Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 23, 2014

January 29, 2013

Florida: Which Republican Will Challenge Garcia?

Florida: Which Republican Will Challenge Garcia?

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Political ambition has never been in short supply in Miami. So it’s no surprise that there’s already talk in GOP circles of who might be eyeing the seat held by freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia.

Garcia beat Republican David Rivera by more than 10 points in November, while President Barack Obama won the district by about 7 points. But that doesn’t mean the GOP won’t try to make the 2014 race competitive. Rivera was plagued by a series of ethical scandals that, presumably, the 2014 Republican nominee won’t have to contend with.

One top potential GOP candidate for the district — who was often floated as a potential primary challenger to Rivera last year — is state Sen. Anitere Flores. But sources close to Florida Senate leaders tell CQ Roll Call that Flores has assured them she’s not leaving the legislature to run for Congress. Full story

Conservatives Expect Cornyn Primary Challenger

Conservatives Expect Cornyn Primary Challenger

Cornyn has said he is expecting a primary challenge in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 1:17 p.m. | The founder and director of a grass-roots conservative group said he expects Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, to face a primary challenge. Cornyn is up for re-election in 2014.

“I don’t know how good of a primary challenge he is going to get at this point, but he will get a primary challenge,” said Dean Wright, co-founder and director of New Revolution Now, based in Austin, Texas.

“There is vetting going on,” Wright said, but he did not have any other details. He noted that one possible challenger could be Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is viewed as much more likely to run for governor in 2014. Abbott and Cornyn are known to have a cordial relationship, with Cornyn once touting Abbott as a possible Senate candidate.

“He would, if he did run, most likely bring in the tea party and the conservative grass roots behind him,” Wright said, adding that his group would likely support Abbott.

Abbot came to the national stage in 2005 when he defended before the U.S. Supreme Court, and won, the right of the state to display a Ten Commandments monument on the state capitol grounds.

Still, the idea that Abbott would challenge Cornyn seems far fetched at this point. “Anyone who knows anything about Texas politics knows that Abbott is gearing up to run for governor,” a Texas GOP source said.

Cornyn has said he isn’t taking his seat for granted and is expecting a primary challenge.

Others agree that a challenge could be in the offing, but were skeptical of the challenger winning.

With Cornyn considered “part of the establishment, maybe he’ll draw a primary opponent, but I don’t anticipate any strong opponent,” said a Texas Republican political operative.

A Texas GOP political consultant said there is definitely a segment of the party that wants Cornyn to be challenged, but the movement may be waning, which could help the minority whip retain his seat.

“When it comes to crazies Texas really is a whole different level,” the consultant said. “I’m not sure their thirst can be quenched. He’s preparing for somebody.”

Ohio: Boccieri Plots Comeback to Congress

Ohio: Boccieri Plots Comeback to Congress

Former Rep. John Boccieri has filed to run for Congress in 2014. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Rep. John Boccieri, a Democrat from north-central Ohio, will attempt to return to Congress in 2014.

Boccieri filed paperwork to challenge Republican Rep. Bob Gibbs in the 7th District. But he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Monday that he might also seek Rep. Tim Ryan’s seat if the Democrat retires to run for governor.

Buckeye State Democrats view Boccieri as a strong candidate who could give Gibbs a competitive race in the GOP-leaning 7th District. Meanwhile, Ryan has not ruled out leaving his solidly Democratic seat to run for governor.

Boccieri served in the House for a single term following the 2008 elections, before GOP Rep. James B. Renacci defeated him. In 2012, Republicans redrew Ohio’s congressional boundaries, dividing Boccieri’s former terrain among a few new House districts.

Boccieri did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Shop Talk: NRSC Announces Senior Staff

Shop Talk: NRSC Announces Senior Staff

Dayspring, left, the new National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director, formerly worked for Cantor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced its senior staff Tuesday, rounding out an overhaul of leadership for the new cycle as the party aims to win the majority in 2014.

Serving under NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas and NRSC Executive Director Rob Collins, who was hired in December, are an array of operatives with both campaign and Capitol Hill experience.

Brad Dayspring, a former top aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., is taking over as communications director. Dayspring replaces Brian Walsh, who served at the NRSC during the past two cycles and has helped out during the transition. Walsh is in the process of opening his own consulting firm. Full story

January 28, 2013

Massachusetts: Markey Calls for the ‘People’s Pledge’

Massachusetts: Markey Calls for the People’s Pledge’

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Edward J. Markey is calling on all candidates who might run in the special election to succeed Sen. John Kerry to urge super PACs and other third-party groups against spending money in the race.

