Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 21, 2014

August 12, 2014

Freshman Congresswoman Moves to the Middle

Freshman Congresswoman Moves to the Middle

Sinema greets voters at Giant Coffee in Phoenix. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

PHOENIX — Once known for her progressive politics, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has coasted to the center in her first re-election.

The freshman bills herself as bipartisan, and now party operatives — even Republicans, privately — view her as the safest of the state’s three vulnerable Democrats. But that’s also because she’s lucky: A brutal Republican primary is bound to leave her future foe broke and bruised 10 weeks before Election Day.

Freshman Congresswoman Moves to the MiddleOn the campaign trail, Sinema stresses her work across the aisle. It’s a political necessity for a member who represents a district President Barack Obama won by just four points.

“I’m working to make it cool to compromise in Congress,” Sinema tells 30 mostly baby boomers at a Thursday lunch with the Phoenix West Rotary Club. “I don’t know if we’re quite there yet, but I’m working on it.”

Sinema started her elected career nearly a decade ago at the state House, 10 miles away from this Sheraton conference room.

Some of her first political experience came working for Ralph Nader’s spoiler 2000 presidential bid. She tried her own third party attempt in a losing race for the state House as an independent affiliated with the Green Party two years later. She finally won the seat as a Democrat in 2004. Full story

August 11, 2014

Florida Legislature Approves New Congressional Map

Florida Legislature Approves New Congressional Map

Mica's district was altered slightly in the newly passed Florida congressional map. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Florida Legislature approved a new congressional map Monday evening and sent it to the governor’s desk, although it’s still unclear whether the new House district boundaries will past muster or take effect for the 2014 elections.

The newly passed map only makes minor changes to the congressional districts and is not expected to alter Florida’s congressional delegation, where House Republicans currently outnumber Democrats, 17 to 10.

There are a number of ways the redistricting chaos could end, but the clock is ticking down to the Aug. 26 primary. Next week, a judge will rule whether the new lines are acceptable, and when voters will head to the polls.

Lawmakers returned to Tallahassee last week under a judge’s order to redraw the Sunshine state’s congressional districts. In July, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled two districts violated the state constitution, which prohibits drawing districts to favor a political party or incumbent.

Full story

Cantor Spokeswoman Joins Georgia Senate Campaign

Cantor Spokeswoman Joins Georgia Senate Campaign

Whittemore, front, is joining Perdue's campaign. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The press secretary to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is heading to the South to help Republicans retain one of their two most endangered Senate seats.

Megan Whittemore told reporters in an email Monday that beginning later this week, she will be communications director for David Perdue’s campaign in Georgia.

Whittemore’s exit comes as Cantor is set to resign from Congress, effective Aug. 18. The Virginia Republican’s descent from leadership and early exit followed his stunning June 10 primary defeat — and Whittemore was one of several top Cantor staffers identified as likely attractive candidates for new jobs.

Full story

Liberal Allies Rallying for Schatz in Election Overtime

Liberal Allies Rallying for Schatz in Election Overtime

Liberal groups like MoveOn like Schatz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Liberal allies are rallying around Sen. Brian Schatz after damage from a hurricane extended voting for the deadlocked Democratic primary in Hawaii.

MoveOn.org sent a fundraising email late Sunday night with the subject line, “We’re going into overtime in Hawaii.” The email urged supporters to donate so the group could “finish the job in Hawaii” and ensure Schatz’s victory.

Schatz led his challenger, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, by just 1,635 votes as of Sunday evening. As many as 8,000 more votes could be cast in two precincts on the Big Island, where election officials postponed voting because of the storm damage.

Full story

Wisconsin GOP Primary Is Wide Open

Wisconsin GOP Primary Is Wide Open

There is a Wisconsin primary to succeed Petri. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Four candidates are vying for the GOP nomination in Wisconsin’s only open House district, with no clear front-runner in the Tuesday primary.

In the race to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Tom Petri, three top Republican candidates have tried to brand themselves as the most conservative contender in the 6th District: state Sen. Joe Leibham, state Sen. Glenn Grothman and state Rep. Duey Stroebel.

“I think it’s going to be a tight race,” said Scott Becher, a Wisconsin GOP consultant with Red Shoes PR.

