Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 3, 2015

May 23, 2013

National Republicans Send Staff to Massachusetts #MASEN

National Republicans Send Staff to Massachusetts #MASEN

National Republicans have dispatched staff to Massachusetts to assist with the Senate special election that has become tantalizingly close.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has committed at least four staffers to help nominee Gabriel Gomez in the final weeks of the June 25 contest. The moves come amid fresh polling that showed Gomez running just behind Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey in this solidly Democratic state.

Money remains a major hurdle for Gomez to overcome against the well-funded Markey. So the NRSC sent two fundraisers to help Gomez open some financial doors. Sarah Morgan, a regional political director, arrived Wednesday to organize volunteer efforts over the next few weeks. And Kevin McLaughlin, a senior adviser, is in Boston to assist with communications and general strategy. Full story

Will Perseverance Pay Off for Perennial Hawaiian Pols?

Will Perseverance Pay Off for Perennial Hawaiian Pols?

Case might run for Congress again. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In Hawaii politics, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And again. And again.

Or, at least that’s how many candidates in the state have operated over the past few cycles.

Full story

May 22, 2013

House Democrats Fete Top Recruits in D.C.

House Democrats Fete Top Recruits in D.C.

Israel is bringing his top recruits to town. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 2:43 p.m. | The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will host a reception Wednesday night for its best recruits, according to an invitation obtained by CQ Roll Call.

Launched earlier this month, the Jumpstart program “provides early financial, communications, operational and strategic support to help top-tier candidates get a head start in these highly-targeted races,” according to a memo sent to donors and supporters upon the program’s launch.

The invitation does not list the Jumpstart candidates, but the DCCC previously announced the group. The group is: Full story

Mike Rounds Hires Dick Wadhams #SDSEN | Shop Talk

Veteran GOP operative Dick Wadhams has signed on as general consultant for the leading candidate in one of the GOP’s top Senate pickup opportunities.

Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds announced on Wednesday that he has retained Wadhams to help lead his campaign.

The election next year will come a decade after Wadhams’ last triumph in the state — managing now-Sen. John Thune’s 2004 upset of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

“Dick’s reputation as a battle tested strategist, coupled with his insight into South Dakota’s political landscape make him the perfect complement to our team,” Rounds said in a statement. “We’ve been considering individuals to fill this role for months and we continued to come back to Mr. Wadhams.” Full story

Sander Levin Picks Sides in Primary #MI14

Sander Levin Picks Sides in Primary #MI14

Levin endorsed Hobbs in the 14th District primary. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Sander M. Levin endorsed state House Democratic Floor Leader Rudy Hobbs on Wednesday in the Democratic primary for Michigan’s 14th District.

“When elected to the U.S. House, Rudy will be a powerful advocate and a tireless fighter for the residents throughout the 14th District in Detroit and Oakland County,” Levin said in a press release. “I look forward to actively supporting his campaign.” Full story

Ten House Democrats Endorse Pete Aguilar #CA31

Ten House Democrats Endorse Pete Aguilar #CA31

Baca is running for congress again. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Ten Democrats in California’s congressional delegation announced their support Wednesday morning for Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar for the 31st District.

Their endorsements are likely an effort to push other Democratic candidates out of this competitive race — including an ex-colleague, former Rep. Joe Baca.

The party had primary problems in this district last cycle, when a bevy of candidates splintered the Democratic vote, allowing two Republicans to head to the general election. California’s primary allows the top two candidates, regardless of party, to advance to the general.

This election cycle is looking like déjà vu for Democrats in the 31st District, which is a targeted race again. In 2012, Republican Rep. Gary G. Miller won re-election in this district that President Barack Obama carried. Full story

May 21, 2013

Gary Peters Leads Poll, Hires Campaign Manager #MISEN

Gary Peters Leads Poll, Hires Campaign Manager #MISEN

Peters is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Gary Peters has a campaign manager and a lead in the polls — but he’s still awaiting a GOP opponent for the open-seat Senate race in Michigan.

With the Republican field likely to begin to take shape next month, the third-term Democrat announced on Tuesday that Julie Petrick has signed on as campaign manager. Petrick managed Peters’ first election to Congress in 2008 and is coming from the political team at EMILY’s List.

In the race for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, the 14th District’s Peters took an early lead in a hypothetical matchup with the 8th District’s GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, who is considering a bid. The poll was conducted by EPIC-MRA and found Peters with a 7-point lead, though a third of voters were undecided. Full story

Mike Honda’s Endorsement Parade Continues #CA17

Mike Hondas Endorsement Parade Continues #CA17

Honda has announced many endorsements. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

What do the president’s half sister, actor Kal Penn and Star Trek legend slash Facebook celebrity George Takei have in common?

All of them have endorsed Rep. Michael M. Honda, who on Tuesday announced support from six Asian-American and Pacific Islander leaders.

