Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 8, 2016

January 31, 2016

Huckabee and Santorum and Coffee and Pizza

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28 - Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks alongside Donald Trump and Rick Santorum at a event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Trump boycotted the Fox News Republican Presidential Debate also occurring in Des Moines at the same time. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Huckabee, right speaks alongside Trump, center, and Santorum, left, at a Trump event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 28. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — The last two Republicans to win Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses have formed an odd fraternity: mired in the low-single digits in polling, marooned in the undercard debates and even finding themselves attending a campaign rally Jan. 28 for the frontrunner, Donald Trump.

On Sunday, they rallied the troops with coffee and pizza. Full story

Reid Ribble Won’t Seek Re-Election

UNITED STATES - APRIL 12: Rep. Reid Ribble, R-Wisc., speaks at a "Countdown to Tax Day" news conference in the Capitol to address the tax in increases in President Obama's FY 2014 budget. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ribble won’t seek a fourth term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three-term Wisconsin Republican Reid Ribble announced Saturday that he won’t run for re-election — one term shy of the four-term limit pledge he made when first elected in 2010.

“My reasons are fairly simple and straightforward. I feel very fortunate to have a strong marriage, grown children, and three wonderful grandchildren. I want to dedicate more time to them,” Ribble said in a statement. Additionally, I’ve always said elected office shouldn’t be a career. I come from the private sector and am anxious to return to it and to a more private life.”

Full story

January 30, 2016

Liz Cheney Plans to Run for Wyoming’s House Seat

Cheney. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Cheney’s challenge against Enzi in 2012 caused some heartburn in Republican political circles. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A couple months of “consideration” will come to an end early next week, when Wyoming Republican Liz Cheney plans to announce her candidacy for the state’s at-large House seat, a Republican official confirmed Saturday following an Associated Press report.

Cheney — a Republican political commentator whose father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, represented Wyoming in the House from 1979 to 1989 — plans to join the growing field of candidates running to replace Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis, who announced in November she would not run for re-election.  Full story

January 29, 2016

New Light Shed on Old Scandal in Arizona Sheriff’s Congressional Race

Babeu, pictured with Sen. John McCain, has drawn national attention for his efforts against illegal immigration. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images File Photo)

Babeu, pictured with Sen. John McCain, has drawn national attention for his efforts against illegal immigration. (Joshua Lott/Getty Images File Photo)

When Paul Babeu first tried to run for Congress in 2012, his exploratory campaign was rocked by allegations by a 34-year-old man that the Arizona sheriff threatened to have him deported if their relationship was publicly revealed. But even though he was eventually cleared of criminal wrongdoing, Babeu’s campaign did not make it out of the gate.

The spectacle surrounding the conservative Republican’s relationship overshadowed another issue that had risen for Babeu. A 2000 investigation by the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services found what it deemed “abusive” disciplinary practices being used on students at a private school he once led for troubled youth had begun to circulate in Arizona. And while the story got some attention in the Arizona press at the time, he denied any personal wrongdoing, said he was never named in any lawsuit against the school and was easily re-elected sheriff that same year.

Almost four years later, as Babeu campaigns again for Congress, this time for the Republican nomination in Arizona’s highly contested, open 1st District, the issue of the DeSisto School has re-emerged, with video. Full story

Trump Plays Veterans Trump Card

UNITED STATES - JANUARY 28 - Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks alongside Donald Trump and Rick Santorum at a event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. Trump boycotted the Fox News Republican Presidential Debate also occurring in Des Moines at the same time. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Santorum, left, and Huckabee, right, attended the rally that Trump, center, held after they finished their undercard debate. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Donald Trump’s veterans’ rally at Drake University started with a stark admission from the GOP front-runner: “I didn’t want to be here. I have to be honest with you.”

The sentiment didn’t seem to dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm, which waited several hours in line in the cold and a couple before the candidate took the stage on Thursday to launch into a relatively standard stump speech — the trade deficit, foreign policy, etc. —  that wove in nods to veterans’ sacrifices.

Full story

January 28, 2016

Democratic Recruit Challenges Minnesota’s Erik Paulsen

Tollefson is challenging Paulsen, above. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Tollefson is challenging Paulsen, above. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Former U.S. diplomat Jon Tollefson announced a challenge to Minnesota 3rd District Rep. Erik Paulsen on Thursday.

“I’m running to bring the true values of Minnesotans to Washington: real fiscal responsibility, investments in education and transportation that lead to jobs and economic growth, and affordable access to health care for all,” the Democrat said in a statement.

Full story

New Candidate Already Spending Big in Maryland Race for Van Hollen Seat

Van Hollen secured endorsements in an area ripe for primary vote picking. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The race for the Maryland congressional seat currently held by Van Hollen got a last-minute candidate. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated: 3:22 p.m. | With only a few days before the door closes on candidate filing in Maryland, one surprise candidate is on his way through – and he brought a big checkbook with him.

David J. Trone, a 60-year-old businessman who made a fortune from his retail chain, Total Wine & More, announced his candidacy late Wednesday in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s open 8th District – potentially shaking it up with the millions he said he would be willing to spend ahead of the April primary.  Full story

By Eli Yokley Posted at 12:43 p.m.
Democrats, Md.-8, Primaries

Congressional Hopefuls Cozy Up to Iowa Caucus Circus

Mowrer is running against King. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mowrer, who’s running for the Democratic nod in the 3rd District, says he has benefited from all the presidential activity in his backyard. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As presidential candidates storm their state ahead of next week’s caucuses, Iowa’s congressional candidates are struggling to be noticed. But behind the scenes, they’re taking advantage of an energized electorate and organized political infrastructure to help build their own campaign operations.

