Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 30, 2014

February 1, 2013

Texas: Commission OKs Campaign Donation Texting at State Level

The Texas Ethics Commission gave its blessing Thursday to campaign donations via text messaging in state races, according to a website run by the Republican attorney who pushed for the change.

There was no set limit on donations in the commission’s opinion, but phone companies usually are inclined to limit text donations to the $5-$10 range.

The attorney behind the effort, Jerad Najvar, and others say they hope this will help the GOP compete with the Democrats in digital technology.

“Texas is now the third state to approve text donations to statewide political campaigns,” Washington-based GOP digital strategist Peter Pasi said. “I think momentum is building to approve it in more [states] in advance of the 2014 elections. What’s significant is that this request came from a Republican group, thus dispelling the notion that text-to-donate is the exclusive realm of Democrats.”

But leading up to the TEC’s opinion, some progressives in the state were also on board.

Maryland and California have previously implemented text-donation policies.

Massachusetts: Brown Won’t Run for Senate

Massachusetts: Brown Wont Run for Senate

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:40 p.m. | Former Sen. Scott P. Brown, the Massachusetts Republican unseated by Democrat Elizabeth Warren in 2012, announced Friday he will not run in the Senate special election to fill the seat held by Sen. John Kerry.

“Over these past few weeks I have given serious thought about the possibility of running again, as events have created another vacancy requiring another special election. I have received a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters to become a candidate, and my competitive instincts were leading in the same direction,” he said in a statement.

“Even so, I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time. And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me,” he said.

“That is why I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in the upcoming special election,” Brown concluded.

Kerry’s resignation from the Senate will take effect Friday afternoon and he will soon be sworn in as secretary of State.

Two Democrats are vying for the Senate nomination in the special election: Reps. Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch. Markey, who has the backing of the Washington, D.C., Democratic establishment, begins the sprint to the April 30 primary as the front-runner.

The Republican bench in the Bay State is thin. Potential contenders include former Gov. Bill Weld and former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey.

Republicans in the state are pessimistic about the race.

“It’s a tough one,” said longtime Bay State Republican strategist Rob Gray. “A special is eminently winnable for Brown, but really doesn’t look as winnable for the crop of potential candidates who come after Brown.”

“With Brown out, the chances of winning the special, go from 60 or 70 percent to well below 20 percent,” he said.

But, Gray added, in the unlikely circumstance that Weld got in the race, Republicans’ chances would increase.

The general election will be held June 25.

Obama Raised Cash Post-Election Day

Obama Raised Cash Post Election Day

(Win McNamee/Getty Images/Pool)

Updated 1:54 p.m. | President Barack Obama’s fundraising operation was still going strong after the most expensive election in history, according to year-end Federal Election Commission reports, the final disclosures for this cycle.

Obama for America collected $5.8 million in the reporting period that covers Nov. 27 through Dec. 31, a Political MoneyLine tally shows, while Obama’s joint fundraising committee with the Democratic National Committee, the Obama Victory Fund 2012, pulled in $1.9 million.

Obama may be the only two-term president to continue fundraising even after his re-election, said Kathy Kiely, managing editor of the Sunlight Foundation’s reporting group. Kiely said she could find no record of previous presidents who maintained their fundraising operations following their second elections.

Full story

January 31, 2013

New Jersey: Geraldo Rivera ‘Truly Contemplating’ Senate Run

Television personality Geraldo Rivera said on his radio program Thursday that he is “truly contemplating” a run as a Republican candidate for Senate in 2014, per The Hill.

Prior to this news, the action had been entirely on the Democratic side. Newark Mayor Cory Booker has created a federal account in preparation for a Senate run — a move that has greatly antagonized Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, who has not yet said if he is running for re-election.

Another possible Democratic contender is Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. A number of state officials are also being discussed as candidates or are publicly talking about runs, pending Lautenberg’s decision.

Roll Call rates the race as Safe Democratic.

House Majority PAC Announces Top 2014 GOP Incumbent Targets

House Majority PAC Announces Top 2014 GOP Incumbent Targets

Bachmann, left, is being targeted by House Majority PAC. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority PAC, the super PAC formed in the 2012 cycle to support Democratic House candidates, has rolled out its first round of Republican incumbent targets for the 2014 cycle.

