Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 21, 2014

January 11, 2013

West Virginia: Rockefeller Retirement Spurs Search for Conservative Candidate

West Virginia: Rockefeller Retirement Spurs Search for Conservative Candidate

GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito announced her intention to run for Senate last year, but some conservative groups aren't impressed by her. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Republicans’ primary problems from the past two cycles are floating to the surface once again in West Virginia.

Conservatives immediately jumped on the news of West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s retirement, noting that there is now no reason a “conservative” candidate can’t win the seat next year with the five-term iconic Democrat absent from the ticket. Conservatives and establishment Republicans have battled in recent election cycles over which GOP Senate primary candidate was best positioned to win a general election.

In a statement Friday morning, Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins said “the door is wide open for Republicans in West Virginia to nominate a true conservative,” citing President Barack Obama’s 26-point loss in the state in 2012 as evidence that a conservative would have no trouble winning. The Senate Conservatives Fund and other like-minded groups oppose Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who jumped into the race a few weeks after the Nov. 6 elections and was immediately hailed by many Republicans in Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

“We’re not going to stop looking for a conservative challenger in this race until the primary is over,” Hoskins said. “The voters in West Virginia get to decide who represents them and they should have a conservative choice.” The Senate Conservatives Fund is a super PAC founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who resigned his seat and jumped to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think thank.

Full story

Massachusetts: Democratic Rabbi Mulls Senate Bid

Rabbi Jonah Pesner sounds a lot like a man who is about to launch a bid for the Senate.

He weaves a compelling biographical narrative, says he has the ability to raise a lot of money and a has a spark of passion when speaking about the issues and why he might be called to run.

“At this moment in history, when it feels so polarized, when there is so much discussion of what divides us,” he said. “I know there are models of elected leadership where we can bring people together for common purpose and overcome the obstacles of partisanship and narrow self-interest.”

“I believe that this may be a moment for me to take all the things that I’ve learned as a rabbi, as an organizer, as a politically and civically engaged leader,” Pesner said, “and put a new kind of stake in the ground and aspire to engage in a higher plane of politics.”

Full story

West Virginia: Rockefeller to Retire in 2014

West Virginia: Rockefeller to Retire in 2014

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:37 a.m. | West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller will retire at the end of his term in 2014. The 75-year-old senator made the announcement Friday morning in Charleston.

“As I approach 50 years of public service in West Virginia, I’ve decided that 2014 will be the right moment for me to find new ways to fight for the causes I believe in and to spend more time with my incredible family,” Rockefeller said, according to a statement released by his office.

The five-term senator’s retirement immediately puts his seat in jeopardy. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced her candidacy for the seat in November.

Among the Democrats mentioned as possible candidates are former Sen. Carte P. Goodwin, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and state Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Robin Davis. Full story

January 10, 2013

DSCC Announces New Hires, Returning Staff for 2014

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced several new additions to its staff for the 2014 midterm election cycle, as well as a few returning aides from 2012, to help the party hold its majority in the Senate.

Matt Canter, who served as communications director last cycle, was promoted to deputy executive director. Working under Executive Director Guy Cecil for a second straight cycle, Canter will serve as the top communications adviser and help manage message operations for all Democratic Senate campaigns. Full story

New Jersey: Booker Leads Lautenberg in New Poll

New Jersey: Booker Leads Lautenberg in New Poll

Lautenberg, above, trailed Booker in a new poll. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, Newark Mayor Cory Booker led Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg by 22 points in a hypothetical 2014 Democratic Senate primary matchup.

Among “self-identified Democrats and Democratic leaners,” 42 percent preferred Booker, while 20 percent favored Lautenberg. The two men both have high name identification, with 83 percent identifying Lautenberg and 75 percent saying they knew who Booker was.

Full story

Report: Obama Campaign Restructure to Assist Policy Push in Second Term

Report: Obama Campaign Restructure to Assist Policy Push in Second Term

A crowd celebrates in front of the White House to celebrate President Barack Obama's re-election on Election Night. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama’s campaign is set to be reconfigured into an operation that will assist the White House’s policy goals in a second term, CNN reported on Thursday.

Citing a source familiar with the campaign, CNN reported that the operation could be converted to a 501(c)(4) or a super PAC. The restructured organization will be led by former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and other top operatives from the campaign, including Stephanie Cutter and Jennifer O’Malley Dillon. Full story

Massachusetts: Barney Frank Continues His Push to be Appointed Senator

Massachusetts: Barney Frank Continues His Push to be Appointed Senator

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank amped up his push to be appointed interim senator Wednesday night, arguing that his experience made him uniquely qualified for the position.

In an interview on the MSNBC program, “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” the Democrat said the next three months on Capitol Hill may be “as important a set of three months as we’ve had since the New Deal” and argued he was best person to represent the Bay State during that time.

“That’s why I volunteered,” he said. “And I did have people say, ‘Well, you’re not supposed to volunteer.’ And, frankly, my view is that’s kind of junior high school stuff. The difference between me and a number of other people who want to be the interim senator are I’ve said so publicly and the rest are being coy.” Full story

January 9, 2013

New Mexico: Jon Barela Keeping Name Out of GOP’s Senate Hat

New Mexico: Jon Barela Keeping Name Out of GOPs Senate Hat

There's no challenger on the horizon yet for Sen. Tom Udall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New Mexico Republican Jon Barela said he is not planning to challenge Democratic Sen. Tom Udall in 2014.

In a statement to CQ Roll Call, the former congressional candidate and current secretary of the state’s Economic Development Department said running for Senate is not in his plans — at least not at the moment.

