Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2015

April 3, 2013

New Mexico: Democrat Considering Challenge to Pearce

Pearce might get a challenge this cycle from a former state representative. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats already hold four of New Mexico’s five federal offices, but the party hopes to make a clean sweep by 2014.

Former state Rep. Joe Campos is considering a challenge to Rep. Steve Pearce, the only Republican in the state’s congressional delegation, who is two terms into his second stint in Congress after losing a Senate bid in 2008.

“We’re taking a look at it, but we haven’t confirmed anything yet,” Campos said in a phone interview. “We’re just looking at it, and I would say by the end of the month we will tie everything up and see if it’s doable.” Full story

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 11:48 a.m.

Louisiana: Cassidy Blasts Obama, Landrieu as He Officially Enters Senate Race

Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy made his bid for Louisiana’s Senate seat official on Wednesday morning, releasing a video announcement that serves as both a primer on Cassidy’s personal story as well as an attack on his opponent, Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La.

Seated alongside his wife Laura, a breast cancer surgeon, Cassidy seeks to defend his conservative record in the announcement spot, and highlight Landrieu’s support of President Barack Obama’s policies, including Obama’s 2009 health care overhaul, which remains deeply unpopular in the state.

“As a family, we have decided that I will run for the United States Senate in the election held November 2014 and it’s going to be a tough race,” Cassidy says in the announcement video. “I’m running against Senator Mary Landrieu who’s been there for 18 years and against the most powerful man in the world, Barack Obama.” Full story

April 2, 2013

South Carolina: Sanford Wins GOP Nomination for Special

Sanford is running for Congress in the 1st District. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Gov. Mark Sanford won the GOP nomination in the special election, setting up a general election fight with Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

Sanford defeated attorney Curtis Bostic, 55 percent to 45 percent, in the GOP runoff, with 67 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press.

The 1st District is a strong Republican seat, but Sanford is not assured a general election win.

It is unclear how difficult the path ahead will be for Sanford in the general election. Some South Carolina Republicans insist that this is a solidly conservative district and that the idea of a Democratic winner is unfathomable.

But Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, has put together a professional campaign. She even released an internal poll Monday that showed she had a narrow lead over Sanford. (Our own Stuart Rothenberg offered a skeptical analysis.)

There is a special election because the district’s former congressman, Republican Tim Scott, was appointed to the Senate earlier this year. Gov. Nikki Haley picked Scott for the seat after then-Sen. Jim DeMint resigned from the Senate.

Michigan: Ronna Romney McDaniel Will Not Run for Senate

Ronna Romney McDaniel, niece of Mitt Romney, told the Detroit News on Tuesday that she will not seek the GOP nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Carl Levin.

Romney McDaniel considered the race last month after her father, Scott Romney, passed on a run.

But she cited family obligations as her ultimate reason not to run, telling the newspaper, “It’s not the right time to put my kids through something like that.”

Democrats have the advantage in the race for Levin’s seat given Michigan’s recent voting history. Potential Democratic candidates include Debbie Dingell, the wife of longtime Rep. John D. Dingell, and Reps. Gary Peters and Dan Kildee.

On the GOP side, Reps. Mike Rogers and Justin Amash, former GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis and former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land continue to mull runs.

Louisiana: Cassidy Challenging Landrieu

Rep. Bill Cassidy


Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy will challenge Democratic Sen. Mary L. Landrieu in Louisiana, in what’s likely to be one of the most competitive races of 2014, CQ Roll Call has confirmed.

The Associated Pres reported Tuesday that Cassidy will officially announce his candidacy in a video to be released on Wednesday.

Cassidy has long been mentioned as a top potential contender to Landrieu, who is seeking a fourth term in a state President Barack Obama lost by 18 points in November. Cassidy had more than $2 million in the bank by the end of 2012, and his campaign announced Monday that he raised $500,000 in the first quarter. Full story

Illinois: Obama Endorses Robin Kelly in Special Election (Finally)

Kelly won the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrat Robin Kelly picked up a high-profile, but largely inconsequential, endorsement Tuesday from President Barack Obama.

