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November 14, 2012
The head of EMILY’s List said Wednesday that she is encouraged that Ashley Judd hasn’t closed the door to a challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., next year, but said she’s far from certain the actress will run.
“We’ve had some initial conversations with Ashley Judd,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in an interview. EMILY’s List is an advocacy group promoting female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights.
Schriock noted that Judd attended this year’s Democratic National Convention and spoke on a panel sponsored by EMILY’s List and Marie Claire.
“She was on our panel in Charlotte,” she said. “She did a fantastic job, a fantastic job. She wowed the crowd. The crowd literally started saying, ‘Run Ashley, run!’ in that meeting. She has such great desire for public service and she wants to find the best way to do that.”
When asked whether she thought Judd would ultimately run, Schriock said “I don’t know.”
Rep. Greg Walden, Ore., is not officially the new National Republican Congressional Committee chairman, but he is already fundraising like he is.
Walden, who is running unopposed for the post, emailed NRCC supporters Wednesday about the news that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Calif., will continue to lead the Democratic Caucus.
“So Pelosi is not going to retire — even though you and I have put her in the Minority for two straight elections,” Walden wrote. “They’re going to let the most liberal Democrat there is run the most liberal House Democratic Caucus ever…We want to send a message to former Speaker Pelosi and her far-left colleagues that America can’t afford what they’re selling.” Full story
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has long been floated as a potential pick for President Barack Obama’s second secretary of State. The Washington Post recently floated him as in the running for secretary of Defense as well.
Obama would, of course, risk losing one of Massachusetts’ Democratic-held Senate seats in a special election if Kerry joined his cabinet. Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday that he would support the nomination of Kerry to a cabinet post and that he was not too concerned about the risk of another special election in Massachusetts.
“I’ll do everything I can to help him if he’s chosen, and we feel very comfortable if in fact something does happen — we feel comfortable in Massachusetts. I think that I’ve already told you how I feel about Scott Brown,” Reid said, in reference to comments made earlier in the news conference about the outgoing GOP senator from Massachusetts.
Rep. Allen B. West, R-Fla., who trails his Democratic opponent with 100 percent of precincts reporting, went to court Tuesday, asking a judge to order a recount of all early votes in St. Lucie County, one of three counties in the reconfigured 18th district.
West also asked the court to keep the county “from certifying results of the election for the 18th Congressional District until all ballots cast during the early voting period have been counted,” according to a campaign statement.
The crux of the issue: the county recounted only some of the early votes after it said it would recount all of them. The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections is a Democrat and the West campaign alleges impropriety.
Updated 3:37 p.m.| Senate Republicans named Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas to serve as vice chairmen of the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Wednesday.
The duo will support the NRSC’s newly elected chairman, Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, who ran unopposed for the gig. Portman will be vice chairman of finance, and Cruz will be vice chairman for grass roots.
Senate Republicans also voted this morning to elevate Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to be minority whip and re-elected Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as minority leader. This is the fourth leadership election in which McConnell has been unopposed for the post.
Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida both spoke on McConnell’s behalf in the meeting before the election was held, according to their respective staffs. “Mitch unifies all of us, regardless of philosophy or what part of the country we come from. He’s the smartest political mind around and a great listener,” Rubio said in his speech. “Above all else, what Mitch cares about is whether we succeed as a conference and as a country, and that’s why I’m proud to nominate him for another term as leader.”
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota was re-elected as Republican Conference chairman. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri was re-elected as Republican Conference vice chairman and Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming was re-elected as Republican policy committee chairman. None of the leadership posts was contested. Full story
November 13, 2012
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio will not run for National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman in Wednesday’s leadership elections, according to a GOP aide familiar with his decision.
“He was honored to hear from so many asking him to consider running,” the aide said. “It was not something he had ever given much thought to, but he decided it’s best to keep his focus on some of these huge policy issues that we face as a nation.”
Portman’s decision means the post will likely go to Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, the only candidate to publicly express interest in the post. Moran told Roll Call last week that he’s been running for the seat for at least six months, lobbying his colleagues for support. He announced last week that he had enough votes to win the race — although he declined to give a specific figure.
Portman’s decision may come as a disappointment to Senate Republicans who praised his fundraising prowess, both in his southern Ohio base and in financial centers such as New York. In 2012, Portman was the top fundraiser for the NRSC in the freshman class.
Outgoing Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., didn’t rule out a statewide bid in 2014 in a recent interview with The Daily Herald.
Last week, Walsh, one of the House GOP’s most outspoken and controversial conservatives, lost re-election to Democratic Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth. Walsh had this to say to the suburban Chicago newspaper when asked about a gubernatorial bid in 2014:
“Am I going to do something? Oh gosh, I don’t know,” he said. “People approach me every day and ask, ‘Walsh, are you going to run for the governor? Are you going to run for Senate?’ I want to do my part to lead a movement to present a vision to this. I’d rather go down fighting. Democrats have ruined this state but they’ve been able to do it because the Republicans have allowed them to.”
