Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 30, 2014

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

January 20, 2013

Kentucky: Actress Ashley Judd Still Hedging on Senate Run

Kentucky: Actress Ashley Judd Still Hedging on Senate Run

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Actress Ashley Judd said Sunday that she is still praying on her decision about whether to challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in 2014.

When CQ Roll Call caught up with Judd at the EMILY’s List inauguration brunch, she said  she is spending a lot of time considering the run for public office. Recent news reports have indicated Judd is ramping up her exploratory efforts, and she attended the Kentucky State Society’s Bluegrass Ball on Saturday night.

Before now, she said, she would get annoyed when people would “hem and haw” when asked whether they were planning on running for office.

“When people are considering running, they hedge,” she said. “I get that now.” Full story

January 18, 2013

Colbert’s Sister, Businessman Running in S.C. Special

Two Democrats are tossing their hats into the special election race in South Carolina’s 1st District — including the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. While the chances that a Democrat could flip the heavily-Republican coastal seat are slim, each candidate has the ability to make the race interesting.

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, the sister of the Comedy Central TV-show host, plans to file paperwork to make her candidacy official on Tuesday, according to reports in the St. Andrews Patch and The Washington Post.

Colbert-Busch works at Clemson University as director of sales and marketing for the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility. Given her brother’s connections to Hollywood, it’s likely that she won’t have much trouble raising money for her bid. Full story

Massachusetts: Rabbi Passes on Senate Bid

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, a Democrat who had earlier floated the idea of a Senate bid, said today he will not run in the special election for the Massachusetts seat soon to be vacated by Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

Democratic Bay State Rep. Edward J. Markey remains the only declared candidate for the Senate special election. Rep. Michael E. Capuano, D-Mass., announced he had decided against a run earlier this week. Markey is supported by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and has worked to clear the Democratic field — so far with great success.

In an email to friends and supporters, Pesner wrote that the last few weeks had  “been among the most exhilarating of my life.” But, after consideration, “[a]t this time, I have decided not to run for the United States Senate,” he wrote.

Pesner left open the possibility of a bid down the road. “Perhaps there will be a time in the future when the call to elected leadership will make sense for me and my family,” he added.

Kerry is expected to soon be confirmed as secretary of State, leaving the Senate seat open. Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick will then appoint an interim senator and set the date for the special election. Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who was ousted in November by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, has not yet said whether he will run in the special election.

Burton Leaves Super PAC for Advocacy Group

Having helped re-elect President Barack Obama with his unrestricted super PAC Priorities USA Action, former White House official Bill Burton will now join the public affairs firm Global Strategy Group.

“Bill has played a major role in two successful presidential elections, advised and represented the President of the United States, and has a deep understanding of the communications and political landscapes in Washington,” the firm’s CEO, Jon Silvan, said in a statement.

Burton will be executive vice president and managing director in Global Strategy Group’s Washington office. Before running Priorities USA Action as senior strategist, Burton was deputy press secretary at the White House. Burton’s previous posts include communications director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and communications adviser to several Capitol Hill Democrats.

Having initially kept unrestricted outside groups at arm’s length, Obama reversed course and embraced super PACs last February. Priorities USA Action got off to a slow start but eventually raised $76 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, making it the top-grossing super PAC backing Democrats.

Obama Relaunches Campaign as Grass-Roots Advocacy

Obama Relaunches Campaign as Grass Roots Advocacy

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated March 5 | President Barack Obama is turning to the grass-roots supporters who helped re-elect him to now help carry out his legislative agenda, announcing Friday a new advocacy group dubbed Organizing for Action.

The group will be configured as a 501(c)(4) social welfare group and accept unrestricted corporate funding, the Associated Press has reported, raising questions about transparency on the heels of an election that saw record sums in undisclosed campaign spending.

Such tax-exempt organizations are not required to publicly report their contributors, and during the recent elections, Obama and congressional Democrats assailed the undisclosed “dark money” that helped politically active nonprofits spend hundreds of millions on campaign ads. Organizing for Action will reportedly take no money from lobbyists or political action committees.

Full story

January 17, 2013

Maine: Collins Looks Safe, From Both Left and Right

Maine: Collins Looks Safe, From Both Left and Right

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine looks well positioned for re-election in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican in a state that’s not. She’s moderate and bipartisan in a party that’s not.

Yet it would be tough for her to be any safer, politically, as she looks toward re-election in 2014.

“She may be the strongest Republican incumbent in the country,” GOP consultant Erik Potholm, who hails from Maine, wrote in an email. “She has sky high approval numbers and has become a political rock star in Maine.”

“In the past she has easily crushed top tier Dem challengers like [former Rep.] Tom Allen and [now-Rep.] Chellie Pingree,” he added. “I doubt any credible Dems will take her on this cycle. They would be crazy to do so.”

“I think she’s fine,” said Maine political consultant Dennis Bailey, who is a registered Democrat. “I don’t see any vulnerability.”

Full story

NRCC’s Walden Says GOP Must Focus on Minority Outreach, Communication

NRCCs Walden Says GOP Must Focus on Minority Outreach, Communication

NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

UPDATED 5:00 p.m. | WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden said one of his priorities this cycle will be reaching out to minorities, something he said Republicans have not done well.

The Oregon representative said he plans to make inroads into minority communities and said the party needs to figure out better ways to communicate its message there.

“We recognize that Republicans have good answers; we just have bad communications in many cases,” Walden said at a panel discussion during House Republicans’ annual retreat. “We may not understand how what we say is interpreted by others. And we have to be sensitive and understand other issues that different communities face.” Full story

Rubio to Speak at CPAC Conference

Rubio to Speak at CPAC Conference

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, becoming the latest potential 2016 Republican presidential hopeful confirmed to address the annual event.

Rubio joins House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who the American Conservative Union previously announced would speak at the gathering of conservative activists.

CPAC is a regular stop for members of Congress and presidential candidates alike, and two-time presidential candidate Mitt Romney even used the forum in 2008 to announce the end to his campaign. This year’s event will be held March 14-16 at the National Harbor outside Washington, D.C.

January 16, 2013

Georgia: Broun Dings Chambliss on Taxes, Spending; Senator Hits Back

Georgia: Broun Dings Chambliss on Taxes, Spending; Senator Hits Back

Broun would not say whether he was interested in challenging Chambliss. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

This much is clear: There’s not a great deal of affection between Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun and the Peach State’s senior senator, Republican Saxby Chambliss.

In an interview in his fourth floor Rayburn Building office on Tuesday, Broun spoke passionately about fixing America’s fiscal future. Under the glowering eyes of a handful of taxidermied animals, Broun said he was upset about Democrats wanting “to empower government to control more of our lives.” The Congressman, in his third full term, said, “It’s irresponsible, it’s unteneable, it’s unsustainable and it has to stop.”

Asked whether Chambliss understands the big issues of debt and deficit the country is facing as he does, Broun paused for a moment.

“Doesn’t seem so,” Broun said. “He seems to want to raise taxes on people, and he also wants to continue spending. So I don’t know if he does or not, you’ll have to ask him.” Full story

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