Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 31, 2015

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

New American Crossroads Ads Target Six States

American Crossroads is targeting six Senate races in a new round of television ads set to hit the airwaves today.

The Republican super PAC and its nonprofit arm, Crossroads GPS, has invested a combined $4.6 million in this buy, set to run statewide on broadcast and cable television in Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia. Except for Nevada, all of the seats are held by Democrats and considered top Republican pickup targets.

The spots include three attack ads from American Crossroads that are worth $2.6 million and critical of the Democratic nominees in Nebraska, Nevada and Virginia. The three issue ads from Crossroads GPS are running in Missouri, North Dakota and Ohio and focus on spending, debt and President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Full story

Illinois: William Enyart Jumps Into Open-Seat Race for Jerry Costello Seat

Retired Army National Guard Maj. Gen. William Enyart has jumped into the race for retiring Rep. Jerry Costello’s (D-Ill.) seat, giving Democrats a much-needed boost in their search for a candidate for this competitive race.

“Today I am proud to rise to the challenge before us and heed the call to serve by fighting for good jobs and a responsible way to reduce the deficit to build a strong middle class and protect the Southern Illinois way of life,” Enyart said in a statement released Tuesday evening.

Full story

Arizona: Ron Barber Wins Special Election to Replace Gabrielle Giffords

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrat Ron Barber, a staffer for ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, won the highly competitive Arizona special election to succeed his former boss Tuesday.

Barber defeated Republican Jesse Kelly, 53 percent to 45 percent, according to the Associated Press. Giffords, a Democrat, resigned in January in order to focus on her rehabilitation after an assassination attempt in January 2011. Barber was also seriously wounded in the shootings.

The victory means more than saving a single House seat for Democrats. On a personal level, it means Giffords’ chosen candidate will succeed her in Congress. On a national level, it gives Democrats some much-needed good news.

Full story

Wisconsin: Candidates Boycott ‘Beer and Brats Summit’

Wisconsin Democratic Assembly members Mark Pocan and Kelda Helen Roys, candidates in the August primary to replace Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D), declined to attend Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s “Beer and Brats Summit” held Tuesday.

The legislators said that while they appreciate bipartisan efforts, they believed this particular event was frivolous and insincere.

“I think we should focus on passing public policy to help those struggling Wisconsinites,” Roys told Roll Call. She said that only after significant bipartisan policy efforts are made would she be willing to attend such an event.

Pocan raised similar doubts about Walker’s outreach. Full story

North Dakota: Kevin Cramer Upsets Party-Backed Candidate

Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer upset the North Dakota Republican Party-backed candidate for at-large Representative on Tuesday night. With 84 percent of precincts reporting, Cramer had 53 percent to Brian Kalk’s 46 percent.

Cramer is running for the House seat vacated by freshman Rep. Rick Berg (R), who easily won his Senate primary Tuesday against businessman Duane Sand (R).

Earlier this year, North Dakota Republicans picked Kalk, also a public service commissioner, as their endorsed candidate in the GOP primary. A former state party chairman, Cramer ran outside the party endorsement system, giving the GOP’s chosen candidate a significant challenge for the first time in recent history.

National conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks boosted Cramer with independent expenditures on his behalf.

This November, Cramer faces the newly minted Democratic nominee, former state Rep. Pam Gulleson. Roll Call rates this seat as Likely Republican.

Berg faces former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp in November. Roll Call rates the North Dakota Senate race as Leans Republican.

NRCC Names New Vanguard Candidates

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced today that four House candidates have moved up to the Vanguard level of the committee’s Young Guns program.

The newly upgraded candidates include attorney Tom Cotton, who is running for Arkansas’ 4th district; state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, who is running for California’s 1st district; Lewis County Judge-Executive Thomas Massie, who is running for Kentucky’s 4th district; and foot surgeon Brad Wenstrup, who is running for Ohio’s 2nd district.

All four have won their primaries and are likely to become Members of Congress in the fall. Three of the four seats are open because of House retirements. Wenstrup defeated Rep. Jean Schmidt in the Republican primary.

The Vanguard designation is intended for candidates running in Republican-leaning open seats.

Hawaii: Mazie Hirono, Ed Case Meeting Three Times This Week

The state’s two Democratic Senate candidates are scheduled to debate three times this week, although it could be the last time they meet face-to-face in front of the voters before the Aug. 11 primary.

Rep. Mazie Hirono and former Rep. Ed Case were to appear jointly at an AARP-sponsored issue forum Tuesday morning, at a Hawaii Public Radio debate on Wednesday evening and on PBS Hawaii on Thursday evening. The latter two events were scheduled to be broadcast live.

Case said in a release that Thursday will be the last time they meet because Hirono “has refused all other debates including four primetime statewide debates on our main television stations.”

The winner will face former Gov. Linda Lingle (R) in November in a race Roll Call rates as Leans Democratic.

June 12, 2012

Maine: Charles Summers, Cynthia Dill Win Maine Primaries

Maine Secretary of State Charles Summers (R) and state Sen. Cynthia Dill (D) won their party primaries in Maine on Tuesday night, according to the Associated Press.

The two will go on to face the race frontrunner, Independent former Gov. Angus King, in the contest to replace retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe.

The Snowe retirement caught Republicans off guard and resulted in a short and scrambled primary. Low voter awareness of the race, a lack of television advertising and the short window made the GOP side highly unpredictable.

Summers defeated former state Senate President Rick Bennett and state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin, with 29 percent of the vote, with 75 percent of precincts reporting.

On the Democratic side, Dill defeated former Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap by 44 percent to 37 percent. Dill and Dunlap were not blue-chip recruits. The A team of Democratic candidates avoided the race after King’s candidacy became clear. National Democrats paid scant attention to the primary.

Roll Call rates this race as Leans Independent.

South Carolina: André Bauer, Tom Rice Head to Runoff

Former Lt. Gov. André Bauer is headed to a runoff in South Carolina's new 7th district. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 11:59 p.m. | Colorful former Lt. Gov. André Bauer and Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice are headed to a runoff in the GOP primary in South Carolina’s new 7th district. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bauer had 32.1 percent and Rice had 27.4 percent, according to the Associated Press. On the Democratic side, long-shot candidate Gloria Bromell Tinubu, an economist, had a much stronger-than-expected showing and squeaked out a victory over the establishment-backed Preston Brittain.

The candidates who didn’t make the GOP cut include attorney Jay Jordan and Chad Prosser, former director of the state’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. GOP operatives in the state widely expected this result. Rice has the edge in the runoff. But Bauer, a through-and-through conservative who marches to his own drum, should not be underestimated. Full story

Virginia: George Allen Wins GOP Senate Primary

Former Sen. George Allen casts his vote today in northern Virginia. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

Updated: 9:40 p.m. | Former Sen. George Allen easily won the Virginia Senate Republican primary today, putting him one step closer to reclaiming the seat he lost in 2006.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Allen led with 65 percent, followed by tea party leader Jamie Radtke with 23 percent, state Del. Bob Marshall with 7 percent and minister E.W. Jackson with 5 percent. Full story

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