Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 4, 2015

January 13, 2013

New Jersey: Booker Keeps Options Open

Newark Mayor Cory Booker would not rule out a primary challenge against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg during an interview Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

“I’m not ruling out anything right now, but I think it’s premature to be speculative,” he said.

Moderator David Gregory asked whether there have been any missteps in the early groundwork of the Booker campaign. Booker announced in December that he was seriously exploring a Senate run and filed papers with the Federal Election Commission on Friday. Lautenberg is up for re-election and has yet to announce his plans.

“No. Again, this is really early,” Booker responded. “We’ve reached out to him. We even had a trip down here to speak with him, but he wasn’t able to speak.”

The context of the line of questioning includes angry, blind quotes from the Lautenberg camp about Booker to Politico on Friday.

“This campaign is over a year away. You know New Jersey has got to focus on a governor’s race and a legislative race. But for me to do a good exploration, the due diligence for running, I have to file that paper,” Booker said.

January 12, 2013

Shop Talk: Markey Hires Benzing as Campaign Manager

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey is staffing up in anticipation of a Senate special election and has hired Sarah Benzing as his campaign manager.

Benzing ran Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s successful re-election campaign in 2012 and New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s race in 2011.

“Sarah is the best choice to lead this campaign of big issues and ideas,” Markey said in a statement. “Her proven track-record managing grassroots campaigns shows she has the leadership, know-how and passion to lead this campaign to victory.” Full story

January 11, 2013

New Jersey: Booker Files Papers to Run for Senate

Booker has filed to run for the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 4:30 p.m. | Newark Mayor Cory Booker has filed papers to run for Senate. The Huffington Post first reported the news.

It is another instance of incremental pressure Booker has applied over the last month on Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, a fellow Democrat. A big question among New Jersey Democrats is: Are these moves encouraging Lautenberg to step aside, or is Booker alienating the incumbent to the point that Lautenberg will double-down and run for re-election?

Earlier this week, Fairleigh Dickinson University released a poll that showed Booker leading Lautenberg in a head-to-head matchup. Also, Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s, D-W.Va., retirement announcement Friday morning sparked chatter on Capitol Hill that Lautenberg is most likely the next senator to announce his retirement.

A “senior adviser” to Lautenberg lashed into Booker in comments to Politico, calling him “self-absorbed and disrespectful.”

West Virginia: Democrats Begin Positioning to Run for Rockefeller’s Seat

Rahall is among the Democrats expected to consider running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 8:15 p.m. | Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s retirement announcement Friday formally kicked off a scramble among West Virginia Democrats, some of whom have been pining to run for an open Senate seat for decades.

Rockefeller thanked his staff and emphasized the progress that has been made on health care in his remarks in Charleston. But West Virginia politicos were absorbed with the future. At least some Democrats said they are relieved that Rockefeller is not running for a sixth term because of his alliance with President Barack Obama, who is very unpopular in the state. Full story

Ryan to Speak at CPAC

Ryan is slated to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan is scheduled to address the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, the American Conservative Union announced Friday.

The Wisconsin congressman and former Republican vice presidential nominee is a regular at the annual gathering and is considered a potential White House candidate for 2016.

“From the day he was elected, Chairman Ryan has been a strong voice in Congress for pro-growth, free market economic policies and has always been a CPAC favorite,” ACU Chairman Al Cardenas said in a statement. Full story

Massachusetts: LCV Endorses Markey; Downing Won’t Run

Markey was endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:30 p.m. | The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund — a well-funded environmental group — on Friday endorsed Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey in his bid for the Senate as a potential primary rival decided against a bid.

Also, Democratic state Sen. Ben Downing, who had earlier floated his name for a potential Senate run, on Friday announced he would not run for the seat soon to be vacated by Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

“After considering every aspect of a possible campaign, I have determined that I will not be a candidate for the U.S. Senate in the upcoming special election,” Downing said in a statement.

Downing’s decision was a win for Markey and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which, along with Kerry, backs the congressman’s bid.

Full story

West Virginia: Rockefeller Retirement Spurs Search for Conservative Candidate

National Republicans’ primary problems from the past two cycles are floating to the surface once again in West Virginia.

Conservatives immediately jumped on the news of West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s retirement, noting that there is now no reason a “conservative” candidate can’t win the seat next year with the five-term iconic Democrat absent from the ticket. Conservatives and establishment Republicans have battled in recent election cycles over which GOP Senate primary candidate was best positioned to win a general election.

In a statement Friday morning, Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins said “the door is wide open for Republicans in West Virginia to nominate a true conservative,” citing President Barack Obama’s 26-point loss in the state in 2012 as evidence that a conservative would have no trouble winning. The Senate Conservatives Fund and other like-minded groups oppose Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, who jumped into the race a few weeks after the Nov. 6 elections and was immediately hailed by many Republicans in Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.