The thing is, Markey was the only declared candidate as of press time.

“People’s pledge” is the term Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Republican Sen. Scott P. Brown used to describe their agreement to eliminate outside spending in their blockbuster 2012 campaign. Full story

GOP Group Urges ‘Tonally Sensitive’ Immigration Messaging

House Republicans on Monday received a list of immigration messaging “dos and don’ts” from the Hispanic outreach arm of a top GOP super PAC, with recommendations focused on urging members to use “tonally sensitive” rhetoric, regardless of their position on the issue.

The Hispanic Leadership Network, affiliated with the American Action Network, says in its emailed memo that conservatives should avoid the “negative tone and harsh rhetoric” that has hurt them in the past as well as make it clear that they celebrate America as a nation of immigrants who have come here “in search of opportunity and a chance at a better future through hard work.” The memo then lays out a list of messaging recommendations House Republicans should follow when discussing immigration overhaul legislation and illegal immigration generally.

Implicit in the memo is the concern that Republicans might further alienate Hispanic voters with insensitive rhetoric as the debate over immigration heats up after Monday’s unveiling in the Senate of a bipartisan framework for legislation. President Barack Obama is expected to speak on the issue Tuesday during a stop in Las Vegas.

Here’s the Hispanic Leadership Network memo:

Full story

New Jersey: Pascrell Opts Out of Gubernatorial Bid

New Jersey: Pascrell Opts Out of Gubernatorial Bid

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. won't run for governor of New Jersey in the upcoming November contest. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey will not be running for governor, despite finding the office “intriguing” in December.

In a joint press release with the Democratic leadership of the three counties he represents, Bergen, Hudson and Passaic, Pascrell announced that he was endorsing state Sen. Barbara Buono for governor.

No other serious Democratic candidate has emerged, and this is a show of establishment support behind Buono.

Should she win her party’s nomination, she will challenge popular Republican Gov. Chris Christie in November of this year.


New York: Maffei-Buerkle Round Three?

New York: Maffei Buerkle Round Three?

Former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle is considering a comeback. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In 2010, Republican Ann Marie Buerkle unseated then-freshman Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei. In 2012, Maffei unseated then-freshmen Rep. Buerkle. And on Sunday, Buerkle floated the possibility of a comeback bid, telling a meeting of the Conservative Party that another run for Congress is “on the table,” according to the Empire State political blog Capital Tonight.

The 2010 race was one of the closest in the country. But the newly configured 24th district, drawn by a federal judge, leans Democratic and Maffei unseated Buerkle without much trouble in November. In the district, President Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney by about 16 points.

It would take a unique set of circumstances for Buerkle, an outspoken conservative, to put the district back in play.

Still, in New York politics, stranger things have happened.

Illinois: Hutchinson Gets Cook County Board President’s Endorsement

Illinois state Sen. Toi Hutchinson received the backing of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Monday in the special election for the 2nd District.

Preckwinkle is one of Chicagoland’s top elected officials, and her support will help Hutchinson in the crowded Democratic primary, scheduled for Feb. 26.

“A wildly popular figure such as President Preckwinkle gives Hutchinson an important boost,” said Tom Bowen, a media strategist and former political adviser to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s resignation prompted the special election in this heavily Democratic,black-majority district on the South Side. The Democratic field is large and varied: Alderman Anthony Beale, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, former NFL linebacker Napoleon Harris, Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly, former Rep. Mel Reynolds and Hutchinson.

Full story

Iowa Senate Race Now Leans Democratic

Iowa Senate Race Now Leans Democratic

Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is considering a 2014 Senate bid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Tom Harkin’s retirement makes the Iowa Senate seat more competitive by virtue of the six-term Democrat’s departure. Couple that with the Hawkeye State’s competitive nature, and this race could be one of the most targeted of the 2014 cycle.

Accordingly, CQ Roll Call now characterizes the Iowa Senate race as Leans Democratic, after previously rating the contest as Likely Democratic.

Harkin was favored for re-election, thanks in part to the $2.7 million he had in the bank. Today, the seat is in play — although it does not yet join the most competitive echelon of 2014 Senate races.

For this race to become a top target in 2014, the GOP must circumvent a divisive primary.

