Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 18, 2014

November 8, 2013

Biden Tops Michigan Democrat’s List of Pols to Bolster House Bid (Video)

The candidate: Former state Rep. Pam Byrnes, a Democrat.
The member: Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican.
The district:
Michigan’s 7th District, which favored GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012, but only by 3 points.
The candidate’s team:
Al Quinlan of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (polling), Martha McKenna and Jennifer Pihlaja of McKenna Pihlaja (media), Terry Walsh of The Strategy Group (mail), Karen Defilippi (campaign manager)

Former state Rep. Pam Byrnes, a Democrat, faces an uphill battle in unseating Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., in Michigan’s 7th District. But there’s at least one national Democrat that Byrnes thinks could help sway the vote her way.

“I think [Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.] would relate to the people very well,” she said in an Oct. 10 interview with CQ Roll Call. “He is a very personable guy. I’ve met him before and I believe he could connect with people and help me.” Full story

November 7, 2013

Howard Coble Announces Retirement

Howard Coble Announces Retirement

Coble will leave Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., announced Thursday he will retire at the end of his term, creating an opening in his strong Republican district for the first time in 30 years.

Coble, who was first elected to North Carolina’s 6th District in 1985, cited his failing health as the reason why he will step down. Earlier this year, the 82-year-old was rushed to George Washington University Hospital from the Capitol to undergo emergency hernia surgery.

Coble cited back pain and skin cancer as the main reasons for his retirement, saying his health would prohibit him from the long hours needed to campaign. But he stressed, “Mentally and emotionally I am stable and reliable,” to the audience watching his announcement in Greensboro, N.C.

Full story

Club for Growth Makes Endorsement in Nebraska GOP Primary

The Club for Growth is taking sides in the GOP Senate primary in Nebraska, where a competitive nomination battle has unfolded for a safely Republican seat.

On Thursday, the club’s political action arm announced its endorsement of Midland University President Ben Sasse, one of a handful of Republicans running for the state’s open seat. In a statement, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola highlighted Sasse’s outspoken opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care law, which stems from Sasse’s experience as an assistant secretary at Health and Human Services.

“Ben Sasse is the rare candidate who can clearly and forcefully prosecute the case against ObamaCare, not only because it’s an unconstitutional assault on our liberty, but also because he’s read every word of it,” Chocola said. Full story

November 6, 2013

Democrat to Announce Campaign for Runyan’s Seat

While New Jersey operatives continued to process Tuesday’s election results, Republican Rep. Jon Runyan’s surprise retirement announcement in the 3rd District set off swirls of speculation of who could run for his seat.

Democrats already indicated they wanted to target the seat, but an open-seat race gives the party a much better opportunity to win it. Upon the Runyan announcement, the Rothenberberg Political Report quickly moved the seat from Safe Republican to Tossup.

Democrats are circulating two names as potential candidates for the seat — the most prominent of which is Burlington County Freeholder Aimee Belgard. She filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission in mid-October and, according to a news release, is scheduled to announce her campaign on Thursday.

Full story

Coble to Announce ‘Future Political Plans’ on Thursday

Coble to Announce Future Political Plans on Thursday

Coble has served 15 terms in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Longtime Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., will announce his future political plans at a news conference Thursday in Greensboro, N.C., according to an announcement from the congressman’s office.

Coble’s office declined to give any more details on the announcement — the 15-term Republican has long been the target of retirement speculation.

Coble, 82, has struggled with his health. Earlier this year, he was rushed to George Washington University Hospital from the Capitol to undergo emergency hernia surgery.

Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 4:24 p.m.
House 2014, N.C.-6

Democrat Suspends Campaign Against Alex Sink in Florida District

Attorney Jessica Ehrlich is suspending her campaign for the highly competitive 13th District in Florida, according to a news release from the state Democratic Party.

Ehrlich was under pressure to step aside in the special-election primary to replace the late Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla. Former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink entered the race last week, and national Democratic power brokers quickly threw their support her way. Full story

Jon Runyan Will Not Seek Re-Election in 2014 (Updated)

Jon Runyan Will Not Seek Re Election in 2014 (Updated)

Runyan is a Republican from New Jersey. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 10:51 a.m. | Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J., announced on Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in the Garden State’s 3rd District, creating an unexpected opening in a competitive district for 2014.

“After a great deal of thought and discussions with my family, I have decided not to seek re- election in 2014,” Runyan said in a statement. “Politics shouldn’t be a career and I never intended to make it one.”

Full story

By Emily Cahn Posted at 10:15 a.m.
DCCC, House 2014, N.J.-3

Nevada Democrat Seeks Clinton, Obama Endorsements (Video)

The candidate: Democratic National Committeewoman Erin Bilbray
The member: Two-term Rep. Joe Heck, a Republican, who won re-election by a 7-point margin last year.
The district:
President Barack Obama carried the 3rd District by a single point in 2012.