“We’re not going to stop looking for a conservative challenger in this race until the primary is over,” Hoskins said. “The voters in West Virginia get to decide who represents them and they should have a conservative choice.” The Senate Conservatives Fund is a super PAC founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., who resigned his seat and jumped to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think thank.

Full story

Massachusetts: Democratic Rabbi Mulls Senate Bid

Rabbi Jonah Pesner sounds a lot like a man who is about to launch a bid for the Senate.

He weaves a compelling biographical narrative, says he has the ability to raise a lot of money and a has a spark of passion when speaking about the issues and why he might be called to run.

“At this moment in history, when it feels so polarized, when there is so much discussion of what divides us,” he said. “I know there are models of elected leadership where we can bring people together for common purpose and overcome the obstacles of partisanship and narrow self-interest.”

“I believe that this may be a moment for me to take all the things that I’ve learned as a rabbi, as an organizer, as a politically and civically engaged leader,” Pesner said, “and put a new kind of stake in the ground and aspire to engage in a higher plane of politics.”

Full story

West Virginia: Rockefeller to Retire in 2014

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:37 a.m. | West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller will retire at the end of his term in 2014. The 75-year-old senator made the announcement Friday morning in Charleston.

“As I approach 50 years of public service in West Virginia, I’ve decided that 2014 will be the right moment for me to find new ways to fight for the causes I believe in and to spend more time with my incredible family,” Rockefeller said, according to a statement released by his office.

The five-term senator’s retirement immediately puts his seat in jeopardy. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., announced her candidacy for the seat in November.

Among the Democrats mentioned as possible candidates are former Sen. Carte P. Goodwin, West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and state Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Robin Davis. Full story

January 10, 2013

DSCC Announces New Hires, Returning Staff for 2014

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced several new additions to its staff for the 2014 midterm election cycle, as well as a few returning aides from 2012, to help the party hold its majority in the Senate.

Matt Canter, who served as communications director last cycle, was promoted to deputy executive director. Working under Executive Director Guy Cecil for a second straight cycle, Canter will serve as the top communications adviser and help manage message operations for all Democratic Senate campaigns. Full story

New Jersey: Booker Leads Lautenberg in New Poll

Lautenberg, above, trailed Booker in a new poll. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, Newark Mayor Cory Booker led Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg by 22 points in a hypothetical 2014 Democratic Senate primary matchup.

Among “self-identified Democrats and Democratic leaners,” 42 percent preferred Booker, while 20 percent favored Lautenberg. The two men both have high name identification, with 83 percent identifying Lautenberg and 75 percent saying they knew who Booker was.

Full story

Report: Obama Campaign Restructure to Assist Policy Push in Second Term

A crowd celebrates in front of the White House to celebrate President Barack Obama's re-election on Election Night. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama’s campaign is set to be reconfigured into an operation that will assist the White House’s policy goals in a second term, CNN reported on Thursday.

Citing a source familiar with the campaign, CNN reported that the operation could be converted to a 501(c)(4) or a super PAC. The restructured organization will be led by former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina and other top operatives from the campaign, including Stephanie Cutter and Jennifer O’Malley Dillon. Full story

Massachusetts: Barney Frank Continues His Push to be Appointed Senator

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank amped up his push to be appointed interim senator Wednesday night, arguing that his experience made him uniquely qualified for the position.

In an interview on the MSNBC program, “Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” the Democrat said the next three months on Capitol Hill may be “as important a set of three months as we’ve had since the New Deal” and argued he was best person to represent the Bay State during that time.

“That’s why I volunteered,” he said. “And I did have people say, ‘Well, you’re not supposed to volunteer.’ And, frankly, my view is that’s kind of junior high school stuff. The difference between me and a number of other people who want to be the interim senator are I’ve said so publicly and the rest are being coy.” Full story

January 9, 2013

New Mexico: Jon Barela Keeping Name Out of GOP’s Senate Hat

New Mexico Republican Jon Barela said he is not planning to challenge Democratic Sen. Tom Udall in 2014.

In a statement to CQ Roll Call, the former congressional candidate and current secretary of the state’s Economic Development Department said running for Senate is not in his plans — at least not at the moment.

“I am focused on working to make New Mexico a more competitive place to do business and continue to drive the state’s unemployment numbers down,” Barela said. “Though I have been encouraged by many New Mexicans to run, I have no plans at this point in doing so.” Full story

Shop Talk: DCCC Rounds Out Senior Staff, Including Many Returning Aides

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will announce more senior staff hires  Wednesday — a roster that includes many returning aides from the 2012 cycle.

House Democrats beat expectations to pick up eight seats in the past election. This cycle, the DCCC is attempting to net a gain of 17 more seats in order to regain the majority. That’s a difficult task because Republicans in many key states redrew the lines to the GOP’s favor during redistricting ahead of the 2012 elections.

DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York announced three top staffers for the 2014 cycle in November, including Kelly Ward as executive director. The following staffers are being announced Wednesday, according to a copy of the announcement obtained by CQ Roll Call: Full story

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