Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 19, 2014

November 20, 2014

Democrats Look for Comebacks From Members Ousted in 2010

Democrats Look for Comebacks From Members Ousted in 2010

Murphy, a Democrat, is a former member from Pennsylvania. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats are looking to two former members — both of whom lost re-election in 2010 — as potential recruits for 2016, according to three senior House Democratic operatives.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruitment officials have discussed ex-Reps. Patrick J. Murphy of Pennsylvania and Michael E. McMahon of New York as potential candidates this cycle.  Full story

Kelly Ward Will Stay on as DCCC Executive Director

Kelly Ward Will Stay on as DCCC Executive Director

Ward is the first to remain in the job for more than one cycle. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Newly minted Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján said Kelly Ward will stay on as executive director of the committee for the second straight cycle.

In an interview with CQ Roll Call earlier this week, Luján said he hoped Ward would stay for another stint at the top of the committee tasked with helping Democrats regain a majority of seats in the House. On Thursday, Luján announced Ward had accepted the position, and noted she is the first person to spend two consecutive cycles as a DCCC leader.

“Kelly Ward brings infectious energy, unrivaled determination and key strategic insights to her job, and I am so pleased that she has agreed to stay on at the DCCC,” Luján said in a news release. “After working with Kelly for the past two years, I’ve been so impressed with her ability to both develop the strategy and operationalize the day-to-day work needed to aggressively take the fight to Republicans, and we’re lucky to have her lead our team.”

Full story

Josh Holmes, the Mastermind of Team Mitch

Josh Holmes, the Mastermind of Team Mitch

Holmes, right, accompanied McConnell at an election eve campaign stop at an airport in Bowling Green, Ky. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Much of the movie “Fargo” takes place in Minnesota, the home state of the aide in charge of the campaign that propelled Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell to the role of Senate majority leader in the next Congress.

It’s fitting that Josh Holmes, the senior adviser whom McConnell commended on stage at his election night gathering in Louisville, would hail from Minnesota, given that another former chief of staff, Billy Piper, once said McConnell was the wood chipper in the movie’s gruesome final scene.

Personality-wise, Holmes does not fit the billing for a Coen Brothers film. The hard-nosed operative behind one of the cycle’s best campaigns is classic “Minnesota nice,” said former Sen. Norm Coleman. Holmes was regional coordinator for the Minnesota Republican’s 2002 Senate campaign and then joined his office on Capitol Hill.

Full story

Congressman to Consider John McCain Primary Challenge

Congressman to Consider John McCain Primary Challenge

Schweikert could challenge McCain in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., plans to keep his options open for 2016, saying he would consider future runs — including a primary challenge to Sen. John McCain — after the holidays.

“My wife and I made an agreement that we would wait until after the holidays, and then we would have a family meeting,” Schweikert told CQ Roll Call in between votes Tuesday, his wife by his side. “The whole thing: whether you’re gonna run at all over again, do you weigh options for other things.”

Full story

November 19, 2014

Democrats Win 2 Contested California House Contests

Democrats Win 2 Contested California House Contests

Bera is a California Democrat. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:53 p.m. | In a boost for California Democrats, Reps. Jim Costa and Ami Bera will return to Congress in January, after The Associated Press called both races Wednesday night.

Costa, a Central Valley-based Democrat, defeated little-known Republican, Johnny Tacherra, by a 1,319-vote margin.

In the Sacramento-based 7th District, Democratic Rep. Ami Bera defeated former Rep. Doug Ose, R-Calif., by 1,432 votes after Sacramento County released another batch of ballots Wednesday.

The calls come more than two weeks after Election Day, as the counties in both districts slowly counted thousands of mail-in and provisional ballots.

Their victories serve as welcome news for House Democrats, who lost 12 seats in the midterms — and perhaps one more. The race for Arizona’s 2nd District will proceed to a recount in December. 

Full story

Huelskamp Open to Moran Primary Challenge

Huelskamp Open to Moran Primary Challenge

Huelskamp, center, is a Kansas Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., is not ruling out a primary challenge to Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., in 2016.

“We haven’t decided what we’re doing yet, so that’s a good question,” Huelskamp told CQ Roll Call when asked if he was considering a Senate bid.

Asked if he thought he would be competitive in the primary, Huelskamp, “We’ve done very well with conservatives. But now, that’s a long time down the road.”

“I don’t know if he has even announced that he’s running again,” he added in between Tuesday votes on Capitol Hill.  Full story

November 18, 2014

New DCCC Chairman Eyes Current Executive Director

New DCCC Chairman Eyes Current Executive Director

Ward served as the DCCC's executive director in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Incoming Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján said Tuesday he hopes the current Executive Director, Kelly Ward, will stay on for the 2016 cycle.

House Democrats endured sweeping losses in 2014, but Ward earned top praise from Luján, who said she is respected by the caucus.

“I have tremendous respect for Kelly Ward,” Luján told CQ Roll Call in a Tuesday interview. “It’s been an honor working with her throughout the years, getting to know her, she reaches out to members, she respects members, and I think she’s incredible. So someone like Kelly, if not Kelly herself is someone that I hope that we would serve.”

Full story

The Survivor: How Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick Held On

The Survivor: How Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick Held On

Kirkpatrick beat the odds to win re-election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican operatives called her race “cooked.” One national news organization put her chances at victory of 12 percent. After all, voters in Arizona’s 1st District had already fired Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick once before — in a toxic climate in 2010.

But as House Democrats fell across the country on Nov. 4, Kirkpatrick didn’t just win re-election. She expanded her margin from 2012, proving naysayers wrong thanks to one, simple political maxim: To win, a candidate has to be better than his or her opponent.

