Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 10, 2015

December 21, 2012

Massachusetts: Long Line for Special Senate Election

Brown, above, could run in the special election that will be held to succeed Kerry, who has been tapped by Obama to serve as secretary of State. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John Kerry’s nomination for secretary of State will open the flood gates of ambitious Bay State Democrats looking to succeed him.

In fact, the list of potential Democratic candidates grew in the week leading up to today’s White House confirmation that President Barack Obama would nominate the Foreign Relations Committee chairman and five-term senator to the post.

Three longtime Democratic members of the Massachusetts House delegation — Reps. Michael E. Capuano, Stephen F. Lynch and Edward J. Markey — have expressed interest in the Senate seat. Markey has even polled the race, according to the Boston Globe. Earlier this week, Boston media outlets reported businessman Edward M. Kennedy Jr. — the son of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. — is also interested in running.

The winner of the Democratic nomination could face exiting Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass., who lost re-election last month, in what many national operatives believe would be a competitive race. A Brown aide told Roll Call earlier this week that it’s too early to speculate on another run. Brown’s father died on Thursday, and the Republican was in Massachusetts on Friday and unavailable for comment.

And then there’s actor and director Ben Affleck.

Full story

December 20, 2012

Report: Mark Sanford to Run for House

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford plans to run in the special election for Rep. Tim Scott’s seat, CNN reports.

The Republican’s entrance into the race shakes up a field that could include his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, among other candidates.

Scott’s seat will be vacant soon because Gov. Nikki R. Haley appointed the GOP congressman to the Senate following Sen. Jim DeMint’s announced plans to resign in January to join The Heritage Foundation.

A few days ago, Roll Call reported Sanford was “studying” a comeback bid in Scott’s district.

Full story

NRSC Hires Rob Collins as Executive Director

Rob Collins will serve as the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s executive director for the 2014 cycle under incoming Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas.

A former top aide for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Collins currently works at Purple Strategies. He served as president of the American Action Network during during the 2010 cycle.

Collins was one of three finalists for the gig. His appointment marks the final executive director hire announced by a congressional campaign committee for the coming cycle.

Full story

DCCC’s Israel Cautious About Whether House Is in Play

Israel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said he's not sure what the 2014 cycle will bring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

New York Rep. Steve Israel hesitated Thursday when asked if Democrats could win back the House in 2014.

“I’m not willing to say that. It’s way too early. We’ll pick up seats in 2014,” the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in an extended interview with CQ Roll Call. “If we do win the House back in 2014 — and I’m not saying we will — it will be because of the infrastructure that we put in place before the end of 2012.”

The typically bullish Israel repeatedly declared that his party could win the speaker’s gavel in the months leading up to the November elections. They fell woefully short of doing so, although the DCCC netted a respectable eight seats.

But 2012 proved to be a damaging cycle for House Democrats in another way.

Full story

New Jersey: Booker Explores Senate Bid

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker is exploring a run for the Senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg. Booker posted a video with an announcement Thursday morning.

“Let there be no doubt. I will complete my full second term,” the Newark mayor said. “I will explore the possibility of running for the United States Senate in 2014.”

In that same video, he gave a nod to Lautenberg. The incumbent has given no indication that he plans to do anything other than run for re-election in 2014.

“As I explore a run for the United States Senate, I look forward to consulting with Sen. Frank Lautenberg. It would be a privilege and honor to continue his legacy of service.”

Shop Talk: NRCC Fills Out Senior Leadership Team

The National Republican Congressional Committee has staffed up its senior team for the 2014 midterm election cycle.

NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon previously hired Liesl Hickey to run the committee as executive director. The new senior team, being announced Thursday, includes a few familiar names as well as some new ones.