Public and private polling on the race has been scare. The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates the race as a Safe Republican contest, and whoever wins the primary on Tuesday will likely head to Congress next year. Full story

Ex-Congresswoman Ready to Return (Video)

Ex Congresswoman Ready to Return (Video)

Nan Hayworth, a Republican, is running for Congress in New York's 18th District. (Meredith Dake/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s easy to see former Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., misses Congress.

Earlier this year, she was spied making the rounds with her old colleagues on the House floor. More recently, in an interview with CQ Roll Call, she sported her Congressional pin.

“It was wonderful to be among colleagues from all across the country, all different political persuasions, representing the whole American spectrum,” she said on July 22. Full story

McAllister Moving Past ‘Kissing Congressman’

McAllister Moving Past Kissing Congressman

McAllister gets welcomed back home. (Margaret Frances Eldridge/CQ Roll Call)

TALLULAH, La. — Vance McAllister’s political career flatlined earlier this year, a victim of self-inflicted wounds from an embarrassing infidelity scandal.

But less than three months before the midterm elections, the Louisiana Republican has suddenly, improbably, become the man to beat this November.

McAllister, who was holding a series of businesslike, low-drama town hall meetings in small communities in the east end of his mostly rural district last week, told CQ Roll Call that both he and his constituents have moved on from the ”Kissing Congressman” scandal that erupted in April, after a video surfaced showing him embracing a married staffer.

“It’s really only the Washington media that’s keeping that going,” he said in an interview outside the community meeting room in the small farm town of Winnsboro, population 4,910.

And, at least among the business leaders, city council members, farmers and veterans who attended the question-and-answer sessions in Winnsboro and nearby Tallulah, McAllister seemed to have a point.

The congressman was asked about the border crisis, the Keystone XL pipeline, national security issues and the problems with Department of Veterans Affairs — but not a single question arose about the video.

Full story

Jindal Calls McAllister an ‘Embarrassment’

Jindal Calls McAllister an Embarrassment

Jindal, right, met with Iowa politicians like Grassley. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal thinks Rep. Vance McAllister should step down, calling the Louisiana Republican’s continued tenure an “embarrassment” thanks to a scandal that left him with the nickname the “Kissing Congressman.”

“Look, he originally made the right decision when he decided not to run for reelection,” Jindal told CQ Roll Call during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on Saturday. “I said he should have stepped down at the time. I think he’s making a mistake, I think he should, I think he should’ve stuck to his original decision and not go back inside to try to run again. I think it’d be better for him, he said he wanted some time for privacy and to spend that time with his family, I think that’d be a good thing for him to do.”

“I think it’s been an embarrassment to him, the district, and the state,” Jindal added.

Full story

August 10, 2014

Hawaii Primary Results: Hurricane Iselle Delays Force Brian Schatz, Colleen Hanabusa to Wait

Hawaii Primary Results: Hurricane Iselle Delays Force Brian Schatz, Colleen Hanabusa to Wait

Hanabusa challenged Schatz in the primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic primary between Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was too close to call early Sunday morning, and the race may not be decided for days.

Voting in two precincts on the Big Island, which was hit hardest by Hurricane Iselle, was postponed because of storm damage, KITV reported. Those Democrats will vote absentee and essentially decide the contest, though Hanabusa has some ground to make up.

Both campaigns told Civil Beat they will be heading to the Big Island before the crucial final ballots are cast.

With all but those two precincts reporting, Schatz led Hanabusa 49.4 percent to 48.6 percent — separated by just less than 1,800 votes out of some 214,000 cast. After Schatz was appointed to the seat in December 2012 following the death of Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, the winner will likely prevail in November and serve out the remaining two years of Inouye’s term, and then undoubtedly run for a full term in 2016.

The race kicked off amid an inescapable feeling of bitterness among Inouye and Hanabusa allies, perturbed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s selection of Schatz to serve in the Senate instead of Inouye’s preferred successor, Hanabusa. It had nearly as rocky a finish, as the islands avoided a one-two punch of hurricanes that threatened to disrupt the election to a greater degree than it did.

Full story

August 8, 2014

With DesJarlais Up 35 Votes, What’s Next in Tennessee Primary?

With DesJarlais Up 35 Votes, Whats Next in Tennessee Primary?

DesJarlais, right, is still awaiting votes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais held a 35-vote lead over his GOP primary challenger, state Sen. Jim Tracy, as of Friday afternoon, nearly 24 hours after polls closed in the 4th District.

The vote tally fluctuated a bit Friday morning, but Republican operatives and election administrators pointed to close-of-business Monday as the next big ballot counting deadline.

