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

February 12, 2013

Obama to Create Bipartisan Commission on Voting Problems

President Barack Obama announced his intention to create a nonpartisan commission to “improve the voting experience in America” during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

“I’m asking two longtime experts in the field, who, by the way, recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Gov. [Mitt] Romney’s campaign, to lead it,” Obama told lawmakers gathered in the House chamber.

Bob Bauer, a lawyer at Perkins Coie who served as Obama’s White House counsel, also chaired his re-election committee and counsels the Democratic National Committee.

Benjamin Ginsberg, a lawyer at Patton Boggs, advised the Romney campaign and was also national counsel to the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2000 and 2004.

The commission would focus on specific Election Day issues and not delve into more comprehensive voting overhaul efforts, according to media reports.

Obama referenced the need to overhaul voting procedures in both his November victory speech and his inaugural address, saying on Election Day of the long lines: “We need to fix that.” He echoed that sentiment Tuesday evening. Full story

Live Blog: Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address

11:15 p.m.: Thus concludes the State of the Union live blog. Obama delivered a rather energetic speech, with some added policy flairs, such as a proposed minimum wage increase, to his usual government-centered approach. Democrats are likely to be very happy with what they heard, and Republicans not so much, leaving as still unknown the prospects for bipartisan cooperation on looming fiscal issues such as the budget and the debt ceiling.

Rubio’s rebuttal, meanwhile, will initially be remembered for that reach for a gulp of water in the middle of his speech — at least on social media. But for the difficult task that the rebuttal is, Rubio performed capably and probably helped his career because of it.

Good night from Roll Call in Washington.

10:16 p.m.: Obama concludes. Next up, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida with the Republican rebuttal.

10:10 p.m.: The president is closing his State of the Union address with an emotional appeal for Congress to take up Democratic gun control legislation that he is pushing. While some proposals have bipartisan support, many of them do not. “They deserve a vote,” is a phrase the president is repeating over and over. “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he says. “The families of Newtown deserve a vote.” — “The families of Aurora deserve a vote.” — The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg …”

This portion of the #SOTU is likely to stick the most with Democrats, at least. Easily the emotional portion of Obama’s address.

10:08 p.m.: “It has been two months since Newtown,” Obama says.

10 p.m.: Obama calls for the federal government to address threats to U.S. cybersecurity, as part of the latter sections of the State of the Union that declared victory over the “core” elements of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring or developing nuclear weapons capability. The Iran comment drew the most bipartisan applause. Less noted by the members but sure to generate much opposition from Republicans: the president’s proposal for the U.S. to unilaterally reduce its nuclear weapons stockpile to set an example.

9:45 p.m.: Immigration makes an appearance, and for the first time it appears that most in the chamber, Democrat and Republican, stand and applaud, with some cheering to boot. Interestingly enough, Obama does not call specifically for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants though he suggests that legalization should involve “going to the back of the line” behind those trying emigrate legally.

9:40 p.m.: Speech is full of the usual Obama flourishes — “reasonable” this, “common sense” that — expressions of incredulity that certain issues engender partisanship. But unusual for any president’s State of the Union, far fewer applause interruptions than normally occur. Meanwhile, Biden exhibits his usual earnestness as he looks on. Boehner actually looks less grumpy than in the past.

Full story

Club for Growth Bites Back at Barbour’s Critique

The Club for Growth fired back Tuesday at former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour for discouraging GOP donors, including Congressional aides, from giving to the fiscally conservative organization.

“Haley Barbour is a good guy. When he was thinking of running for President, he was more than pleased to attend the Club for Growth’s winter economic conference, and he had nothing but nice things to say about us!” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement. “Now that he’s back to his more familiar roles as a lobbyist and Republican Party insider, he is singing a different tune. That’s politics.”

The club included this photo of Barbour speaking to that conference in 2011:

Club for Growth Bites Back at Barbours Critique

(Courtesy Club for Growth)

Full story

Shop Talk: Booker Aide Says Finance Director Leaving Campaign, Politics

Shop Talk: Booker Aide Says Finance Director Leaving Campaign, Politics

Booker's finance director has left his Senate campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker‘s Senate campaign fundraiser has suddenly left her position with his nascent Senate campaign to seek a gig outside of politics, his aide confirmed.

Samantha Maltzman left the campaign after less than two weeks on the job, although a Booker aide characterized the departure as amicable.

