Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

February 1, 2016

Ribble Retirement Creates Vulnerable GOP Open Seat


UNITED STATES - MARCH 24: Reps. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., left, and Reid Ribble, R-Wisc., leave a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol, March 24, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With Ribble, right, out of the picture, there will be renewed Democratic interest in his seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Three-term Wisconsin Rep. Reid Ribble’s retirement leaves Republicans with yet another competitive open seat to defend.

Based on the 2008 presidential results, the 8th District looks like a great Democratic takeover opportunity. President Barack Obama carried the northeastern Wisconsin district, which includes Green Bay and Appleton, by 9 points and Democratic Rep. Steve Kagen was re-elected that same year by a similar margin.

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Revenge of the Old Fogies


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 26 - Kenny Jackson, from Knoxville, Iowa, smoke a cigarette as he dons a shaved head in support of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders before a meeting at the United Steelworkers Local 310L in Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Kenny Jackson, of Knoxville, Iowa, shows who he’s supporting before Sanders spoke to a meeting of the United Steelworkers Local 310L in Des Moines on Jan. 26, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

While the decision makers at news organizations from the Public Broadcasting System to CNN and the three major networks scramble to appeal to younger viewers, often by skewing younger with their hosts and commentators, Republican and Democratic voters in Iowa and nationally have embraced a remarkably “mature” handful of top tier candidates.

And by “mature,” I really mean old.

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January 31, 2016

Handicapping the GOP Race Past Iowa


NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - JANUARY 14:  Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) participate in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

While Trump, center, and Cruz, right, have established themselves as front-runners, Rubio has broken away from other establishment candidates. (Scott Olson/Getty Images File Photo)

Have we entered a new period in American politics, when establishment candidates on the GOP side don’t win their party’s nomination? That is the question I posed in a June 4, 2015 column. It is still a relevant question.

While I answered that it is a mistake to assume that the establishment candidate would inevitably win the GOP nomination, I doubted that combative candidates such as Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, could pass the smell test for most Republicans.

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January 29, 2016

It’s Official: Put a Fork in Kasich’s Candidacy


DES MOINES, IA - JANUARY 28:  Republican presidential candidates (R-L) Ohio Governor John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) participate in the Fox News - Google GOP Debate January 28, 2016 at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Residents of Iowa will vote for the Republican nominee at the caucuses on February 1. Donald Trump, who is leading most polls in the state, decided not to participate in the debate.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Kasich, right, debates with Bush, center, and Rubio on Thursday in the Fox News-Google GOP Debate in Des Moines. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Feel free to believe that there is a glimmer of hope for Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination. If that gives you comfort or plays to your own preferences, be my guest. I certainly wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable.

But even if you believe that, try also to understand that Kasich’s campaign is done. You can stick a fork in it. He will not be the GOP nominee for president in 2016. Recent endorsements from two New England newspapers prove that.

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January 27, 2016

Ratings Changes in 5 House Races


While voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are poised to kick off the presidential primaries, the national House landscape continues to take shape.

You can read updated analysis on 102 districts across the country in the Jan. 25 issue of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, but here is a quick list of ratings changes for five seats, in coordination with Roll Call.
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January 26, 2016

Hillary and Jeb: Destined to Play the Long Game?


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 24 - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets the crowd during a Get Out the Caucus event with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., at Vernon Middle School, in Marion, Iowa, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Clinton greets the crowd during a Get Out the Caucus event with Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., at in Marion, Iowa, on Sunday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

In a previous election cycle, or maybe a previous decade, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush might, at this point, be coasting to their parties’ nominations. This cycle, however, both resemble tragic heroes — politicians who have worked hard to prepare themselves for the presidency yet face possible rejection by voters.

Some Clinton and Bush supporters hope their candidates have an advantage that is still being underestimated: their ability to remain in their respective presidential nominating contests until voters decide to turn to them.

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Presented by Proctor and Gamble

Politicians Who Cry Wolf in Fundraising Emails


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Wyden isn’t the only member in a safe race to claim imminent doom in a fundraising email, only a recent offender. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fundraising emails are mind-numbing. The sheer volume (both in quantity and apocalyptic language) has a way of desensitizing potential donors and reporters alike. But some pleas for money go beyond exaggerating.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon certainly isn’t the only lawmaker in a safe race to claim imminent electoral doom in a fundraising email, but his campaign is a recent offender.

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January 25, 2016

NRSC Names Huey IE Director


NRSC Senior Advisor Daniel Huey will be the committee’s independent expenditure director for the 2016 cycle. The committee also picked Chelsea Hawker as deputy director for the IE.

“Together with our great candidates and their state-of-the-art campaigns, Daniel and Chelsea’s talent will again prove to be our competitive advantage, said NRSC Executive Director Ward Baker in a release first obtained by Roll Call. “Our committee’s confidence that we will protect the majority stems from having an unparalleled team working relentlessly to elect a group of outstanding candidates.”

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January 19, 2016

Goldwater vs. McGovern in 2016?


UNITED STATES - JANUARY 15 - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at an event at the Living History Farms Visitor Center in Urbandale, Iowa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The strangest election in our lifetime continues to get stranger.

