Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 5, 2015

January 18, 2013

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

(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.

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January 17, 2013

Maine: Collins Looks Safe, From Both Left and Right

Susan Collins" src="http://atr.rollcall.com/wp-content/uploads/collins-017-120412-445x311.jpg" alt="Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, 2014 re-election" width="445" height="311" />

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.”

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

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman <a href=

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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

(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

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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.

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By Joshua Miller Posted at 2:33 p.m.
House 2016, NRCC

January 15, 2013

Pascrell: Booker Doesn’t Scare Lautenberg

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?”

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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

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

Shop Talk: Democratic Polling Firms Anzalone Liszt, Grove Insight Merge

Democratic pollsters John Anzalone, Jeff Liszt and Lisa Grove announced Tuesday morning that their two firms, Anzalone Liszt Research and Grove Insight, will merge to form Anzalone Liszt Grove Research.

According to a press release announcement, the three “collaborated closely for the first time” in 2012 on President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Anzalone Liszt Research polled in Virginia, Florida and Nevada, while Grove Insight concentrated on “polling and focus groups for women’s outreach.”

“Lisa Grove is not only the pre-eminent pollster for progressive issue advocacy, she’s one of the best people in the business,” Anzalone said. “We’re excited about a partnership that will bring new expertise, a progressive client base, and excellent service for clients of both our firms. Just as important, we plan on having a lot of fun together.”

“I couldn’t be happier to join such a smart, thoughtful, dedicated group of people,” Grove said. “There is a reason President Obama tapped their expertise for two cycles running — not only do they know how to get the win, they bring joy to the process.”

The new firm will have offices in Washington, D.C.; New York City; Lana’i City, Hawaii; and Montgomery, Ala.

West Virginia: Caperton Says He Is Not Interested in Senate Seat

Former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton indicated Monday that he would not run for Senate next year in an interview with the local radio outlet MetroNews.

“I think I had a great eight years as governor, and I think that’s probably where my political career began and will probably end,” the 72-year-old Democrat said. Caperton served as governor from 1989 to 1997.

The list of candidates interested has been steadily expanding since Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller announced his retirement on Jan. 11. Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito announced her campaign for the seat in late November.

Among the well-known Democrats mulling the race are former Sen. Carte P. Goodwin, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, state Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis and former state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Callaghan.

New Jersey: Booker Says Talk of Senate Campaign Is Premature

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In at least his third national television appearance in about 36 hours, Newark Mayor Cory Booker attempted to downplay his nascent Senate bid on MSNBC’s “The Last Word.”

“This is really not an issue right now. In order to stay in compliance with the Federal Election Commission, I can’t even do the due diligence of research, of travel, I can’t even go down to D.C. to meet with people from my mayoral account. I have to file something,” Booker said in a Monday evening interview.

“This is 18 months away. It’s a long time. All of New Jersey, we should not be talking about Senate races!” he added. “We have two great senators doing a great job for us, fighting the good fight on critical issues from guns to Sandy aid. … We don’t really need a distraction right now over a Senate race. It’s not even an election year.”

At issue is the fact that until Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg announces his retirement, Booker has essentially launched a primary challenge of the 88-year-old incumbent. The move sparked anger within Lautenberg’s camp and within New Jersey Democratic circles.

Booker indicated he had agreed to the Monday night MSNBC television appearance to discuss gun violence.

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January 14, 2013

Five Races to Watch in 2013

After a hard-fought and highly charged presidential battle in 2012 — not to mention Congressional races and redistricting — one might hope that 2013 would provide a respite from campaign politics. No such luck.

The transition from the first Obama administration to the second is expected to produce at least one high-profile Senate special election (in Massachusetts). More specials could be around the corner if the president looks to Congress to fill other Cabinet vacancies.

There are House specials under way as well due to resignations, giving no rest for the weary political class — and a continued revenue stream for a small handful of campaign consultants.

The 2013 specials are in addition to the two off-year gubernatorial races on tap this year in Virginia and New Jersey: two states worth watching for very different reasons. Virginia, especially, will be fascinating to watch, and the battle in the commonwealth ranks No. 1 on our list.
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