And she was.

Her rival, state Speaker Andy Tobin, was a top recruit for national Republicans. The party went all in for him, spending millions against Kirkpatrick on television.

But, “people know me,” she said in a phone interview last week. “They’re common-sense people, and I think they saw through the partisan games.”

Full story

The One-Term Caucus? Top House Targets in 2016

The One Term Caucus? Top House Targets in 2016

Poliquin arrives last week for check-in for new members. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

They haven’t even been sworn in yet, but these members start off the cycle as underdogs in their quests for re-election in 2016.

Most of 2016′s initial targets are incoming Republicans, swept into office in a GOP midterm wave. They will represent districts Democrats carried with big margins in presidential election years — seats the newly minted Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Ben Ray Luján will probably want back. Only one vulnerable Democrat made this list.

What’s more, the window for either party to oust these freshman could close quickly. It’s easier to defeat an incumbent in their first re-election, before they solidify a stronghold on the seat.

In alphabetical order, here are the incoming members who start the 2016 cycle as underdogs:

Full story

November 17, 2014

Pelosi Chooses Ben Ray Luján as DCCC Chairman (Updated)

Pelosi Chooses Ben Ray Luján as DCCC Chairman (Updated)

Luján will lead the DCCC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 4:47 p.m. | In a shock to her caucus, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi selected Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for the 2016 cycle.

Luján will lead his caucus’ political arm and all aspects of the campaign to take back the gavel: fundraising, messaging, recruiting and getting out the vote.

The choice is Pelosi’s lone decision, but it was a total shock to most Democrats on Capitol Hill.

“I am pleased recommend to our colleagues Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, a dynamic and forward-looking leader with a fresh energy and ideas that demcorats need for victory in 2016,” Pelosi said in a Monday news conference. “He has bold vision and determined leaership to deliver wins in difficult districts. I am confident [he] will prove a tireless champion.”

Full story

November 14, 2014

Harry Reid Considers Three Names for Campaign Manager

Harry Reid Considers Three Names for Campaign Manager

Reid is considering at least three to serve as campaign manager. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering at least three Democratic operatives to manage his re-election campaign in Nevada in 2016, according to a national Democratic source familiar with the discussions.

Preston Elliott, Sarah Benzing and Anne Caprara are all under discussion as top choices to lead a potential Reid bid for a sixth term, the source said.

Reid will be a top target of national Republicans, who have few offensive opportunities on a map far more favorable to Democrats than 2014. In winning back the majority, Republicans picked up eight seats this month and could add a ninth in the Dec. 6 runoff in Louisiana.

Widely considered three of the party’s most talented political hands, the candidates for campaign manager could also have other options for 2016. Full story

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 3:31 p.m.
DSCC

Mark Kirk: ‘No Frickin’ Way Am I Retiring’

Mark Kirk: No Frickin Way Am I Retiring

Kirk says he'll run for a second term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., has a message for anyone who doubts his will or appetite for a second term.

“No frickin’ way am I retiring,” he told CQ Roll Call in an exclusive interview Thursday from his Capitol Hill office, following some speculation in local press over the senator’s future and his shifting political operation. ”With all this rehab, for me just to walk was a huge effort. I had to re-learn how to walk again after the stroke. And all the rehab and all the effort shows the mental determination times 10 to keep serving.”

In an extended interview, Kirk sought to dispel any notion he’s ready to leave the Senate — or that he lacks the stamina to seek re-election after suffering an ischemic stroke in January 2012. Kirk said he feels great, and any opponents who question his fitness to serve will regret it.

“That would not be taken well by the people of Illinois, who would not like that kind of attack,” Kirk said. “That would be an advantage to me if they did that.”

Full story

November 13, 2014

Pelosi Meets With 5 Potential DCCC Chairmen

Pelosi Meets With 5 Potential DCCC Chairmen

Pelosi is a California Democrat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has met with five possible contenders to run the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2016, according to her office, though she has not decided whom she will ultimately select.

On Thursday, Pelosi met with Reps. Jared Polis of Colorado, Jim Himes of Connecticut and Joaquin Castro of Texas. Also per her office, Pelosi had a meeting Tuesday with Rep. Lois Frankel of Florida, and she met Friday with Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland.

A number of those members have been publicly angling for the role, including Frankel and Edwards — who spent the final days of the 2014 cycle on the trail with House candidates.

Full story

Democrats Eyeing 5 House Race Rematches in 2016

Democrats Eyeing 5 House Race Rematches in 2016

House Democrats want Horsford to run for the Nevada seat he lost this month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s no rest for the weary at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has yet to name the new committee chairman for 2016, but the DCCC is already getting a jump on recruiting during the final days of New York Rep. Steve Israel’s tenure.

On Thursday morning, Israel held the first 2016 recruitment meeting since Election Day. He named two northeastern congressional districts as top targeting opportunities, and party strategists are readying for at least five rematches from 2014, according to a committee aide. Full story

Jon Tester Named DSCC Chairman

Jon Tester Named DSCC Chairman

Tester will chair the DSCC for the 2016 cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Montana Sen. Jon Tester was appointed chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2016 cycle.

Senate Democrats are coming off a brutal cycle, in which Republicans won back the majority for the first time since 2006 and could have a nine-seat net gain. But the Senate should be in play next cycle, with a far more favorable map for Democrats than in 2014.

At a news conference following an extended Democratic meeting in the Capitol, Tester said his role will be “going out and finding candidates that can lead, that can win, that can advocate for the middle class in their elections.” Tester said he will continue to focus on his job as senator and still has a farm to keep up back home.Jon Tester Named DSCC Chairman Full story

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