Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 29, 2015

August 26, 2015

Parties Play Politics With FEC Complaints

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 31: FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman makes a statement during his first meeting at the Commission's downtown office, as Chair Ellen Weintraub, and Commissioner Ann Ravel, look on. It was the first meeting attended by Ravel and Goodman. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

FEC Commissioner Lee Goodman makes a statement as then-Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, and then-Commissioner Ann Ravel listen. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ethics problems can be serious trouble for any politician, but party strategists often use Federal Election Committee complaints to play games with the opposition, because the allegation has a slim chance of being ruled on before Election Day.

“Everyone knows both sides file complaints to get press hits,” one campaign strategist said anonymously in order to speak candidly.

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Campaign Committees Open Holes While Filling Others

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Democrats believe Heitkamp could be a competitive candidate for governor but would loosen the party’s hold on her Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats want to hold the White House, take back the majorities in the Senate and the House, and gain ground in governorships. But what happens when those are conflicting goals?

In Florida, strategists at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are excited Rep. Patrick Murphy is running for the state’s open seat. But Murphy is leaving behind a competitive House district that will be difficult for strategists at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to hold next fall.

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August 24, 2015

Missing the Boat on the Big Political News

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 24:  A screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows the the Dow Jones industrial average briefly dropping over 1000 points in morning trading on August 24, 2015 in New York City. As the global economy continues to react from events in China, markets dropped significantly around the world on Monday.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Dow Jones industrial average briefly dropped more than 1,000 points in morning trading on Monday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

On Aug. 21, I did something — twice — that I rarely do. I tweeted. But it wasn’t about Donald Trump’s poll numbers or Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails. It was about the stock market’s plunge.

While Trump’s latest salvo (no matter the subject) is always entertaining and the size of Bernard Sanders’ most recent crowd is worth noting, Wall Street’s current performance and the investment community’s nervousness could turn out to be more important for the two parties next year.

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Ratings Changes in Two Governors’ Races

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 31: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a press conference March 31, 2015 at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pence spoke about the state's controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act which has been condemned by business leaders and Democrats.  (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Indiana’s Pence angered both moderates and conservatives over how he handled the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (File Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Gubernatorial races don’t get a lot of coverage in the nation’s capital, but based on the field of presidential contenders, the chief executive of each state can be a consequential figure.

Republicans are looking to sweep Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana this year for the first time in history. And the GOP is largely playing offense next year including Montana, where wealthy tech entrepreneur Greg Gianforte announced his candidacy against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

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August 21, 2015

Crist, Culver Contemplate Humbling Transition to the House

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 24:  Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) answers a question during the Times/CNN Senate and Gubernatorial debates at the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida, Tampa October 24, 2010 in Tampa, Florida. Republican Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL) are in contention for a U.S. Senate seat and battled it out live on-air during the Times/CNN Senate and Gubernatorial debates.  (Photo by Scott Mcintyre-Pool/Getty Images)

Crist, shown here debating Rubio during their 2010 Senate campaign, is considering a run for the House. (Getty Images File Photo)

It’s not easy to transition from governor to become one of 100 senators. But former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and former Iowa Gov. Chet Culver are contemplating something even more humbling — jumping from chief executive to become one of 435 in the House.

Earlier this month, my Roll Call colleague Kyle Trygstad sat down with some of the “recovering governors,” a 10-member caucus of former chief executives serving in the Senate, to talk about the challenges of transitioning to a legislative body.

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August 17, 2015

Group Suggests ‘Schock Waves’ in Illinois Special Election

UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., walks up the House steps to the Capitol for a series of votes on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Schock’s replacement will be chosen in a Sept. 10 special election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Most Democratic strategists probably couldn’t name their party’s nominee in the upcoming race for Illinois’ 18th District, or even remember that there is a special election on September 10. But one not-for-profit group is trying to gin up interest in a possible historic outcome, even as the final result is likely to be pretty routine.

Rob Mellon sounds like it could be the name of a band featuring White Zombie’s frontman covering Blind Melon songs. In reality, Mellon is an Army veteran, high school history teacher and the Democratic nominee against Republican Darin LaHood in the race to replace former GOP Rep. Aaron Schock.

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August 14, 2015

A Modest Proposal: Timeshare Congressional Districts

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In Illinois’ 10th District, former Rep. Schneider is trying to win back the seat he lost to Dold after having beaten him two years before. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The sharing economy is all the rage. People are sharing homes and cars, books and tools. Why not congressional districts?

Republicans and Democrats sink millions of dollars into a quartet of races that regularly flip from one party to the other. Over the last four election cycles, New Hampshire’s 1st District and Texas’ 23rd District have changed hands three times and New York’s 24th District has flipped all four. Illinois’ 10th District flipped back and forth in 2012 and 2014 and could do it again in 2016.

