Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 31, 2015

December 4, 2012

Shop Talk: NRCC’s Brock McCleary Joins Pennsylvania Firm

Brock McCleary is leaving the National Republican Congressional Committee and headed to his home state of Pennsylvania.

The outgoing polling director/deputy political director will begin work in January for the Harrisburg, Pa., public affairs firm Long Nyquist & Associates.

“Brock McCleary is one of the brightest political minds in the nation. For the past two election cycles, we have been impressed with his innovative ideas, use of new technology and his polling expertise,” the firm’s owners, Mike Long and Todd Nyquist, wrote in a press release.

McCleary will help with the firm’s clients within the Pennsylvania delegation, and he will also focus on building a national portfolio of political and public affairs clients.

After two cycles at the NRCC and a few other Beltway gigs, McCleary will live in his wife’s hometown of York, Pa.

Here is the other latest news from within the political industry.

Colorado: State Party Chairmen React to Bennet DSCC Announcement

Democrats reacted favorably Tuesday to news that Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado will lead the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in the 2014 cycle. But Republicans were quick to criticize the DSCC’s new chairman.

“Unfortunately, Sen. Bennet’s decision to head the DSCC proves that his priorities now lie outside of Colorado and with the special interests of Washington, D.C.,” Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call wrote in a statement. “Sen. Bennet’s new role as head of the DSCC misplaces his priorities and obligations to the people of Colorado,” he added. Call also noted that Bennet’s 2010 campaign was focused on distancing himself from the image of a Washington insider.

Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio issued a crowing statement on Bennet’s new job.

“As Tea Party groups prepare to take over Senate seats in 2014, the American people will discover what Coloradans already know — voices for mainstream values can win out over shrill partisanship,” Palacio wrote. Like Call’s statement, the Palacio comment returns to  2010 campaign themes — in Bennet’s race, the Democrats used terms such as “extreme” in television advertisements to successfully tie his opponent to the tea party.

Sen. Bennet Named DSCC Chairman

Bennet will be the new chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Update, 1:30 p.m. | Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet will chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2014 cycle, as Democrats look to hold their newly expanded majority.

“Michael is one of the brightest rising stars in the Democratic Party, and he is exactly the right person to lead our efforts over the next two years,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a statement Tuesday. “Not only does Michael know how to win tough races, he has the trust and loyalty of the entire Democratic caucus behind him.”

Bennet, who turned down the job two years ago, was the top choice, and Reid was expected to inform Senate Democrats of the decision Tuesday during the party’s weekly lunch. Full story

Tennessee: Bredesen Leans Against Alexander Run

In an interview, Bredesen said he didn't think he would mount a senatorial bid against Alexander, above. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Democratic Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen didn’t rule out a bid for Senate, but he certainly didn’t sound like a man itching for a run.

In an interview with The Tennessean newspaper’s editorial board, Bredesen said he didn’t think he would mount a bid against Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander.

“I’m always careful to never say ‘never, never, never, never.’ But I’m not doing anything remotely that you would expect me to be doing at this point if I were to be interested in doing that,” he said, according to the paper. “As I’ve told some of the recruiters, I don’t think I’d like it, and I don’t think you’d like me.”

If Alexander, up for his third term in 2014, is vulnerable at all, it’s probably from a primary challenge. And the senator has already been working to shore up his right flank. During the weekend, he made a show of strength, announcing that just about every important statehouse and Tennessee federal official was supporting him.

Roll Call rates the race as Safe Republican.

In 2012, ‘Blame Bush’ Worked Again

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice leaves after her speech on the third day of the 2012 Republican National Convention. The president she worked for, George W. Bush, did not appear at the convention. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans insisted that President Barack Obama couldn’t win a second term by blaming George W. Bush for the lackluster economy.  The 43rd president left office nearly four years ago, and blaming high unemployment and stagnant growth wouldn’t fly with voters in 2012, they argued.

But according to at least one Republican pollster, this strategy worked exceedingly well — thanks in large part to an assist from Mitt Romney and his campaign team. Yes, the Republicans encountered challenges with voter demographics that aren’t going away, acknowledged David Winston in his post-election survey and analysis of the presidential contest. Yes, the Democrats’ voter turnout operation is significantly more advanced than the GOP’s. Full story

December 3, 2012

Arizona: Two Republicans Seriously Considering Taking On Sinema

Democratic Rep.-elect Kyrsten Sinema has not even been sworn in, and Arizona Republicans are already abuzz about candidates preparing to take her on in 2014.

