Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 17, 2014

June 14, 2012

Arizona: Jesse Kelly Won’t Challenge Ron Barber in Fall

Arizona: Jesse Kelly Wont Challenge Ron Barber in Fall

Republican Jesse Kelly will not run for Arizona's new 2nd district seat this fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Military veteran Jesse Kelly (R) will not seek a rematch with Rep.-elect Ron Barber (D) in Arizona’s new 2nd district.

This clears the Republican field for retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally,who was preparing to run even as Kelly waged his special election campaign for ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D) vacated 8th district seat. Barber beat Kelly in Tuesday’s contest and will finish out Giffords’ term in the 112th Congress. Kelly also lost to Giffords in November of 2010. Giffords resigned earlier this year.

Kelly revealed his decision in a prepared statement. His move is likely to please the many Republicans who have argued that McSally has a better chance of beating Barber in the Democratic-leaning 2nd district.

“I would like to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my wife Aubrey, and our supporters for their unwavering commitment to the values that make America great,” he said. “Looking at the results from Tuesday, we have decided to withdraw from the race for Congress in AZ-02 and to seek other opportunities. I will forever be thankful to our generous supporters and volunteers.”

By Abby Livingston Posted at 4:39 p.m.
Ariz.-2, Ariz.-8

Tennessee: Weston Wamp Goes up on TV

Congressional candidate Weston Wamp (R), the 25-year-old son of former Rep. Zach Wamp (R), today went up on television with his first ad.

Wamp, who is hoping to unseat freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R) in the state’s redrawn 3rd district, also faces dairy magnate Scottie Mayfield in the Aug. 2 primary. Fleischmann succeeded the elder Wamp, who retired in 2010 to run for governor, and the new 3rd district includes much of the territory he used to represent.

His ad is unusual in that it doesn’t mention the election or the issues animating the contest.

Full story

Indiana: Democrats Hit Richard Mourdock With First Spot

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) is set to hit the airwaves Friday with his first general election television ad of the Indiana Senate race, a $250,000 statewide buy.

According to a copy of the spot obtained by Roll Call, the 30-second advertisement paints GOP nominee Richard Mourdock as an extremist and highlights Donnelly’s bipartisanship in Congress.

“To me, the highlight of politics, frankly, is to inflict my opinion on somebody else,” Mourdock, a state Treasurer, says in the on-camera MSNBC interview that is used in the spot. (View the full spot after the jump)

Full story

Wisconsin: Scott Walker Plans to ‘Referee’ Senate Race, Not Endorse

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) does not plan to endorse any of the four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the state’s open Senate seat. Instead, he’ll act as a neutral arbiter.

“It allows me to play a little bit of a referee and call out the candidates if they’re stretching the truth about the views of other candidates,” Walker told reporters today during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Walker praised the candidates and described the November Senate election as “a great chance” for Republicans to win a Senate seat regardless of who emerges as the GOP nominee. He referred to likely Democratic nominee Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) as among the nation’s most liberal politicians.

“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s probably the most impressive primary, at least this cycle, if not one of the most impressive ever. I mean you’ve got four legitimate candidates.”

Walker, who has received national attention for his efforts to reform collective bargaining in Wisconsin and his easy victory in a gubernatorial recall election last week, also chimed in on Mitt Romney’s campaign for president, offering the presumptive GOP nominee advice on how to win Wisconsin in the fall.

Walker said that it would be a mistake if Romney “looks at Wisconsin and thinks that he can win just because I have an ‘R’ next to my name and he has an ‘R’ next to his name” — a line the governor has repeated several times since his June 5 victory.

Rather, Walker said that Romney would need to portray himself as a reformer with a plan to solve the country’s problems.

Arkansas: Democratic Nominees Emerge in 1st and 4th Districts

Local prosecuting attorney Scott Ellington and state Sen. Gene Jeffress won the Democratic primary runoffs in the Razorback State’s 1st and 4th districts, respectively.

Ellington beat state Rep. Clark Hall, who was backed by the Washington, D.C., and Little Rock Democratic establishments. He’ll face Rep. Rick Crawford (R), who is favored to hold his seat, in November.

