Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

January 12, 2014

New Jersey Republicans Wrestle With Steve Lonegan

Runyan is retiring. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The open-seat race to replace retiring Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., might sound familiar: A tea party firebrand threatens to upend a GOP primary, meanwhile Democrats cleared the field for an all-but-anointed nominee.

But this is New Jersey, where machine politics trump national trends.

The tea party candidate is former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, the GOP’s nominee for the Senate special election last year who lost to Cory Booker by 11 points. Democrats have touted Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard, who announced her candidacy for the seat in November.

Lonegan announced his House candidacy this month in The Newark Star-Ledger, infuriating operatives in the district. In other states, congressional candidates — especially Republicans — can successfully run as political outsiders. But New Jersey is different. Full story

January 10, 2014

Iowa Democrat Posts Huge Fundraising as Latham Retires

Former state Sen. Staci Appel, a Democrat running in Iowa’s competitive 3rd District, raised a whopping $500,000 in the past year, according to a local report.

The huge haul could serve as a deterrent for other Democrats looking to enter the open-seat race. Longtime Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, unexpectedly announced his retirement last month.

Full story

House Dems Raise Money at Jay Z, Sting and Paul Simon Concerts

Jay Z attended the president's inauguration. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Democrats may have 99 problems heading into the midterms — but for some members, creative fundraising ain’t one.

At least a dozen House Democrats will raise money at sporting events and concerts between January and March, including an upcoming Jay-Z performance at the Verizon Center, according to a fundraising schedule obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Full story

Cornyn Goes Up With New TV Ad

Judging by his second ad, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas is running against President Barack Obama instead of his primary challenger, Rep. Steve Stockman.

The new spot hits Obama and portrays Cornyn as the conservative counter to an “astonishingly liberal” president. The ad makes no mention of Stockman.

“He stands up to Obama, everyday. Pushes back,” the narrator says of Cornyn.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuvlArB2eXg

The buy size is “well into the six figures” and is a “substantial statewide buy,” according to a Cornyn aide.  Full story

January 9, 2014

Alaska Super PAC Hits Begich in 3 Radio Ads

An Alaska-based super PAC supporting one of Democratic Sen. Mark Begich’s Republican challengers is launching its first three ads of the campaign on Friday.

The radio ads are an opening salvo for the group, Alaska’s Energy/America’s Values, which backs former Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan. The group spent about about $12,000 to air the ads over the next five days in Anchorage and Matanuska Valley.

While the buy size isn’t significantly large, the messaging offers a strong hint of the TV ads that are likely forthcoming. Each of the three 60-second ads mentions Begich’s support of Obamacare. One also notes the incumbent’s support of Obama’s appointees, including Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and questions where he stands on an oil tax rewrite referendum in the state this year. Full story

Report: Ed Gillespie to Challenge Mark Warner

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is informing Virginia Republicans that he will challenge first-term Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., in 2014, according to The New York Times.

A spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee declined to comment on the story. Full story

Christie Could Face Heat on the Hill in Weeks Ahead

Christie leaves a government building in Fort Lee, N.J., on Thursday, where he met with and apologized to the mayor. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Lawmakers issued reviews ranging from nondescript to positive of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s Thursday news conference, largely reserving judgment on the bridge scandal that’s embroiled the potential presidential candidate’s administration.

That could spell trouble for Christie in the weeks ahead.

The GOP governor asserted at the news conference that he had no involvement in the scandal involving unannounced lane closures on the George Washington Bridge. His comments could come under fire as Congress awaits answers to outstanding questions and plans to press authorities further.

In December, Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., sent multiple letters — both to the New Jersey Port Authority and to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx — demanding explanations for the traffic jam and oversight over the Port Authority itself. His original request asked the Port Authority for answers by Jan. 15.

Rockefeller said Thursday he does not yet plan to hold hearings, but said he is continuing to monitor the situation closely. If the requested response from New Jersey officials does not come back complete, or at all, either Rockefeller or other senators on the committee, such as freshman New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker, could take further action.

“I’ve spent all day watching MSNBC,” he told reporters.

“I don’t know, I’m never satisfied,” he teased, when asked if Christie’s answers allayed his previous concerns.

Booker said in an afternoon statement that he also demanded answers Thursday from the Department of Transportation. In the Capitol, Booker repeatedly rebuffed attempts for comment on Christie, noting only by the evening that he had heard part of the governor’s remarks.

Any congressional investigations would test Christie’s greater political viability for 2016, and his national ambitions would likely only amplify the debate, at least compared to other typical state scandals. And the longer unanswered questions linger, the more likely it is that senators and representatives will want to get involved or call hearings.

Full story

By Meredith Shiner Posted at 6:31 p.m.
Governors, RGA

Lamar Alexander Launches First TV Ad

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., launched the first TV ad of his re-election campaign on Thursday, reminding voters of his conservative principles and years of fighting on behalf of the state.

As he seeks a third term and fends of a GOP primary challenge, the Alexander campaign is pushing out the ad statewide. The 60-second spot will hit the airwaves on Monday and run for four weeks, according to an Alexander consultant, who would not reveal the exact buy size.