Kelly is all but assured to win her special-election bid to replace former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill., on April 9. This is a heavily Democratic district, and her GOP opponent, Paul McKinley, is a convicted felon.

“To continue moving America forward, I need partners in the House of Representatives like Robin Kelly,” Obama said in a press release from the Kelly campaign. “I have known Robin for many years and I am confident she is the perfect choice to represent the Illinois 2nd Congressional District.”

Kelly decisively won the Democratic primary in February. Gun control was the primary issue in the race, as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s super PAC spent more than $2 million to boost Kelly in the primary.

Obama’s Chicago home is only a few blocks from the 2nd District. The friendship between Kelly and Obama started when they served in the state legislature together.

California: Khanna Will Challenge Fellow Democrat Honda in Silicon Valley

Ro Khanna made his candidacy official Tuesday morning, setting up a highly competitive Democratic battle in California’s Silicon Valley.

The former Obama administration official is challenging six-term Democratic Rep. Michael M. Honda, who has spent the past few months rolling out big-name party endorsements and polling to discourage Khanna, 36, from running.

“I’m running for Congress because I believe Silicon Valley’s innovation and energy can cut through old-style Washington politics,” Khanna said in a video posted to his campaign website.

Honda, 71, was endorsed in January by President Barack Obama, but many of Obama’s top campaign operatives are now working for Khanna. Full story

Pennsylvania: Leach Announces Candidacy for Schwartz’s Seat

State Sen. Daylin Leach launched his campaign Tuesday for the seat being vacated by Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz, who has indicated she will run for governor of Pennsylvania.

“For the last several weeks,” Leach, a Democrat, said in a statement, “I have been talking with voters, community leaders, elected officials, representatives from advocacy groups and progressive organizations, and many others from Philadelphia and Montgomery County, and found overwhelming support for my candidacy.”

There will likely be a crowded primary field for the open 13th District, a safe Democratic district based mostly north of Philadelphia. Leach is the third candidate to take formal steps to enter the race — although he is the first to formally announce a campaign.

Last month, Valerie A. Arkoosh, a medical professor at the University of Pennsylvania, filed paperwork for her candidacy. Former Philadelphia City Controller Jonathan Saidel followed with his own paperwork to run at the end of March. Full story

Shop Talk: Senate Majority PAC Hires Matsdorf, Brockman

Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to electing Democrats to the Senate, announced Wednesday the hiring of two new staffers:

  • Karyn Brockman will be the super PAC’s finance director. Most recently, she worked on now-Sen. Christopher S. Murphy’s, D-Conn., 2012 Senate campaign.
  • Ty Matsdorf has signed on as campaigns and communications director. CQ Roll Call profiled Matsdorf as a Hill aide in 2009, when he was a communications director to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. More recently, Matsdorf ran the war room for American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic opposition research super PAC. He will continue with his other job at the newly formed Messina Group while working with Senate Majority PAC.

Democrats Announce Challenges to Three GOP Incumbents

Democrats recruited a challenger for Southerland. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Four Democratic challengers announced on Tuesday their plans to run against three House GOP incumbents in California, Florida and Minnesota:

Florida’s 2nd District

Gwen Graham, daughter of former governor and Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., will challenge Rep. Steve Southerland II. Graham’s campaign described her as “Washington outsider,” and traced her roots in the Tallahassee-based Panhandle district back to her father’s tenure as governor beginning in 1979.

However, Graham’s father later served three terms in the Senate and she boasts relatives at The Washington Post. CQ Roll Call reported Gwen Graham was a likely contender earlier this year.

