Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
May 30, 2015

June 15, 2012

Haley Barbour Criticizes Campaign Finance Law

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Powerhouse Republican fundraiser Haley Barbour today described the current campaign finance laws as a “bad system.”

The former Mississippi governor who now raises money for the American Crossroads super PAC and in the 1990s built the Republican National Committee into a fundraising juggernaut conceded that the system could operate better, and he discussed potential improvements. One of Barbour’s solutions: outlaw campaign contributions from corporations and labor unions.

“The system ought to allow unlimited giving by any person and then let the labor unions and corporations not give,” he told reporters during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “The two organizations that you are limited in giving money to are the campaign itself and the candidates’ party. Those ought to be the two organizations that we encourage you to give money to.”

Full story

New York: Michael Grimm Racks Up Huge Legal Bills

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Michael Grimm (R), who the FBI is reportedly looking into investigating, racked up more than $321,000 in legal fees from April 1 to June 6, according to a Federal Election Commission report filed late Thursday.

During that period, Grimm’s campaign raised $144,000 and disbursed $71,000 but accrued $336,000 worth of debt, including the $321,000 to Patton Boggs LLP, a high-powered Washington, D.C., firm.

Grimm’s campaign did not respond to telephone and email requests for comment Friday morning. At the end of June 6, Grimm had a very comfortable $1.2 million in cash on hand.

Full story

New York: Charlie Rangel Spending More Money Than He’s Raising

New York Rep. Charlie Rangel (D), in the toughest primary of his career since he came to Congress in 1970, pulled in more than $29,000 from fellow Members from April 1 to June 6, according to newly filed fundraising reports.

But all the help from his colleagues wasn’t enough to keep the campaign’s burn rate below 100 percent. The Rangel campaign spent $344,000 during the pre-primary period but raised $297,000 during that two-month period. That left the 82-year-old Congressman with just $179,000 in cash on hand as of June 6 — not a huge sum for the last days of a competitive election. The primary is June 26. Full story

June 14, 2012

Wisconsin: Poll Shows Tommy Thompson Ahead of Tammy Baldwin

Updated 6:30 p.m. | Wisconsin Senate candidate and former Gov. Tommy Thompson led presumptive Democratic nominee Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), according to a new poll released today by Rasmussen Reports, a firm whose polling methods and accuracy are considered somewhat controversial.

The poll found that if the election were held today, 52 percent of respondents would support Thompson, the perceived frontrunner in the Republican primary for the state’s open Senate seat. Only 36 percent said they would vote for Baldwin.

Though insiders widely consider Thompson the GOP frontrunner, he faces tough primary competition from three other candidates: state Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald, former Rep. Mark Neumann and businessman Eric Hovde. Full story

Arizona: Jesse Kelly Won’t Challenge Ron Barber in Fall

Republican Jesse Kelly will not run for Arizona's new 2nd district seat this fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Military veteran Jesse Kelly (R) will not seek a rematch with Rep.-elect Ron Barber (D) in Arizona’s new 2nd district.

This clears the Republican field for retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally,who was preparing to run even as Kelly waged his special election campaign for ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D) vacated 8th district seat. Barber beat Kelly in Tuesday’s contest and will finish out Giffords’ term in the 112th Congress. Kelly also lost to Giffords in November of 2010. Giffords resigned earlier this year.

Kelly revealed his decision in a prepared statement. His move is likely to please the many Republicans who have argued that McSally has a better chance of beating Barber in the Democratic-leaning 2nd district.

“I would like to thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, my wife Aubrey, and our supporters for their unwavering commitment to the values that make America great,” he said. “Looking at the results from Tuesday, we have decided to withdraw from the race for Congress in AZ-02 and to seek other opportunities. I will forever be thankful to our generous supporters and volunteers.”

By Abby Livingston Posted at 4:39 p.m.
Ariz.-2, Ariz.-8

Tennessee: Weston Wamp Goes up on TV

Congressional candidate Weston Wamp (R), the 25-year-old son of former Rep. Zach Wamp (R), today went up on television with his first ad.

