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

January 24, 2013

Virginia: Warner, Kaine Disappointed With Controversial State Senate Bills

Virginia: Warner, Kaine Disappointed With Controversial State Senate Bills

Kaine said the Virginia state Senate will continue to be the butt of late night TV jokes. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine — both former governors of the commonwealth — are disappointed with a couple of bills moving forward in the state Senate, including a proposal that would allocate the state’s presidential electoral votes by congressional district.

That bill, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bill Carrico, would give presidential nominees an electoral vote for each of Virginia’s 11 congressional districts they carry, plus two at-large votes to the nominee that wins a majority of the districts. If the bill had been law last year, President Barack Obama would have won just four of the state’s 13 electoral votes, despite winning the state by some 150,000 votes.

“The vote is sacred,” Kaine said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “No legislative chamber should use this kind of partisan stunt to gain a temporary advantage at the expense of the electorate. It’s dirty tricks like this that will keep the Virginia legislature a staple on late night TV.” Full story

Nevada Ron Paul Supporters to Nominate Priebus

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Reince Priebus, running unchallenged for re-election as Republican National Committee chairman, has secured the support of Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald and Silver State RNC committeeman James Smack, sources said Thursday afternoon.

In fact, McDonald and Smack are set to serve as two of the six nominators (two each from three different states) that Priebus needs to secure on a position on the ballot.

Although Priebus’ re-election is not in doubt, their decision to back the incumbent chairman could prove significant for the RNC moving forward. Both supported former Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s failed 2012 bid for the GOP presidential nomination, and last year’s takeover of the Nevada GOP by Paul supporters caused top Silver State Republicans, the RNC and White House nominee Mitt Romney to build a shadow party to handle the basic political activities usually overseen by the state party.

Dysfunctional state parties in key states, such as Nevada, are believed to be among the factors that put Romney and other Republican candidates at a disadvantage against President Barack Obama and downticket Democrats last cycle.

RNC members are in Charlotte for the party’s annual winter meeting as the GOP attempts to chart a path forward in the aftermath of the November elections, in which Obama was handily re-elected and Democrats netted two Senate seats. Among the lingering issues from the 2012 cycle was a small division that opened up between the Republican establishment and Paul supporters, who remain active in various state parties.

Connecticut: Roraback to Be Nominated as Judge, Diminishing Likely Rematch With Esty

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is about to do fellow Democrat Rep. Elizabeth Esty a big favor. He is nominating her 2012 Republican rival, former state Sen. Andrew Roraback, to a state judgeship, according to local reports.

Connecticut political operatives are abuzz with the news. Democrats are elated, while Republicans are concerned. All wonder if the move neutralizes Roraback’s ability to challenge Esty next year. The 5th District saw one of the closest House races in the country and is a place where Republicans had been looking to go on offense — with Roraback as their standard-bearer. A local newspaper recently named Roraback its 2012 Person of the Year.

Roraback is a long-time officeholder and a passionate moderate. In November, reflecting on a dreadful year for Republicans in New England, he was on the fence about another run against Esty.

“I view my race not as a reason for pessimism,” he told CQ Roll Call at the time. “I think my race was a reason for optimism for our party because it shows that victory is within reach for Republicans in New England.”

South Carolina: Moffly Loans Campaign $200,000

South Carolina: Moffly Loans Campaign $200,000

(Courtesy Elizabeth Moffly)

Republican Elizabeth Moffly, one of a number of candidates running for the open seat in South Carolina’s 1st District, loaned her campaign $200,000 Wednesday, a source close to the campaign told CQ Roll Call.

Moffly, a Charleston County schoolboard trustee and owner of some local businesses, is currently the only woman in a crowded GOP field for the seat vacated by now-Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican.

The loan, while not a huge amount of money for the race, at least gives Moffly the potential to become competitive.

She launched her campaign last week and joins a long list of GOP hopefuls including former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford; state Rep. Chip Limehouse; Teddy Turner, the son of TV mogul Ted Turner; state Sen. Larry Grooms and former state Sen. John Kuhn, among others.

Although the district is comfortably Republican, there are two Democrats running, one of whom is the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.

Filing for the race closes on Jan. 28 at noon.

The primary will be held on March 19. An April 2 runoff is expected because no candidate is likely to get more than 50 percent of the vote in such a crowded field. The special election will be held May 7.

