Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 20, 2014

July 2, 2014

Lamar Alexander Argues With Obama Over Obamacare in New Ad (Video)

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, raised over $900,000 for his re-election bid in the second quarter, his campaign said Wednesday. He also launched a new ad featuring the senator arguing with President Barack Obama.

Alexander now has $3.4 million cash on hand, according to his campaign, with just over a month to go until Tennessee’s Aug. 8 Republican primary.

The new ad shows C-SPAN footage of the White House Healthcare Summit in February of 2010. Alexander was one of several Republicans to attend the bipartisan meeting, and at one point, he engaged with Obama over whether healthcare premiums would rise as a result of Obamacare.

“When you said, ‘premiums go up,’ that’s just not case,” Obama says in the clip, addressing Alexander.

“The Congressional Budget Office report says that premiums will rise,” Alexander responds.

“No, no, no, no, and this is an example of where we’ve got to get our facts straight,” Obama says.

“That’s my point,” says Alexander.

“Lamar was proven right,” a narrator says in the ad.

The ad will begin running statewide on July 6, according to the campaign.

Alexander faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Joe Carr. Carr has drawn significantly more attention in recent weeks since House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was defeated in a primary by unknown and underfunded college professor Dave Brat. He recently went up with his first ad of the campaign, attacking Alexander for voting for the Senate’s immigration overhaul bill.

The race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

Conservative Lawsuit Challenges Cochran Runoff Win

Conservative Lawsuit Challenges Cochran Runoff Win

Thad Cochran defeated Chris McDaniel, above, in the GOP runoff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A conservative group has taken up state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s cause, filing a lawsuit against the Mississippi Secretary of State and the Republican Party of Mississippi  to challenge the results of the recent runoff for Senate.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., defeated McDaniel by a 6,700-vote margin in the June 24 runoff and won the GOP nomination.

Now a conservative group, True the Vote, alleged Wednesday they were denied access to election records, specifically in Hinds and Rankin Counties. They also allege that they found evidence of unlawful “double-voting,” in which Mississippians who voted in the Democratic primary later voted in the Republican runoff three weeks later.

But McDaniel and his supporters face long odds to overturn the results of the runoff. Mississippi state election law has no provision for a recount, and observers say McDaniel is unlikely to find enough illegally cast votes to make up the difference between him and Cochran. What’s more, it’s difficult to prove a runoff voter does not plan to vote for a Republican in the general election.

Full story

July 1, 2014

Ted Cruz Doesn’t Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz Doesnt Disavow SCF Call to Defund NRSC

Ted Cruz is a Republican from Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A conservative outside group whose efforts Sen. Ted Cruz backed has called for defunding the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Cruz, an NRSC vice chairman and Texas Republican, has not rebuked the effort.

This weekend, Senate Conservatives Fund launched a campaign calling on conservatives to pledge not to give any money to the NRSC in the aftermath of last week’s runoff in the Mississippi Senate race. As is typical, the NRSC backed Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, while the SCF and other outside groups backed his failed challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“The Senate Republican establishment betrayed the grassroots and recruited Democrats in Mississippi to defeat Chris McDaniel,” the SCF petition said. ”Fight back by pledging not to donate to the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”

Full story

Republicans Circulate List of Top Female House Candidates

Republicans Circulate List of Top Female House Candidates

Wagner is a Missouri Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The end of primary season is nigh, and Republicans are now optimistic their slate of House candidates will yield a net gain of female members in the conference after November. 

Republicans are now focusing their efforts on a specific slate of top female candidates with a strong chance of coming to Congress. 

On Tuesday morning, a top aide to Rep. Ann Wagner, a Missouri Republican and leading voice in the conference for women, emailed Capitol Hill colleagues and K Street allies to highlight these female candidates, according to an email obtained by CQ Roll Call.

“As many of you know, my boss, Ann Wagner (MO-2), and Congresswoman Diane Black (TN-6) have worked over the last year to recruit, support and promote Republican women candidates for Congress across the country,” wrote Christian Morgan, Wagner’s chief of staff. ”As we are winding down Primary season, I wanted to send you a list of our top candidates.”

