Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

February 25, 2013

Nebraska: State Auditor Considers National Campaign

Republican state Auditor Mike Foley announced last week that he is considering a number of options for his political future.

He is currently mulling runs for the Senate, governor’s office, the House or another term as state auditor.

“All those options are being discussed and prayed about and thought about,” he told Nebraska Radio Network.

A House seat would open up if Republican Rep. Jeff Fortenberry decides to run for the Senate. Other names on the GOP radar include state Attorney General Jon Bruning and Treasurer Don Stenberg, who both lost Senate bids in 2012; Republican Reps. Adrian Smith and Lee Terry; businessman Pete Ricketts; and former state Treasurer Shane Osborn.

This is an open-seat race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Mike Johanns; CQ Roll Call rates it as Safe Republican.

West Virginia: McKinley Opts Not to Run Against Capito

McKinley will not run for Senate in 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. David B. McKinley finally declared what most West Virginia Republicans anticipated — that he would not run against Rep. Shelley Moore Capito for the state’s GOP Senate nomination.

“We were tempted by the devil,” McKinley told the Charleston Daily Mail editorial board Feb. 22. “I finally said no, this is Shelley. I went to Shelley and said, ‘Have I been tempted? Yeah. But I’m going to back you.’”

Only days before, former Democratic Sen. Carte P. Goodwin told West Virginia Metro-News that he, too, would sit out the Senate race.

Capito is the only organized Republican contender at this time. Democrats considering runs include businessman Ralph Baxter, state Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Robin Davis, Rep. Nick J. Rahall II and Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

CQ Roll Call rates the open-seat race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller as a Tossup.

Illinois: Voters Head to Primary Polls to Replace Jackson

Chicago-area voters head to the primary polls Tuesday to select former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr.’s successor.

Among the Democrats in the race, Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly is the candidate most political observers expect to win, but special elections are unpredictable. There are narrower paths to victory for former Rep. Debbie Halvorson and Alderman Anthony Beale.

Adding to the uncertainty in the 2nd District special election is a crowded lower tier of candidates. The winner of the Democratic primary is all but certain to win the general election in this heavily Democratic district. Full story

Shop Talk: Manchin Picks New Chief of Staff

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia announced Monday he has tapped Hayden Rogers to be his new chief of staff. Rogers was a candidate for Congress in 2012 and previously served as chief of staff to former Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C..

Rogers, an affable, garrulous 42-year-old, hewed an independent profile on the campaign trail, running for North Carolina’s 11th District. He appears to be a good fit for Manchin, one of the Democratic senators most comfortable bucking his party.

“I’m thrilled by the opportunity,” Rogers said in short interview with CQ Roll Call. He called Manchin “pragmatic, practical in his thinking” and someone who is good at “building consensus to get things done.”

Manchin praised Rogers in a statement.

“Hayden brings to our office a unique range of talents and a commonsense, solutions-driven approach that I truly admire,” he said. “He embodies the values important to West Virginians and has the knowledge, experience and expertise to lead our team effectively.”

Rogers, a graduate of Princeton University, officially started his new position last week.

Supreme Court Won’t Hear Contribution Limits Case

Advocates of campaign finance restrictions breathed a small sigh of relief Monday when the Supreme Court declined to take up a challenge to the ban on direct corporate contributions to candidates and political parties in a case known as U.S. v. Danielczyk.

The high court made news last week when it agreed to consider a separate challenge to the aggregate limit on how much an individual may donate to political parties, candidates and PACs in one election cycle. The court’s decision to take up that case, known as McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, had triggered speculation that direct campaign contribution restrictions may be in danger, too.

But the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the Danielczyk case, first reported by SCOTUSBlog, cheered defenders of political money regulations, who’ve been playing defense since the court’s landmark 2010 ruling to throw out long-standing limits on independent corporate and union spending.