January 23, 2013

RNC Meets in Charlotte for Winter Meeting

Members of the Republican National Committee descended upon Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday to kick off the committee’s three-day winter meeting.

The headline of the RNC’s post-election meeting is always the race for chairman, but this year Reince Priebus, who was first elected in 2011, appears headed to a comfortable re-election. Despite a convincing victory in November for President Barack Obama, Priebus is credited with getting the RNC out of debt, and he has claimed an overwhelming majority of support among the RNC’s 168 voting members.

Beyond Friday’s officer elections, the gathering in Charlotte — where Democrats held their national convention in September — also features training sessions and business meetings, including debates over rules changes. The theme this year is to renew, grow and win, and the strategy sessions will focus on the tools needed to appeal to a wider range of voters and ultimately win more elections.

Campaign Committee Scorecard: Outlook for 2014

Campaign Committee Scorecard: Outlook for 2014

From left, DCCC Chairman Israel, NRCC Chairman Walden, DSCC Chairman Bennet and NRSC Chairman Moran

Congressional campaign committees have seen their financial influence wane in the past two cycles with the advent of super PACs. But make no mistake, these entities remain a powerful force in determining the playing field for the midterm elections.

While outside groups have replicated pieces of the campaign committees’ role — from recruitment to opposition research to candidate development — the campaign committees remain the top political clearinghouses for each party. Their involvement can still make or break a race.

In Roll Call’s new scorecard, we rate the challenges ahead for each committee this cycle, as well as how well-equipped each is to handle them.

 

New York: Former Rep. Mike McMahon Eyeing Congressional Bid

Former Democratic Rep. Michael E. McMahon is considering a comeback bid in New York’s Staten Island-based 11th District.

“Certainly taking a look at it,” he told CQ Roll Call Wednesday evening. McMahon said he expects to make a final decision on the race soon.

“Look,” he said, “the election is in two years, fundraising has to begin yesterday, so it’s a short time frame.”

McMahon was unseated by Republican Michael G. Grimm in 2010, losing by about 3 points.

Full story

DNC Re-elects Wasserman Schultz; Honda Steps Down as Vice Chairman

DNC Re elects Wasserman Schultz; Honda Steps Down as Vice Chairman

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was re-elected as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic National Committee members re-elected Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., as their chairman Tuesday, a committee spokesman confirmed to CQ Roll Call.

President Barack Obama indicated last month that he wanted Wasserman Schultz to continue in her role as head of the committee. DNC members confirmed his pick at their meeting Tuesday.

However, there were other major personnel changes at the DNC meeting:

The party’s longtime secretary, Alice Germond, stepped down, according to CNN. Germond had served in that position since 2002.

The network also reported additional departures: Vice Chairmen Linda Chavez Thompson and Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., plus National Finance Chair Jane Stetson.

New Jersey: Democrats Prefer Booker Over Lautenberg in New Poll

New Jersey: Democrats Prefer Booker Over Lautenberg in New Poll

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, above, led Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg in a poll of New Jersey Democratic primary voters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New Jersey Democrats are ready for Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg to step aside in favor of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, according to a Qunnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning.

The survey showed that in a Democratic primary, Booker got 51 percent of the support, while 30 percent backed Lautenberg.

The poll’s key finding is that while Democrats might approve of Launtenberg’s job performance, they are ready for him to retire. Lautenberg’s job approval was at 50 percent, but 45 percent said he does not deserve to be re-elected, compared to 36 percent who said he does.

Another 71 percent of those surveyed said that his age, 90 years old at his next swearing-in, makes his job “too difficult.”

Full story

January 22, 2013

West Virginia: New GOP Poll Shows Capito in Strong Position

West Virginia: New GOP Poll Shows Capito in Strong Position

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito begins the race to replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., in an extremely strong position, according to an automated poll conducted by the new GOP polling firm Harper Polling.

The poll tested both parties’ primary fields and theoretical general-election matchups. What is clear from this early read is that Capito is well-known and, at least for now, is well-liked.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Nick J. Rahall II led the field of potential candidates and appears to be the strongest general-election nominee against Capito. In a general-election test, 50 percent of respondents said they would support Capito, while 32 percent said they backed Rahall. Eighteen percent were undecided.