California’s 31 District

Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar will challenge one of House Democrats’ top  2014 targets, Republican Rep. Gary G. Miller. It’s Aguilar’s second try at Congress in as many cycles after he shocked Democrats by failing to make it to the general election in California’s new jungle primary system last year. Already in December, CQ Roll Call reported that Aguilar was interested in another run. Full story

South Carolina: Sanford Poised for Comeback in GOP Runoff

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

For a candidate known for one of the past decade’s most colossal political mistakes, former Gov. Mark Sanford has run a nearly flawless campaign for the 1st District.

As a result, Sanford is on track to win the Republican runoff and maintains a solid position in the special election for the coastal, GOP-leaning district.

On Tuesday, voters will determine whether Sanford can proceed with his political comeback over his GOP opponent, attorney Curtis Bostic. Palmetto State Republicans are confident Sanford will win the GOP nomination and continue to face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the May 7 general election.

A runoff victory will show that even after the former governor’s epic political implosion — disappearing from the state for days and admitting to an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina — solid campaign mechanics can push a candidate to victory.

“The governor has spent plenty of time addressing his personal failures from 2009, and I think anyone who knows him would agree that it was very much at odds with the rest of his political career,” Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said in an interview. Full story

West Virginia: NRCC Makes TV Buys Against Rahall

House Republicans are targeting Rahall early. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee will begin airing advertisements Wednesday targeting Democratic Rep. Nick J. Rahall II.

The small buy is intended to show that the committee is readying to take on Rahall’s district — regardless of whether he seeks re-election in 2014. Rahall is considering a bid for retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s seat.

The NRCC will spend $12,000 to air the spot from April 3 to 9.

Full story

April 1, 2013

Iowa: Democrat Sherzan Drops Bid to Challenge Latham

Businessman Mike Sherzan, a Democrat, has dropped his campaign for Iowa’s 3rd District, citing “personal health reasons” in a statement released Monday.

His announcement clears the way for another Democrat, perhaps former state Sen. Staci Appel, to challenge GOP Rep. Tom Latham in this competitive district.

House Democrats have targeted the 3rd District since the start of the cycle. In January, they touted Sherzan as one of their first potential recruits during the presidential inauguration festivities. He announced his campaign a month later.

Sherzan’s decision to leave the race comes after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee met with Appel about the race on her recent trip to Washington, D.C. But in a statement, he insisted his decision was based “solely upon my individual circumstances.”

“Finally, I have made this decision based solely upon my individual circumstances and what I believe to be in my best interest and that of my family,” Sherzan said. “Ending my candidacy is very disappointing to me personally.”

Colorado: Mark Udall Raises $1.5 Million in First Quarter of Cycle

Udall had a strong first fundraising quarter (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., raised $1.5 million in the first quarter of 2013 and has $2.5 million in the bank to kick off his re-election campaign in 2014.

On paper, the re-election race should worry Senate Democrats: Colorado is a competitive state, and in recent cycles national parties have dumped millions into races there.

But Udall’s supporters list his strong fundraising as one of the reasons the first-term senator does not top this cycle’s list of the most competitive races. More importantly, Udall has yet to field a serious GOP challenger.

Full story

Iowa: House Democrats Talk to Ex-State Senator About Latham Challenge

Democrats are talking up a new candidate to challenge Rep. Tom Latham (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats hope former state Sen. Staci Appel will challenge GOP Rep. Tom Latham of Iowa this cycle, after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee met with her recently in Washington, D.C., to discuss the race, according to a Democratic operative with knowledge of the encounter.

Appel, a former stock broker and one-term state senator from rural Ackworth, Iowa, is the wife of Iowa Supreme Court Justice Brent Appel.

Democrats view the 3rd District as one of their best pick-up opportunities of 2014. Last year, President Barack Obama carried the Des Moines-based seat. At the same time, Latham defeated then-Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, D-Iowa, there by nearly 9 points.

If Appel runs — and the source stressed that her candidacy is not a done deal — she will have company in a Democratic primary. Businessman Mike Sherzan announced his campaign for the seat last month, after the DCCC feted him during the presidential inauguration in January. Full story

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