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

January 21, 2013

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

NRCC Announces Top Targets for 2014

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday released a list of the top seven Democratic-held House seats the committee plans to target in 2014, as it moves to go on offense despite having to defend the second-largest GOP House majority since World War II.

All of the targeted districts are Republican-leaning at the presidential level but have candidates who survived 2012 in spite of President Barack Obama being at the top of the ticket.

Full story

By Joshua Miller Posted at 2:33 p.m.
House 2014, NRCC

January 15, 2013

Pascrell: Booker Doesn’t Scare Lautenberg

Pascrell: Booker Doesnt Scare Lautenberg

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. discussed the New Jersey Senate race with CQ Roll Call Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg won’t be intimidated, nor will he decide his political future based on Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s entrance into the New Jersey Senate race, Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. suggested in an interview with CQ Roll Call on Tuesday.

“My friend Frank Lautenberg is a dog. I mean he ain’t gonna lay down for anybody,” Pascrell said. “He will make the right decision when it comes time, so I’m confident in the process. I’m confident in our bench and we’ll see what happens.”

Lautenberg has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election in 2014. But Booker has filed papers with the Federal Election Commission, possibly paving the way for a contested Democratic primary. The move has sparked drama of the Garden State variety. Lautenberg’s aides have responded with highly critical, anonymous comments to the press directed at Booker.

“That’s kind of like, in-your-face. So, now you know how I think about it,” Pascrell said of Booker’s decision to file his candidacy papers before Lautenberg had announced whether he would run for re-election. “It’s a photo-op. What can I tell you?”

Full story

South Carolina: Mark Sanford to Make House Bid Official

South Carolina: Mark Sanford to Make House Bid Official

Sanford formerly represented the 1st District in Congress. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

UPDATED 5:40 p.m. | Republican Mark Sanford will launch his comeback bid for Congress on Wednesday, a move he has telegraphed for weeks and which will make him the immediate front-runner in a crowded special election primary.

The former South Carolina governor represented the 1st District from 1995 to 2001, when he kept a term limits pledge and retired. He was elected governor in 2002. The coastal district is now open because GOP Gov. Nikki R. Haley appointed Republican Tim Scott to fill a Senate vacancy.

A tried-and-true fiscal conservative during his six years in the House and eight years as governor, Sanford gained a national and international profile for disappearing from the state for days in 2009 and then admitting to an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina in a stunningly frank and emotional press conference. He had told his staff that he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail — which immediately became a punchline for comedians. Full story

Colorado: Romanoff Considering House Run

Former Colorado Speaker Andrew Romanoff is thinking about challenging Republican Rep. Mike Coffman for the 6th District in 2014, according to a Politico report.

“I haven’t made much secret of the fact that I’d like to return to public service, and that’s one path I’ve looked at,” he told the paper. “I haven’t made any decision.”

Romanoff is a Bill Clinton loyalist who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Michael Bennet in the 2010 Democratic primary.

Romanoff shied away from the 6th District contest last cycle.

Coffman defeated Democratic nominee state Rep. Joe Miklosi by about 2 points. Coffman had been in a safe GOP seat, but 2010 redistricting threw him into a pure tossup district. Democrats invested heavily in the race, and it is at the top of their target list in 2014.

Massachusetts: Capuano Won’t Run for Senate

Massachusetts: Capuano Wont Run for Senate

Capuano said Tuesday that he won't run for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Michael E. Capuano announced Tuesday that he will not run in the Senate special election to fill the seat expected to be vacated by Democrat John Kerry.

Capuano’s colleague, Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey, is the only declared candidate, and he has worked to clear the Democratic field. Kerry is expected to soon be confirmed as the next secretary of State. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Kerry, among others, support Markey’s bid.

“After careful consideration, I have decided not to enter the race for US Senate,” Capuano said in a statement. “Instead, I look forward to focusing on the important issues facing the new Congress. My current work in the House and whatever opportunities the future may hold, afford me the greatest honor of my life, fighting for the Citizens of the Commonwealth.” Full story

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