Wamp, who is hoping to unseat freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R) in the state’s redrawn 3rd district, also faces dairy magnate Scottie Mayfield in the Aug. 2 primary. Fleischmann succeeded the elder Wamp, who retired in 2010 to run for governor, and the new 3rd district includes much of the territory he used to represent.

His ad is unusual in that it doesn’t mention the election or the issues animating the contest.

Full story

Indiana: Democrats Hit Richard Mourdock With First Spot

Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) is set to hit the airwaves Friday with his first general election television ad of the Indiana Senate race, a $250,000 statewide buy.

According to a copy of the spot obtained by Roll Call, the 30-second advertisement paints GOP nominee Richard Mourdock as an extremist and highlights Donnelly’s bipartisanship in Congress.

“To me, the highlight of politics, frankly, is to inflict my opinion on somebody else,” Mourdock, a state Treasurer, says in the on-camera MSNBC interview that is used in the spot. (View the full spot after the jump)

Full story

Wisconsin: Scott Walker Plans to ‘Referee’ Senate Race, Not Endorse

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) does not plan to endorse any of the four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the state’s open Senate seat. Instead, he’ll act as a neutral arbiter.

“It allows me to play a little bit of a referee and call out the candidates if they’re stretching the truth about the views of other candidates,” Walker told reporters today during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Walker praised the candidates and described the November Senate election as “a great chance” for Republicans to win a Senate seat regardless of who emerges as the GOP nominee. He referred to likely Democratic nominee Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) as among the nation’s most liberal politicians.

“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s probably the most impressive primary, at least this cycle, if not one of the most impressive ever. I mean you’ve got four legitimate candidates.”

Walker, who has received national attention for his efforts to reform collective bargaining in Wisconsin and his easy victory in a gubernatorial recall election last week, also chimed in on Mitt Romney’s campaign for president, offering the presumptive GOP nominee advice on how to win Wisconsin in the fall.

Walker said that it would be a mistake if Romney “looks at Wisconsin and thinks that he can win just because I have an ‘R’ next to my name and he has an ‘R’ next to his name” — a line the governor has repeated several times since his June 5 victory.

Rather, Walker said that Romney would need to portray himself as a reformer with a plan to solve the country’s problems.

Arkansas: Democratic Nominees Emerge in 1st and 4th Districts

Local prosecuting attorney Scott Ellington and state Sen. Gene Jeffress won the Democratic primary runoffs in the Razorback State’s 1st and 4th districts, respectively.

Ellington beat state Rep. Clark Hall, who was backed by the Washington, D.C., and Little Rock Democratic establishments. He’ll face Rep. Rick Crawford (R), who is favored to hold his seat, in November.

Jeffress beat attorney Q. Byrum Hurst. Jeffress faces incredibly steep odds in his campaign against conservative darling Tom Cotton, the Republican nominee who is seen as an extremely strong candidate.

Ohio: Senators to Fete GOP Nominee Against Sherrod Brown

Senate Republican leaders on Monday will fundraise for state Treasurer Josh Mandel’s bid against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.), Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.) and 26 other GOP Senators will headline the fundraiser, according to the invitation for the evening event.

Polling shows Brown leading Mandel, but both sides expect a competitive contest this November.

Roll Call rates this race as Leans Democratic.

June 13, 2012

Scott Walker: Recall Gives GOP Momentum to Take Wisconsin Senate Seat

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), fresh off a solid recall win, brought a simple message to the Capitol today: His successful defense of the governor’s mansion last week gives Republicans momentum to win the Badger State’s open Senate seat come November.

In a half-hour closed-door meeting with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Walker discussed the state of play in Wisconsin as well as the broad political principles that Republicans will need not just to win in his state but across the country. Wisconsin’s seat could be key in McConnell’s difficult calculus to become Majority Leader, with Republicans needing to pick up five seats to edge out Democrats.

“He was actually just more or less asking how things are in Wisconsin now. We didn’t get into the nitty-gritty on that,” Walker told Roll Call when asked whether he got any advice from McConnell. “It’s probably one of the most impressive Republican primaries in the country. We have four strong candidates, and I think the simple reality is that with the momentum we have coming out of [June 5], I think it makes it even more likely that we’ll have a new Republican Senator.”

