Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 2, 2014

January 2, 2013

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

Massachusetts: State Democratic Party Hires Northwind Strategies

Massachusetts: State Democratic Party Hires Northwind Strategies

Outgoing Sen. Scott Brown has not said whether he will run in an expected special election this year, but Democrats are already gearing up for the fight. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Massachusetts Democratic Party has retained Northwind Strategies — the firm that advised Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 campaign — to help with its coordinated effort in the expected Senate special election this year.

The move means Doug Rubin, an operative at the firm close to Warren and Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, will not be advising a candidate in the Democratic primary, but rather will be helping with strategy for whoever is the Democratic nominee.

Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s expected confirmation to be secretary of State appears likely to set up a special election that could happen as early as June.

Full story

Minnesota: Paulsen Senate Bid Not So ‘Ridiculous’ After All

Minnesota: Paulsen Senate Bid Not So Ridiculous After All

Republicans are searching for a candidate willing to challenge Sen. Al Franken in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8:01 p.m. | For a brief period on Wednesday it appeared Republicans could count Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., out of the race against Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in 2014.

No, that’s ridiculous,” Paulsen said, when Minnesota Public Radio asked him about running. However, the MPR report was updated later with a clarification from the congressman’s office. His use of the word “ridiculous” wasn’t in reference to the Senate race after all. It had to do with his vote on the fiscal cliff deal. Here’s MPR’s update:

Paulsen’s office says his use of the word “ridiculous” wasn’t about running for Senate. A spokesman says Paulsen used the word in the context to the preface of the question that mentioned Paulsen’s “no” vote on the fiscal cliff deal before asking whether he was running for Senate.

Republicans have talked up Paulsen, as well as his colleague Rep. John Kline, as potential Franken challengers. Neither Republican has ruled out a bid publicly.

Meanwhile, Kline “continues to keep all options on the table,” according to his spokesman, Troy Young.

In 2008, Franken won one of the closest Senate races in decades following a lengthy recount. He has indicated that he plans to seek re-election next year.

CQ Roll Call rates this race as Leans Democratic.

Tennessee: State Senator Announces Bid Against DesJarlais

Tennessee: State Senator Announces Bid Against DesJarlais

DesJarlais has taken a series of political hits over the past few months stemming from revelations from a more-than-decade-old divorce. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais, the political fight of his life begins today.

Tennessee Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy announced a bid for Congress in Tennessee’s 4th District on Wednesday morning, becoming the first contender — potentially of many — to get in the race against the vulnerable member, who represents conservative territory.

Full story

King Tells Members to Withhold Money From NRCC Over Sandy Aid

King Tells Members to Withhold Money From NRCC Over Sandy Aid

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Peter T. King, who represents Long Island, N.Y., is furious with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, for not taking up a Hurricane Sandy relief bill before the 112th Congress ends, and his political retaliation includes asking New York and New Jersey Republicans to withhold political donations to Congressional Republicans.

“They’re in New York all the time, filling their pockets with money from New Yorkers. I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their minds,” King said in a Fox News interview.

He made similar statements on other news outlets. In that TV appearance, he echoed statements he made on the House floor, which included complaints about politicians who fundraise in New York City but who are not aiding the Empire State with relief.

The National Republican Congressional Committee declined to comment on King’s threat. A GOP aide noted that the NRCC’s job is to keep the GOP in the majority so that King “can be in a best position possible to advocate for his constituents.” Full story

South Carolina: Haley Sets 1st District Special Date

South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki R. Haley on Wednesday signed an executive order setting a May special election to fill the soon-to-be-open 1st District seat.

In a post on Facebook, Haley said she had set the primary for March 19, the primary runoff for April 2 and the general special election for May 7.

The Charleston-area Republican-heavy district is currently represented by GOP Rep. Tim Scott, whom Haley appointed to the Senate to replace resigning GOP Sen. Jim DeMint.

Among the many ambitious Republicans eyeing this race: former Palmetto State Gov. Mark Sanford and his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford.

Scott won the district in November with 62 percent of the vote.

December 28, 2012

Massachusetts: National Democrats Coalesce Behind Markey

National Democrats moved swiftly on Friday to close ranks behind Rep. Edward J. Markey as their candidate to run to succeed Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry upon his confirmation as the next secretary of State.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado released a statement endorsing Markey shortly after Kerry did the same on Friday afternoon.

“Ed Markey always remembers where he came from and will continue the hard work needed to turn our economy around,” Bennet said. “He is exactly the kind of leader Massachusetts needs in the U.S. Senate.” Full story

Report: Trotter Quits Special Election in Illinois

State Sen. Donne Trotter will drop out of the special election for ex-Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s seat, according to a report from NBC Chicago.

A Democrat and longtime local lawmaker, Trotter faces charges for attempting to bring a weapon onto a plane at O’Hare International Airport in early December. He told law enforcement officials he forgot the gun was in his bag. He is scheduled to appear in court in January to contest the charges.