The numbers slide for Democrats when Capito is matched up against former Sen. Carte P. Goodwin and state Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Robin Davis, neither of whom is very well-known statewide. Capito took 53 percent to Goodwin’s 19 percent. Twenty-eight percent were undecided in that matchup. Against Davis, Capito took 51 percent and Davis had  24 percent. Twenty-five percent were undecided in that pairing. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, another possible Democratic contender, was not included in the survey. Tennant ran for governor in 2011, but she placed a disappointing third in the Democratic primary.

Full story

DCCC Uses Inauguration to Tout Potential House Recruits

DCCC Uses Inauguration to Tout Potential House Recruits

Former Colorado Speaker Andrew Romanoff was one of the potential 2014 House candidates who was in town for the inauguration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Thinking about running for Congress? For hopeful Democrats, there was no better place to be this weekend than hobnobbing with the party elite and donors at inaugural festivities.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leveraged the weekend to tout a trio of potential recruits for House races in 2014. A Democratic source said the following three recruitment prospects attended the committee’s inaugural luncheon at the Italian Embassy on Jan. 21:

  • Former Colorado Speaker Andrew Romanoff. He’s already indicated that he’s interested in challenging Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., in the 6th District. Coffman tops the DCCC’s target list for 2014 after he won re-election by a 2-point margin in November.
  • Democratic National Committeewoman Erin Bilbray-Kohn. She has said she’s “seriously thinking” about challenging Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in the 3rd District. The daughter of a former Nevada congressman, Bilbray-Kohn served as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s, D-Nev., top finance aide in 2010. Democrats view Heck as vulnerable after he won re-election with 50 percent of the vote, and the president won the district. Full story

South Carolina: Teddy Turner Goes Up on Television With Bio Spot

Teddy Turner, a Republican running for South Carolina’s open 1st District, began airing ads on television and radio over the weekend, getting an early start in introducing himself to the primary electorate.

He’s one of the top-tier GOP candidates in what is expected to be a crowded field that includes former Palmetto State Gov. Mark Sanford and various state legislators.

In the spot, Turner, the son of media mogul and outspoken liberal Ted Turner, tells viewers his biography and — not surprisingly in a Republican-heavy district — emphasizes his conservative beliefs. A narrator talks about how his time as cameraman in the Soviet Union shaped his conservative vision.

Full story

January 21, 2013

Arkansas: Darr May Be First Republican in Senate Race

Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, a Republican, is planning a Senate bid to take on Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, according to a report in National Journal.

Pryor, a Democrat in a state that has trended very Republican, was uncontested in his 2008 re-election race. How difficult a battle he faces in 2014 will be determined by who ends up as the Republican nominee.

Though it’s still very early, Republican ranks appear thin in the Razorback State. Full story

Colorado: Sans Opponent, Udall Looks to Rally Support

Colorado: Sans Opponent, Udall Looks to Rally Support

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Sen. Mark Udall urged his supporters to rally for his re-election campaign in an email last week.

“It is from my bedrock love for Colorado and its people that I am running for reelection, so that I can continue to use my seat in the U.S. Senate to safeguard these things that I know we all care about,” Udall wrote in the email, according to ColoradoPols.com, a local politics website.

Udall starts off the 2014 cycle in a relatively safe position, especially compared to his many Democratic colleagues seeking re-election in conservative states. CQ Roll Call rates this race as Likely Democratic.

No well-known Republicans have announced they will challenge him. Local GOP operatives said several Republicans could look at the race, including Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman, former Rep. Bob Beauprez and state Attorney General John Suthers.

Udall reported $1.1 million in the bank at the end of September, which was his most recent filing period with the Federal Election Commission.

Obama Co-Opts Tea Party Rallying Cry to Sell Second-Term Agenda

Obama Co Opts Tea Party Rallying Cry to Sell Second Term Agenda

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama in his second inaugural address did more than just signal his intent to lead the United States toward an unmistakably progressive future; he attempted to recast the meaning of the nation’s founding principles to support his vision of an expanded, activist Washington, D.C.

Particularly through Obama’s repetition of the opening line of the Constitution, “we the people,” which the president recited with a distinct pause between the words “we” and “the,” he moved to link his agenda for the government to play a larger, more central role in Americans’ lives to the founders and the country’s founding documents. Obama essentially asserted that America could only live up to its most cherished virtues when citizens are protected by, rather than from, the government.

“We have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action,” Obama said. “We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

Howls could be heard coming from the right even before the 20-minute, 2,100-word speech concluded.

Full story

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