Here are the new hires, along with their official biographies, as provided by the committee:

  • Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Jessica Furst’s “role at the NRCC is elevating after serving as General Counsel this past cycle. Jessica previously worked as an associate in Foley & Larder LLP’s Washington office in the Political Law Practice Group, where she represented various U.S. House and Senate candidates and national party committees. Prior to that experience, Jessica served as Communications Director to Congresswoman Katherine Harris’ successful 2004 Congressional campaign. Jessica also regularly appears as a panelist on the Hannity show on FOX News.”
  • Political Director Rob Simms “is a veteran political operative and brings a wealth of valuable experience to our political division. Most recently, Rob has been a senior consultant at Red Maverick Media. Before that, he was chief of staff to Rep. Bill Shuster and president of Persuasion Public Strategies, a political consulting firm. Rob was Georgia’s deputy secretary of state from 2007 until 2009. His vast experience spans from congressional to senatorial to gubernatorial campaigns.”
  • Communications Director Andrea Bozek “got her start at NRCC during the 2006 cycle. She later worked as a research analysis and regional coordinator on John McCain’s presidential campaign, was press secretary for Congressman Tom Reynolds and served as communications director for Chris Lee’s campaign and official office. A Buffalo native, Andrea returned to the NRCC in 2011 as a regional press secretary and rose to Deputy Communications Director.” Full story

December 19, 2012

Hawaii: Hanabusa Will Apply for Appointment to Inouye’s Seat

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, will apply for an appointment to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who died Monday.

A Hanabusa aide confirmed that she plans to submit an application to the state party, which will select a slate of three potential candidates for the post. Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie will select someone from that trio to serve the next two years of Inouye’s term.

As long as Hanabusa makes the short list — a near certainty — Abercrombie will likely pick her to be the Aloha State’s next senator. In the final days of his life, Inouye sent a message to Abercrombie saying he would like his political ally, Hanabusa, to succeed him.

The appointee will serve until after the November 2014 elections, when voters will elect a senator to serve out the remaining two years of Inouye’s term. Candidates will run for a full term in 2016.

New Jersey: Pascrell Calls Idea of Being Governor ‘Intriguing’

New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. hinted at interest in a gubernatorial run in 2013. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. hinted at interest in running for higher state office and he conveyed frustration that Newark Mayor Cory Booker is taking too long decide whether he will run for governor in 2013 or Senate in 2014.

A few weeks ago, New Jersey Democrats forwarded around a curious story from The Bergen Record pushing the idea of a Pascrell gubernatorial run.

“We’ll see what other people have to say about that. I’ve got more on my plate than I can think of,” he said when asked about the idea of running against Republican Gov. Chris Christie. “There’s always been something intriguing about the position, always intriguing.”

At first glance, it would seem odd that Pascrell’s considering a gubernatorial bid.

He fought hard to hold onto his seat in a member-vs.-member primary against fellow Democratic Rep. Steven R. Rothman and has finally built up enough seniority to secure a seat on the powerful Ways and Means Commitee, which he touted in his 2012 campaign.

Full story

Shop Talk: Lugar Will Head to German Marshall Fund

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Outgoing Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., will join The German Marshall Fund of the United States as a senior trans-Atlantic fellow when his term expires early next year.

The German Marshall Fund is a “non-partisan, non-profit organization” that was created “through a gift from Germany as a permanent memorial to Marshall Plan assistance,” according to the group’s website. Its mission is to strengthen “translatlantic cooperation on regional, national and global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan.”

“It is an honor to welcome Senator Lugar to GMF,” the group’s president, Craig Kennedy, said in a written statement. “He is a distinguished lawmaker whose service in the United States Senate is greatly admired around the globe. His expertise on international affairs and national security will be a tremendous asset to GMF’s work.”

Lugar, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lost his bid for re-election last spring when he was defeated in the GOP primary by Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who eventually lost the general election to Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly.

December 18, 2012

New Jersey: Reports Say Cory Booker Signaling Senate Run

Lautenberg may face a primary challenge from Booker should the 88-year-old decide to seek another term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Those close to Newark Mayor Cory Booker telegraphed to the Wall Street Journal Tuesday that the Democrat will run for Senate in 2014, rather than challenge Republican Gov. Chris Christie in 2013.

Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg currently stands in Booker’s way, and the 88-year-old has given zero indication that he plans to retire and clear the way for the popular mayor. Lautenberg was one of the few members to come out forcefully for gun control in the hours after the Dec. 14 shootings in Connecticut.

That means that as it stands, Booker is challenging an active, albeit elderly, incumbent from his own party. Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., is also said to be eyeing a Senate run in 2014.