Maltzman came to the Booker campaign as one of her party’s most prominent finance directors in New Jersey. Her résumé, which CQ Roll Call profiled as part of Booker’s team, includes stints with Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Booker is challenging Lautenberg for the Democratic nomination in 2014, although the five-term senator has not said yet whether he will seek re-election.

Maltzman did not return a request for comment. Full story

NRSC Will Link Incumbent Democrats to Obama Agenda

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran released a memo Tuesday warning that  his committee “is ready to capitalize” on President Barack Obama’s “aggressively liberal and partisan” second-term agenda

In his lengthiest statement since taking the helm of the NRSC, Moran cites Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Dakota, Arkansas and Alaska as examples of states where the committee will actively highlight ties between the president and the Democratic incumbent or candidate.

The NRSC released the Kansas Republican’s memo ahead of Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

“The reality is while President Obama and his team burns the political capital that he believes was earned last November, he is lighting an inferno under the electoral prospects for a number Democratic Senate candidates in 2014,” Moran wrote.

Meanwhile, Democratic opposition research firm American Bridge released a video Tuesday morning that features news clips covering Republican infighting. The clips are largely related to a new GOP effort to help nominate the strongest Senate candidates possible, which invited immediate criticism from conservative corners of the party.

February 11, 2013

Massachusetts: Gomez Pulls Papers for GOP Senate Run

Massachusetts Republican Gabriel Gomez, a private equity investor and former Navy SEAL and aircraft carrier pilot, pulled nomination papers Monday for a Senate bid in the special election, a Republican official confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

Gomez will have until Feb. 27 to collect 10,000 valid signatures of Republican and nonpartisan voters to get on the primary ballot — a daunting challenge for any candidate.

There is only one other GOP candidate vying for the open Senate seat who is seen as likely to get on the ballot: state Rep. Dan Winslow, who announced his campaign last week.

Two congressmen, Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch, are squaring off for the Democratic nomination for the seat formerly held by their Democratic colleague, Secretary of State John Kerry.

CQ Roll Call rates the Massachusetts Senate special election as Likely Democratic.

The Boston Globe reported the news about Gomez earlier Monday evening.

South Carolina: Skelly Exits Special Election; Colbert’s Sister Now Top Democratic Contender

Wealthy businessman Martin Skelly on Monday dropped out of the special election for South Carolina’s 1st District and endorsed fellow Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.

“Elizabeth Colbert Busch has demonstrated that she is an outstanding candidate,” Skelly said in a statement released by the Busch campaign. “She inspires both the party faithful and the political center that we need to generate consensus and end gridlock in Congress.”

Busch is now the odds on favorite to win the Democratic nod, although she remains a decided underdog in the special election. Still, she is expected to raise serious money for the race. Her brother is hosting fundraisers in New York City and Charleston, S.C., next week on behalf of her campaign. Full story

Georgia: Price Will Wait on Senate Decision Until May

Georgia: Price Will Wait on Senate Decision Until May

Price will decide later this year about a Senate bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price on Monday announced he would not make a decision on a Senate run until May, citing his responsibilities as vice chairman of the Budget Committee.

“The election of Georgia’s next senator is 21 months away and there is plenty of time for campaigning,” Price said in a statement. “To announce a decision prior to the completion of the work on the debt ceiling and critical fiscal policy in May 2013, would be distracting and unwise. At that time, Betty and I will then be prepared to come to a decision on my candidacy for the U.S. Senate as Georgia’s conservative voice.”

Since Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said he would not run for re-election last month, a number of Peach State congressmen have eyed the seat. Rep. Paul Broun announced his run last week.

But Price’s decision to wait to make a decision could complicate other potential candidates’ strategies. In his statement, Price signaled that his delay was not a sign of weakness.

Full story

Iowa: Democrat Sherzan Announces Bid in 3rd District

Businessman Mike Sherzan, a Democrat, announced Monday that he will run for Iowa’s 3rd District in what could be an open-seat race next year.

“I look forward to meeting with people all across Iowa, working together to begin to break through the old Washington ways, and instead solving problems to move Iowa forward – together,” Sherzan said in a statement.

The seat is currently held by Republican Rep. Tom Latham, who has indicated interest in running for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s seat next year. Latham defeated Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, a Democrat, in a targeted member-vs.-member battle last year. Full story

Shop Talk: NRCC Announces Regional Political Team

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Monday announced its regional political team for the 2014 cycle.