“Normally in January, 10 months until Election Day, people are not too politically involved. Having the presidential candidates investing time and money and fielding efforts in the state — that helps a lot to get people involved,” said Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer, who’s running for the Democratic nomination in Iowa’s 3rd District. 

Mowrer would know. Having run for Congress in 2014 in the 4th District, he’s seen the difference between a midterm and presidential election cycle. “You can feel the difference between the level of engagement and the number of people involved,” he said. 

There are practical benefits, too. “It’s a huge boost because you don’t have to spend resources to get on the ballot,” said Travis Lowe, a Democratic consultant working for former state Rep. Pat Murphy in the 1st District and businessman Mike Sherzan in the 3rd District, both of whom are vying for the Democratic nods. “In other cycles,” Lowe said, “you have to knock on doors” to get the necessary signatures to qualify for the ballot. When there’s a competitive presidential caucus, “it all happens on caucus night.” Full story

January 27, 2016

Will Pro-LGBT Stances Hurt GOP Senators?

Portman. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Portman supported same-sex marriage after his son came out as gay. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three Republican senators who support same-sex marriage are up for re-election in 2016, but though all three face primary challenges, they are betting it won’t hurt their chances.

Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are three of the four Republican senators who support same-sex marriage. (The fourth, Susan Collins of Maine, won re-election in 2014.)

Last week, Kirk became the first Republican senator to co-sponsor the Equality Act, which would make sex, sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., sponsored and introduced the bill. Full story

Survey: Cruz Attack on Trump Helps … Trump

Cruz, left, and Trump, right, are at the top of the GOP polls. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new study suggests Cruz’s attacks on Trump might not be working. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A new survey suggests that a Ted Cruz ad attacking Donald Trump on his “New York values” only strengthens his appeal among blue-collar voters. Full story

January 26, 2016

Democrats Land Reid Recruit in Competitive Nevada District

UNITED STATES - JUNE 24: Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., speaks during the House GOP leadership media availability following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Heck, a Republican, is vacating the 3rd District to run for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nevada Republican Rep. Joe Heck’s decision to run for Senate last summer gave Democrats an opening to compete for his 3rd District seat. But up until Tuesday, the national party had taken heat for its struggles to recruit in the district and wasn’t excited about the candidates already in the race.

That changed when Jacky Rosen, the leader of a Henderson synagogue, announced her candidacy for the 3rd District Tuesday.

Full story

Third Candidate Joins Louisiana Senate Race

Louisiana gubernatorial candidate Sen. David Vitter, R-La., reacts to the crowd during his election night watch party in Kenner, La., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)

Kennedy has announced his campaign for Senate, joining the race for the Louisiana Senate Seat being vacated by Vitter, above, after his loss in the 2015 governor’s race. (AP Photo/Max Becherer)

Only a few weeks after Sen. David Vitter lost the 2015 Louisiana governor’s race and said he would not seek re-election to the Senate, two other Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation — Reps. Charles Boustany Jr., and John Fleming — said they would begin campaigns to replace him.

On Tuesday, the two were joined by another, State Treasurer John N. Kennedy, who announced his own, long-awaited bid in the race. If nobody gets more than 50 percent of the vote on Nov. 8, the race could move into a runoff and be the last Senate contest decided this year.   Full story

Rand Paul Finally Gets Senate Challenger in Lexington’s Mayor

Paul, who's pursuing re-election all-the-while embarking on a long-shot presidential bid, finally got a viable Democratic challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Paul, who is seeking re-election while embarking on a long-shot presidential bid, finally got a Democratic challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated: 2:10 p.m. | Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington, Ky., filed paperwork on Tuesday declaring his candidacy for Senate — a last-minute move by a man viewed by most Kentucky Democrats as the party’s hope to take on Republican Sen. Rand Paul for re-election this fall.

“Every voter expects an option,” he told Roll Call in an interview. “I know it’s tough and I have no illusions of this race. But I hear from people from all across our city and state who are hungry for change.”  Full story

By Eli Yokley Posted at 10:41 a.m.
Ky. Senate

The Quietest Resignation: Puerto Rican Delegate Running for Governor

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 19: Del. Pedro Pierluisi, D-PR, speaks during the rally in support of Puerto Rico statehood on the east side of the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pierluisi will not run for re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In Puerto Rico, it’s common knowledge that its nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives, Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Pedro R. Pierluisi, is running for governor in 2016, and thus cannot seek re-election to Congress. But in Washington, D.C., his office has not put out an official announcement that the Democrat, currently serving his second four-year term, is leaving at the end of this Congress.

Full story

January 25, 2016

Zephyr Teachout Announces Run for Congress in New York

Chris Gibson is a New York Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Teachout announced her candidacy for the seat held by outgoing Rep. Chris Gibson (above). (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former New York gubernatorial candidate and Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout announced her candidacy Monday for New York’s 19th Congressional District.

The Democrat enjoys progressive support, but she may still be dogged by “carpetbagging” attacks in this rural Hudson Valley district.

Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican who occupies the seat, is not running for re-election. Teachout served as CEO of Mayday PAC, which supports candidates who want to end super PACs. Teachout won 34 percent of the vote in her 2014 primary challenge against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014. Teachout said she resigned from the Mayday board.

“The next several months are going to be really spending a lot of time in the corners of the district and really hearing stories,” Teachout said. “Eighty percent of the job is representing the district,” as opposed to partisan politics, she added.

Teachout emerged as the consensus candidate among Democratic county chairs in the district at their Jan. 16 meeting, according to some reports, but there has been no official county endorsement of her candidacy and none of the other Democratic candidates have yet pulled out of the race.

Full story

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