Jeffress beat attorney Q. Byrum Hurst. Jeffress faces incredibly steep odds in his campaign against conservative darling Tom Cotton, the Republican nominee who is seen as an extremely strong candidate.

Ohio: Senators to Fete GOP Nominee Against Sherrod Brown

Senate Republican leaders on Monday will fundraise for state Treasurer Josh Mandel’s bid against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.), Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.) and 26 other GOP Senators will headline the fundraiser, according to the invitation for the evening event.

Polling shows Brown leading Mandel, but both sides expect a competitive contest this November.

Roll Call rates this race as Leans Democratic.

June 13, 2012

Scott Walker: Recall Gives GOP Momentum to Take Wisconsin Senate Seat

Scott Walker: Recall Gives GOP Momentum to Take Wisconsin Senate Seat

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), fresh off a solid recall win, brought a simple message to the Capitol today: His successful defense of the governor’s mansion last week gives Republicans momentum to win the Badger State’s open Senate seat come November.

In a half-hour closed-door meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Walker discussed the state of play in Wisconsin as well as the broad political principles that Republicans will need not just to win in his state but across the country. Wisconsin’s seat could be key in McConnell’s difficult calculus to become Majority Leader, with Republicans needing to pick up five seats to edge out Democrats.

“He was actually just more or less asking how things are in Wisconsin now. We didn’t get into the nitty-gritty on that,” Walker told Roll Call when asked whether he got any advice from McConnell. “It’s probably one of the most impressive Republican primaries in the country. We have four strong candidates, and I think the simple reality is that with the momentum we have coming out of [June 5], I think it makes it even more likely that we’ll have a new Republican Senator.”

Walker characterized the evening session in McConnell’s Capitol office suite as “very good” and said the two men spoke optimistically about “how we might in the future have a new member from Wisconsin in his caucus.” He said McConnell told him that Republicans in Washington, D.C., were “thrilled” about his victory. Full story

South Carolina: Top Democrat Says 7th District Primary Botched

“Clusterf—,” South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian said, enunciating every profane syllable in his Southern-tinged baritone.

“We’ve got more in common with a third-world, South American country than we do with the rest of the other 49 states. This is nuts,” he added. Venezuelan leader Hugo “Chávez would conduct a fairer, better election than the Republican South Carolina [State] Election Commission.”

All of which is to say  the South Carolina Democratic Party is not very happy with Tuesday’s Democratic primary election results in the state’s new 7th district.

At first, the results appeared to indicate a Democratic primary runoff between long-shot candidate Gloria Bromell Tinubu, an economist, and establishment-backed attorney Preston Brittain, since neither received the more than 50 percent required to be declared the winner outright.

But then, according to the Associated Press, the South Carolina State Election Commission disqualified the votes received by state Rep. Ted Vick (D) on the grounds that he had withdrawn from the race before primary day. That gave Tinubu more than 50 percent of the vote and the victory. Vick dropped out of the race after being arrested but remained on the ballot.

Tinubu, who was a former state Representative in Georgia, is seen by South Carolina political operatives of both parties as almost certain to lose the race in this GOP-leaning district.

“I’ve read the law. I happen to be a lawyer when I’m not wasting my time on this shit,” Harpootlian said. “If no one gets 50 percent plus one of the votes cast, there’s a runoff.”

“The election commission, some bureaucrat over there last night, said they weren’t going to count Ted Vick’s votes. I don’t know how you do that.” Harpootlian added. “He’s on the ballot!”

Harpootlian went on to explain that if Vick’s votes are counted, no one got 50 percent and, therefore, there must be a runoff.

Harpootlian said that in his conversations with the commission, it said it was unclear whether there would be a runoff or not, and a decision would be made Friday.

Harpootlian said the party would not bring a lawsuit in this matter. But he floated the possibility that there could be a new election. If a candidate files a protest with the state executive committee, and the committee votes to hold a new election because of improprieties, a new contest could be held, he said.

That election would include all the candidates. Though whether the ballots would include Vick is unclear.

