Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 26, 2014

January 4, 2013

DISCLOSE Advocates Renew Fight

DISCLOSE Advocates Renew Fight

Van Hollen has reintroduced the DISCLOSE Act. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democrat-authored campaign finance transparency bill known as the DISCLOSE Act failed to win approval in either the 111th or the 112th Congresses, but its backers have set out to try again in this session.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., reintroduced the legislation on Thursday, calling the bill “a first step to clean up the secret money in politics.” The bill is unchanged from last year’s version; it would require all corporations, unions and super PACs to report campaign expenditures of $10,000 or more. The bill also covers financial transfers to groups that use the money for election-related activity.

At the outset of the 113th Congress, the legislation’s prospects appear no better than they were previously.

Full story

January 2, 2013

Massachusetts: Lynch Still Weighing Bid for Senate

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Stephen F. Lynch said Wednesday night that he is still considering a special election run for the Senate, eyeing the seat expected to be vacated by Secretary of State nominee John Kerry.

“I am giving serious consideration to a run for the United States Senate and am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received in recent days,” he said in a statement to CQ Roll Call. “As we await Senator Kerry’s confirmation hearings, I will continue to weigh my options and decide the best way to serve our communities.”

National Democrats — and Kerry himself — have worked to clear the Democratic field for the dean of the Bay State congressional delegation, Rep. Edward J. Markey, who plans to run. But that effort has, so far, been unsuccessful, with Lynch, Rep. Michael E. Capuano and state Sen. Benjamin Downing all still considering a bid. Full story

Turnover Shakes Up Aloha State Delegation

Turnover Shakes Up Aloha State Delegation

Amid much upheaval, Hanabusa is the only Hawaii delegation member staying in her existing seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The lack of turnover in the Aloha State’s congressional delegation will officially come to an end Thursday at noon as the 113th Congress kicks off, and there is potential for more shakeups in just two years.

With the retirement of Sen. Daniel K. Akaka and death last month of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Democrats who each served for decades, the officeholders in three of Hawaii’s four seats in both chambers will be new to their positions. It remains an all-Democrat delegation.

Full story

Republicans Looking to Add Heft to Opposition Research Efforts

Senior Republican leaders are exploring ways to match the strong opposition research programs Democrats displayed in the last election cycle.

The result of the new effort could be a new outside organization or a project run by the party committees. The only decision so far, according to a Republican strategist involved in the 2012 elections, is that something must get done.

“There is a recognition that we were outmatched in on-the-ground field research and that something needs to be changed in order to generate the type of personal-driven, character-type research that Democrats launched very effectively against Republicans,” the strategist said.

The strategist cited the North Dakota Senate race, noting that the best hits against Democratic Sen.-elect Heidi Heitkamp were that she supported the health care bill signed into law by President Barack Obama. The party is looking for richer research rather than vague policy research, the strategist said.

Four top Democrat-aligned outside groups launched in the 2012 cycle to help combat Republican outside spending, including one each to focus on the presidential, Senate and House contests. The fourth was American Bridge, which focused solely on opposition research, something Republicans did not have.

Missouri: Kinder Moves Toward Congressional Bid

Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is officially angling to become the GOP nominee for the Show-Me State’s open 8th District seat, a local media outlet reports.

PoliticoMo, a widely read political website in Missouri, reports that Kinder has begun seeking the nomination of the district’s GOP committee, which will choose the party’s nominee.

The seat is poised to become open when Republican Rep. Jo Anne Emerson’s resignation becomes official.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon will call a special election once that happens. The district’s party committees will choose their nominees — there will be no primary special election. Full story

Reading the Tea Leaves for 2014 and Beyond in Cliff Vote

Reading the Tea Leaves for 2014 and Beyond in Cliff Vote

Capito, the only House member currently running for Senate in 2014, voted no on the fiscal cliff bill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Late-night votes on the fiscal cliff package capped off New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day this week — and delivered the first politically significant vote of the 2014 cycle.

That’s especially true for House Republicans fearful of possible primary challenges this cycle. A host of conservative organizations, including the Club for Growth and Family Research Council, encouraged Republicans to vote against the deal that raised taxes on wealthy Americans and made the Bush-era tax cuts permanent. The House passed the fiscal cliff bill with bipartisan support, but the majority of House Republicans voted against it.

To be sure, this bill probably will not cost members as much politically as, for example, votes for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008 or the president’s health care overhaul in 2010. Still, it’s the first major vote of the 2014 cycle, and politicians looking for a promotion took note: Full story

Massachusetts: State Democratic Party Hires Northwind Strategies

Massachusetts: State Democratic Party Hires Northwind Strategies

Outgoing Sen. Scott Brown has not said whether he will run in an expected special election this year, but Democrats are already gearing up for the fight. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Massachusetts Democratic Party has retained Northwind Strategies — the firm that advised Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren’s 2012 campaign — to help with its coordinated effort in the expected Senate special election this year.

The move means Doug Rubin, an operative at the firm close to Warren and Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick, will not be advising a candidate in the Democratic primary, but rather will be helping with strategy for whoever is the Democratic nominee.

Democratic Sen. John Kerry’s expected confirmation to be secretary of State appears likely to set up a special election that could happen as early as June.

Full story

Minnesota: Paulsen Senate Bid Not So ‘Ridiculous’ After All

Minnesota: Paulsen Senate Bid Not So Ridiculous After All

Republicans are searching for a candidate willing to challenge Sen. Al Franken in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8:01 p.m. | For a brief period on Wednesday it appeared Republicans could count Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., out of the race against Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in 2014.

