people,” Grove said. “There is a reason President Obama tapped their expertise for two cycles running — not only do they know how to get the win, they bring joy to the process.”

The new firm will have offices in Washington, D.C.; New York City; Lana’i City, Hawaii; and Montgomery, Ala.

West Virginia: Caperton Says He Is Not Interested in Senate Seat

Former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton indicated Monday that he would not run for Senate next year in an interview with the local radio outlet MetroNews.

“I think I had a great eight years as governor, and I think that’s probably where my political career began and will probably end,” the 72-year-old Democrat said. Caperton served as governor from 1989 to 1997.

The list of candidates interested has been steadily expanding since Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller announced his retirement on Jan. 11. Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito announced her campaign for the seat in late November.

Among the well-known Democrats mulling the race are former Sen. Carte P. Goodwin, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, state Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis and former state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Callaghan.

New Jersey: Booker Says Talk of Senate Campaign Is Premature

New Jersey: Booker Says Talk of Senate Campaign Is Premature

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In at least his third national television appearance in about 36 hours, Newark Mayor Cory Booker attempted to downplay his nascent Senate bid on MSNBC’s “The Last Word.”

“This is really not an issue right now. In order to stay in compliance with the Federal Election Commission, I can’t even do the due diligence of research, of travel, I can’t even go down to D.C. to meet with people from my mayoral account. I have to file something,” Booker said in a Monday evening interview.

“This is 18 months away. It’s a long time. All of New Jersey, we should not be talking about Senate races!” he added. “We have two great senators doing a great job for us, fighting the good fight on critical issues from guns to Sandy aid. … We don’t really need a distraction right now over a Senate race. It’s not even an election year.”

At issue is the fact that until Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg announces his retirement, Booker has essentially launched a primary challenge of the 88-year-old incumbent. The move sparked anger within Lautenberg’s camp and within New Jersey Democratic circles.

Booker indicated he had agreed to the Monday night MSNBC television appearance to discuss gun violence.

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January 14, 2013

Five Races to Watch in 2013

After a hard-fought and highly charged presidential battle in 2012 — not to mention Congressional races and redistricting — one might hope that 2013 would provide a respite from campaign politics. No such luck.

The transition from the first Obama administration to the second is expected to produce at least one high-profile Senate special election (in Massachusetts). More specials could be around the corner if the president looks to Congress to fill other Cabinet vacancies.

There are House specials under way as well due to resignations, giving no rest for the weary political class — and a continued revenue stream for a small handful of campaign consultants.

The 2013 specials are in addition to the two off-year gubernatorial races on tap this year in Virginia and New Jersey: two states worth watching for very different reasons. Virginia, especially, will be fascinating to watch, and the battle in the commonwealth ranks No. 1 on our list.
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West Virginia: Democrats Game Out Senate Primary

West Virginia: Democrats Game Out Senate Primary

Sen. Jay Rockefeller is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In the days after Sen. Jay Rockefeller announced his retirement, Democrats have been gaming out how a primary to replace him might play out.

The list of names circulating is so long it is mind-numbing. On Friday, both CQ Roll Call and The Charleston Gazette threw a number of new contenders into the mix. The Charleston paper wrote that former Gov. Gaston Caperton is “at the top of the list” of Democratic contenders. Whether he runs will influence the rest of the field, according to the paper.

But some Democrats have wondered whether he has been out of politics for too long — he left office in the late 1990s.

Because this is the first real open-seat Senate race in West Virginia since 1984, it should be expected that so many names have surfaced. But just because names are floating around does not mean they will make it to the ballot, especially when it comes to Democratic Senate primaries. Last cycle, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee made its candidate preferences known in several states and there were very few, if any, competitive Democratic Senate primaries.

So far, Mountain State operatives say the DSCC has not sent any signals.

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Iowa: Braley’s Gubernatorial Aspirations and Tea Leaves for Harkin’s Re-Election Decision

Iowa: Braleys Gubernatorial Aspirations and Tea Leaves for Harkins Re Election Decision

Iowa Democrats are publicly pushing for Braley to run for governor in the state's largest newspaper. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley has stepped up his interest in running for governor of Iowa in 2014, according to a weekend report in the Des Moines Register.