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August 12, 2015

Ratings Changes in 6 House Races

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Guinta appears to be a little more vulnerable in the latest Rothenberg-Gonzales/Roll Call race ratings. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The race for president will continue to dominate the 2016 landscape, with the fight for the Senate sucking up any remaining oxygen molecules. But Democrats haven’t given up their effort to dig out of the minority in the House.

Democrats face a difficult road to gain 30 seats and get back into the majority, but their prospects improved in a handful of races over the last few months.

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August 11, 2015

Stop the Presses: O’Malley Nabs Swalwell Endorsement

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23:  Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks during an event at the Truman Center for National Policy July 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. O'Malley discussed the need for additional Wall Street reforms while speaking with former Congressman and House Finance Committee Member Brad Miller (D-NC).  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

O’Malley’s playing up Swalwell’s endorsement says a lot about his campaign. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Who knew the Democratic presidential race would be fundamentally changed in the blink of an eye? But that happened recently when California congressman Eric Swalwell, 34, endorsed former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little.

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August 5, 2015

Democrats, Party Switchers and the Ghost of Ed Jany

Rep. David Jolly

Jolly might’ve faced a competitive race had Democrats not cleared the field for a candidate who dropped out. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

 

Former Republican state Sen. Tom O’Halleran announced Tuesday he was running as a Democrat in Arizona’s 1st District. It’s not the first time party strategists have crossed the aisle to recruit, and O’Halleran isn’t even the only party-switcher running this cycle.

Last cycle, Democratic strategists cleared the primary for former Republican Ed Jany in Florida’s 13th District in one of the most ill-conceived ideas in recent electoral history. Democrats knew Jany’s party switch was too recent for him to appear on the ballot with his new party, thanks to the so-called “Charlie Crist rule,” which says a candidate must be registered with a party a year before filing for office from that same party. But they failed to account for Jany’s candidacy collapsing under the weight of resume questions soon after the filing deadline. Consequently, Democrats didn’t have a candidate against GOP Rep. David Jolly last fall and punted a competitive seat to Republicans.

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August 4, 2015

One Last Hurrah for Joe Biden?

Vice President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., leave a meeting with House Democrats in the Capitol Visitor Center where Biden briefed members on the nuclear deal with Iran, July 15, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Biden has plenty of credentials and credibility but being vice president for eight years has its downside. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The news that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is giving serious consideration to running for president spread like wildfire over the weekend.

That is understandable. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, has not exactly performed like a winner, and growing questions about her character, forthrightness and judgment have produced plenty of negative coverage in the media, which feeds on controversy.

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July 30, 2015

A Brief Electoral History of Recently Indicted Congressmen

Rep. Michael Grimm

Grimm won re-election by a dozen points with a 19-count indictment hanging over him. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

 

It might be easy to scoff at Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania for talking about his re-election bid on the same day he faced a 29-count indictment on corruption charges, but the most recent members of the House to be indicted held their own at the ballot box, at least initially. The last two members of the House to be indicted won their next election.

After New York Republican Rep. Michael G. Grimm was indicted in 2014, I wrote about how it reminded me of one of my worst mistakes as a political handicapper and how I didn’t want to repeat it. Apparently, I’m a slow learner.

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July 29, 2015

More Democratic Losses Could Be on the Horizon

Bevin, shown during his unsucessful Senate race in 2014, is far more popular in Kentucky than inside the Beltway. (CQ Roll Call File Photo by Tom Williams)

Bevin, shown during his unsuccessful Senate race in 2014, is more popular in Kentucky than inside the Beltway. (CQ Roll Call File Photo by Tom Williams)

For Democrats anxious to turn the page from a terrible 2014 cycle, the news might get worse before it gets better.

Last fall, Democrats lost control of the Senate and fell further into the minority in the House, but pinned much of the blame on low turnout in the midterm elections. Party strategists were more than ready to look ahead to 2016, when the presidential race should boost turnout among Democratic constituencies. But at least one race this fall could dampen some of the Democratic enthusiasm heading into next year.

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July 28, 2015

Chris Christie’s Conundrum

Christie speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in D.C. on June 19. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Christie speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in D.C. on June 19. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

On first glance, Christie’s bio and profile should make him a top-tier hopeful for the 2016 Republican nomination. But he isn’t — at least not right now. In this case, timing is everything.

A former county freeholder and U.S. attorney finishing his second term as governor in a very blue state, Christie, 52, is a guy with a big personality who has received more than his share of national media coverage over the past few years.

Full story

July 23, 2015

President-Elect Donald Trump Announces First Cabinet Picks

What if Trump won. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

What if Trump won. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Nov. 9, 2016, ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.  — President-elect Donald Trump announced his first cabinet selections last night, minutes after the major networks projected him as the winner in Tuesday’s election.

Trump, who will become the nation’s 45th president when he is inaugurated in January, upset former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, winning 54 percent of the vote and carrying all the swing states. The president-elect did particularly well among older men, union members and the mentally ill. Full story

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