The committee’s political director, Rob Simms, said in a statement, “Each member has unique experience working within the political realm, which will prove to be an invaluable tool as we head into the 2014 election cycle.”

The newly announced team includes: Full story

Giffords Gun Control Group Releases Ad in Targeted TV Markets

Updated 11:08 a.m. | Americans for Responsible Solutions, the gun control group backed by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has released a new television advertisement advocating for background checks.

“Take it from me, Congress must act,” Giffords says in the spot. “Let’s get this done now.”

The spot will air in the home districts of congressional leaders in the following markets: Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Calif., Cincinnati, Ohio, Louisville, Ky, and Las Vegas, Nev., and will air locally on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.

Full story

February 9, 2013

Missouri: Republicans Pick Smith as Nominee for Emerson Seat

Local Republican officials nominated Saturday 32-year-old state Rep. Jason Smith for the open seat in Missouri’s 8th District.

“Jason is a hard worker, good conservative,” Missouri GOP strategist James Harris said. “He fits the district very well. And he’s very knowledgeable about [agricultural] issues.”

Given the very heavy Republican bent of the district, Smith is all but certain to become the newest Show-Me State House member after the June 4 special election. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., resigned from Congress last month, prompting a special election to succeed her.

The 8th District, which stretches over a vast swath of the southeastern part of the state, including the Bootheel, is strongly Republican turf. In 2012, voters there only gave Barack Obama about 32 percent of the vote.

Roll Call rates the race as Safe Republican.

Pennsylvania: Schwartz Closer to Gubernatorial Bid

Pennsylvania: Schwartz Closer to Gubernatorial Bid

Schwartz has been climbing the rungs of Democratic leadership and had indicated interest in challenging Gov. Corbett. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated: 3:57 p.m. | Rep. Allyson Y.  Schwartz, D-Pa., is increasingly close to jumping into the gubernatorial race.

“She’s 80 percent of the way in,” Marcel Groen, the longtime Montgomery County Democratic Party chairman, told PoliticsPA late Friday night.

Schwartz had previously indicated some interest in challenging GOP Gov. Tom Corbett in 2014. She would enter the race as a top contender, although other well-known state Democrats are also openly considering a bid.

Her chief of staff, Rachel Magnuson, confirmed the congresswoman’s interest in the race to CQ Roll Call.

Full story

Illinois: Rush, Davis to Endorse Kelly in Special Election for Jackson Seat

Illinois: Rush, Davis to Endorse Kelly in Special Election for Jackson Seat

Davis is expected to endorse Kelly in the coming days. She is one of a handful of Democratic candidates running to replace Jackson. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Illinois Reps. Danny K. Davis and Bobby L. Rush are wading into the crowded special election to replace former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.

The Democratic duo will back Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly in the coming days, according to two sources with close knowledge of the situation.

Their support caps several strong days for Kelly, who received the Chicago Tribune’s endorsement last night. The winner of the Feb. 26 Democratic primary will come to Congress in all likelihood, given the district’s heavy Democratic composition.

This week, Kelly became the first candidate in the race to hit the airwaves. She released a poll showing her leading the Democratic field in the 2nd District. She’s benefited from more than $820,000 in spending from a super PAC run by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Independence USA PAC.

Full story

February 8, 2013

Iowa: King Waits on Senate Bid, Disputes Criticism on Viability

Iowa: King Waits on Senate Bid, Disputes Criticism on Viability

King has been criticized by some conservatives, but it doesn't appear that it will keep him out of the race for Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

BALTIMORE — Rep. Steve King hinted Friday that a run for the Iowa Senate may be imminent, but said he does not want to announce in the wake of GOP strategist Karl Rove’s attacks on him.

Since American Crossroads President Steven Law attacked him in The New York Times last weekend, King, a Republican, said he continues to consider a run to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin.

“It’s under deliberation of course, and it’s something that I had been looking at before Tom Harkin announced his retirement and now that that has happened, of course it accelerated the decision making process,” King said as he was leaving a Heritage Foundation-sponsored retreat for conservative Republicans in Baltimore.

“I don’t want to step into this thing and make an announcement in the face of the issue that Karl Rove has raised,” he continued. “We’ve got to decide first who’s going to nominate people for public office in America: Somebody outside the state with a big checkbook, or the people of Iowa.”

Full story

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