The four-term lawmaker has long eyed statewide office, but it has been unclear whether Braley would try to run for governor or Senate in 2014. Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad, a Republican, has not announced yet whether he will seek another term.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin has not said definitively whether he will run for re-election in 2014. But Braley’s focus on the gubernatorial race comes at a confluence of events that could indicate Harkin is leaning toward running for another term:

  • Instead of keeping their powder dry this early in the cycle, Iowa Democrats are publicly pushing Braley to run for governor in the state’s largest newspaper. 
  • Last week, Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, told a local newspaper, “I have seen no indication that [Harkin] is not going to run.” In recent years, Grassley and Harkin have not campaigned against each other — although neither has had a competitive re-election race for at least a decade.
  • Harkin keeps bringing in big bucks for his campaign. He will host a fundraiser next month at a Lady Gaga concert. Politicians deplore fundraising, so members looking at retirement generally avoid raising money because they don’t need it anymore. Of course, it’s possible Harkin is a Lady Gaga fan.
  • Either way, money talks — and Harkin reported $2.7 million in the bank at the end of September. That’s the second-highest cash on hand of any Democrat up for re-election in 2014. That kind of figure often — but not always — indicates a senator is gearing up for a big campaign.

So does all this point to Harkin running for a sixth term? Who knows — but it seems Braley and other Iowa Democrats might think so.

South Carolina: Jenny Sanford Not Running for Congress

Sanford vs. Sanford? Not going to happen.

Jenny Sanford, the ex-wife of former South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford, said today that she would not be running for the state’s open 1st district, according to The Associated Press.

“The idea of killing myself to run for a seat for the privilege of serving in a dysfunctional body under John Boehner when I have an eighth-grader at home just really doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

Jenny Sanford had earlier told CQ Roll Call that she was considering a bid for the seat, previously held by now-Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican.

Mark Sanford, a two-term former governor and three-term former Congressman, looks poised to announce his bid in the coming days and would enter the race as the immediate front-runner, in spite of his well-publicized infidelities.

A number of other serious candidates are eyeing or have announced for the race for this safe Republican seat.

January 13, 2013

Harry Reid Disavows Report Linking Him to Bribery Case

Harry Reid Disavows Report Linking Him to Bribery Case

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke days of silence on Sunday evening to deny any knowledge or involvement in a Utah case in which a man claims to have funneled money to others in an attempt to get the Nevada Democrat to intervene in a Federal Trade Commission case.

“Senator Reid has no knowledge or involvement regarding Mr. Johnson’s case,” a statement from Reid’s office said. “These unsubstantiated allegations implying Senator Reid’s involvement are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true.”

A Utah man told federal investigators that he channeled money through the state’s new attorney general in a bid to convince Reid to intervene in stopping an FTC investigation against him.

“The truth is the worst thing I think I’ve done was I paid money knowing it was going to influence Harry Reid,” Jeremy Johnson told the Salt Lake Tribune. “So I’ve felt all along that I’ve committed bribery of some sort there.” Full story

New Jersey: Booker Keeps Options Open

Newark Mayor Cory Booker would not rule out a primary challenge against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg during an interview Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

“I’m not ruling out anything right now, but I think it’s premature to be speculative,” he said.

Moderator David Gregory asked whether there have been any missteps in the early groundwork of the Booker campaign. Booker announced in December that he was seriously exploring a Senate run and filed papers with the Federal Election Commission on Friday. Lautenberg is up for re-election and has yet to announce his plans.

“No. Again, this is really early,” Booker responded. “We’ve reached out to him. We even had a trip down here to speak with him, but he wasn’t able to speak.”

The context of the line of questioning includes angry, blind quotes from the Lautenberg camp about Booker to Politico on Friday.

“This campaign is over a year away. You know New Jersey has got to focus on a governor’s race and a legislative race. But for me to do a good exploration, the due diligence for running, I have to file that paper,” Booker said.

January 12, 2013

Shop Talk: Markey Hires Benzing as Campaign Manager

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey is staffing up in anticipation of a Senate special election and has hired Sarah Benzing as his campaign manager.

Benzing ran Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s successful re-election campaign in 2012 and New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s race in 2011.

