Alexis Levinson

Trade Votes Play Big in 2016 Politics

Rob Portman isn’t a bomb thrower. But his pitch last week for an amendment cracking down on countries that artificially weaken their currencies threatened to blow up President Barack Obama’s trade agenda, and exposed a deep split in approaches among Republicans who face the voters in 2016.

A trio of Rust Belt Senate Republicans — Ohio’s Portman, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania — ended up voting for Trade Promotion Authority, backing Obama, Republican leadership and a top priority of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Democrats Search for Candidate Who Can Beat Coffman

After two consecutive cycles of trying and failing to oust Republican Rep. Mike Coffman from his Colorado swing district, Democrats are searching for the right candidate to take him out once and for all.  

Coffman has proved resilient over his four terms. He has been a top Democratic target since redistricting reshaped his solidly Republican district into a more competitive one. After a tight race in 2012, defeating his opponent by 2 points, he easily toppled former state Speaker Andrew Romanoff by 9 points last fall.  

What Happens If Coffman Says No

Republicans are trying to recruit Rep. Mike Coffman to challenge Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado. If he stays put in the House, that gives the GOP a crop of candidates who could have a harder time in what will be one of Republicans’ few offensive opportunities in 2016.  

Coffman will have breakfast Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will surely make the case to convince the four-term lawmaker to try and join him across the rotunda. Asked about recruitment efforts, Coffman quipped, "Pressure, pressure, pressure."  

Heck Close to Senate Bid

Updated 9:38 a.m. | Rep. Joe Heck has told some Nevada Republicans he is close to deciding to run for Senate, a source told CQ Roll Call Tuesday, and the conversations have prompted speculation among Nevada Republicans that an announcement could come sooner rather than later.  

Heck would be a top recruit for Republicans looking to take the seat being vacated by Sen. Harry Reid. The congressman had initially said he would not run, but recently declared he was reconsidering.  

Sittenfeld Will Not Exit Ohio Senate Primary (Updated)

Updated 1:39 p.m. | Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld declared Thursday he would stay in the Ohio Democratic Senate primary, despite efforts by supporters of former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to convince him to drop out.  

"I have come here today to affirm my candidacy and to explain my campaign," Sittenfeld said Thursday morning, according to prepared remarks. Sittenfeld, 30, and Strickland, 73, are vying to challenge Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Strickland, who served four nonconsecutive terms in Congress and one term as governor, is regarded by Democrats as the overwhelming front-runner for the nomination.  

Russ Feingold Announces Senate Bid

Former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold announced Thursday he will run for his old Wisconsin seat.  

"Today, I'm pleased to announce that I'm planning to run for the United States Senate in 2016," Feingold said in an announcement video posted Thursday morning.  

Sittenfeld Will Not Exit Ohio Senate Primary (Updated)

Updated 1:39 p.m. | Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld declared Thursday he would stay in the Ohio Democratic Senate primary, despite efforts by supporters of former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland to convince him to drop out.

“I have come here today to affirm my candidacy and to explain my campaign,” Sittenfeld said Thursday morning, according to prepared remarks.

A Silver State Waiting Game

The news Republican Rep. Joe Heck could run for the now-open Nevada Senate seat has shifted the landscape in the Silver State.  

Since Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced his retirement, Heck has said he is reconsidering his earlier declaration he would not get in the race. By all accounts, he would be one of the strongest candidates on the Republican side.  

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Backing Van Hollen

Updated 11:31 a.m. | Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend won't run for Senate, and instead is endorsing Rep. Chris Van Hollen's bid.  

The eldest of former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy's children had been publicly considering a bid for the open Maryland seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski. Late last month, she told The Washington Post running for the seat was her "dream," but said she was "still working on putting things together and making a decision."  

DSCC Endorses Murphy in Florida

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy for Senate Monday, perhaps trying to head off a primary as a second candidate prepares to enter the race.  

Murphy announced his candidacy last month for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. With his fundraising prowess and proven ability to win in a swing district, he has long been perceived as the favorite of national Democrats. "Patrick Murphy is one of our party’s most promising rising stars, and his track record of fighting for Florida’s working families, seniors, and the environment make him the strongest candidate to win the Florida Senate race and flip this seat," DSCC Chairman Jon Tester said in a statement.  