The candidate’s team: Bradley Mayer (manager), Mark Mellman of The Mellman Group (pollster), Ann Liston of Adelstein | Liston (media), Achim Bergmann of Bergmann Zwerdling Direct (direct mail), Rhonda Foxx (finance director)

Democrat Erin Bilbray said she will seek support from former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama in her campaign for 3rd District in the southern tip of Nevada.

“I hope [Clinton] will, and of course I would ask,” Bilbray said in an Oct. 10 interview with CQ Roll Call. She later added that she believes an endorsement from Obama would help her in the district. Full story

November 5, 2013

Byrne and Business Prevail in Alabama Special

Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne defeated tea-party-backed candidate Dean Young in a special GOP runoff in Alabama’s 1st District on Tuesday, marking the first big win for more moderate Republicans in the fight for control of the GOP since the government shutdown.

With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Byrne led Young, 53 percent to 47 percent, according to The Associated Press.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business-oriented groups, such as TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts’ Ending Spending PAC, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the final days of the contest to ensure a Byrne victory.

The win sends a message to the tea party that business groups are willing to play in GOP primaries to send more pragmatic, business-minded Republicans to Congress.

Full story

Steny Hoyer to Campaign for DCCC Jumpstart Candidates

Steny Hoyer to Campaign for DCCC Jumpstart Candidates

Hoyer will fundraise for several candidates this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer has jam-packed several campaigning events and fundraisers over recess on behalf of House candidates.

The Maryland Democrat’s tour will take him to Michigan, Ohio and Massachusetts, where he will campaign and fundraise for a handful of House contenders and one incumbent over the next few days.

Hoyer is only campaigning for challengers who have made the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Jumpstart program, according to a release from his leadership PAC, AmeriPAC. Candidates in Jumpstart have received the committee’s de facto seal of approval.

Here are the districts where Hoyer is scheduled to campaign on Wednesday and Friday: Full story

Ex-FEMA Director Seeks Open House Seat in Arkansas

Ex FEMA Director Seeks Open House Seat in Arkansas

Witt, right, served as the director of FEMA under Clinton. (Manny Ceneta/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director James Lee Witt, a Democrat, announced on Tuesday he is running in the open-seat contest in Arkansas’ 4th District.

“I’ve spent my adult life bringing people together at the toughest times of their lives and dealing with disasters,” Witt said in a conference call announcing his bid, according to the Associated Press. “Nowhere needs disaster relief more than Washington. No place needs to be brought together more than Congress.”

Full story

Illinois Democrat Estimates $2.5 Million Race for Top Competitive Seat (Video)

The candidate: Former chief judge Ann Callis, a Democrat
The member: Freshman Rep. Rodney Davis, a Republican
The district: Mitt Romney narrowly won this district with 49 percent of the vote.
The candidate’s team: Marshall Cohen (manager), Travis Lowe and Clare Gannon of Three Point Media (media), Jason McGrath and Mike Bocian of GBA Strategies (polling), Emily Parcell and Beth Hernandez of The Pivot Group (mail)

Former chief judge Ann Callis said she will need to raise $2 million to $2.5 million to wage a competitive campaign in the 13th District next year, according to an Oct. 10 interview she gave CQ Roll Call.

Callis is seeking to oust freshman Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., in the competitive district that split nearly evenly between the two presidential candidates. Davis first faces a primary against former Miss America Erika Harold. Full story

NRSC: We’ll Spend in Primaries if Necessary

NRSC: Well Spend in Primaries if Necessary

Jerry Moran of Kansas is the chairman of the NRSC. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans are now open to spending money to help a preferred candidate through a competitive primary — a change from last cycle when the committee was under different leadership.

While briefing reporters Tuesday morning on the GOP’s path to winning control of the Senate, Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the NRSC will “do what we think gets us to a majority.”

“Would we spend money in primaries? Yes, if that’s the right move at the right time,” Collins said. “There’s no rules — I treat every state differently. The path to getting a general election candidate who can win is the only thing we care about.” Full story

By Kyle Trygstad Posted at 12:38 p.m.
DSCC, NRSC, Senate 2014

Democratic Super PAC Defends Hagan on TV

A Democrat-aligned super PAC is coming to the defense of North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, who was hit last week in a TV ad from a conservative outside group.

Senate Majority PAC launched a TV ad today that attempts to debunk the attack ad from Americans for Prosperity, which slammed the Democrat over her support for the health care law. The new spot, backed by a $400,000 buy, also highlights Hagan’s record, calling her an “independent senator working to help balance budgets and create jobs.”

Full story

November 4, 2013

Martha McKenna to Lead DSCC’s Independent Expenditure Program

Veteran strategist Martha McKenna will lead the independent expenditure program for Senate Democrats in the 2014 midterms.

It’s the second straight cycle that McKenna will lead the unit for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee that controls the tens of millions of dollars spent on Senate races each cycle. In 2012, McKenna became the first woman to head a Senate committee’s IE arm.

“Martha McKenna is one of the best Democratic operatives in the country who has helped oversee some of the top campaigns in the last decade, and I am thrilled she will again head the DSCC’s independent expenditure arm in 2014,” DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

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