The Campaign Legal Center applauded the decision not to take up U.S. v. Danielczyk, which turned on criminal allegations that donors had directed illegal corporate contributions to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

The decision “does nothing to mitigate the court’s disturbing decision last week to revisit the aggregate contributions passed in the wake of the Watergate scandals,” which, if reversed, would enable individuals to make aggregate donations into the millions, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel Tara Malloy said in a statement. “But at least today the court has decided to stay its deregulatory hand.”


Shop Talk: EMILY’s List Snags Marcy Stech

Marcy Stech is leaving Priorities USA Action, the top-grossing Democratic super PAC in the 2012 election cycle, to be national press secretary at EMILY’s List.

Stech joins EMILY’s List on the heels of a banner year for the organization that backs Democratic women who support abortion rights. EMILY’s List helped elect 19 new women to the House and nine female Senate candidates, including six incumbents and three newcomers.

Stech signs on as national press secretary and succeeds Jess McIntosh, who moved up to replace Jen Bluestein as communications director. Bluestein is serving as a senior adviser to Americans for Responsible Solutions, the new gun safety super PAC run by ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, Mark Kelly.

Stech has “an incredible wealth of experience fighting for progressive causes,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement.

Stech’s former posts include working on the 2010 campaign of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and in the public affairs division of the strategic communications firm The Glover Park Group. Priorities USA Action raised $79 million in the previous cycle to help re-elect President Barack Obama.

Kentucky: Liberal Group Launches Second Spot Targeting McConnell on Guns

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a liberal third-party group, launched its second gun control advertisement aimed at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Monday.

The spot opens with Gary Nutt of Cub Run, Ky., holding a rifle and walking down a road.

“I am a Vietnam vet and a hunter,” he says. “I only shot my rifle one time this last season. One shot, one deer. But I’d be a pretty bad hunter if I needed an assault rifle to shoot that buck.”

Nutt goes on to say that he supports an assault weapons ban. “The NRA and the gun manufacturers have given a ton of money to Sen. Mitch McConnell,” Nutt says. “And now he’s blocking reform. Senator, whose side are you on?”

Full story

February 24, 2013

Priebus Traveling West to Meet With Minorities and Tech Experts

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus will head west this week to hear from minority voters and technology experts as a part of his committee’s efforts to rebuild and modernize the GOP.

Priebus’ four-day swing is scheduled to take him to Denver on Monday for a listening session with Hispanic voters and GOP activists, then to Los Angeles on Tuesday for listening sessions with Hispanic and Asian voters.

On Wednesday, Priebus will be in San Francisco for meetings with technology experts; a visit to Facebook is included on the chairman’s itinerary. Priebus will then travel to Seattle for a meeting focused on early voting, an aspect of voter turnout where Republicans continue to trail the Democrats significantly.

Priebus’ trip is part of the Growth and Opportunity Project, the RNC’s autopsy of what went wrong in the 2012 presidential election and how the GOP can improve its prospects going forward. The report, due to be publicized sometime in March, is focused on how Republicans can do better with minority voters and develop a technologically superior get-out-the-vote operation.

Full story

February 22, 2013

Arkansas: Democrat Ready to Run for 4th District if Cotton Seeks Senate

Maloch is ready to run if Cotton, above, seeks the Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Arkansas state Sen. Bruce Maloch, a Democrat, is eyeing Arkansas’ 4th District — but only under one condition.

“If the seat is open, I’d definitely be interested in looking at it,” Maloch said in a telephone interview with CQ Roll Call on Thursday night. But if it’s not, he added, he’s “probably not interested in pursuing it.”

Freshman Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., represents the 4th District. Maloch, like many Razorback State politicos, has heard increasing speculation that Cotton might run against Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in 2014.

Cotton’s chief of staff, Doug Coutts, did not immediately return a phone call late Thursday. Coutts had no comment on the Senate bid speculation last month.

Full story

February 21, 2013

Thune Tells Second-Graders He Has No Plan for White House Run

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune told some elementary school students Thursday that he does not plan to seek the presidency.

“Do I plan on running for president?” Thune said. “I don’t. I enjoy the job I have. And being the president is a very, very hard job.”

