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

November 14, 2012

Portman, Cruz to Serve as NRSC Vice Chairmen

Portman will be vice chairman of finance for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:37 p.m.| Senate Republicans named Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Sen.-elect Ted Cruz of Texas to serve as vice chairmen of the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Wednesday.

The duo will support the NRSC’s newly elected chairman, Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, who ran unopposed for the gig. Portman will be vice chairman of finance, and Cruz will be vice chairman for grass roots.

Senate Republicans also voted this morning to elevate Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) to be minority whip and re-elected Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as minority leader. This is the fourth leadership election in which McConnell has been unopposed for the post.

Sen. Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida both spoke on McConnell’s behalf in the meeting before the election was held, according to their respective staffs. “Mitch unifies all of us, regardless of philosophy or what part of the country we come from. He’s the smartest political mind around and a great listener,” Rubio said in his speech. “Above all else, what Mitch cares about is whether we succeed as a conference and as a country, and that’s why I’m proud to nominate him for another term as leader.”

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota was re-elected as Republican Conference chairman. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri was re-elected as Republican Conference vice chairman and Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming was re-elected as Republican policy committee chairman. None of the leadership posts was contested. Full story

November 13, 2012

Portman Rules Out NRSC Bid

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio will not run for National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman in Wednesday’s leadership elections, according to a GOP aide familiar with his decision.

“He was honored to hear from so many asking him to consider running,” the aide said. “It was not something he had ever given much thought to, but he decided it’s best to keep his focus on some of these huge policy issues that we face as a nation.”

Portman’s decision means the post will likely go to Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, the only candidate to publicly express interest in the post. Moran told Roll Call last week that he’s been running for the seat for at least six months, lobbying his colleagues for support. He announced last week that he had enough votes to win the race — although he declined to give a specific figure.

Portman’s decision may come as a disappointment to Senate Republicans who praised his fundraising prowess, both in his southern Ohio base and in financial centers such as New York. In 2012, Portman was the top fundraiser for the NRSC in the freshman class.

Illinois: Walsh Floats Statewide Bid

Outgoing Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., didn’t rule out a statewide bid in 2014 in a recent interview with The Daily Herald.

Last week, Walsh, one of the House GOP’s most outspoken and controversial conservatives, lost re-election to Democratic Rep.-elect Tammy Duckworth. Walsh had this to say to the suburban Chicago newspaper when asked about a gubernatorial bid in 2014:

“Am I going to do something? Oh gosh, I don’t know,” he said. “People approach me every day and ask, ‘Walsh, are you going to run for the governor? Are you going to run for Senate?’ I want to do my part to lead a movement to present a vision to this. I’d rather go down fighting. Democrats have ruined this state but they’ve been able to do it because the Republicans have allowed them to.”

Full story

Running Unopposed for NRCC Chairman, Greg Walden Asks for Support

Oregon Rep. Greg Walden today wrote to his Republican colleagues, asking for their support in his unopposed bid for the chairmanship of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Walden, a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), has served as the deputy to outgoing NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) for two cycles and noted Sessions’ support in his letter.

“Over the past four years, I have had the privilege to serve as Pete Sessions’ deputy as we have worked together to transform the NRCC into a member driven organization with programs that have purpose and accountability,” Walden wrote. “With Pete’s full support, I now seek to serve our conference as NRCC chairman, and I ask for your vote.”

Full story

By Joshua Miller Posted at 10:53 a.m.

Alaska: Republicans Lining Up to Take on Mark Begich

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

At least two well-known Republicans are actively considering challenges to Democratic Sen. Mark Begich, who enters the 2014 cycle as one of the most endangered incumbents.

According to Republican insiders in the state, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and 2010 Senate nominee Joe Miller are making calls and lining up support for potential Senate bids. Former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan are also viewed as potential Begich challengers. Gov. Sean Parnell might be interested as well, insiders said.

GOP consultant Andrew Halcro said it might be easier to ask which Republicans aren’t considering taking on Begich. But, he added, Begich will be more difficult to defeat than most think after striking a moderate tone and working hard during the past four years.

Begich is running for his first re-election. In 2008, he defeated Republican incumbent Ted Stevens, one week after Stevens was found guilty of corruption charges in federal court — a ruling that was thrown out five months later. Begich, then mayor of Anchorage, won by less than 4,000 votes.

GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried Alaska last week by 13 points.

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 1:08 a.m.
Alaska Senate

Kentucky: Actress Ashley Judd Stokes Mitch McConnell Challenge Talk

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As the political world began to transition from 2012 to 2014 last week, some of the most tantalizing buzz centered around actress Ashley Judd and the possibility that she might seek the Democratic nomination to run against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“I cherish Kentucky, heart and soul, and while I’m very honored by the consideration, we have just finished an election, so let’s focus on coming together to keep moving America’s families, and especially our kids, forward,” she said in a statement Nov. 9, according to The Associated Press.

Recent comments from Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., also gave the story legs. Full story

Illinois: Speculation Increases Over Special Election for Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s Seat

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Special election speculation swirled this weekend amid reports that Democratic Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. could resign his seat as part of a plea deal with federal investigators.

CBS Chicago reported Jackson has not pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, but he’s discussing a deal that includes his resignation by the end of the year, plus some jail time.

Possible Democratic candidates who would run to succeed Jackson include Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly and state Sens. Toi Hutchinson and Napoleon Harris, a former linebacker for Northwestern University, according to several Illinois sources. Full story

November 12, 2012

Five House Races Still Outstanding

Five House races remain unresolved almost a week after Election Day.