Oregon Rep. Greg Walden today wrote to his Republican colleagues, asking for their support in his unopposed bid for the chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Walden, a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), has served as the deputy to outgoing NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) for two cycles and noted Sessions’ support in his letter.
“Over the past four years, I have had the privilege to serve as Pete Sessions’ deputy as we have worked together to transform the NRCC into a member driven organization with programs that have purpose and accountability,” Walden wrote. “With Pete’s full support, I now seek to serve our conference as NRCC chairman, and I ask for your vote.”
At least two well-known Republicans are actively considering challenges to Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, who enters the 2014 cycle as one of the most endangered incumbents.
According to Republican insiders in the state, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller are making calls and lining up support for potential Senate bids. Former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan are also viewed as potential Begich challengers. Gov. Sean Parnell might be interested as well, insiders said.
GOP consultant Andrew Halcro said it might be easier to ask which Republicans aren’t considering taking on Begich. But, he added, Begich will be more difficult to defeat than most think after striking a moderate tone and working hard during the past four years.
Begich is running for his first re-election. In 2008, he defeated Republican incumbent Ted Stevens, one week after Stevens was found guilty of corruption charges in federal court — a ruling that was thrown out five months later. Begich, then mayor of Anchorage, won by less than 4,000 votes.
GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried Alaska last week by 13 points.
As the political world began to transition from 2012 to 2014 last week, some of the most tantalizing buzz centered around actress Ashley Judd and the possibility that she might seek the Democratic nomination to run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“I cherish Kentucky, heart and soul, and while I’m very honored by the consideration, we have just finished an election, so let’s focus on coming together to keep moving America’s families, and especially our kids, forward,” she said in a statement Nov. 9, according to The Associated Press.
Recent comments from Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., also gave the story legs. Full story
Special election speculation swirled this weekend amid reports that Democratic Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. could resign his seat as part of a plea deal with federal investigators.
CBS Chicago reported Jackson has not pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, but he’s discussing a deal that includes his resignation by the end of the year, plus some jail time.
Possible Democratic candidates who would run to succeed Jackson include Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly and state Sens. Toi Hutchinson and Napoleon Harris, a former linebacker for Northwestern University, according to several Illinois sources. Full story
November 12, 2012
Five House races remain unresolved almost a week after Election Day.
The two main developments since Friday in uncalled races were in California and Arizona. Earlier today, Democratic former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema won the race against Republican Vernon Parker in Arizona’s 9th district. On Friday night, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) formally conceded to Democrat Raul Ruiz. Here are the races still up in the air: Full story
Former Democratic state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has officially defeated Republican Vernon Parker in Arizona’s 9th District race, according to The Associated Press.
The narrow margin between Sinema and Parker put the race into overtime and led to a delay in declaring a winner, but Sinema has slowly increased her lead since Election Day.
Looking forward, this Phoenix-area seat will remain highly competitive. It is a new seat created after reapportionment and Sinema will be the first person to occupy it. Full story
November 10, 2012
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed to echo the frustrations of Arizonans today when he issued a statement on the ongoing ballot counting in the state.
“All of the votes in Arizona must be counted promptly, accurately and equally!” the Nevada Democrat said in a written statement. “The uncounted votes in Maricopa County alone represent a major portion of the total votes cast in Arizona on Tuesday.”
“I expect state and local officials in Arizona to ensure that every vote is counted promptly, accurately and equally,” he added.
The Associated Press and most news organizations called the Senate race between Republican Rep. Jeff Flake and former Surgeon General Richard Carona earlier this week. There are two outstanding House races in Arizona.
But the outstanding ballot sum is much greater than the margin between Flake and Carmona. At least one smart state Democrat is not completely ruling out an upset when the votes are finally tallied.
Arizona’s 2nd is the House race with the most uncertainty. As of this writing, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally was barely leading Democratic Rep. Ron Barber. Sources from both parties strongly warn that any lead until after the weekend is tenuous. Expect more see-sawing.
In Arizona’s 9th, former Democratic state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has held onto her lead over Republican Rep. Vernon Parker, but it has yet to be called.
Arizona political strategists became increasingly frustrated with the state’s slow ballot counting for several reasons, most notably, clerical errors and a large number of provisional ballots.
November 9, 2012
Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) today conceded her race to Democrat Raul Ruiz, who joins a large freshman contingent in the state’s Congressional delegation.
Ruiz was leading Bono Mack by 4,679 votes as of Thursday evening, with thousands of absentee and provisional ballots still to count.
“Dr. Ruiz will do a fine job if he is guided as well by the people of the Congressional district as I was. Please give him the opportunity to succeed,” Bono Mack said in a statement.
Ruiz, a physician, was a top recruit of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which launched a media campaign against Bono Mack in mid-September. That set off a spending war among outside groups from both sides, as the district moved squarely onto the competitive playing field. Full story