Stephanie Akin

Trickle-down equality: More women in Congress means less sexism for staffers
Staffers say they benefit when female lawmakers call out casual sexism on the Hill

Women in Congress have been getting attention recently for calling out casual sexism on the Hill — and female staffers say it’s making their jobs easier.

California Rep. Katie Hill told a male colleague she didn’t appreciate his sexual innuendo on the House floor. Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild tweeted that a different male lawmaker had tried to “mansplain” her own bill to her. And CNN reported on female lawmakers who had been greeted “Hey, beautiful” by male members of Congress, looked “up and down” by men in the hallways on Capitol Hill, or mistaken for staff members or spouses. 

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver preparing run for Senate
Would face Luján in primary for seat being vacated by Udall retirement

New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is “gearing up” for a run for the state's open Senate seat, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

She plans to make an announcement this month, said Heather Brewer, Toulouse Oliver's campaign manager for her 2018 campaign for secretary of state.   

EMILY’s List eyes Texas Senate race amid Castro speculation
Pro-abortion rights group is in talks with three potential female candidates

Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro is considering jumping into the Texas Senate race, but he might not have the primary to himself if EMILY’s List gets its way. 

The influential group, which backs female Democrats who support abortion rights, is in talks with three potential candidates: Air Force veteran MJ Hegar, who lost a House race in 2018;  Houston City Council member Amanda Edwards; and former state Sen. Wendy Davis. 

Rep. Ben Ray Luján officially announces New Mexico Senate bid
Luján is expected to be a front-runner in the race for Tom Udall’s seat

Ben Ray Luján officially announced his plans to run for the Senate Monday, ending a week of speculation over whether the New Mexico Democrat would give up his position as a rising star in House leadership for a rare shot an open seat. 

“There’s been a lot of speculation over the last week, so I wanted you to hear it directly from me,“ Luján said in a video posted to Twitter Monday morning. “I’m running to be your next United States Senator.”

There are only 4 Latino senators. Will more be joining them after 2020?
Playing field for Latino Senate candidates shifted after developments in Arizona and New Mexico

Activists looking to increase the number of Latino senators are regrouping this week after an Arizona congressman they had backed passed on a Senate run and a seat in plurality-Hispanic New Mexico opened up.

The parallel developments changed the playing field but ultimately kept alive hopes there will be more Hispanic representation in the Senate after the 2020 elections.

Nebraska abuzz about Sen. Ben Sasse’s future
The retirement of the University of Nebraska’s president sparks speculation

Nebraska’s political world has seized on the idea that Sen. Ben Sasse could be tapped to replace the departing president of the University of Nebraska, potentially creating an open seat in the solidly Republican state, according to local news reports. 

Latino Victory Fund wants to draft Ben Ray Luján for Senate in New Mexico
Influential House Democrat is among a long list of potential candidates

A political action committee that works to recruit Hispanic candidates across the country is putting its weight behind Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Luján for the newly open Senate seat in New Mexico.

The Latino Victory Fund announced its “Run, Ben Ray, Run!” digital campaign Wednesday in an exclusive release to Roll Call.

Challengers circle as Democrats work to hold key suburban Chicago seats
In changing districts, Republicans plot path to regaining longtime turf

Updated 3:36 p.m. | Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood had been fielding questions from a mostly friendly audience at a recent town hall when she was confronted with a challenge.   

Which was worse, a man who identified himself as Robert from Woodstock, asked the freshman lawmaker — the yearbook photo showing her “Democratic colleague,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, wearing blackface, or his position “in favor of infanticide?”

Utah bill would give primary voters less say on who appears on special election ballots
Measure is latest development in yearslong struggle over party nomination process

Utah voters would have fewer opportunities to weigh in on candidates to fill certain congressional seats under legislation that quietly passed the state Legislature this week. 

The bill, which has yet to be signed by the governor and has so far received little attention from local media, would change the process by which candidates appear on primary ballots in special elections to replace House members who resign in the middle of their terms. For those elections, only candidates nominated by delegates from either party would be able to run. Candidates would not be able to make the ballot by petitioning voters. 