Full story

December 17, 2012

Hawaii: Inouye Asked Governor to Appoint Hanabusa in ‘Last Wish’

Hanabusa is viewed as a leading contender for the Hawaii Senate appointment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In a letter delivered just hours before his death, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, wrote to Gov. Neil Abercrombie asking him to appoint Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to succeed him.

An Inouye aide described this as the senator’s “last wish” as a political figure. Inouye was a larger-than-life figure in Hawaii, suggesting that his dying request could carry tremendous weight with Abercrombie, a former 10-term House member. The Inouye endorsement should make Hanabusa the favorite for the seat.

Full story

Illinois: Democrats Still Divided on 2nd District Candidate

Southside Chicago Democrats have failed to agree on a consensus candidate for the 2nd District special election.

This weekend, a panel of party leaders led by Thornton Township Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli met with the intention of slating a candidate for the Feb. 26 special primary. But they could not agree.

Democrat Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s resignation spurred a free-for-all Democratic primary for his seat. The winner will likely be the next member of Congress from this heavily Democratic district.

The burgeoning field of Democrats include Alderman Anthony Beale, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, former NFL linebacker Napoleon Harris, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly, former Rep. Mel Reynolds and state Sen. Donne Trotter.

Michigan: Republicans Looking to Primary Reindeer Rancher

Rep.-elect Kerry Bentivolio has not even been sworn in to Congress yet, but Republicans are already discussing a potential primary challenge this cycle.

Bentivolio, a reindeer rancher and veteran, won the GOP nod in August after Rep. Thaddeus McCotter dropped his re-election bid in this district northwest of Detroit.

“I’m sure he’ll get a primary,” said one Michigan Republican who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “He’s new, and people perceive him as untested. It’s a great seat.” Full story

Iowa: King Considering Run for Senate Seat

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Steve King, a Republican, is not actively organizing a Senate bid — but he’s still looking at running.

“Before I could say ‘yes’ to something like that, I’d have to see a lot of the money would be lined up and a lot of the support would be lined up,” King said in a phone interview last week. “I’ve taken no steps in that direction.”

The 2014 cycle kicked off with Republican challengers announcing campaigns in West Virginia and South Dakota just weeks after Election Day in November. King said he would hold off making a decision about running for the seat.

“Anyway you make a decision like this, there are a lot of complexities that come into it,” King added.

Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, has not said yet whether he will seek re-election. If he retires, the race to replace him would be competitive. Democrats say Rep. Bruce Braley would seek their party’s nod.

In addition to King, Republicans have mentioned Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds as possible candidates.

But as long as Harkin seeks re-election, CQ Roll Call rates this race as Likely Democratic.

Hawaii: Governor to Appoint Democrat to Serve Until 2014

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, will have a limited choice of successors to appoint to succeed the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

According to Hawaii election official, the governor will choose from a list of three candidates submitted to him by the state Democratic Party. The appointee will serve until November 2014, when a special election will be held to fill the final two years of Inouye’s current term.

Abercrombie is not required to make the appointment by any particular date.

On Monday, Democratic sources in the Aloha State and in Washington, D.C., talked up the following potential candidates for the seat:

  • Irene Inouye: The late senator’s widow serves as president of the U.S.-Japan Council, according to her biography.
  • Rep. Colleen Hanabusa: The one-term Democrat toyed with running for Senate this past cycle but deferred to Sen.-elect Mazie K. Hirono in the primary.
  • Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz: The former party chairman is an establishment favorite. He has also demonstrated an interest in coming to Capitol Hill from his unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2006.
  • Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann: He’s run for Congress three times, including most recently in 2012, when he lost to Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat. He also challenged Abercrombie in the gubernatorial primary in 2010, which makes the governor less likely to appoint him.
  • Former Rep. Ed Case is not a party favorite since he challenged Sen. Daniel K. Akaka in 2006. But that doesn’t mean he won’t try to be considered for the appointment — or run in the special election in 2014.

Although Hawaii remains a staunchly Democratic state, Republicans could try to make a play for the 2014 special election by attempting to recruit former two-term Republican Gov. Linda Lingle to run. Lingle lost badly in her 2012 Senate bid, but she is one of the few Hawaii Republicans to have had success in the Aloha State in recent years.

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