Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 23, 2014

March 27, 2013

Hawaii: LCV Action Fund Endorses Schatz

With a possible Democratic primary challenge coming, the political action arm of the League of Conservation Voters announced Wednesday its endorsement of Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz.

Schatz is running in the 2014 special election to fill the remaining two years of the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s term, and he’s facing a possible challenge from Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. The endorsement means Schatz is now featured on LCV Action Fund’s bundling website, which helps raise money for candidates who support the group’s environmental causes.

“Brian Schatz is a lifelong environmentalist and a proven leader on climate change policy,” LCV Action Fund President Gene Karpinski said in a statement. “He has championed clean energy initiatives that have put Hawaii at the forefront of utilizing renewable energy and reducing dependence on petroleum. We will need his continued leadership in the U.S. Senate.”

On Dec. 26, Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed Schatz to the Senate, then the lieutenant governor, instead of Hanabusa, whom Inouye had endorsed to replace him shortly before his death.

Hanabusa is now considering taking on either Schatz or Abercrombie, and she’s likely to decide in the next few weeks.

South Carolina: Pat Boone Endorses Bostic Over Sanford

Republican attorney Curtis Bostic has picked up two high-profile conservative endorsements in as many days, with less than a week to go in South Carolina’s special election GOP runoff.

In the last 24 hours or so, ex-Sen. Rick Santorum and 1950s pop singer Pat Boone announced their support for Bostic in the runoff against former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

“Today I’m singing the praises of Curtis Bostic,” Boone wrote in a press release from the 60 Plus Association. “As a former U.S. Marine, Curtis Bostic can always be counted on to be faithful to his office. And Curtis Bostic can always be counted on to be faithful to those who place him in office.”

Boone’s use of the word “faithful” is a fairly overt allusion to Sanford’s highly publicized marital infidelity.

Meanwhile, Santorum’s endorsement of Bostic on Monday is yet another example of a possible 2016 presidential contender poking around South Carolina in recent days. Full story

Hagan Latest 2014 Democrat to Come Out for Gay Marriage

Hagan Latest 2014 Democrat to Come Out for Gay Marriage

Hagan is the latest Senate Democrat to come out in favor of gay marriage rights. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Supreme Court’s focus this week on gay marriage has put Democratic senators seeking re-election in 2014 under a microscope, with no shortage of media outlets asking their offices about evolving views on the issue.

With the court taking up the constitutionality of a portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted the federal definition of marriage to opposite sex couples, several Democratic senators have determined in recent days that now is the time to make public revised or clarified stands on the marriage issue. Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who is up for re-election in 2014, became the latest Democrat to announce her support for gay marriage Wednesday morning in an interview with the Raleigh News & Observer.

Full story

Georgia: Gingrey Enters Senate Race

Georgia: Gingrey Enters Senate Race

Gingrey is the second member to enter the Georgia Senate race. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On Wednesday morning, Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey entered what’s expected to be a crowded and spirited Republican primary for the Peach State’s open Senate seat.

Speaking in his hometown of Augusta, Ga., Gingrey joined Rep. Paul Broun as the first two major candidates to announce bids for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss. The news was not a surprise, as Gingrey has been putting together a campaign team for a statewide bid. Full story

March 26, 2013

South Dakota: Johnson Makes Retirement From Senate Official

South Dakota: Johnson Makes Retirement From Senate Official

Johnson will not seek re-election in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson will not seek re-election in 2014, vacating what was already one of the Democrats’ most vulnerable seats.

Johnson announced his retirement Tuesday at his alma mater, the University of South Dakota, in his hometown of Vermillion.

“I will be 68 years old at the end of this term, and it is time for me to say goodbye,” Johnson said at a press conference. He thanked Democrats, Republicans and independents for supporting him in 12 straight general elections since 1978.

Senate Republicans already indicated they will target the seat, which is one of the party’s top pickup opportunities. The GOP already boasts a top-tier candidate in the race, former two-term Gov. Mike Rounds.