No, that’s ridiculous,” Paulsen said, when Minnesota Public Radio asked him about running. However, the MPR report was updated later with a clarification from the congressman’s office. His use of the word “ridiculous” wasn’t in reference to the Senate race after all. It had to do with his vote on the fiscal cliff deal. Here’s MPR’s update:

Paulsen’s office says his use of the word “ridiculous” wasn’t about running for Senate. A spokesman says Paulsen used the word in the context to the preface of the question that mentioned Paulsen’s “no” vote on the fiscal cliff deal before asking whether he was running for Senate.

Republicans have talked up Paulsen, as well as his colleague Rep. John Kline, as potential Franken challengers. Neither Republican has ruled out a bid publicly.

Meanwhile, Kline “continues to keep all options on the table,” according to his spokesman, Troy Young.

In 2008, Franken won one of the closest Senate races in decades following a lengthy recount. He has indicated that he plans to seek re-election next year.

CQ Roll Call rates this race as Leans Democratic.

Tennessee: State Senator Announces Bid Against DesJarlais

Tennessee: State Senator Announces Bid Against DesJarlais

DesJarlais has taken a series of political hits over the past few months stemming from revelations from a more-than-decade-old divorce. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais, the political fight of his life begins today.

Tennessee Republican state Sen. Jim Tracy announced a bid for Congress in Tennessee’s 4th District on Wednesday morning, becoming the first contender — potentially of many — to get in the race against the vulnerable member, who represents conservative territory.

Full story

King Tells Members to Withhold Money From NRCC Over Sandy Aid

King Tells Members to Withhold Money From NRCC Over Sandy Aid

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Peter T. King, who represents Long Island, N.Y., is furious with Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, for not taking up a Hurricane Sandy relief bill before the 112th Congress ends, and his political retaliation includes asking New York and New Jersey Republicans to withhold political donations to Congressional Republicans.

“They’re in New York all the time, filling their pockets with money from New Yorkers. I’m saying right now, anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to Congressional Republicans is out of their minds,” King said in a Fox News interview.

He made similar statements on other news outlets. In that TV appearance, he echoed statements he made on the House floor, which included complaints about politicians who fundraise in New York City but who are not aiding the Empire State with relief.

The National Republican Congressional Committee declined to comment on King’s threat. A GOP aide noted that the NRCC’s job is to keep the GOP in the majority so that King “can be in a best position possible to advocate for his constituents.” Full story

South Carolina: Haley Sets 1st District Special Date

South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki R. Haley on Wednesday signed an executive order setting a May special election to fill the soon-to-be-open 1st District seat.

In a post on Facebook, Haley said she had set the primary for March 19, the primary runoff for April 2 and the general special election for May 7.

The Charleston-area Republican-heavy district is currently represented by GOP Rep. Tim Scott, whom Haley appointed to the Senate to replace resigning GOP Sen. Jim DeMint.

Among the many ambitious Republicans eyeing this race: former Palmetto State Gov. Mark Sanford and his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford.

Scott won the district in November with 62 percent of the vote.

December 28, 2012

Massachusetts: National Democrats Coalesce Behind Markey

National Democrats moved swiftly on Friday to close ranks behind Rep. Edward J. Markey as their candidate to run to succeed Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry upon his confirmation as the next secretary of State.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet of Colorado released a statement endorsing Markey shortly after Kerry did the same on Friday afternoon.

“Ed Markey always remembers where he came from and will continue the hard work needed to turn our economy around,” Bennet said. “He is exactly the kind of leader Massachusetts needs in the U.S. Senate.” Full story

Report: Trotter Quits Special Election in Illinois

State Sen. Donne Trotter will drop out of the special election for ex-Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s seat, according to a report from NBC Chicago.

A Democrat and longtime local lawmaker, Trotter faces charges for attempting to bring a weapon onto a plane at O’Hare International Airport in early December. He told law enforcement officials he forgot the gun was in his bag. He is scheduled to appear in court in January to contest the charges.

Trotter leaves a crowded and complicated primary for the 2nd District, which includes the south side of Chicago, southwestern suburbs and some rural territory west of the stateline. It’s a heavily Democratic district, and the winner of the Feb. 26 primary is expected to be the next member of Congress.

Full story

December 27, 2012

Markey Running for Senate in Massachusetts

Markey Running for Senate in Massachusetts

Rep. Edward J. Markey has decided to run for Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Massachusetts Rep. Edward J. Markey on Thursday became the first prominent Democrat to announce his intention to run in the expected special election to replace Democrat John Kerry, who was nominated last week to be the next Secretary of State.

The Boston Globe first reported that Markey will seek the seat but not the temporary appointment by Gov. Deval Patrick, who is likely to select a caretaker until a special election can be held.

“With Senator Kerry’s departure, Massachusetts voters will decide once again whether we want a Senator who will fight for all our families or one who supports a Republican agenda that benefits only the powerful and well-connected,” Markey said in a statement. He already has a Senate campaign website up. Full story

December 26, 2012

Hawaii: Abercrombie Appoints Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to Senate

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday appointed his lieutenant governor, Democrat Brian Schatz, to fill the state’s vacant Senate seat for the next two years.

Schatz surprisingly got the nod over Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who was endorsed by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye just before he died last week. The choice of Schatz means Democrats will not have to hold a special election for Hanabusa’s seat, which Republicans briefly won control of in a 2010 special election. The appointment is good until the 2014 elections, when another election will be held for the right to serve out the final two years of Inouye’s term, which expires in 2016.

In an afternoon press conference, Abercrombie, a former congressman and colleague of Inouye, said he “of course” took Inouye’s wishes into account but felt he had to act “in the overall best interest of the party.” He said he also took into account Hanabusa’s placement on the House Armed Services Committee, a vital post for the military-heavy state.

“No one and nothing is preordained,” he said. Full story

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