Morgan named the following candidates: Full story

Democrats Work to Mitigate VA Scandal as Political Issue

Democrats Work to Mitigate VA Scandal as Political Issue

Begich has had to tackle the veterans affairs scandal as he seeks a second term in Alaska. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Politicians have always touted their support for military veterans back home. The willingness to expend federal dollars to provide the best care possible is popular across the partisan spectrum and is rarely cause for controversy.

But the issue has been turned on its head in recent months, with the fallout from the Veterans Affairs scandal prompting even the Obama administration to admit a “corrosive culture” at the VA affecting facilities across the country.

It’s also invited criticism of vulnerable House and Senate Democrats from Republican candidates and outside groups. For Republican challengers and operatives, the VA scandal offers a striking example of federal government mismanagement with a Democrat at the helm and provides another link between Democratic incumbents and President Barack Obama.

“Veterans’ issues tend to be bipartisan, non-controversial and not a big deal in most campaigns — which is why the VA scandal is a problem for Democrats this year,” Republican pollster Dan Judy said. “Democratic candidates in most of the competitive states already have the millstone of President Obama’s unpopularity around their necks, and the VA scandal is only making that weight heavier.”

Full story

June 30, 2014

3 Ways Hobby Lobby Ruling Could Impact 2014 (Video)

The Supreme Court’s narrow Monday decision allowing some companies to not offer contraceptive coverage for employees could have an impact on the November midterms.

The ruling is a polarizing one for Democrats and Republicans — and both sides have already tried to use it to their political advantage.

Republicans mostly support the court’s decision, calling it a win for religious freedom and a major defeat for the president’s health care overhaul law that required company health care plans to cover birth control. Democrats are using the decision to emphasize what they see as the GOP’s unfriendly policies toward women.

That contrast could play out in three key ways in 2014 elections:

Full story

Environmental Group Backs Republican in 2014

Environmental Group Backs Republican in 2014

Susan Collins is a Republican from Maine. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, an environmental organization, has thrown its support behind a Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is seeking re-election in 2014.

The Collins race is uncompetitive at this point in the cycle. But she is the first Republican to pick up the group’s nod this cycle. Full story

Vance McAllister Announces He Will Seek Re-Election

Vance McAllister Announces He Will Seek Re Election

Following some "hard praying," McAllister has decided to seek re-election after all. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Vance McAllister, the Louisiana Republican known as the “Kissing Congressman” after he was caught kissing a married aide, will seek re-election in November.

“We spent the weekend trying to make sure this was exactly right for us and the family,” McAllister said on the Moon Griffon radio show in Louisiana Monday morning. “It’s taken a lot of hard praying,”

McAllister, who won the seat in a special election in November, will formally make the announcement at a news conference Monday morning.

McAllister had recently waffled on whether he would seek a full term in Louisiana’s 5th District. He announced in April — weeks after security camera footage leaked of him kissing his aide— that he would not run again for the seat. Just a few weeks later, McAllister recanted that decision, saying he was keeping all of his options open for another bid.

Full story

Rick Santorum Endorses in Georgia Race

Rick Santorum Endorses in Georgia Race

Rick Santorum is a Republican from Pennsylvania. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., endorsed businessman Mike Collins in Georgia’s 10th District GOP runoff Monday, calling him a “rock-solid conservative who will be guided by the U.S. Constitution in Congress.”

“Mike has laid out a bold plan of conservative policies that will push back overbearing federal regulations, revitalize the entrepreneurial spirit and provide more opportunities for blue collar Americans,” Santorum added in the release. “We need more conservative businessmen like Mike Collins in Congress.”

Collins faces pastor Jody Hice, a Republican, in a July 22 runoff. Republicans have described Rice as a candidate in the mold of the congressman he is trying to succeed, conservative firebrand Paul Broun. Broun, known for his outspoken comments on evolution, ran an unsuccessful bid for Senate in Georgia, leaving his House district open. Full story

June 27, 2014

Obama Headlines Fundraiser for House Democrats

Obama Headlines Fundraiser for House Democrats

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Barack Obama declared Thursday at a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that his first two years in office marked the most productive time in Congress since the 1960s.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, DCCC Chairman Steve Israel of New York, former Vice President Walter Mondale and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., attended the event.

“I love her. I love her because she smart. And she’s tough. And she’s fearless,” Obama said of Pelosi, according to a pool report of the event. “She and I got more done than any Congress since the 1960s … I want her back.”