Van Hollen, Edwards Square Off in First Maryland Senate Race Debate

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Maryland Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen faced off for the first time Sunday, showcasing sharply different styles as they vie for the Democratic nomination for Senate.  

Speaking here in an office park at a forum hosted by the National Organization for Women, the two candidates running to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski touched on issues of women's health, economic inequality, trade and violence. Van Hollen, a white man, and Edwards, a black woman, spoke before a women's group after a week in which racial tensions in Baltimore overwhelmed the national conversation, a fact of which both were keenly aware.  

Sanders Lays Out Blueprint for Presidential Bid

Railing against the influence of money in politics, Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders laid out a blueprint for a presidential campaign in his first press conference since announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.  

Just steps outside the Capitol, with a wisp of white hair atop his head waving in the wind, Sanders delivered brief remarks to the assembled crowd of reporters, cameramen and a few supporters or bystanders. He took a handful of questions before rushing back inside, just more than 10 minutes after he'd arrived. "The major issue is how do we create an economy that works for all of our people, rather than just millionaires and billionaires," said Sanders, who never uttered the word "president" at the event.  

Baltimore Riots Change Senate Race Conversation

The nascent Maryland Senate race will likely take on a new focus, as the state’s largest city works to heal its wounds following the death of a young black man in police custody and the sometimes violent expressions of anger that followed.  

Maryland Democrats say voters are paying attention to how candidates react to the situation in Baltimore, and looking to see if anyone steps up as a leader as the city tries to move forward from the events of the past 10 days.  

Baltimore Riots Change Senate Race Conversation

The nascent Maryland Senate race will likely take on a new focus, as the state’s largest city works to heal its wounds following the death of a young black man in police custody and the sometimes violent expressions of anger that followed.

Maryland Democrats say voters are paying attention to how candidates react to the situation in Baltimore, and looking to see if anyone steps up as a leader as the city tries to move forward from the events of the past 10 days.

'Mistake' to Oust Hussein, Paul Says in Brooklyn

BROOKLYN — Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told a group of Jewish community leaders here Monday he thinks the United States made an error ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 2003.  

While insisting he is not an isolationist, Paul said, "I think it was a mistake to topple Hussein. Hussein was the bulwark against Iran." He told the group assembled here at the headquarters of Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools that now, "Iraq is a vassal state for Iran."  

Freshman's Campaign Issue Gets D.C. Attention

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally's top local campaign issue will get legislative play on Capitol Hill, just a few months into the vulnerable Republican's first term in Congress.  

McSally wants to preserve funding in the defense budget for the Air Force's A-10 Warthog fleet, the very planes she commanded as the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat. The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, a primary training facility for A-10s, sits squarely in the borders of Arizona's 2nd District and is a crucial part of her community's economy.  

Special-Election Candidate Gets Unlikely Donation

One of the candidates running for the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s Mississippi seat got some help from beyond the grave last month.  

Trent Kelly, the district attorney for the First Circuit Court District, received a $4,000 donation from Nunnelee for Congress. Consultants for the late congressman — including one now working for Kelly — told CQ Roll Call the March 27 donation was made at the behest of Nunnelee’s widow, Tori.  

The 7 Most Interesting First-Quarter Fundraising Facts

Updated April 17, 10:30 a.m. | With roughly a year to go before the first primaries of 2016, fundraising numbers are among the few benchmarks to assess candidate strength.  

A look at first-quarter reports — which were due to the Federal Election Commission Wednesday — shows which members are taking re-election bids seriously and also reveals weaknesses.  

The 7 Most Interesting First-Quarter Fundraising Facts

Updated April 17, 10:30 a.m. | With roughly a year to go before the first primaries of 2016, fundraising numbers are among the few benchmarks to assess candidate strength.

A look at first-quarter reports — which were due to the Federal Election Commission Wednesday — shows which members are taking re-election bids seriously and also reveals weaknesses.

Democratic Candidates Are Ready for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Rodham Clinton's candidacy for president became official Sunday, but Democrats already see the down-ballot benefits she brings as the presumptive nominee.  

Staring down Republican majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats have secured recruits in five top Senate contests. At the House level, where the process gets cranking later in the cycle, the party has landed its preferred candidates in a handful of targeted races. As Democrats continue recruiting candidates in other pickup opportunities this cycle, party leaders hope the former secretary of State's candidacy will help motivate even more recruits.