“Sarah is the best choice to lead this campaign of big issues and ideas,” Markey said in a statement. “Her proven track-record managing grassroots campaigns shows she has the leadership, know-how and passion to lead this campaign to victory.” Full story

January 11, 2013

New Jersey: Booker Files Papers to Run for Senate

New Jersey: Booker Files Papers to Run for Senate

Booker has filed to run for the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 4:30 p.m. | Newark Mayor Cory Booker has filed papers to run for Senate. The Huffington Post first reported the news.

It is another instance of incremental pressure Booker has applied over the last month on Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, a fellow Democrat. A big question among New Jersey Democrats is: Are these moves encouraging Lautenberg to step aside, or is Booker alienating the incumbent to the point that Lautenberg will double-down and run for re-election?

Earlier this week, Fairleigh Dickinson University released a poll that showed Booker leading Lautenberg in a head-to-head matchup. Also, Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s, D-W.Va., retirement announcement Friday morning sparked chatter on Capitol Hill that Lautenberg is most likely the next senator to announce his retirement.

A “senior adviser” to Lautenberg lashed into Booker in comments to Politico, calling him “self-absorbed and disrespectful.”

West Virginia: Democrats Begin Positioning to Run for Rockefeller’s Seat

West Virginia: Democrats Begin Positioning to Run for Rockefellers Seat

Rahall is among the Democrats expected to consider running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8:15 p.m. | Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s retirement announcement Friday formally kicked off a scramble among West Virginia Democrats, some of whom have been pining to run for an open Senate seat for decades.

Rockefeller thanked his staff and emphasized the progress that has been made on health care in his remarks in Charleston. But West Virginia politicos were absorbed with the future. At least some Democrats said they are relieved that Rockefeller is not running for a sixth term because of his alliance with President Barack Obama, who is very unpopular in the state. Full story

Ryan to Speak at CPAC

Ryan to Speak at CPAC

Ryan is slated to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan is scheduled to address the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, the American Conservative Union announced Friday.

The Wisconsin congressman and former Republican vice presidential nominee is a regular at the annual gathering and is considered a potential White House candidate for 2016.

“From the day he was elected, Chairman Ryan has been a strong voice in Congress for pro-growth, free market economic policies and has always been a CPAC favorite,” ACU Chairman Al Cardenas said in a statement. Full story

Massachusetts: LCV Endorses Markey; Downing Won’t Run

Massachusetts: LCV Endorses Markey; Downing Wont Run

Markey was endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:30 p.m. | The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund — a well-funded environmental group — on Friday endorsed Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey in his bid for the Senate as a potential primary rival decided against a bid.

Also, Democratic state Sen. Ben Downing, who had earlier floated his name for a potential Senate run, on Friday announced he would not run for the seat soon to be vacated by Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

“After considering every aspect of a possible campaign, I have determined that I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in the upcoming special election,” Downing said in a statement.

Downing’s decision was a win for Markey and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which, along with Kerry, backs the congressman’s bid.

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West Virginia: Rockefeller Retirement Spurs Search for Conservative Candidate

West Virginia: Rockefeller Retirement Spurs Search for Conservative Candidate

GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito announced her intention to run for Senate last year, but some conservative groups aren't impressed by her. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Republicans’ primary problems from the past two cycles are floating to the surface once again in West Virginia.

Conservatives immediately jumped on the news of West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s retirement, noting that there is now no reason a “conservative” candidate can’t win the seat next year with the five-term iconic Democrat absent from the ticket. Conservatives and establishment Republicans have battled in recent election cycles over which GOP Senate primary candidate was best positioned to win a general election.

In a statement Friday morning, Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins said “the door is wide open for Republicans in West Virginia to nominate a true conservative,” citing President Barack Obama’s 26-point loss in the state in 2012 as evidence that a conservative would have no trouble winning. The Senate Conservatives Fund and other like-minded groups oppose Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who jumped into the race a few weeks after the Nov. 6 elections and was immediately hailed by many Republicans in Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

“We’re not going to stop looking for a conservative challenger in this race until the primary is over,” Hoskins said. “The voters in West Virginia get to decide who represents them and they should have a conservative choice.” The Senate Conservatives Fund is a super PAC founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who resigned his seat and jumped to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think thank.

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