Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 29, 2015

February 7, 2013

Obama to Fundraise for House, Senate Committees

Updated: 1:09 p.m. | President Barack Obama will hold at least 14 fundraisers this year to support Democratic efforts to take control of the House and keep the majority in the Senate.

They include five outside-D.C. events for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and five outside-D.C. events for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, along with separate and joint appearances for the committees in Washington, D.C.

As the country’s best fundraiser, Obama’s appearances will boost both committees as they stockpile resources this year for competitive races in 2014.

House Democrats must win a net of 17 seats to take the majority. Senate Republicans need to net six seats to take back control of that chamber.

The news of the Obama-led fundraisers is a particular boon for the DCCC, which will be primarily on offense this cycle. Obama-Biden 2012 Campaign Manager Jim Messina told DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York the good news earlier this week.

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is also expected to do fundraising events for the DCCC.

The New York Times first reported the Obama fundraisers, which were confirmed to CQ Roll Call by a Democratic official.

Walker to Headline NRCC Dinner March 20

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will headline House Republicans’ major fundraising dinner March 20.

Walker, who has been hailed as the conservative, collective-bargaining-busting hero, will deliver the keynote address at the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual event at the National Building Museum.

Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the dinner, will work with Walker and other members on fundraising.

In 2012, South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley headlined the dinner, which brought in a hefty $12 million.

The news of Walker headlining the dinner was first reported by Yahoo News.

February 6, 2013

Illinois: New Kelly Poll Shows Her Leading Special Primary

Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly released an internal poll today that showed she has moved to the front of the Democratic pack in the crowded special primary to replace former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill.

Kelly garnered 26 percent in the poll among the top Democrats, according to a survey memo released by the campaign.

Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, D-Ill, picked up 22 percent, while state Sen. Toi Hutchinson had the backing of 20 percent of those surveyed, and Alderman Anthony Beale had 10 percent.

The winner of the Feb. 26 Democratic primary will likely win the seat given the South Side district’s deep blue composition. But Chicago Democrats see the special primary as unpredictable because of the large number of candidates.

Full story

New Jersey: Geraldo Talks Senate Run on Facebook

Television personality Geraldo Rivera took to his Facebook page to clarify the legal ends of his Senate candidacy contemplations.

“Despite my constitutionally protected musings on whether to seek that high office, I am taking no formal steps to initiate the electoral process, making no declarations, forming no committees, raising no money and hiring no campaign aides,” Rivera wrote. “Therefore, there is no [Federal Communications Commission] complication regarding equal time.”

Rivera is getting at the fact that he hosts a radio program and is stating that he is still in compliance with the “equal time rule.”

Rivera has floated his name as a Republican contender in the 2014 Senate race in New Jersey. Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg has yet to announce whether he will seek re-election. Rivera’s recent comments have mostly been met with eye rolls, but according to The New York Times, Fox News “is taking it seriously.”

Full story

Georgia: Broun Files Senate Paperwork Ahead of Afternoon Campaign Launch

Rep. Paul Broun

Broun is expected to announce his Senate bid on Wednesday afternoon. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun filed a federal statement of candidacy Wednesday to run for Senate.

The paperwork comes ahead of Broun’s expected 4 p.m. announcement in Atlanta that he will seek retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ seat.

The Republican senator announced last month he would not run for another term in 2014, kicking off a scramble among ambitious members of the Peach State delegation. Republican Reps. Jack Kingston, Tom Price and Phil Gingrey are all seen as likely to get into the race to succeed Chambliss. But Broun got the jump on his colleagues.

Broun is one of the chamber’s most socially and fiscally conservative members. He had a lifetime score of 99 percent from both the American Conservative Union and the anti-tax Club for Growth at the end of 2011, the most recent year for which data is available.

Full story

Montana: Stapleton Announces Challenge to Baucus

Former Montana state Sen. Corey Stapleton announced Wednesday that he will challenge Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, giving the six-term incumbent his first major Republican opponent.

“I want to make life better for Montanans, for all of us — our kids, our grandkids,” Stapleton said in a video posted to his campaign website. “That’s why I’m running for the United States Senate.”