Thune made the comment during questioning from a room full of second-graders at Mark Twain Elementary in Sioux Falls in Thune’s home state of South Dakota. They were videotaped by KELO-TV, the local CBS affiliate. Thune previously passed on a 2012 run for the White House.

Full story

DSCC Raised Millions More Than NRSC in January

Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran is chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The National Republican Senatorial Committee raised just $1.5 million in January, according to its most recent fundraising report.

That’s significantly less than the $4.2 million the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee brought in last month.

The DSCC reported it had $3 million in the bank at the end of January, while the NRSC reported slightly more — $3.3 million — cash on hand at the same time.

But while the NRSC reported $10 million in debt, the DSCC had much more — $15.7 million — in arrears, according to its fundraising report.

The NRSC did not hire senior staff until Jan. 30, part of reason behind the committee’s meager fundraising.

Full story

Kentucky: Governor Says Ashley Judd Would Make ‘Very Serious Candidate’ for Senate

Democratic Kentucky Gov. Steven L. Beshear said Thursday that actress Ashley Judd would make a “very serious candidate” for Senate, according to a cn|2 video.

“I talked to Ashley Judd during the Kentucky Ball that was part of the inaugural ceremonies in Washington in January,” Beshear said. “And then she’s been trying to arrange, and will be arranging, some more conversations here in the next month or so.”

Judd, a Democrat, is considering a run against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Most recently, she indicated an increasing seriousness about a campaign by reportedly meeting with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and dining with top Democrats in Louisville, Ky.

But some Kentucky Democrats fear Judd would be a drag on their ticket.

Full story

South Carolina: Duncan, Mulvaney Endorse Grooms in 1st District

Mulvaney has endorsed in a South Carolina House race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Palmetto State Republican Reps. Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney backed state Sen. Larry Grooms on Thursday for the GOP nomination in the 1st District special election.

Grooms, who faces 15 opponents including former Gov. Mark Sanford in a March 19 primary, will likely receive a major boost from their endorsements.

GOP insiders see Grooms as ideologically similar to Sanford — very conservative — but without the former governor’s political baggage. While governor in 2009, Sanford infamously disappeared from the state for days and then admitted to an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina.

Full story

Nevada: Running Again in 2016? Reid Says, ‘Sure, Why Not?’

Reid indicated he will seek re-election in 2016. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

His answer wasn’t exactly Shermanesque, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., indicated to his home-state press Wednesday that he intends to run for re-election in 2016.

“Sure, why not?” Reid, 73, responded to a question, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

That’s certainly not the kind of statement that will halt questions about his political future, and Reid has years before he needs to make a decision. Full story

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 1:42 p.m.
Nev. Senate, Nevada

New Jersey: Survey Shows Menendez’s Popularity Sliding

Menendez's poll numbers went south in a recent survey. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Robert Menendez’s popularity in the Garden State has taken a big hit following the drumbeat of media reports about his alleged improprieties.

In a new poll from Quinnipiac University, 41 percent of registered New Jersey voters surveyed said they disapprove of the way Menendez is handling his job as senator, while only 36 percent approve. A month ago in a similar poll, 51 percent approved and 33 percent disapproved.

Twenty-eight percent of those polled said Menendez was “honest and trustworthy,” while 44 percent said he was not.

Those numbers would be daunting for any incumbent facing re-election. But Menendez, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, will not face voters until 2018. He won re-election with 59 percent of the vote last November.

Another Democrat, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, on the other hand, is exploring a run for the state’s open Senate seat in 2014. He fared well in the poll, with 59 percent saying they had a favorable opinion of him and only 11 percent seeing him unfavorably. Potential Republican candidate Geraldo Rivera didn’t do as well: only 20 percent had a favorable opinion of him, with 39 percent seeing him unfavorably.

The Quinnipiac University poll used live interviewers to survey 1,149 registered voters on land lines and cellphones Feb. 13-17. The poll’s margin of error was 2.9 points.

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