Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 24, 2014

January 9, 2013

Shop Talk: DCCC Rounds Out Senior Staff, Including Many Returning Aides

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will announce more senior staff hires  Wednesday — a roster that includes many returning aides from the 2012 cycle.

House Democrats beat expectations to pick up eight seats in the past election. This cycle, the DCCC is attempting to net a gain of 17 more seats in order to regain the majority. That’s a difficult task because Republicans in many key states redrew the lines to the GOP’s favor during redistricting ahead of the 2012 elections.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York announced three top staffers for the 2014 cycle in November, including Kelly Ward as executive director. The following staffers are being announced Wednesday, according to a copy of the announcement obtained by CQ Roll Call: Full story

January 8, 2013

Illinois: Cook County CAO Robin Kelly Wins Top Spot on Special Election Ballot

Democrat Robin Kelly hit the jackpot — sort of.

The 2nd District special election candidate in Illinois won the lottery for the top spot on the primary ballot.

It’s a small victory, but every advantage helps in a crowded field for what officials expect to be a low turnout primary Feb. 26. The winner of the Democratic primary will likely become the next Member of Congress from this heavily Democratic district on Chicago’s south side.

On Tuesday, election officials hosted two separate lotteries to determine the ballot order.  Full story

January 7, 2013

Illinois: Filing Period Closes for Jackson Special Election

Twenty-two candidates filed to run in the special election for former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s seat before Monday’s deadline.

Every previously announced top-tier candidate filed his or her signature petitions for this heavily Democratic district on Chicago’s south side: Alderman Anthony Beale, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, former NFL linebacker Napoleon Harris, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly and former Rep. Mel Reynolds.

Additionally, health care executive Joyce Washington filed to run in the Democratic primary. She was a statewide candidate in 2002 and 2004.

In the coming weeks, election officials will confirm each candidate has the requisite signatures on their petitions — about 1,300 valid names for Democrats. The primary is scheduled for Feb. 26.

Seventeen Democrats submitted their signature petitions, plus five Republicans, including conservative analyst and radio host Lenny McAllister. Democrats are expected to easily hold the seat. Jackson resigned from the House in November amid a federal investigation and after a prolonged absence for health troubles.

New Mexico: Heather Wilson Has Run Her Last Race

New Mexico: Heather Wilson Has Run Her Last Race

Former Rep. Heather Wilson (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson has seen her last political race.

The Republican, who lost to now-Sen. Martin Heinrich in 2012, told CQ Roll Call on Monday that her second failed Senate bid in four years would be her last run for public office.

“I’ve done my time, and it’s not my intention to run for office again,” Wilson said. “So I’m moving on to other things, most likely higher education. I’ll probably also likely serve on some corporate boards.” Full story

Montana: Denny Rehberg Done With Politics

Montana: Denny Rehberg Done With Politics

Former Rep. Denny Rehberg (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Denny Rehberg told the Billings Gazette last week that he will not run for office again.

After six terms in the House, the Montana Republican lost his challenge to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in November. It was Rehberg’s second Senate defeat, after challenging Democratic Sen. Max Baucus in 1996.

“I made the determination before [the 2012 race] that it would be up or out,” Rehberg said in an interview with the newspaper. “As it turned out, it was out.”

Baucus is up for re-election again this cycle and is definitely running. Tester survived by 4 points in the 2012 election, despite a 13-point victory in the state by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

New Jersey: Booker Says Lautenberg Has ‘Got a Decision to Make’

New Jersey: Booker Says Lautenberg Has Got a Decision to Make

Booker has announced his intention to run for a seat in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker said Monday morning that Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg has “got a decision to make” on whether to retire.

The comment, made on CNN’s “Starting Point,” is acknowledgment that the Senate field is far more complicated than he projected during his Senate exploratory announcement. Booker’s candidacy as it stands is a primary challenge of a longtime Democratic incumbent. Lautenberg has yet to announce his retirement, and few in New Jersey have any idea on what he will do.

“I want to give him the space to make his own decision,” Booker said. “I’ve announced my intention to run, but the reality is we’ve got a good Senator. He’s been loyal. He’s been there for a long time. And I think he’s got a decision to make.”

Full story

January 4, 2013

Obama Campaign Fined $375,000

The Federal Election Commission has imposed a $375,000 fine on President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign for reporting violations, Politico is reporting, citing as-yet-unpublished FEC documents.

The fine appears to stem from missing reports for close to 1,300 donations totaling more than $1.8 million, according to Politico, which obtained a copy of a conciliation agreement that was shared with the Republican National Committee, one of the original complainants. The fine is described as one of the largest-ever imposed on a presidential campaign.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Katie Hogan told Politico that at the time, the Obama team was collecting record contributions from more than 3 million donors, and that “the very few outstanding questions about the $750 million that was raised have now all been resolved.”

In other FEC news, Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly has announced that she will resign effective Feb. 1. The move is sure to increase pressure on Obama to name new members to the frequently-deadlocked FEC, which is comprised mostly of holdover commissioners.

Bauerly, a Democrat, is one of five commissioners on the six-member commission whose terms have expired. Activists opposed to unrestricted political money have become increasingly shrill in their demands that Obama name new commissioners, staging press conferences and launching a petition drive aimed at forcing a White House response.

Obama Officially Re-Elected During Joint Session of Congress

Obama Officially Re Elected During Joint Session of Congress

Obama was officially re-elected with the tallying of the Electoral College vote on Friday. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama was officially re-elected on Friday with the tallying of the Electoral College vote during a joint session of Congress.