“I am focused on working to make New Mexico a more competitive place to do business and continue to drive the state’s unemployment numbers down,” Barela said. “Though I have been encouraged by many New Mexicans to run, I have no plans at this point in doing so.” Full story

Shop Talk: DCCC Rounds Out Senior Staff, Including Many Returning Aides

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will announce more senior staff hires  Wednesday — a roster that includes many returning aides from the 2012 cycle.

House Democrats beat expectations to pick up eight seats in the past election. This cycle, the DCCC is attempting to net a gain of 17 more seats in order to regain the majority. That’s a difficult task because Republicans in many key states redrew the lines to the GOP’s favor during redistricting ahead of the 2012 elections.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York announced three top staffers for the 2014 cycle in November, including Kelly Ward as executive director. The following staffers are being announced Wednesday, according to a copy of the announcement obtained by CQ Roll Call: Full story

January 8, 2013

Illinois: Cook County CAO Robin Kelly Wins Top Spot on Special Election Ballot

Democrat Robin Kelly hit the jackpot — sort of.

The 2nd District special election candidate in Illinois won the lottery for the top spot on the primary ballot.

It’s a small victory, but every advantage helps in a crowded field for what officials expect to be a low turnout primary Feb. 26. The winner of the Democratic primary will likely become the next Member of Congress from this heavily Democratic district on Chicago’s south side.

On Tuesday, election officials hosted two separate lotteries to determine the ballot order.  Full story

January 7, 2013

Illinois: Filing Period Closes for Jackson Special Election

Twenty-two candidates filed to run in the special election for former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s seat before Monday’s deadline.

Every previously announced top-tier candidate filed his or her signature petitions for this heavily Democratic district on Chicago’s south side: Alderman Anthony Beale, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, former NFL linebacker Napoleon Harris, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly and former Rep. Mel Reynolds.

Additionally, health care executive Joyce Washington filed to run in the Democratic primary. She was a statewide candidate in 2002 and 2004.

In the coming weeks, election officials will confirm each candidate has the requisite signatures on their petitions — about 1,300 valid names for Democrats. The primary is scheduled for Feb. 26.

Seventeen Democrats submitted their signature petitions, plus five Republicans, including conservative analyst and radio host Lenny McAllister. Democrats are expected to easily hold the seat. Jackson resigned from the House in November amid a federal investigation and after a prolonged absence for health troubles.

New Mexico: Heather Wilson Has Run Her Last Race

New Mexico: Heather Wilson Has Run Her Last Race

Former Rep. Heather Wilson (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson has seen her last political race.

The Republican, who lost to now-Sen. Martin Heinrich in 2012, told CQ Roll Call on Monday that her second failed Senate bid in four years would be her last run for public office.

“I’ve done my time, and it’s not my intention to run for office again,” Wilson said. “So I’m moving on to other things, most likely higher education. I’ll probably also likely serve on some corporate boards.” Full story

Montana: Denny Rehberg Done With Politics

Montana: Denny Rehberg Done With Politics

Former Rep. Denny Rehberg (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Denny Rehberg told the Billings Gazette last week that he will not run for office again.

After six terms in the House, the Montana Republican lost his challenge to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in November. It was Rehberg’s second Senate defeat, after challenging Democratic Sen. Max Baucus in 1996.

“I made the determination before [the 2012 race] that it would be up or out,” Rehberg said in an interview with the newspaper. “As it turned out, it was out.”

Baucus is up for re-election again this cycle and is definitely running. Tester survived by 4 points in the 2012 election, despite a 13-point victory in the state by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

New Jersey: Booker Says Lautenberg Has ‘Got a Decision to Make’

New Jersey: Booker Says Lautenberg Has Got a Decision to Make

Booker has announced his intention to run for a seat in the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Newark Mayor Cory Booker said Monday morning that Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg has “got a decision to make” on whether to retire.

The comment, made on CNN’s “Starting Point,” is acknowledgment that the Senate field is far more complicated than he projected during his Senate exploratory announcement. Booker’s candidacy as it stands is a primary challenge of a longtime Democratic incumbent. Lautenberg has yet to announce his retirement, and few in New Jersey have any idea on what he will do.

“I want to give him the space to make his own decision,” Booker said. “I’ve announced my intention to run, but the reality is we’ve got a good Senator. He’s been loyal. He’s been there for a long time. And I think he’s got a decision to make.”

Full story

January 4, 2013

Obama Campaign Fined $375,000

The Federal Election Commission has imposed a $375,000 fine on President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign for reporting violations, Politico is reporting, citing as-yet-unpublished FEC documents.

The fine appears to stem from missing reports for close to 1,300 donations totaling more than $1.8 million, according to Politico, which obtained a copy of a conciliation agreement that was shared with the Republican National Committee, one of the original complainants. The fine is described as one of the largest-ever imposed on a presidential campaign.

Obama campaign spokeswoman Katie Hogan told Politico that at the time, the Obama team was collecting record contributions from more than 3 million donors, and that “the very few outstanding questions about the $750 million that was raised have now all been resolved.”

In other FEC news, Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly has announced that she will resign effective Feb. 1. The move is sure to increase pressure on Obama to name new members to the frequently-deadlocked FEC, which is comprised mostly of holdover commissioners.

Bauerly, a Democrat, is one of five commissioners on the six-member commission whose terms have expired. Activists opposed to unrestricted political money have become increasingly shrill in their demands that Obama name new commissioners, staging press conferences and launching a petition drive aimed at forcing a White House response.

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