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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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said he will make a “formal announcement later next year” about his re-election in a carefully worded statement from his office released Thursday morning.
“As in past campaigns, I will make my formal announcement later next year,” he said. “But I feel great, still have work to do, and I fully intend to put together a winning campaign in the weeks and months ahead.”
“I am here today to ask the people of South Dakota for their support and to allow me to work for them as their United States Senator in 2014,” Rounds said in a statement.
Former Gov. Mike Rounds, a Republican, will make an announcement Thursday about the race against Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson.
Local news outlets reported Rounds will jump into the race during a three-stop tour of the state. A press release did not specify his intentions.
Rounds announced weeks ago that he was exploring a bid for the Senate seat. A two-term governor, Rounds’ candidacy makes the South Dakota race competitive.
What’s more, Johnson has not said yet whether he’s running for another term. If Johnson retires, Rounds will have a head start on the other candidates in the race.
After a recount in North Carolina’s 7th District that left Republican candidate David Rouzer trailing by hundreds of votes, he has conceded to Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre.
“I have called Congressman McIntyre to congratulate him on a hard-fought victory, and I wish him well as he joins a new Congress that will be dealing with very difficult issues facing our country,” Rouzer, a state senator, said in a statement.
McIntyre, a conservative Democrat who ran an expert campaign in a Republican district, will begin his 9th term in January.
The decennial redistricting process in the Tar Heel State drew McIntyre’s home out of his district and made the 7th significantly more Republican. But despite the uphill climb he faced, McIntyre managed to squeak out a close victory.
North Carolina’s 7th District was the final outstanding House race in the country.
However, in one Louisiana district, the new member will be decided by a Dec. 8 runoff. Republican Reps. Charles Boustany Jr. and Jeff Landry face each other there.
But that’s exactly how things looked two years before the 2012 elections, when Democrats surprised many with victories in Missouri and North Dakota on their way to picking up two seats. So the challenge for the GOP and incoming National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran of Kansas is to capitalize on their opportunities.
That and how voters feel about President Barack Obama in 2014 could determine how the parties fare at the ballot box less than two years from now. Democrats won their current majority in 2006, in the second midterm election under President George W. Bush.
Republicans are hoping Obama’s second midterm is similarly kind to them, if not equal to the president’s 2010 midterm shellacking, when the GOP won seven seats (and control of the House) despite beginning the cycle as the underdog.
Liesl Hickey has been appointed as the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee for the 2014 cycle.
Newly elected NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon tapped Hickey to direct the powerful committee, which is tasked with defending a sizable majority in the next election cycle.
Hickey, 38, served as the head of the NRCC’s incumbent retention Patriot Program during the 2012 cycle, a position she was appointed to in January 2011.
“Liesl Hickey gets it,” Walden said in a statement. “She understands how Republicans can win in competitive districts. She has sharp political instincts and led our Patriot Program to help the House retain the second largest GOP majority since the 1940s. With this solid base in place, she will lead our team forward to gaining ground in 2014.”
Republican state Rep. Kevin Brooks confirmed to CQ Roll Call that he is seriously eyeing a bid against embattled Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.
“We’re in the exploration/prayer mode,” he said. “We are gauging our support, which is growing. And that’s the reason I’ve decided to publicly state that this is something that we’re looking at.”
DesJarlais has taken a number of political hits recently, as records from a decade-old divorce have become public.
Disgraced former Rep. Mel Reynolds, a Democrat, will announced Wednesday afternoon that he’s seeking the Illinois 2nd District seat he once held, according to The Associated Press.
Reynolds resigned in 1995 after he was sentenced to prison for a sexual relationship with a teenage campaign worker.
Accordingly, local Democrats do not view him as a viable candidate in the special election for former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s seat.
Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, Alderman Anthony Beale and former NFL Linebacker Napoleon Harris have announced campaigns, and several more Democrats are expected to join the field in the next week. (See a full list of potential candidates here.)
Jackson announced his resignation from Congress last week, and officials have scheduled a special primary for his seat on Feb. 26. In this heavily Democratic district, the winner of the primary will serve in Congress in all likelihood.
Jackson won the special election to succeed Reynolds in 1995.
Mitt Romney will sit down Thursday for a private lunch at the White House with President Barack Obama.
The White House announced Wednesday that the two will meet in the private dining room for their first visit since Obama defeated the former Massachusetts governor just more than three weeks ago. The White House is not allowing press coverage.
While in town, Romney will reportedly also meet with his former running mate, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., who will again chair the House Budget Committee in the 113th Congress.
Count former NFL linebacker Napoleon Harris in for Illinois’ 2nd District special election.
Harris, a Democrat, won a state Senate seat earlier this month. But on Tuesday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Harris will run for the seat held by former Democratic Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. until last week.
Harris joins two fellow Democrats, Alderman Anthony Beale and former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, in the race. Democrats expect an extremely crowded field (for a full rundown of potential candidates, see Tuesday’s Roll Call story).
The 2nd District south of Chicago is a heavily Democratic district. The Feb. 26 primary victor is expected to serve in Congress.
Harris dumped more than $200,000 of his own cash into his state legislative bid. His deep pockets could prove to be an even greater asset in this short, 16-week special election because raising cash is at a premium.
Harris played defensive end for Northwestern University’s football team. He later played for the Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Vikings. Harris also owns two Beggars Pizza franchises.