However, the GOP primary field could grow as other Republicans, including Rep. Kristi Noem, continue to consider the race. And the Senate Conservatives Fund announced Tuesday that it is seeking an alternative to Rounds, the first outside group to indicate it intends to play in the primary. Full story

Napolitano Predicts Arizona Will Become Democratic Stronghold

Napolitano Predicts Arizona Will Become Democratic Stronghold

Napolitano thinks Arizona will transform from a swing state to a Democratic stronghold. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano predicted Arizona will follow its Southwestern neighbors and move from swing-state status to Democratic stronghold as the border state’s demographics continue to change.

On Tuesday, the former Arizona governor told reporters that she is confident her home state will take after Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado in gaining Democratic voters in the coming cycles.

“Arizona will be behind them,” Napolitano said during a discussion hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “I think it will be more purple over time, but ultimately blue.”

In 2012, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., secured his first term with a 3-point margin of victory in a race much closer than many operatives anticipated. Meanwhile, partisan control of the congressional delegation flipped as Democrats won two House seats and Republicans lost one seat. But those gains were also a reflection of a newly redrawn congressional map that favored Democrats.

“It’ll happen, I think,” Napolitano said. “The fact that I could win three straight elections there, I think is indicative that Democrats can win and do win in Arizona.”

In the 2012 elections, Republican Mitt Romney carried Arizona with more than 54 percent of the vote. In John McCain’s failed bid for president in 2008, the GOP senator won his home state with 53 percent.

But the recent presidential elections have been somewhat anomalous, Napolitano said. In 2012, President Barack Obama’s campaign “really didn’t play in Arizona,” and McCain is a “favorite son” back home, she said.

Full story

Massachusetts: Markey Leads in Another Special Election Poll

Massachusetts: Markey Leads in Another Special Election Poll

Markey leads in a new Senate poll. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Edward J. Markey led by double digits in a new poll in the Democratic primary for the Massachusetts Senate special election.

According to the WBUR poll, 35 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they would support Markey, 24 percent backed Rep. Stephen F. Lynch and 41 percent remained undecided.

The results follow a poll from earlier this month showing Markey ahead of Lynch by a nearly 30-point margin.

The winner of the April 30 Democratic primary will be heavily favored to win the seat of former Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who is now secretary of State. In this poll, both Markey and Lynch led their potential GOP opponents for the June 25 special election by wide margins. Full story

Gingrich Forms Committee to Retire Campaign Debt, Help Candidates

Gingrich Forms Committee to Retire Campaign Debt, Help Candidates

Gingrich's 2012 campaign owes about $5 million. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has formed a new fundraising venture, Committee for America, to support conservatives and retire his 2012 campaign debt.

The new group combines American Legacy PAC and Gingrich’s former presidential campaign to ”train” future conservative candidates and “chart a course for a better America,” according to a news release.

Gingrich’s campaign owes nearly $5 million, according to online fundraising records.

Here’s how the new committee describes the financial arrangement:

Full story

March 25, 2013

California: Honda Touts Additional Democratic Support

California: Honda Touts Additional Democratic Support

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michael M. Honda is continuing to roll out internal polling and endorsements to scare off potential challenges from fellow Democrats.

Honda announced Monday the endorsements of California’s two Democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who said in separate statements that Silicon Valley needed Honda’s leadership.

The latest endorsements come a week after Honda released an internal poll that found him well ahead in a hypothetical top-two primary against two possible challengers, a Republican who lost to him in 2012 and former Obama administration official Ro Khanna, who is rumored to be eyeing Honda’s seat. The news also comes two months after Honda was endorsed by President Barack Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

Khanna has not announced his plans yet, but his million-dollar war chest is enough to push Honda to play defense aggressively early in the cycle. The state’s top-two primary format means Honda could face Khanna in the general election, a scenario that ended the careers of two Democratic incumbents in 2012.

DCCC Courts Donors at Annual Issues Conference

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hosted its third annual New York Issues Conference on Saturday, featuring access to top lawmaker panels for its supporters.