Even then, it’s likely the election won’t be decided for days — perhaps weeks, they said. Full story

Shooting in the Rear View, Ron Barber Drives His Own Way

Shooting in the Rear View, Ron Barber Drives His Own Way

Barber gives a tour of Tucson. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

TUCSON, Ariz. — Rep. Ron Barber guides his Ford through the flat, four-lane paved streets, ticking off landmarks on the corners of his desert city surrounded by jagged mountains.

That’s Rincon High School, where he enrolled as a sophomore in 1959. There’s the middle school his grandson attends. As he makes a left turn, Barber points to St. Cyril of Alexandria Church, where he married his wife, Nancy, 47 years ago.

Shooting in the Rear View, Ron Barber Drives His Own Way“It was the middle of the summer, and what do you know, the air conditioner broke,” he recalled, driving by rows of adobe office parks.

On the opposite corner of the church is another Barber landmark, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ office, where he worked as her district director for several years. One memory sticks out: On the night of the Affordable Care Act vote, he put out a press release and left around midnight. A couple of hours later, someone shattered the office door and window. He said they later discovered bullets inside.

It’s not the most notorious time Barber risked gunfire — not even close. At the main gate of the University of Arizona campus, the former state bureaucrat gestures up the road toward the trauma center where he was treated after a gunman killed six and injured a dozen more, including Barber and Giffords, in January 2011. Full story

August 7, 2014

Tennessee Primary Results: Fleischmann Squeaks By; DesJarlais Race Still Close

Tennessee Primary Results: Fleischmann Squeaks By; DesJarlais Race Still Close

DesJarlais faced a big challenge. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 11:00 a.m. | It was a night of small margins in Tennessee Thursday with one House Republican narrowly defeating his primary challenger and another clinging to a 33-vote lead headed into Friday morning.

The Associated Press called the race for Rep. Chuck Fleischmann with 98 percent of precincts reporting in Tennessee’s 3rd District. Fleischmann garnered 50.8 percent of the vote against venture capitalist Weston Wamp, the son of former Rep. Zach Wamp.

Fleischmann will face Democrat Mary Headrick in November, a contest rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Over in the Volunteer State’s 4th district, initial numbers showed Rep. Scott Desjarlais with a 33-vote lead with all precincts reporting, but those numbers were updated Friday morning, and left DesJarlais trailing by 2. The AP has not yet called that race.

Full story

Tennessee GOP Primary Results: Lamar Alexander Wins

Tennessee GOP Primary Results: Lamar Alexander Wins

Alexander has served two terms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander likely secured his Senate seat for another term Thursday, handily winning the GOP primary in a safe Republican state.

Alexander led state Rep. Joe Carr 52.4 percent to 37.4 percent, with 20 percent of precincts reporting when The Associated Press called the race.

His victory means no Republican senators have lost a primary challenge, ending the tea party’s streak at two cycles. None of the remaining primaries feature a Republican senator .

Full story

Hurricane Iselle Could Cause Havoc for Hawaii Primary (Video)

Hurricane Iselle Could Cause Havoc for Hawaii Primary (Video)

(Courtesy Jeff Schmaltz/NASA)

The Hawaii primary is in a state of uncertainty, as Hurricane Iselle and a second storm barrel toward the islands and get-out-the-vote pushes are intermixed with information on where to find emergency assistance.

In preparation for their competitive Democratic Senate primary Saturday, Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa have been forced to alter their plans and help their constituents prepare for what could be damaging storms. Hurricane Iselle was projected to hit the Big Island late Thursday, in what would be Hawaii’s first hurricane in 22 years.

“On the forecast track, the center of Iselle is expected to pass over the Big Island tonight, and pass just south of the smaller islands Friday,” the Central Pacific Hurricane Center said Thursday.

Full story

John Walsh Drops Senate Bid in Montana

John Walsh Drops Senate Bid in Montana

Walsh was sworn in on Feb. 11. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Montana Sen. John Walsh said Thursday he won’t be coming back to the Senate next year, confirming what was already the most likely conclusion to his campaign.

Walsh announced he is ending his bid to retain the seat he was appointed to in February, a decision reached less than three months before the election and days before a critical state deadline to remove his name from the ballot.

Republicans were already highly likely to win this seat in November. Now Democrats hope Walsh’s exit is at least beneficial to their efforts in other races in the state. Full story

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