As expected, Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. won 332 electoral votes, exceeding the 270 necessary for a majority of the 538 votes. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., won 206 votes.

The quadrennial occasion is constitutionally mandated to certify the presidential election. But it’s largely a formality, and the only surprise may have been the scant number of members of the House and Senate who witnessed it — far fewer than four years ago, when Obama was set to become the country’s first African-American president. Full story

South Carolina: State Representative Quickly Moving Toward 1st District Bid

South Carolina state Rep. Chip Limehouse said Friday that he was quickly moving toward a bid for the state’s open 1st District.

“I’m rapidly going in that direction,” the Republican told CQ Roll Call on Friday afternoon, noting an announcement would likely come soon. If he ran, Limehouse said, a main plank of his campaign would be his record on job creation in the state legislature and “jobs, jobs and more jobs for the 1st Congressional District.”

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, widely expected to enter the race, would probably be the immediate front-runner. Limehouse, along with high school teacher Teddy Turner (the son of media mogul Ted Turner) and state Sen. Larry Grooms are considered by insiders as the likely top tier of other GOP candidates for the coastal, safely Republican seat.

The seat opened after Republican Gov. Nikki R. Haley appointed then-Rep. Tim Scott to the Senate to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Jim DeMint.

DISCLOSE Advocates Renew Fight

DISCLOSE Advocates Renew Fight

Van Hollen has reintroduced the DISCLOSE Act. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democrat-authored campaign finance transparency bill known as the DISCLOSE Act failed to win approval in either the 111th or the 112th Congresses, but its backers have set out to try again in this session.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., reintroduced the legislation on Thursday, calling the bill “a first step to clean up the secret money in politics.” The bill is unchanged from last year’s version; it would require all corporations, unions and super PACs to report campaign expenditures of $10,000 or more. The bill also covers financial transfers to groups that use the money for election-related activity.

At the outset of the 113th Congress, the legislation’s prospects appear no better than they were previously.

Full story

January 2, 2013

Massachusetts: Lynch Still Weighing Bid for Senate

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Stephen F. Lynch said Wednesday night that he is still considering a special election run for the Senate, eyeing the seat expected to be vacated by Secretary of State nominee John Kerry.

“I am giving serious consideration to a run for the United States Senate and am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received in recent days,” he said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “As we await Senator Kerry’s confirmation hearings, I will continue to weigh my options and decide the best way to serve our communities.”

National Democrats — and Kerry himself — have worked to clear the Democratic field for the dean of the Bay State congressional delegation, Rep. Edward J. Markey, who plans to run. But that effort has, so far, been unsuccessful, with Lynch, Rep. Michael E. Capuano and state Sen. Benjamin Downing all still considering a bid. Full story

Turnover Shakes Up Aloha State Delegation

Turnover Shakes Up Aloha State Delegation

Amid much upheaval, Hanabusa is the only Hawaii delegation member staying in her existing seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The lack of turnover in the Aloha State’s congressional delegation will officially come to an end Thursday at noon as the 113th Congress kicks off, and there is potential for more shakeups in just two years.

With the retirement of Sen. Daniel K. Akaka and death last month of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Democrats who each served for decades, the officeholders in three of Hawaii’s four seats in both chambers will be new to their positions. It remains an all-Democrat delegation.

Full story

Republicans Looking to Add Heft to Opposition Research Efforts

Senior Republican leaders are exploring ways to match the strong opposition research programs Democrats displayed in the last election cycle.

The result of the new effort could be a new outside organization or a project run by the party committees. The only decision so far, according to a Republican strategist involved in the 2012 elections, is that something must get done.

“There is a recognition that we were outmatched in on-the-ground field research and that something needs to be changed in order to generate the type of personal-driven, character-type research that Democrats launched very effectively against Republicans,” the strategist said.

The strategist cited the North Dakota Senate race, noting that the best hits against Democratic Sen.-elect Heidi Heitkamp were that she supported the health care bill signed into law by President Barack Obama. The party is looking for richer research rather than vague policy research, the strategist said.

Four top Democrat-aligned outside groups launched in the 2012 cycle to help combat Republican outside spending, including one each to focus on the presidential, Senate and House contests. The fourth was American Bridge, which focused solely on opposition research, something Republicans did not have.

Missouri: Kinder Moves Toward Congressional Bid

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is officially angling to become the GOP nominee for the Show-Me State’s open 8th District seat, a local media outlet reports.

PoliticoMo, a widely read political website in Missouri, reports that Kinder has begun seeking the nomination of the district’s GOP committee, which will choose the party’s nominee.

The seat is poised to become open when Republican Rep. Jo Anne Emerson’s resignation becomes official.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon will call a special election once that happens. The district’s party committees will choose their nominees — there will be no primary special election. Full story

Reading the Tea Leaves for 2014 and Beyond in Cliff Vote

Reading the Tea Leaves for 2014 and Beyond in Cliff Vote

Capito, the only House member currently running for Senate in 2014, voted no on the fiscal cliff bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Late-night votes on the fiscal cliff package capped off New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day this week — and delivered the first politically significant vote of the 2014 cycle.

That’s especially true for House Republicans fearful of possible primary challenges this cycle. A host of conservative organizations, including the Club for Growth and Family Research Council, encouraged Republicans to vote against the deal that raised taxes on wealthy Americans and made the Bush-era tax cuts permanent. The House passed the fiscal cliff bill with bipartisan support, but the majority of House Republicans voted against it.

To be sure, this bill probably will not cost members as much politically as, for example, votes for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008 or the president’s health care overhaul in 2010. Still, it’s the first major vote of the 2014 cycle, and politicians looking for a promotion took note: Full story

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