They are:

    • Rep. Michele Bachmann – Minnesota’s 6th
    • Rep. Mike Coffman – Colorado’s 6th
    • Rep. Gary G. Miller – California’s 31st
    • Rep. Rodney Davis – Illinois’ 13th
    • Rep. Michael G. Fitzpatrick – Pennsylvania’s 8th
    • Rep. Michael G. Grimm – New York’s 11th
    • Rep. Joe Heck – Nevada’s 3rd
    • Rep. David Joyce – Ohio’s 14th
    • Rep. John Kline – Minnesota’s 2nd
    •  Rep. Steve Southerland II – Florida’s 2nd

“In 2012, House Majority PAC built a strong record of success, and in 2013 we are ready to hit the ground running to hold these Republicans accountable and communicate with swing voters about their extreme records and backward priorities,” House Majority PAC Executive Director Alixandria Lapp said.

The group spent heavily in the fall of 2012, making major ad buys in markets.

Massachusetts: Lynch Launches Senate Bid

As expected, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch on Thursday launched a bid for Senate, releasing a YouTube video and barnstorming around the state. The official announcement is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at a hall at Ironworkers Local 7 in South Boston, Lynch’s home turf.

The Web video telegraphed some themes voters can expect to to hear from the congressman as he takes on his colleague, Rep. Edward J. Markey, in the Democratic primary for the special election being held to replace resigning Sen. John Kerry, who will be soon be sworn in as the secretary of State.

“Lynch has never forgotten where he came from,” a male narrator with a syrupy voice says of the congressman, a former ironworker. “Stephen Lynch for Senate. He’ll go to Washington to stand up, not to fit in.”

Markey has the backing of the Democratic establishment in Washington, D.C., along with the endorsement of Kerry and others.

Voters will make their choice April 30.

Former Sen. Scott P. Brown, a Republican who lost to now-Sen. Elizabeth Warren in November, has not yet said whether he’ll enter the race.

FEC Complaint Targets HHS Secretary Sebelius

FEC Complaint Targets HHS Secretary Sebelius

A 2012 trip by Sebelius violated the Hatch Act and included misreported payments by the DNC, according to a watchdog group. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:29 a.m. | The government watchdog group Cause of Action has alleged in a complaint to the Federal Election Commission that the Democratic National Committee misreported payments to the Health and Human Services Department following a 2012 trip by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that violated the Hatch Act.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel concluded in September that Sebelius had violated the 1939 Hatch Act, which restricts political activities by government employees, when she called for President Barack Obama’s re-election at a February 2012 rally in Charlotte, N.C..

The violation was “cured” when HHS subsequently reclassified the event as political and received reimbursement from the DNC, the OSC found. But documents obtained by Cause of Action through Freedom of Information Act requests suggest the matter is not closed, the watchdog group has charged.

Full story

DCCC, NRCC Release Final 2012 Fundraising Numbers

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee released their final tallies of fundraising for the 2012 cycle, which saw the Democrats pick up seats but Republicans maintain the majority.

During the two-year cycle, the DCCC raised $183.8 million to the NRCC’s $155.7 million.

The DCCC ended the cycle with a debt of $13.5 million. But the NRCC wasn’t far behind, ending the year with $12 million in debt.

In the final Federal Election Commission reporting period from Nov. 27 through Dec. 31, the DCCC raised $1.9 million to the NRCC’s $605,000. Full story

EMILY’s List Endorses Hagan and Shaheen

EMILYs List Endorses Hagan and Shaheen

Shaheen has received the backing of EMILY's List. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

EMILY’s List, the Democratic group that backs female candidates who support abortion rights, has endorsed Democratic Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

“For the past four years, Senators Hagan and Shaheen have been tireless advocates for women and families in Congress,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a press release. “Both became the first Democratic women to represent their state in the Senate with the help of the EMILY’s List Community,

Shaheen enters the cycle in much better re-election shape than Hagan. New Hampshire delivered for President Barack Obama, who won the swing state by 6 points, and both of its House seats swung back to the Democrats in 2012. More importantly, there is no obvious Republican challenger to Shaheen at this point. Hagan is one of the most vulnerable members of the Democratic caucus, and her state went for Mitt Romney in 2012, despite a strong Obama ground operation.

Few will dispute that EMILY’s List is riding high after the 2012 cycle. The organization dramatically increased its membership, in large part to a reaction from Republican candidate gaffes and anti-abortion policies.