Full story

Bachmann Opponent on Term Limits and Tipping Etiquette #MN06 | The Candidate

Bachmann Opponent on Term Limits and Tipping Etiquette #MN06 | The Candidate

Graves is running for Congress a second time. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Note: Every year, scores of congressional candidates visit the CQ Roll Call offices to meet with reporters and Contributing Writer Stuart Rothenberg. This new feature, “The Candidate,” will ask these congressional hopefuls five questions about their campaigns. Responses have been edited and condensed.

Have a question for a candidate? We’ll announce their visits via Twitter, and you can tweet your inquiry to @RollCall or email

The candidate: Hotel magnate Jim Graves, a Democrat
The member: Four-term Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann
The district: Republican-leaning Minneapolis exurbs, which have experienced significant population growth from young, conservative families. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the 6th District’s vote 56 percent to 41 percent.
The candidate’s team: Aaron Wells (campaign manager), Julie Pearl (press); the rest of the team has yet to be announced.

Q. You came so close to defeating Bachmann last cycle, losing by just over 4,000 votes. What mistakes did you make?

Graves: The biggest mistake was that we got into the game too late. We had a very abbreviated campaign. When we announced, we had nobody on the team, so we had to create a team and had to create a field operation and we had to do all those things in a very abbreviated time frame up against a very well-funded candidate. Full story

Top Firm Hires Ex-NRSC Spokesman | Shop Talk

Former National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Walsh has joined Singer Bonjean Strategies, the public affairs firm announced on Tuesday.

“Phil and Ron are two of the most respected communications strategists in the country today, and I couldn’t be more excited about joining their growing public affairs practice,” Walsh said in a press release. “Singer Bonjean brings a campaign approach to helping clients navigate the ever-changing environment in Washington, and I look forward to adding my experience to this effort.” Full story

By Abby Livingston Posted at 8:33 a.m.
Shop Talk

Tea Party Express Backs Special-Election Candidate

Missouri Speaker Pro Tem Jason Smith picked up the endorsement of the Tea Party Express on Tuesday, less than three weeks before the special election in the Show Me State’s 8th District.

“Jason is a promising young conservative who will bring fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C.,” Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer said in a news release. “Tea Partiers across the country applaud his commitment to repealing Obamacare and reining in the federal government’s out-of-control spending.”

Full story

Embroiled GOP Firm Hires Gingrich Operative | Shop Talk

Strategy Group for Media CEO Rex Elsass will announce on Tuesday that he has hired Rick Tyler as his company’s new president.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Elsass filed a lawsuit against his company’s last president, Nick Everhart. That dispute has fixated the GOP consultant class. Full story

May 20, 2013

Remainders: And Then There Was Nunn

Here’s what you may have missed “At the Races” on Monday …

  • #IRS – CQ Roll Call’s Eliza Newlin Carney examines what the IRS mess means for campaign finance laws.
  • #GASEN – Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., will soon announce her decision on a Senate bid.
  • #NC12 – A Democratic fundraiser is mulling a bid for Rep. Melvin Watt’s seat. Watt was recently nominated to run the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
  • #VASEN – The Virginia GOP changed how it will nominate Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s 2014 challenger.
  • #UT04 – Sarasota Springs Mayor Mia Love announced she will challenge Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson to a rematch in 2014.

What we’re mulling on Monday …

Full story

Why the IRS Mess Bares Big Campaign Finance Problems

To many on Capitol Hill, the burgeoning scandal dogging the IRS looks like a simple case of partisan political targeting by an overbearing federal agency.

But the IRS controversy has laid bare a far more serious and far-reaching problem: the agency’s utter failure to keep pace with drastically changing campaign finance laws. For decades, the IRS has taken heat for its muddy rules governing politically active tax-exempt groups, a recent CQ Weekly story notes. Among other problems, the recent inspector general’s report found:

  • IRS employees did not understand and bickered over the agency’s own rules, repeatedly changing course over how to screen groups seeking tax-exempt status.
  • The IRS went so far as to reject the IG’s recommendation that the tax agency clear up guidelines for how to handle such groups. The IRS instead recommended  more staff training, an alternative the IG in turn rejected.
  • Though lawmakers and watchdogs urged the IRS to curb deep-pocketed nonprofits spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the 2012 campaign, the IRS ignored the top-spending players and instead went after shoestring groups.

As the story notes:

The fallout has exposed an agency that lacks the tools, the will or even the rules to regulate increasingly wealthy and influential tax-exempt groups unfettered by the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling to deregulate political spending. Full story

Michelle Nunn Senate Announcement Coming Soon

After appearing at a weekend fundraiser for Senate Democrats, party leaders expect Michelle Nunn to make a final decision on the Georgia Senate race within weeks.

“The national party is working with Michelle, and I think we will probably have an announcement relatively soon on whether she’s in or not,” Georgia Democratic Party Chairman Mike Berlon said Monday. “We just want to get somebody out there early enough before the election that we can actually get behind them and start putting a structure together.”

The philanthropist and daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., appeared at a Sunday fundraiser in Atlanta for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. President Barack Obama was the featured guest at the event, with DSCC Chairman Michael Bennet and Executive Director Guy Cecil also in attendance.

A DSCC spokesman declined to comment on whether Nunn was preparing to announce a bid. Full story

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