Stapleton, a financial adviser, finished second last year in the seven-candidate Republican primary for governor. In 2012, Republicans lost both the governor’s race and the party’s challenge to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, disappointments for the GOP in a state the party carried handily at the presidential level.

Baucus, 71, is one of six Democrats in the Senate seeking re-election in a state the president lost. Still, Tester held off a strong challenge from then-Rep. Denny Rehberg last year, and Baucus was sitting on a $3.6 million war chest as he began the 2014 cycle.

Stapleton is a Naval Academy graduate and served two terms in the state Senate, including stints as minority leader and chairman of the Legislative Campaign Committee.

Roll Call rates this races as Leans Democratic.

Joshua Miller contributed to this report.

Kentucky: American Crossroads Ad Attacks Ashley Judd

American Crossroads released an ad targeting Judd, a potential Kentucky Senate candidate. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The juggernaut Republican third-party group American Crossroads on Wednesday released a scathing attack ad hitting actress and potential Kentucky Senate candidate Ashley Judd.

Judd, a Democrat mulling a bid to take on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has been the target of GOP derision since her name first was floated late last year. But this appears to be the first time that derision has taken the form of a paid advertisement against her. It’s backed by $10,000 in digital advertising and will run for two weeks, a spokesman for American Crossroads said.

The one-minute ad is a sarcastic spot “in favor” of Judd. Full story

February 5, 2013

Arizona: State GOP Prepares for Redistricting — in 2022

The Arizona Republican Party announced Tuesday that it has formed a committee of “experts and stakeholders” to prepare for the next redistricting cycle, slated for 2022.

“Arizona’s political landscape today reflects a flawed process where election districts were drawn up based on a one-sided political agenda and too much secrecy, and I’m taking action now to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” state GOP Chairman Robert Graham said in a statement.

“We are looking for an honest and open process that doesn’t favor one group of voters over another — one that is truly bipartisan and treats voters equally while putting an end to the discrimination against Republicans.”

Arizona featured one of the most protracted, nasty rounds of redistricting of any state last cycle. But operatives from both parties admit that Democrats got the better end of the independent commission-drawn map during the decennial process.

Full story

Georgia: Westmoreland Expects Crowded GOP Senate Field

Westmoreland expects many of his House GOP colleagues to run for Senate in Georgia (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., expects a crowded field of contenders for retiring GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ seat — including some of his House colleagues.

Peach State Republicans have told CQ Roll Call they were hopeful to avoid multiple House members jumping into the race. But Westmoreland cautioned that probably won’t be the case.

“I don’t think you can keep all of ’em from running at once,” he said in a Tuesday phone interview, less than 24 hours after announcing he would not seek the seat.

“Congressman [Phil] Gingrey is very much interested in it,” he said, noting his colleague’s significant $1.9 million war chest at the end of last year.

“I think Congressman [Jack] Kingston will run,” Westmoreland said, emphasizing Kingston’s close ties to the agriculture industry and how they could help in his bid.

Full story

Liberal Group Launches Ad Targeting McConnell on Gun Control

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal third-party group, began airing an ad Tuesday in Kentucky targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on gun control.

“As a gun owner and a veteran, I support the plan to ban assault weapons and keep guns out of the wrong hands, because I know these guns. I know what they can do,” an older man says in the ad. “Senator Mitch McConnell has taken thousands of dollars from gun manufacturers, and he opposes common sense reforms. Senator McConnell, whose side are you on?”

The ad is backed by a small buy — $27,700 over a week — on broadcast television and cable in two Kentucky television markets: Louisville and Lexington. It’s also on cable television in the Washington, D.C., media market, according to a PCCC spokesman.

Full story

Massachusetts: GOP State Representative Exploring Senate Run

Republican state Rep. Dan Winslow announced Tuesday that he is making the first official moves to run in the special election for the Bay State’s open seat.

“Today I’m taking the necessary steps to form an exploratory committee to test the waters for the U.S. Senate,” Winslow said in a statement. “We need to fix a broken Washington where progress is being hampered by partisan gridlock. If we continue to elect the same Washington politicians, we can not expect different results.”

Winslow told The Boston Globe he was “99 percent there” on a run.