Full story

Montana: Baucus Has $3.6 Million in the Bank

Montana: Baucus Has $3.6 Million in the Bank

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus raised $3.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., will kick off his re-election bid with $3.6 million in the bank, according to a copy of his fundraising report obtained by CQ Roll Call.

The Senate Finance Committee chairman raised $610,000 during the final three months of last year. His year-end report, which will be filed on the Jan. 31 deadline, showed he spent $121,500 during the same period.

Baucus’ big number comes as welcome news for Democrats, who face a difficult map in 2014. The six-term senator represents one of seven seats up this cycle in a state that the president lost.

Full story

January 27, 2013

Iowa: Braley to Explore Senate Bid for Harkin’s Seat

Iowa: Braley to Explore Senate Bid for Harkins Seat

Braley indicated Sunday that he is interested in running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Bruce Braley on Sunday publicly acknowledged his interest in running to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin in 2014.

“Over the past 24 hours, I’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of encouragement and support from Iowans in every corner of the state urging me to consider a campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2014,” the Democrat said in a statement released by his office. “Iowans deserve a Senator who will continue Tom Harkin’s legacy of strengthening the middle class and standing up for Iowans who don’t have a voice. While Senator Harkin’s shoes are impossible to fill, over the coming days my family and I will carefully weigh a possible candidacy for Senate.”

Harkin announced his retirement Saturday morning, setting up the Hawkeye State’s first open Senate seat race in several decades. The novelty, plus Iowa’s competitive political composition, is expected to make this race one of the most targeted of 2014. Full story

January 26, 2013

Iowa: Harkin Retirement Sets Off Open-Seat Scramble in 2014

Iowa: Harkin Retirement Sets Off Open Seat Scramble in 2014

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 11:40 a.m. | Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin announced on Saturday that he will not seek a sixth term in the chamber. The news was first reported by the Associated Press.

“After 40 years, I just feel it’s somebody else’s turn,” Harkin said in a lengthy statement. “I don’t by any means plan to retire completely from public life at the end of this Congress. But I am going to make way for someone new in this Senate seat. I think that is right not just for me, but for Iowa, as well.”

Harkin, who is 73 years old, serves as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as well as the Appropriations subcommittee that handles the budgets for many of the same agencies. He passed up a chance to become chairman of the full Appropriations Committee after the death of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, late last year.

Harkin’s retirement sets off what is expected to be a highly competitive open-seat race in the swing state — one that is likely to feature two or more House members. Rep. Bruce Braley, who was exploring a run for governor, now tops the list of possible Democratic Senate candidates. Meanwhile, Republicans await word from two House members, Reps. Steve King and Tom Latham, on whether they will pursue the open seat. Full story

January 25, 2013

Massachusetts: Talk of Lynch Bid to Replace Kerry Increases

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Stephen F. Lynch will announce his decision on a Senate run next week, but has been setting the groundwork for a bid — from fundraising to political maneuvering — should he decide to get in.

Lynch spokesman Scott Ferson told CQ Roll Call the congressman is doing everything he would need to do to mount a Senate bid next week and will make a final announcement on his decision then, when Sen. John Kerry is expected to be confirmed as secretary of State.

Lynch on Friday denied local media reports that he had made up his mind to challenge Rep. Edward J. Markey, telling the Boston Herald that he is still weighing what he would do. “I realize that time is short, but I still think we have a shot,” Lynch said to the paper.

Kerry is expected to be confirmed as secretary of State next week and immediately resign his Senate office. Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick will then appoint an interim senator and set the date of the special election, expected in early summer. Full story

Priebus Easily Re-Elected RNC Chairman

Priebus Easily Re Elected RNC Chairman

Priebus was re-elected as Republican National Committee chairman. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Reince Priebus was re-elected as chairman of the Republican National Committee on Friday, garnering the near unanimous support of the 168 RNC voting members.

The challenges facing Priebus as the head of the Republican Party entering the 2014 cycle are different than what he dealt with when he took over in 2011. Then, Priebus was tasked with overhauling RNC operations, including paying off a $24 million debt and rehabilitating its image among GOP donors. But he was buoyed at the time by fresh enthusiasm from big wins in the 2010 midterm elections.

This time around, the RNC is in good shape financially — the committee ended 2012 debt free and with $4.7 million in the bank. But the result of the 2012 elections left the party faithful deflated: The party’s brand is in the tank nationally, emerging demographic voting blocs favor the Democrats, and the GOP also finds itself trailing its opposition in the ability to target and turn out voters. Full story

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