Very rarely, one party decides to make a suicidal statement about its views and values. It happened in 1964 and again in 1972, for example. But this time, both parties are at least flirting with the idea of nominating candidates who, under normal circumstances, appear unelectable in 2016. Full story

January 14, 2016

Rigell Retirement Shifts Seat Out of Safe for GOP


UNITED STATES - APRIL 4: Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., arrives at the Capitol for the last vote of the week on Friday, April 4, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rigell’s retirement will likely cause Democrats to take a look at the seat he is vacating. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Rep. Scott Rigell is retiring from Virginia’s 2nd District, leaving a competitive open seat for his party to defend. The news, first reported by the Virginian-Pilot, was a surprise to some people who have worked closely with the congressman in the past.

The Virginia Beach-based district is competitive. President Barack Obama won it 50 percent to 49 percent in 2012 and 51 percent to 48 percent in 2008 and Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly won the 2nd, 47 percent to 46 percent, in the 2013 gubernatorial election against conservative Republican Ken Cuccinelli, under the current lines. But a court-ordered map would improve the GOP performance of the seat by a couple of points.

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Beshear Looks Back, Forward on Kentucky’s Political Landscape


WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 05:  Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear (R) talks to reporters after attending a caucus meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)  (C), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and other leaders in the Capitol Visitors Center December 5, 2013 in Washington, DC. While touting his state's healthcare reform success, Beshear told reporters that voters and politicans neet to be patient with the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and the Healthcare.gov website.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Beshear talks to reporters in 2014 after attending a caucus meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Joseph Crowley to tout his state’s health care reform success. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

In 2014, Steve Beshear sat in the first lady’s box during the State of the Union as President Barack Obama applauded the Democratic governor’s work on health care in Kentucky. Just two years later, Beshear is out of office and feuding with his Republican successor, who vowed to undo his work.

“And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight,” said Obama, referencing the Affordable Care Act. “Kentucky’s not the most liberal part of the country. That’s not where I got my highest vote totals. But he is like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth’s families.”

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January 11, 2016

NRCC Names Furst Johnson IE Director


07/12/05.U.S. BORDER SECURITY--Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla.,testifies before Senate Foreign Relations on border security. Other witnesses were Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. McCain has been working on a bill with Kennedy that would offer limited guest worker visas. He said Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is ready to hold hearings on both proposals. Cornyn and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., have filed an amendment providing a comprehensive set of immigration changes. The amendment would give the federal government more power to remove illegal aliens from the country quickly and allow the government to revoke visas for suspicious immigrants. Among other provisions, the amendment also would require the Homeland Security Department to issue documents to aliens that can be verified through fingerprints or other means. Harris is sponsoring border security legislation in the House..CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY PHOTO BY SCOTT J. FERRELL

Furst Johnson was communications director for former Rep. Katherine Harris’ 2004 campaign. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

National Republican Congressional Committee Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel Jessica Furst Johnson will be the committee’s Independent Expenditure Director for the 2016 cycle.

“Jessica was instrumental in helping us win our historic Republican majority in 2014 and we are excited she will lead our IE unit in 2016,” said NRCC Executive Director Rob Simms in a release first obtained by Roll Call.

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January 10, 2016

Can Rubio Win Even If He Loses?


Rubio does not fit the typical Republican presidential candidate demographic. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rubio does not fit the typical Republican presidential candidate demographic. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Can a candidate win the Republican presidential nomination without winning one of the first three contests – Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina? We may just find out this year.

History, of course, has already provided something of an answer. Democrat Bill Clinton didn’t win a contest in 1992 until March 3rd in the Georgia primary. He had already “lost” the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the Maine caucuses and the South Dakota primary. (Fortunately for Clinton, no one in the field won more than one of the first four contests, and his solid second-place finish in the Granite State was regarded as a  victory of sorts.)

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January 8, 2016

Obama’s Empty Campaign Threat on Gun Control


FAIRFAX, VA - JANUARY 7:  (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama listens to a question from Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu during  a live town hall event with CNN's Anderson Cooper  (R) at town hall at George Mason University on January 7, 2016 in Fairfax, Virginia. The president this week announced new, relatively mild executive actions to regulate the gun industry.  (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

Obama listens to a question from Pintal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu during a town hall event on Thursday. (Aude Guerrucci/Pool/Getty Images)

In the heat of his push for more gun control, President Barack Obama threatened to withhold support from anyone, including Democrats, who didn’t support “common-sense” changes. But based on the political realities of this cycle, his comments aren’t likely to dramatically impact Senate races.

“Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen,” Obama wrote in a New York Times op-ed. “I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform.”

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January 6, 2016

Steve Israel Retirement Sets Up GOP Takeover Opportunity


UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., leaves a meeting with House Democrats in the Capitol Visitor Center that featured a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, July 15, 2015. Biden was on the Hill to brief members on the nuclear deal with Iran. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats can’t take the race to fill Israel’s seat for granted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel spent years defending competitive open seats, but now his retirement leaves one behind.

Israel announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election in November after 16 years in the House. His retirement wasn’t a complete surprise, considering there isn’t an empty rung on the Democratic leadership ladder. But the congressman’s exit is notable considering his past leadership roles.

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