“To that land where politics too often doesn’t work, Tennessee sends Lamar Alexander,” the ad’s announcer says to kick off the ad. “Conservative, honest, smart. Lamar Alexander is Tennessee.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HYakjj5CA8 Full story

Portman Can Run for Re-Election and VP in 2016, Per Election Officials

Portman, left, is a senator from Ohio. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

If the 2016 GOP nominee picks Sen. Rob Portman as a running mate, the Buckeye State senator will not have to chose between his Senate seat and a slot on the GOP national ticket.

This week’s Ohio edition of Roll Call’s Farm Team series looked at the future of Portman’s seat, and according to the Ohio secretary of state’s office, a Buckeye State candidate may appear on the ballot twice in federal races. Full story

Christie Nixes N.J. GOP Chairman Amid Bridge Scandal

Christie is the second-term governor of New Jersey. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Just days after Gov. Chris Christie named his campaign manager to run the New Jersey Republican Party, Christie withdrew his support Thursday amid a scandal over a dayslong September traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge.

The scandal has sent the governor’s administration into turmoil, culminating at a Thursday morning news conference, when he explained his change of heart about former top campaign aide.

“I was disturbed by the tone, and behavior, and attitude of callous indifference that was displayed in the emails by my former campaign manager, Bill Stepien,” Christie said. “As a result, I’ve instructed Bill Stepien to not place his name in nomination for state party chairman, and he will not be considered for state party chairman.” Full story

Shuster Primary Opponent Posts Another Paltry Quarter

Shuster faces a primary this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Retired Coast Guard Capt. Art Halvorson, a Republican challenging Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., raised just $8,700 in the fourth quarter, according to his most recent fundraising report.

That paltry sum brings Halvorson’s total cash on hand to $72,000 — just five months out from the May 20 primary.

Political operatives have previously described Halvorson’s primary challenge as Shuster’s toughest political fight in almost a decade. But another low quarterly haul will only cast doubt on Halvorson’s viability to topple the House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman. Full story

Family Research Council Endorses in Primary to Replace Capito

Mooney is running for Congress. ( Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Maryland GOP Chairman Alex Mooney has picked up the endorsement of the Family Research Council Action PAC in his bid for West Virginia’s 2nd District.

“Our economy has been decimated. The culture has been challenged beyond all reasonable limits,” FRC Action PAC Chairman Tony Perkins said in a Thursday news release. “The strong, conservative men and women elected in 2010 and 2012 need reinforcements. That is we are endorsing Alex Mooney in his run to represent West Virginia’s Second District.” Full story

January 8, 2014

Jack Kingston Raised $880K in 4th Quarter

(Douglas Graham/Roll Call File Photo)

Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston will file yet another strong fundraising period when fourth-quarter reports are due at the end of the month.

Kingston, one of the three Republican congressmen running for the state’s open Senate seat, pulled in $880,000 from September through December, according to figures first obtained by CQ Roll Call. He ended the year with $3.4 million on hand after raising a total of $4.2 million for the cycle.

It’s the best quarter of the cycle for Kingston, who brought in just more than $800,000 in the third quarter. None of the other Republicans in the deep primary field have released their fourth-quarter fundraising numbers. Full story

Longtime Dems McIntyre, McCarthy to Retire (Updated) (Video)

(CQ Roll Call File Photos)

Updated 1:09 p.m. | Two longtime House Democrats — Reps. Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Carolyn McCarthy of New York — will not seek re-election in 2014, according to multiple Democratic sources.

The duo of House Democrats mark the third in that caucus to announce he or she won’t return to Congress after 2014. Last month, vulnerable Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, announced he would not seek an 8th term, also nearly assuring Republicans will pick up his seat.

McIntyre was one of this cycle’s most vulnerable Democrats and his departure will likely allow the GOP to pick up his seat. Mitt Romney carried the 7th District a 19-point margin in 2012, while McIntyre won re-election by a slim margin.

Former state Sen. David Rouzer, who lost to McIntyre by just 654 votes in 2012, is running again this cycle. Prior to McIntyre’s retirement announcement, the 7th District was rated a Tossup by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

By comparison, McCarthy’s Long Island-based 4th District is much less of a political opportunity for Republicans. She won re-election in 2012 by a near 2-to-1 margin, and President Barack Obama carried the seat by 12 points in 2012.

McCarthy went public with her battle against lung cancer in June.

The Long Island local parties wield enormous power in selecting a congressional nominee, but in Roll Call’s recent look at the New York State Republican Farm Team, state operatives named state Sen. Jack Martins and Hempstead Councilman Anthony J. Santino as potential contenders in an open-seat race.

Democrats named Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice as a potential successor prior to McCarthy’s announcement.

McCarthy came to Congress in 1997 as a gun-control activist. Her husband was killed in 1993, when a gunman went on a shooting rampage on the Long Island commuter rail.

See all House retirements on Roll Call’s Casualty List.

January 7, 2014

Republicans Form New Polling Firm

GOP pollsters Tony Fabrizio and David Lee rolled out a new firm — Fabrizio, Lee & Associates — that they describe as a “successor” to Fabrizio’s former company, Fabrizio McLaughlin & Associates.

“[Lee] is certainly at the top of the next generation of GOP pollsters and I am proud to have him as my partner,” Fabrizio said in a Tuesday news release. Full story

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