But House Democrats face a steep climb to take the majority in 2014. They must pick up a net of 17 seats — a costly endeavor.

Full story

June 26, 2014

Newt Gingrich Endorses Senator’s Re-Election

Newt Gingrich Endorses Senators Re Election

Newt Gingrich endorsed Alexander in Tennessee. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich endorsed Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Thursday.

“We need Lamar’s experience and shrewdness to fix Washington,” Gingrich, a Georgia Republican and former presidential candidate, said in a statement released by the Alexander campaign.

Alexander, a second-term senator, is heavily favored to win his Republican primary on Aug. 7. Conservatives initially marked Alexander as a potential primary target in 2014, but top opposition never came close to materializing like some of his colleagues, for example Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Full story

Republican Drops Recount in Targeted California Race

Former Capitol Hill aide Lesli Gooch, the Republican who called for a recount in California’s 31st District, has dropped her request and conceded the race Wednesday night.

“My team of polling data experts has reviewed the results of today’s recount and we have decided not to ask the Registrar of Voters to continue with a second day of recounting ballots,” Gooch said in a statement.

The recount started Wednesday — three weeks after the Golden State’s primary. Gooch’s campaign is responsible for the cost of the recount under local election rules.

In California’s primary, the two highest vote recipients, regardless of party, advance to the general election. Gooch trailed Democrat Pete Aguilar by 209 votes for the second-place spot in the top-two primary. 

Full story

June 25, 2014

Club for Growth Stumbles With Mississippi Senate Loss (Video)

Club for Growth Stumbles With Mississippi Senate Loss (Video)

The Club for Growth worked against Sen. Thad Cochran, who won Tuesday's runoff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Club for Growth, a perpetual thorn in the side of many Republican operatives, took a hit Tuesday in Mississippi, where Sen. Thad Cochran survived a primary challenge despite a significant investment from the anti-tax group.

The Club for Growth’s super PAC arm spent $2.4 million against Cochran, according to figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a significant chunk of the $3.8 million it’s expended so far this cycle against Republicans.

What’s more, the defeat of state Sen. Chris McDaniel means the club has now failed to topple arguably its top two GOP incumbent targets of the midterm cycle — Cochran and Rep. Mike Simpson. The club spent nearly $500,000 for Bryan Smith, who lost his May 20 challenge to the Idaho Republican.

Full story

How James Lankford Won Big in Oklahoma (Video)

How James Lankford Won Big in Oklahoma (Video)

Lankford will likely come to the Senate next year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. James Lankford had momentum on his side Tuesday, when the Republican captured the GOP nomination outright and avoided a costly runoff.

The big surprise? His massive 23-point margin of victory over T.W. Shannon, who had been hailed as a rising GOP superstar.

Shannon, 36, was the youngest person to ever serve as Speaker of the Oklahoma House. He is African-American, an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, and had the support of many of the big national tea party names, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. On paper, Shannon seemed like he might follow in the footsteps of another Cruz-backed candidate, Ben Sasse, the 42-year-old GOP Senate nominee in Nebraska who rose from relative obscurity to beat the front-runner with the help of national tea party groups.

But Lankford had a number of advantages from the start in the race to succeed Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is leaving Congress at the end of this year.

Full story

RNC Narrows 2016 Convention Sites to Cleveland, Dallas (Video)

The Republican National Committee announced Wednesday that Dallas and Cleveland are the finalists to host the party’s 2016 national convention.

“After extensive review the site selection committee has chosen Cleveland and Dallas as finalists for the 2016 convention,” RNC Site Selection Chairwoman Enid Mickelsen said in a statement. “Cleveland and Dallas demonstrated their ability to host a phenomenal convention in 2016, and the RNC is excited about the prospect of hosting our convention in either of these great cities.”

Denver and Kansas City were eliminated with this decision. Las Vegas and Cincinnati took themselves out of contention two months ago.

In a statement responding to its elimination, the Kansas City bid team stated that a formal announcement for the 2016 host city is expected to be made at the RNC’s summer meeting in Chicago in early August.

“The committee extends our sincere thanks and gratitude to Denver and Kansas City for their hard work and dedication to this effort,” Mickelsen added. “Both teams should be proud of their work.”

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