Walker characterized the evening session in McConnell’s Capitol office suite as “very good” and said the two men spoke optimistically about “how we might in the future have a new member from Wisconsin in his caucus.” He said McConnell told him that Republicans in Washington, D.C., were “thrilled” about his victory. Full story

South Carolina: Top Democrat Says 7th District Primary Botched

“Clusterf—,” South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian said, enunciating every profane syllable in his Southern-tinged baritone.

“We’ve got more in common with a third-world, South American country than we do with the rest of the other 49 states. This is nuts,” he added. Venezuelan leader Hugo “Chávez would conduct a fairer, better election than the Republican South Carolina [State] Election Commission.”

All of which is to say  the South Carolina Democratic Party is not very happy with Tuesday’s Democratic primary election results in the state’s new 7th district.

At first, the results appeared to indicate a Democratic primary runoff between long-shot candidate Gloria Bromell Tinubu, an economist, and establishment-backed attorney Preston Brittain, since neither received the more than 50 percent required to be declared the winner outright.

But then, according to the Associated Press, the South Carolina State Election Commission disqualified the votes received by state Rep. Ted Vick (D) on the grounds that he had withdrawn from the race before primary day. That gave Tinubu more than 50 percent of the vote and the victory. Vick dropped out of the race after being arrested but remained on the ballot.

Tinubu, who was a former state Representative in Georgia, is seen by South Carolina political operatives of both parties as almost certain to lose the race in this GOP-leaning district.

“I’ve read the law. I happen to be a lawyer when I’m not wasting my time on this shit,” Harpootlian said. “If no one gets 50 percent plus one of the votes cast, there’s a runoff.”

“The election commission, some bureaucrat over there last night, said they weren’t going to count Ted Vick’s votes. I don’t know how you do that.” Harpootlian added. “He’s on the ballot!”

Harpootlian went on to explain that if Vick’s votes are counted, no one got 50 percent and, therefore, there must be a runoff.

Harpootlian said that in his conversations with the commission, it said it was unclear whether there would be a runoff or not, and a decision would be made Friday.

Harpootlian said the party would not bring a lawsuit in this matter. But he floated the possibility that there could be a new election. If a candidate files a protest with the state executive committee, and the committee votes to hold a new election because of improprieties, a new contest could be held, he said.

That election would include all the candidates. Though whether the ballots would include Vick is unclear.

A spokesman for the commission told Roll Call it would meet on Friday to certify the results and a decision would be made then. He noted the commission had heard the Democratic Party’s arguments about why Vick’s votes should be included and was seeking advice from the state’s attorney general.

By Joshua Miller Posted at 2:29 p.m.
House 2012, S.C.-7

Montana: Denny Rehberg Launches Fourth Ad

Rep. Denny Rehberg, the Republican challenging Sen. Jon Tester (D), strikes a decidedly independent tone in a new television ad launched today.

It’s Rehberg’s fourth ad and the first one not to draw a contrast between himself and Tester — and it’s similar in tone to the ads Tester has been running. It opens with Rehberg driving his green Jeep Wrangler with the top down in front of the Capitol. Full story

Missouri: Claire McCaskill Fundraises off Mitch McConnell

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats often send fundraising solicitations using the names of President George W. Bush and Karl Rove, the former president’s ex-senior adviser who now advises the American Crossroads super PAC. Rarely, though, do they invoke the name of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

But today, the campaign of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) has raised the specter of Rove and McConnell, citing comments McConnell made to Roll Call during an interview to discuss the Senate playing field. Full story

Nevada: Danny Tarkanian Wins 4th District GOP Primary

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Danny Tarkanian topped eight others Tuesday night to win Nevada’s 4th district Republican primary, setting up a general election race with Democratic state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford.

Tarkanian, an attorney and son of legendary basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, won with 32 percent of the vote, followed by state Sen. Barbara Cegavske with 28 percent, bail enforcement agent Kenneth Wegner with 21 percent and businessman Dan Schwartz with 11 percent. 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...