Trotter leaves a crowded and complicated primary for the 2nd District, which includes the south side of Chicago, southwestern suburbs and some rural territory west of the stateline. It’s a heavily Democratic district, and the winner of the Feb. 26 primary is expected to be the next member of Congress.

Full story

December 27, 2012

Markey Running for Senate in Massachusetts

Markey Running for Senate in Massachusetts

Rep. Edward J. Markey has decided to run for Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Massachusetts Rep. Edward J. Markey on Thursday became the first prominent Democrat to announce his intention to run in the expected special election to replace Democrat John Kerry, who was nominated last week to be the next Secretary of State.

The Boston Globe first reported that Markey will seek the seat but not the temporary appointment by Gov. Deval Patrick, who is likely to select a caretaker until a special election can be held.

“With Senator Kerry’s departure, Massachusetts voters will decide once again whether we want a Senator who will fight for all our families or one who supports a Republican agenda that benefits only the powerful and well-connected,” Markey said in a statement. He already has a Senate campaign website up. Full story

December 26, 2012

Hawaii: Abercrombie Appoints Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to Senate

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday appointed his lieutenant governor, Democrat Brian Schatz, to fill the state’s vacant Senate seat for the next two years.

Schatz surprisingly got the nod over Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who was endorsed by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye just before he died last week. The choice of Schatz means Democrats will not have to hold a special election for Hanabusa’s seat, which Republicans briefly won control of in a 2010 special election. The appointment is good until the 2014 elections, when another election will be held for the right to serve out the final two years of Inouye’s term, which expires in 2016.

In an afternoon press conference, Abercrombie, a former congressman and colleague of Inouye, said he “of course” took Inouye’s wishes into account but felt he had to act “in the overall best interest of the party.” He said he also took into account Hanabusa’s placement on the House Armed Services Committee, a vital post for the military-heavy state.

“No one and nothing is preordained,” he said. Full story

December 22, 2012

Hawaii: Reid Wants New Senator for Fiscal Cliff Votes

Hawaii: Reid Wants New Senator for Fiscal Cliff Votes

Hanabusa is considered the favorite to replace the late Inouye. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Aware that he may need every vote possible to advance legislation in the days after Christmas, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling on Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint a successor to fill Sen. Daniel K. Inouye’s seat in time to vote this year.

Aloha State Democrats appear prepared to cooperate with the request. The state central committee will meet at 8 a.m. on the day after Christmas to select three names from which Abercrombie, a fellow Democrat, will make his selection, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Saturday. The meeting had originally been scheduled for the end of the week, after the Senate plans to reconvene.

“With the passing of my dear friend Senator Daniel Inouye, I have asked the governor of Hawaii to appoint Senator Inouye’s successor with due haste,” Reid said Saturday in a statement. “It is critically important to ensure that the people of Hawaii are fully represented in the pivotal decisions the Senate will be making before the end of the year.”

The Nevada Democrat’s statement came just one day after a moving memorial service for Inouye at the National Cathedral in Washington and the day before a formal service at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Full story

December 21, 2012

Massachusetts: Long Line for Special Senate Election

Massachusetts: Long Line for Special Senate Election

Brown, above, could run in the special election that will be held to succeed Kerry, who has been tapped by Obama to serve as secretary of State. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John Kerry’s nomination for secretary of State will open the flood gates of ambitious Bay State Democrats looking to succeed him.

In fact, the list of potential Democratic candidates grew in the week leading up to today’s White House confirmation that President Barack Obama would nominate the Foreign Relations Committee chairman and five-term senator to the post.

Three longtime Democratic members of the Massachusetts House delegation — Reps. Michael E. Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch and Edward J. Markey — have expressed interest in the Senate seat. Markey has even polled the race, according to the Boston Globe. Earlier this week, Boston media outlets reported businessman Edward M. Kennedy Jr. — the son of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. — is also interested in running.

The winner of the Democratic nomination could face exiting Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., who lost re-election last month, in what many national operatives believe would be a competitive race. A Brown aide told Roll Call earlier this week that it’s too early to speculate on another run. Brown’s father died on Thursday, and the Republican was in Massachusetts on Friday and unavailable for comment.

And then there’s actor and director Ben Affleck.

Full story

December 20, 2012

Report: Mark Sanford to Run for House

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plans to run in the special election for Rep. Tim Scott’s seat, CNN reports.

The Republican’s entrance into the race shakes up a field that could include his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, among other candidates.

Scott’s seat will be vacant soon because Gov. Nikki R. Haley appointed the GOP congressman to the Senate following Sen. Jim DeMint’s announced plans to resign in January to join The Heritage Foundation.

A few days ago, Roll Call reported Sanford was “studying” a comeback bid in Scott’s district.

Full story

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