Two contenders who sought the GOP nomination in Arizona’s 9th District earlier this year confirmed to CQ Roll Call that they are seriously considering running for the nomination to challenge Sinema. They are businessman Martin Sepulveda and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Wendy Rogers.

Sepulveda said that if he won the nomination, he would run as the “polar opposite” to Sinema on the size of government, military issues and values. He also placed a heavy emphasis on tying her to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Full story

Illinois: Democratic Field Solidifies for 2nd District Special Election

At least seven well-known Democrats will run in next year’s special primary for former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s seat on the south side of Chicago.

Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly kicked off her campaign for the 2nd District over the weekend, joining six Democrats already in the race: Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Alderman Anthony Beale, former Rep. Mel Reynolds, former NFL Linebacker Napoleon Harris, state Sen. Donne Trotter and state Sen. Toi Hutchinson.

Two other potential candidates declined bids recently: Rev. Corey Brooks and Alderman Will Burns.

The 2nd District is heavily Democratic, and the winner of the Feb. 26 special primary will most likely win the April 9 special election and join Congress. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation this weekend to schedule that April 9 special general election to coincide with local elections. Full story

Jo Ann Emerson Resigning

Missouri Republican Rep. Jo Ann Emerson announced Monday morning she is resigning from the House, effective in February 2013.

In a release, her office said she would take a job as the president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

“I am not leaving Congress because I have lost my heart for service — to the contrary — I see a new way to serve,” she said in a statement. “I did not go seeking this opportunity, but I am excited about the new challenge it offers to find ways to promote strong rural policy.”

Once the vacancy is official Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will call a special election. After that, the 8th District party committees will choose their nominees — there will be no primary special election.

The 8th District is a safe Republican seat. Republicans in the state say the top two contenders are Lt. Gov Peter Kinder and the current executive director of the state Republican Party, Lloyd Smith, who was a former chief of staff to Emerson. The two are unlikely to run against each other.

Other potential contenders include former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, state Sens. Kevin Engler and Jason Crowell, state Reps. Jason Smith and state Sen.-elect Wayne Wallingford.

“If Lloyd wants it, it’s his,” said one Missouri Republican insider who wasn’t sure he Smith would take it.

Emerson was first elected to Congress in a 1996 special election. Her late husband, GOP Rep. Bill Emerson, held the seat previously. In her first general election, she won with only 50 percent of the vote. But she has subsequently cruised to re-election victories. She won last month with 72 percent of the vote.

Alaska: Treadwell One Step Closer to Senate Bid

Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell said at a GOP luncheon in Fairbanks on Friday that he is forming a Senate exploratory committee as he considers whether to challenge Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in 2014, The Associated Press reported.

CQ Roll Call previously reported that Treadwell had begun making calls to line up support for a likely Senate bid. He’s one of many Republicans looking to challenge Begich in the solidly Republican state, and the field is only beginning to take shape.

Begich was first elected in 2008, defeating Republican incumbent Ted Stevens one week after Stevens was found guilty of corruption charges in federal court. That ruling was thrown out five months later. Begich, then the mayor of Anchorage, won by less than 4,000 votes.

Treadwell, who in 2001 was appointed by President George W. Bush to the United States Arctic Research Commission, was elected lieutenant governor in 2010.

December 1, 2012

Lamar Alexander Lines Up GOP All Star Team to Chair Campaign

Sen. Lamar Alexander wants to make clear that all of Tennessee’s GOP establishment is behind his 2014 bid for re-election, sending a beacon flare to any ambitious Republicans who might consider taking him on in a primary.

Alexander will announce on Saturday that Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., will chair his re-election campaign with Tennessee Republican Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Phil Roe, Diane Black, Stephen Fincher and Chuck Fleischmann, along with Gov. Bill Haslam, Sen. Bob Corker, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Tennessee  House Speaker Beth Harwell serving as honorary co-chairmen.

If Alexander faces any threat this cycle, it would be from his right. There is no indication there are Republicans preparing to run, unlike in other states where GOP senators are vulnerable in primaries like Georgia and South Carolina. And his announcement means any challenger would be running against the totality of the Tennessee party establishment.

Notably, the only Tennessee Republican member absent from Alexander’s announcement today: embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais.