A spokesman for the commission told Roll Call it would meet on Friday to certify the results and a decision would be made then. He noted the commission had heard the Democratic Party’s arguments about why Vick’s votes should be included and was seeking advice from the state’s attorney general.

By Joshua Miller Posted at 2:29 p.m.
House 2012, S.C.-7

Montana: Denny Rehberg Launches Fourth Ad

Rep. Denny Rehberg, the Republican challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D), strikes a decidedly independent tone in a new television ad launched today.

It’s Rehberg’s fourth ad and the first one not to draw a contrast between himself and Tester — and it’s similar in tone to the ads Tester has been running. It opens with Rehberg driving his green Jeep Wrangler with the top down in front of the Capitol. Full story

Missouri: Claire McCaskill Fundraises off Mitch McConnell

Missouri: Claire McCaskill Fundraises off Mitch McConnell

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats often send fundraising solicitations using the names of President George W. Bush and Karl Rove, the former president’s ex-senior adviser who now advises the American Crossroads super PAC. Rarely, though, do they invoke the name of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

But today, the campaign of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) has raised the specter of Rove and McConnell, citing comments McConnell made to Roll Call during an interview to discuss the Senate playing field. Full story

Nevada: Danny Tarkanian Wins 4th District GOP Primary

Nevada: Danny Tarkanian Wins 4th District GOP Primary

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Danny Tarkanian topped eight others Tuesday night to win Nevada’s 4th district Republican primary, setting up a general election race with Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford.

Tarkanian, an attorney and son of legendary basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, won with 32 percent of the vote, followed by state Sen. Barbara Cegavske with 28 percent, bail enforcement agent Kenneth Wegner with 21 percent and businessman Dan Schwartz with 11 percent. Full story

New American Crossroads Ads Target Six States

American Crossroads is targeting six Senate races in a new round of television ads set to hit the airwaves today.

The Republican super PAC and its nonprofit arm, Crossroads GPS, has invested a combined $4.6 million in this buy, set to run statewide on broadcast and cable television in Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia. Except for Nevada, all of the seats are held by Democrats and considered top Republican pickup targets.

The spots include three attack ads from American Crossroads that are worth $2.6 million and critical of the Democratic nominees in Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia. The three issue ads from Crossroads GPS are running in Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio and focus on spending, debt and President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Full story

Illinois: William Enyart Jumps Into Open-Seat Race for Jerry Costello Seat

Retired Army National Guard Maj. Gen. William Enyart has jumped into the race for retiring Rep. Jerry Costello’s (D-Ill.) seat, giving Democrats a much-needed boost in their search for a candidate for this competitive race.

“Today I am proud to rise to the challenge before us and heed the call to serve by fighting for good jobs and a responsible way to reduce the deficit to build a strong middle class and protect the Southern Illinois way of life,” Enyart said in a statement released Tuesday evening.

Full story

Arizona: Ron Barber Wins Special Election to Replace Gabrielle Giffords

Arizona: Ron Barber Wins Special Election to Replace Gabrielle Giffords

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrat Ron Barber, a staffer for ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, won the highly competitive Arizona special election to succeed his former boss Tuesday.

Barber defeated Republican Jesse Kelly, 53 percent to 45 percent, according to the Associated Press. Giffords, a Democrat, resigned in January in order to focus on her rehabilitation after an assassination attempt in January 2011. Barber was also seriously wounded in the shootings.

The victory means more than saving a single House seat for Democrats. On a personal level, it means Giffords’ chosen candidate will succeed her in Congress. On a national level, it gives Democrats some much-needed good news.

Full story

Wisconsin: Candidates Boycott ‘Beer and Brats Summit’

Wisconsin Democratic Assembly members Mark Pocan and Kelda Helen Roys, candidates in the August primary to replace Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D), declined to attend Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s “Beer and Brats Summit” held Tuesday.

The legislators said that while they appreciate bipartisan efforts, they believed this particular event was frivolous and insincere.

“I think we should focus on passing public policy to help those struggling Wisconsinites,” Roys told Roll Call. She said that only after significant bipartisan policy efforts are made would she be willing to attend such an event.

Pocan raised similar doubts about Walker’s outreach. Full story

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