Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

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.

South Carolina: Sanford ‘Studying’ Run for Scott’s Seat

Sanford formerly represented the 1st District in Congress. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 6:33 p.m. | Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is being approached by local conservatives to run for Republican Rep. Tim Scott’s soon-to-be-vacant House seat — and is considering it — according to two sources in the state. Sanford previously occupied the same Charleston-based seat in the 1990s.

The Republican ex-governor is “studying” a run for the 1st District and making a political comeback, according to one well-placed South Carolina source.

Scott will vacate the staunchly Republican district in January to move to the Senate. Republican Gov. Nikki R. Haley announced Monday that she has selected Scott to succeed Sen. Jim DeMint, who announced his resignation almost two weeks ago. Full story

Rehabbing Nevada GOP a Priority for Priebus in 2nd RNC Term

Priebus is running for a second term as Republican National Committee chairman. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As Reince Priebus sketches his agenda for another term as chairman of the Republican National Committee, rehabilitating a set of dysfunctional state parties has emerged as a top priority, particularly in key battlegrounds such as Nevada.

In an interview, Priebus confirmed that he has held multiple conversations with the Nevada Republican Party chairman and other Silver State GOP officials, with meetings planned in January to discuss how the RNC might help the Nevada GOP transform itself. The party was so organizationally debilitated throughout 2012 that it was incapable of performing even basic party-building activities, causing the RNC and top state Republicans to form a shadow party to run essential operations such as voter turnout.

“Clearly being successful at the RNC requires having state parties that are extremely successful as well,” Priebus told CQ Roll Call late last week. “That means raising funds and building armies and doing all the work on the ground and on the financial sides to be successful, and we recognize that in some areas we need to make improvements.”

Full story

South Carolina: Haley’s Senate Appointment of Scott Draws Wide Praise

Scott will succeed DeMint in the Senate in January. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley, flanked by the Palmetto State’s GOP congressional delegation, officially appointed Republican Rep. Tim Scott to succeed Sen. Jim DeMint on Monday.

“It is a great day in South Carolina,” Haley said at a news conference at the state capitol in Columbia. “It is a historic day in South Carolina.”

Scott is expected to be sworn into the Senate when the new Congress convenes on Jan. 3. He will run in a November 2014 special election to fill out the remainder of DeMint’s current term, which runs through 2016. His appointment means that the chamber will once again have African-American representation. The last black senator was Illinois Democrat Roland Burris, an appointee who served from 2009 to 2010. Scott will be the first black GOP senator from the South since 1881.

“This man loves South Carolina and he is very aware that what he does and every vote he makes affects South Carolina and affects our country,” Haley added. “And so it was with that that I knew that he was the right person. I have no doubt that he will fly through 2014.”

Full story

South Carolina: Haley to Appoint Scott to Fill DeMint Seat

Haley is expected to choose Scott, above, to take DeMint's Senate seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley is set to appoint Republican Rep. Tim Scott to succeed Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., according to several news reports. The official announcement is expected to come at noon Monday.

Scott would immediately be up for re-election in 2014 to finish the rest of DeMint’s term, which expires in 2017.

DeMint announced plans to resign from Congress a week and a half ago to take the reigns of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

December 14, 2012

Some Democrats Want to Talk Gun Control, but Many Don’t

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel didn't make any mention of the gun control issue in his statement expressing sympathy for the victims of the tragedy in Connecticut. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats all over Washington issued statements Friday expressing sympathy and dismay over the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. But amid the sadness, grief and shock one thing was clear — most in the Democratic Party did not want to inject a discussion of gun control into the day.

Many Democrats blame gun control for Al Gore’s 2000 presidential loss and there has been an increasing reluctance over the past decade to push the issue to the forefront of American politics. In 2006, Democrats won a majority in Congress in part by winning in conservative areas with candidates who were proudly pro-gun rights.

President Barack Obama alluded to gun control in his statement Friday, calling for “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of politics.” Full story

Massachusetts: Assessing the Would-Be Candidates for a Senate Special Election

Markey is among those interested in moving to the Senate if there is a vacancy to be filled. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:35 p.m. Dec. 15 | Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is set to be nominated as the next secretary of State, according to news reports Saturday evening.

It became clear in the wake of Susan Rice’s withdrawal from consideration on Thursday that Kerry was the leading contender for the position, touching off a theoretical chess game of speculation about who will fill his Senate seat.

If Kerry resigns to move to the State Department, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will appoint a short-term successor to serve until a special election can take place. More on the politics of that after the jump, but first, here are the names being mentioned for a special election.


One plugged-in state Democratic operative laid out the different categories for possible Democratic candidates.

Group One — Current House Delegation 

A 2013 special election would essentially be a free run for any House member because he or she wouldn’t have to give up his or her current seat. Here are the names being floated around Boston on Friday morning. Also, if it is a Member of Congress who succeeds Kerry either by appointment or election, the same succession laws apply to that House seat as a Senate vacancy.

  • Rep. Edward J. Markey: “I heard that Markey is trying to clear the field. Good luck,” the operative said.
  • Rep. Michael E. Capuano: He ended up being the only member to run in the Senate special election that resulted from the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. He finished second in the primary and is viewed as almost certain to run again if there is a vacancy.
  • Rep. Stephen F. Lynch: He eyed running in the 2010 special election but opted against it.

Full story

December 13, 2012

Steve Israel Names 2014 DCCC Leadership

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel announced Thursday which members of his caucus will serve in the committee’s leadership for the 2014 midterm cycle.

In terms of geography and gender, it’s a mixed group. All members won re-election in 2012 by fairly safe margins.

“Building on House Democrats’ 2012 success, these outstanding members will lead the charge to pick up seats in 2014 and continue reversing the tea party wave,” the New York congressman said at a news conference at party headquarters.

The national chairs:

  • National chairman for candidate services: Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado
  • National finance chairman: Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz of Pennsylvania
  • DC finance chairman: Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York
  • National mobilization chairman: Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina

Full story

December 12, 2012

Illinois: Democrats to Endorse 2nd District Candidate

Chicago-area Democrats are scheduled on Saturday to slate a candidate in the special election for the open 2nd District seat.

Influential Thornton Township Committeeman Frank Zuccarelli will lead the committee to pick a favorite in a burgeoning field of Democrats.

But Zuccarelli’s favorite, state Sen. Donne Trotter, was recently charged with trying to bring a gun on a plane. Full story

DSCC Chairman Bennet Named to Finance Committee

Sen. Michael Bennet will serve on the Finance Committee in the 113th Congress. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., has landed a coveted seat on the Senate Finance Committee after agreeing to serve as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Denver Post is reporting.

Finance is one of the top committees a member can serve on. The panel has jurisdiction over most legislation that runs through the Senate, making it a plum spot from which to fundraise, including from the banking and financial industries. Those connections could serve Bennet well as he raises money for the DSCC in advance of the 2014 elections.

Leadership on both sides of the aisle often use top committee assignments such as Finance as an incentive for reluctant would-be chairmen to agree to run their party’s campaign committee. One recent example is Sen. Patty Murray, D- Wash., who was named to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in late 2010, soon after committing to run the DSCC.

GOP Poll: Republican Brand Tarnished Among Hispanics

In the wake of Mitt Romney’s historically poor performance among Hispanic voters, GOP pollster Whit Ayres delivered more sobering news for his party on just how damaged the Republican brand is among that community.

According to a poll Ayres conducted in four battleground states that have high Hispanic populations, Hispanic voters said the GOP does not respect the values and concerns of their community. The GOP’s favorable rating is upside down in each state and the respondents did not equate the GOP with issues that are at the bedrock of the party. Full story

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...