The event, a brainchild of DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York, is intended to fete committee donors from Capitol Hill to the Empire State. House candidates attended as well, one Democrat in attendance said.

New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy spoke on gun violence, and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, both of California, talked about immigration, according to a copy of the agenda obtained by CQ Roll Call. Full story

South Carolina: 2016 Courtship Boosts Colbert Busch in Special Election

South Carolina: 2016 Courtship Boosts Colbert Busch in Special Election

O'Malley visited South Carolina this weekend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three years before the South Carolina presidential primary, prospective presidential candidates are courting first-in-the-South Democratic activists — and, in one case this weekend, boosting a long-shot special-election House candidate.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley spent the weekend making overtures to the Palmetto State’s Democratic establishment.

On March 23, O’Malley name-dropped Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s campaign for the 1st District special election in his keynote speech to the South Carolina Democratic Party’s Issues Conference. He noted that his daughter, a College of Charleston student, is one of her volunteers, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

That same day, CNN reported that Biden will attend a fundraising dinner for the South Carolina Democratic Party just days before the May 7 special election — although Biden will not visit the coastal 1st District.

“The vice president will not be coming to the 1st District while he is in the Palmetto State, and Elizabeth will be totally involved campaigning in the 1st District while he is in town,” a spokesperson for Colbert Busch said in an email to CQ Roll Call. Full story

Arkansas: Pryor Disses Bloomberg’s Gun Control Media Blitz

Arkansas: Pryor Disses Bloombergs Gun Control Media Blitz

Pryor is considered vulnerable in 2014. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The first sign that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s $12 million gun control ad campaign targeting senators might not go as planned?

One of 2014′s most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, is using the media blitz to demonstrate political space between him and Bloomberg.

“I’ve gotten a lot of questions about NYC Mayor gun ad. My response? I don’t take gun advice from the Mayor of NYC. I listen to Arkansans,” Pryor tweeted Monday afternoon.

Bloomberg announced over the weekend that he plans to fund advertisements in 13 states during the Easter recess targeting vulnerable Democratic senators, including Pryor, and Republicans representing competitive states. The goal, according to The New York Times, is to pressure senators he believes could be persuaded to support universal background checks for firearm sales.

Full story

Report: Johnson Will Announce Retirement in South Dakota on Tuesday

Report: Johnson Will Announce Retirement in South Dakota on Tuesday

Johnson will make an announcement Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tim Johnson will announce his future political plans in South Dakota on Tuesday, and according to a Reuters report, the three-term Democrat will retire.

Johnson will hold a news conference “regarding the 2014 election” at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion — his 1969 alma mater — at 4 p.m. ET, according to a Monday press release from his Senate office. Full story

Connecticut: Greenberg Announces Another Bid for 5th District

 

Connecticut: Greenberg Announces Another Bid for 5th District

Democrats say Esty, right, could be vulnerable in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican businessman Mark Greenberg will make a third run for Congress in Connecticut’s 5th District, the Hartford Courant is reporting.

If Greenberg wins his party’s nod in 2014, he will challenge freshman Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty. This western Connecticut district is competitive and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently named Esty part of its Frontline incumbent protection program.

Full story

March 22, 2013

Michigan: Granholm Won’t Run for Open Senate Seat

Michigan: Granholm Wont Run for Open Senate Seat

Granholm will not seek the Senate in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced Friday via Facebook that she will not run for retiring Sen. Carl Levin’s seat.

“Friends, thanks for all of the encouragement on the Michigan Senate seat, but I’m not going to run,” the Democrat wrote. “I appreciate all of the outreach I’ve received; for several reasons it’s just not right for us (it’s a family decision). My best to all the contenders — Levin’s US Senate seat will stay blue!”

Democrats are in a strong position to keep Levin’s seat given Michigan’s recent voting history. Potential Democratic candidates include Debbie Dingell, the wife of longtime Rep. John D. Dingell, and Reps. Gary Peters and Dan Kildee.

On the GOP side, Reps. Mike Rogers and Justin Amash, former GOP Chair Saul Anuzis and former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land are mulling runs.

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