Winslow is the first Republican to take official steps toward a bid for the seat formerly held by Secretary of State John Kerry. In recent days, many other Republicans, including former Sen. Scott P. Brown, have taken their names out of contention.

Massachusetts Reps. Edward J. Markey and Stephen F. Lynch are running for the Democratic nomination for Senate.

Roll Call rates the Senate special election as Likely Democratic.

Iowa: Latham Downplays Campaign Committee Name Change

Latham is mulling a 2014 Senate bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, confirmed Monday that he is continuing to consider running for Senate in 2014, but he said not to read too much into a decision to change the name of his campaign committee.

As first reported by Rothenberg Political Report, “Latham for Congress” was set to become “Iowans for Latham.” The GOP congressman acknowledged the change, although he said it was to reflect that his 3rd District, post-2010 redistricting, encompasses a broad swath in the battleground state.

“I thought that since we represented a lot of the state, that they just change the name of the committee. It doesn’t have any ramifications beyond that,” Latham told reporters, regarding the change of the name of his campaign committee. “We haven’t made any decision yet.”

If Latham runs for the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, he could face a primary contest with Rep. Steve King, a conservative stalwart. King led a field of potential GOP candidates, including Latham, in a new poll.

Latham indicated that he and King have spoken about a potential primary battle but declined to offer details. He said they saw each other the night of Feb. 2 at the Iowa State University versus Baylor University basketball game but acknowledged they did not have an “in depth” discussion about the Senate race.

Latham said the two would talk more about it at some point, but that whether King runs for Senate would have no bearing on his decision.

“I think he’s a very viable member of Congress. I’m just going to worry about what I do, that’s all I can control,” Latham said.

Latham, a close ally of Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, is considered more mainstream in his appeal with voters than King, who has long enjoyed the support of conservative activists.

February 4, 2013

Georgia: Westmoreland Won’t Run for Senate

Westmoreland announced Monday that he will not run to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., said Monday he will not be a candidate in the Peach State’s Senate race next year.

“After discussing it with family and friends, and after much deliberation and prayer, I have made the decision to not pursue a statewide office at this time,” Westmoreland said in a statement. “I am honored to be serving as the U.S. Congressman for Georgia’s Third District.”

Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ retirement opened the floodgates for aspiring Georgia Republicans seeking higher office. Republican Reps. Tom Price, Paul Broun and Jack Kingston all look likely to jump into the race soon.

Other Republicans, such as Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, may also mount a bid.

Full story

New Jersey: Lautenberg Raised $11,000 in 4th Quarter of 2012

Lautenberg raised about $11,000 in the fourth quarter of 2012. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg raised just more than $11,000 in the final three months of 2012 — a paltry total for any incumbent preparing to seek re-election.

Lautenberg, who has not said yet whether he will seek a sixth term, reported $182,000 in the bank, according to his year-end fundraising report filed with the Federal Election Commission last week.

Lautenberg is one of the wealthiest members of Congress and has previously self-funded his own re-election to the tune of seven figures. The New Jersey Democrat also posted meager fundraising at the start of his last race in the 2008 cycle, but he loaned $1 million to seed his campaign in December 2006.

Latuenberg’s small haul will continue to fuel questions about whether the 89-year-old plans to run for re-election. Lautenberg faces a tough Democratic primary challenge from Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who announced last month that he is exploring a bid for the seat. Democrats are expected to hold the seat in 2014.

Full story

South Carolina: State Senator ‘Leaning Toward’ Graham Primary Challenge

Conservatives expect Graham will face a primary challenge in 2014, but it remains to be seen how competitive the race will be. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

South Carolina Republican state Sen. Lee Bright is “leaning toward” taking on Sen. Lindsey Graham in a primary.

“It’s something I’m considering. I haven’t made a final decision,” Bright told CQ Roll Call in a short telephone interview Monday afternoon, noting he expected to make a choice within the next 60 days. “There’s a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and I think Lindsey’s on the opposite side [from me].”

Asked on what issues they disagreed, Bright listed a comprehensive immigration overhaul, “man-made global warming” and the debt ceiling. Bright also griped that Graham “always wants to seem to rush to compromise” with Democrats. Full story

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