The two main developments since Friday in uncalled races were in California and Arizona. Earlier today, Democratic former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema won the race against Republican Vernon Parker in Arizona’s 9th district. On Friday night, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) formally conceded to Democrat Raul Ruiz. Here are the races still up in the air: Full story

Arizona: Kyrsten Sinema Declared Winner in 9th District

Democrat Krysten Sinema has been declared the winner in Arizona's 9th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Democratic state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has officially defeated Republican Vernon Parker in Arizona’s 9th District race, according to The Associated Press.

The narrow margin between Sinema and Parker put the race into overtime and led to a delay in declaring a winner, but Sinema has slowly increased her lead since Election Day.

Looking forward, this Phoenix-area seat will remain highly competitive. It is a new seat created after reapportionment and Sinema will be the first person to occupy it. Full story

November 10, 2012

Arizona: Reid Adds Voice to Arizona Ballot Counting Frustrations

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seemed to echo the frustrations of Arizonans today when he issued a statement on the ongoing ballot counting in the state.

“All of the votes in Arizona must be counted promptly, accurately and equally!” the Nevada Democrat said in a written statement. “The uncounted votes in Maricopa County alone represent a major portion of the total votes cast in Arizona on Tuesday.”

“I expect state and local officials in Arizona to ensure that every vote is counted promptly, accurately and equally,” he added.

The Associated Press and most news organizations called the Senate race between Republican Rep. Jeff Flake and former Surgeon General Richard Carona earlier this week. There are two outstanding House races in Arizona.

But the outstanding ballot sum is much greater than the margin between Flake and Carmona. At least one smart state Democrat is not completely ruling out an upset when the votes are finally tallied.

Arizona’s 2nd is the House race with the most uncertainty. As of this writing, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally was barely leading Democratic Rep. Ron Barber. Sources from both parties strongly warn that any lead until after the weekend is tenuous. Expect more see-sawing.

In Arizona’s 9th, former Democratic state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has held onto her lead over Republican Rep. Vernon Parker, but it has yet to be called.

Arizona political strategists became increasingly frustrated with the state’s slow ballot counting for several reasons, most notably, clerical errors and a large number of provisional ballots.

November 9, 2012

California: Mary Bono Mack Concedes

Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) today conceded her race to Democrat Raul Ruiz, who joins a large freshman contingent in the state’s Congressional delegation.

Ruiz was leading Bono Mack by 4,679 votes as of Thursday evening, with thousands of absentee and provisional ballots still to count.

“Dr. Ruiz will do a fine job if he is guided as well by the people of the Congressional district as I was. Please give him the opportunity to succeed,” Bono Mack said in a statement.

Ruiz, a physician, was a top recruit of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which launched a media campaign against Bono Mack in mid-September. That set off a spending war among outside groups from both sides, as the district moved squarely onto the competitive playing field. Full story

Day Three: Outstanding House Races

Here is the state of some House races that have yet to be officially called or have a victor declared.

Arizona 2nd

Rep. Ron Barber (D) has taken a 600 vote lead over retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally (R), but it is still too early to assume that his lead will hold. There are simply too many outstanding ballots to be counted to do much tea leaf reading at this point.

Arizona 9th

Former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) saw her lead over former Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker increase from Thursday. While there are a number of ballots still to be counted, at least one Republican operative familiar with this race is growing more pessimistic about his party’s chances of winning this seat.

Full story

November 8, 2012

Handful of House Races Still Uncalled

The 113th Congress isn’t set yet. The winners in six House races remain unclear.

Here’s an update on those races:

  • In Arizona’s 2nd district, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally (R) led Rep. Ron Barber (D), but there are early ballots and provisional ballots left to be counted. Both parties felt confident that the outcome of this race would be in their favor, but it might take a while to find out who is right. “It’s just gonna drag on there for a week or two,” one Arizona Democratic political insider said.
  • In Arizona’s new 9th district, former state Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) led ex-Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker (R) by about 2,700 votes, but many, many ballots remained to be counted, and the race has not yet been called by the Associated Press.
  • In California’s 7th district, physician Ami Bera (D) led Rep. Dan Lungren (R) by the slimmest of margins — 184 votes, according to the AP. A margin like that could make this race ripe for a recount, which must be requested by one of the candidates. Full story

Team Obama Takes Victory Lap

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

President Barack Obama’s campaign team took a final victory lap this afternoon, boasting of statistics in battleground states that brought their candidate a resounding victory on Tuesday.

A successful coalition of Hispanic, black and female voters delivered wins in key battleground states, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina emphasized in a conference call with reporters.

Messina declared that Obama won a “record” 71 percent of the Latino vote. He said minority turnout increased to 28 percent this cycle, while women maintained their same percentage as in 2008.

“The issues that Latino voters care about, like everyone else, are the economy, jobs, education,” Messina said. “But they watched the Republican party in the primary use them as a political football.”

Full story

John Thune Seeks Re-Election as Conference Chairman

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After considering other posts within the Senate Republican leadership, Sen. John Thune (S.D.) today said he would run for re-election as Republican Conference chairman.

“America continues to face enormous challenges and the consequences have never been greater,” Thune said in a release. “Our country is at a crossroads and communicating our positive Republican vision to grow the economy, create jobs, and restore our nation’s fiscal health couldn’t be more important. Senate Republicans have solutions and we will work hard to aggressively take our message directly to the American people.”

Full story

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