January 30, 2013

Georgia: All Signs Point to Broun Senate Bid

Georgia: All Signs Point to Broun Senate Bid

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP Rep. Paul Broun is informing donors that he will enter Georgia’s open-seat Senate race, with an official announcement expected shortly.

Broun appears likely to become the first Republican to enter the race to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss. One Georgia GOP operative said late Wednesday that the congressman is calling donors and telling them that he’s running for Senate.

His wife, Niki, spilled the beans Tuesday night, telling a local audience that her husband is running for Senate, according to a report on a website. Niki Broun, according to the story on viralread.com, “stood up in front of the crowd and … declared that not only did her husband have her permission and support to run to be Georgia’s next junior U.S. Senator, but that he was openly announcing his candidacy.” Full story

California: Obama Backs Honda as Primary Threat Looms

President Barack Obama on Monday endorsed Rep. Michael M. Honda, a seven-term Democrat representing a safe district.

“We need Congressman Mike Honda in the United States Congress, and I urge you to vote to keep him there,” Obama said in a statement.

The endorsement comes fewer than three months after the 2012 elections, a remarkably early show of support from the president. But it’s no doubt in reaction to the rumored threat of a primary from attorney Ro Khanna, who has congressional ambitions and a war chest in excess of $1 million.

Khanna had also been rumored to be considering a bid in the neighboring 15th District, where Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell knocked off veteran Democrat Pete Stark last year. That was the first federal election under the state’s new top-two primary format, which allows for members of the same party to face off in the general.

Illinois: Democrats Recruit Judge as Gill Ponders Another Run

Emergency room physician David Gill is considering a fifth House bid — and worrying Democrats who believe he’s had his turn to run.

“I haven’t ruled anything in or out either way,” Gill said in a Tuesday phone interview. “I think it was a good campaign we ran last time.”

Gill narrowly lost to GOP Rep. Rodney Davis in the competitive 13th District last November. Gill’s interest creates a potentially messy situation for Democrats, who are trying to recruit Madison County Circuit Court Chief Judge Ann Callis to run for the seat. Full story

Illinois: Harris Drops Out, Backs Kelly in Special

And then there were 21 … candidates to succeed former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill.

This afternoon, former NFL linebacker Napoleon Harris dropped out of the 2nd District special election and backed fellow Democrat, Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly.

“I believe we need to fight for more educational opportunity, better jobs and to get guns out of the hands of criminals and gangs that are preying on our neighborhoods,” Harris said in a statement from the Kelly campaign. “I believe Robin Kelly is the right candidate to pick up that cause to fight for the people of Chicago and the Southland.”

While the Democratic field remains large and varied, Kelly’s supporters argue this helps her because it puts more of Harris’ geographic base — including the key Thornton Township — in play.

The top tier of candidates includes Alderman Anthony Beale, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson and Kelly. The Feb. 26 Democratic primary winner is expected to come to Congress given the district’s heavy Democratic composition.

Full story

Massachusetts: Patrick Names Cowan as Interim Senator

UPDATED 11:45 a.m. | Massachusetts Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick announced Wednesday that his former chief of staff, William “Mo” Cowan, will serve as the state’s interim senator until a new senator is chosen in a June 25 special election.

“Today I have the great honor, privilege and personal pleasure to appoint Mo Cowan as United States Senator in the interim,” Patrick said at a Boston news conference.

Calling Cowan a “highly-respected public citizen,” Patrick tapped the fellow attorney to fill the seat soon to be vacated by John Kerry. Cowan has served in Patrick’s administration since 2009 and is his former chief of staff and chief legal counsel.

When he takes the oath of office, Cowan will become the second African-American senator currently serving, alongside Republican Tim Scott of South Carolina. Full story

January 29, 2013

FEC Increases Contribution Limits for 2014

The Federal Election Commission increased the limits on contributions that individuals can give to candidates for federal office and national party committees in the 2014 election cycle.

Individual donors can now contribute up to $2,600 to a candidate in both the primary and general elections — $5,200 total — and $32,400 per calendar year to national party committees. The total amount of federal contributions that an individual can give during a two-year cycle also increased to $123,200, including $48,600 to candidates and $74,600 to parties and political action committees. Full story

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