Roll Call rates the Tennessee Senate races as Safe Republican

November 30, 2012

California: Hernandez Will Look at a Rematch Vs. Denham

Denham, above, was the only targeted California Republican to hold onto his seat this cycle. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Astronaut Jose Hernandez confirmed he’s interested in challenging Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., again.

Hernandez, a Democrat, just isn’t sure when that will be: 2014 or 2016?

“Democrats tend to show up in lower numbers than Republicans in off-years. It’s one of the concerns I need to worry about,” he told Roll Call in a brief Friday afternoon telephone interview. “Is it more winnable in two years or four years?”

Earlier this month, Denham survived as the only targeted California Republican on the November ballot. Democrats defeated many of his California GOP colleagues; for example Rep.-elect Ami Bera toppled Rep. Dan Lungren in a 2010 rematch.

Now Hernandez, who lost by 5 points, hopes he might follow his friend Bera’s success. He plans to talk to him and senior Congressional leaders on a yet-to-be-scheduled trip to Washington.

But Hernandez cautioned that he hasn’t made a decision yet about running.

“I’m not saying I’m running, but I’m not saying I’m not running,” he said. “I’m keeping my options and exploring what would make sense to do.”

Arkansas: Griffin Not Running for Senate, Governor

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Arkansas Republican Rep. Tim Griffin, who will serve on the Ways and Means Committee in the 113th Congress, will not seek higher office in Arkansas during the 2014 election cycle.

“I am not running for Senate and I am not running for governor in 2014,” he told CQ Roll Call in an interview.

“Being on the Ways and Means Committee is not only one of the best places to be in the House, it’s one of the best jobs in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Griffin, a freshman who has a long Capitol Hill résumé, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for higher office since he took the oath for Congress in January 2011. But with his appointment to the powerful committee, he’s staying put — for now.

Griffin won re-election in his Little Rock-anchored district this month with 55 percent of the vote.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., appears to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the chamber: In 2011, Pryor voted with President Barack Obama 95 percent of the time; in 2012, only 37 percent of the state Pryor represents voted for Obama.

November 29, 2012

Illinois: Hutchinson Joins Special Election in 2nd District

The field continues to grow in the special election for former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s seat.

State Sen. Toi Hutchinson announced Thursday that she will join the burgeoning open Democratic primary for the 2nd District, south of Chicago.

“Families in the South Suburbs and the southside deserve a representative who understands their concerns and who will work alongside President [Barack] Obama to create new jobs, rebuild our roads and schools, and protect the gains we’ve made on equal pay, health care and civil rights,” Hutchinson said in a statement.

Officials scheduled the special primary for Feb. 26. The winner of the Democratic primary will likely come to Congress to represent this heavily Democratic district.

Full story

South Dakota: Club for Growth ‘Not Focused’ on Rounds

The conservative Club for Growth is taking a hands-off approach to former Gov. Michael Rounds’ Senate bid — at least for now.

“We are not focused on South Dakota’s Senate race at this time, and we do not feel the need to comment on every candidate that announces for office,” said Barney Keller, a spokesman for the group, in response to an email inquiry from Roll Call. “We will continue to watch every race and go through our normal evaluation process.”

That’s good news for Rounds, a Republican who announced his bid against Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Thursday morning. Roll Call rates this race as a Tossup.

Full story

New Hampshire: Guinta Opens Door to Senate, Comeback Bids

Guinta has not ruled out running for Senate in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Outgoing Rep. Frank Guinta, R-N.H., will consider running statewide in 2014, perhaps challenging Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

“My name comes up for Senate, House and governor,” Guinta told Roll Call Thursday in a phone interview. “Obviously, it’s nice to be thought of in that way. Quite frankly, at this point, it’s something that I will focus on sometime next year.”

But two well-placed New Hampshire GOP sources noted that Guinta, the former mayor of Manchester, expressed a particular interest in the Senate race. Roll Call rates the contest as Leans Democratic.

Republicans view the seat as enticing because the party not controlling the White House historically picks up seats in midterm elections. What’s more, the Granite State has proved itself as the ultimate barometer of Congressional races, electing a new set of House Members in three of the past four cycles.

Guinta emphasized that he thought it was too early to select a race, but said he plans to “see how things play out and keep options open.”

“I’m certainly going to take some time in 2013 to assess and make a determination at some point if I would run,” Guinta said.

Full story

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