Dan Lipinski demurs on LGBTQ bill, Marie Newman pounces
Illinois congressman is only House Democrat not co-sponsoring Equality Act

When House Democrats introduced a signature measure this week that would extend civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, only one from their ranks was missing from the long list of co-sponsors — Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski. His likely primary challenger was watching. 

Marie Newman, who is exploring another progressive bid to unseat the eight-term lawmaker, drew attention to Lipinski’s apparent lack of support for the measure, dubbed HR 5, in a fundraising email Thursday. 

‘Zombie’ spending marches on as HR 1 faces Senate death, complaint says
Measure would address alleged misuse of campaign accounts after lawmakers leave office

As the Senate prepares to face off in the coming weeks over House Democrats’ sweeping political ethics overhaul bill, a provision aimed to curtail so-called “Zombie” campaign spending is getting renewed attention. 

That’s the use of campaign money to pay for personal expenses after a lawmaker has left office. And it’s the subject of two Federal Elections Commission complaints filed this week involving former Republican lawmakers, Florida’s Ander Crenshaw and Georgia’s John Linder

A group that wants to topple Mitch McConnell joins efforts to recruit Amy McGrath
Former Marine fighter pilot is seen as rising Democratic star despite unsuccessful 2018 House bid

An advocacy group devoted to toppling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is joining Democrats’ efforts to recruit Amy McGrath to run for his Kentucky Senate seat. 

The left-leaning Ditch Mitch Fund said in a press release Tuesday that it had collected donations from 50 states and the District of Columbia in the 24 hours since The (Louisville) Courier-Journal first reported that the group had created a draftamy.com website to encourage McGrath to enter the race.  McGrath is a retired Marine fighter pilot who is seen as a rising star in the party in spite of her unsuccessful bid last cycle against Republican Rep. Andy Barr in Kentucky’s 6th District. 

Governors vs. senators: Hickenlooper, Inslee will test old theory
Democrats are desperate to beat Trump, but do previous measures of experience still matter?

With the entrance of John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee into the crowded 2020 presidential contest,  Democrats are set to test once again the conventional wisdom that governors make better candidates than senators.

On the surface, it looks like the rules have changed with the odds stacked against the two. Hickenlooper, a former governor of Colorado, and Inslee, the current governor of Washington, are up against a wealth of hopefuls from the Senate, many with national profiles and a demonstrated ability to raise serious amounts of cash. The winner will have to face off against President Donald Trump, who defied political wisdom when he won in 2016 in spite of his inexperience and unconventional campaign.

Republicans, seeing opportunities in the suburbs, advance paid leave plans
Current GOP proposals on tap in Congress could be the first of many in 2020 cycle

Democrats have dominated discussions surrounding parental leave for decades. But Republicans are now poised to introduce a raft of new proposals in the coming weeks, reflecting the party’s effort to win back the suburban women it lost in the midterms.

Lawmakers working on new legislation include Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri, Roll Call has confirmed.

Carolyn Maloney pledged to wear a firefighters’ jacket until her 9/11 bill passes. Then she left it in her office
Congresswoman is seeking permanent compensation fund for 9/11 victims

On any other day, the royal blue blazer that Rep. Carolyn Maloney wore as she strode into the Capitol on Tuesday morning would have been an unremarkable choice.  

But this happened to be less than 24 hours after the New York Democrat stood in front of a microphone in a bulky, black fireman’s jacket and pledged that it would be her uniform until Congress passes a bill that would aid 9/11 responders. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s call for a ‘living wage’ starts in her office
New York Democrat will pay staffers no less than $52,000 a year

Claudia Pagon Marchena, like so many Hill staffers, moonlighted at a Washington, D.C., eatery to pay her rent until she took a job with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She celebrated her last day at her coffee shop job that same week.

That’s because Ocasio-Cortez, who has called on fellow lawmakers to pay their staffs a “living wage,” is making an example out of her own office. The New York Democrat has introduced an unusual policy that no one on her staff will make less than $52,000 a year — an almost unheard of amount for many of the 20-somethings whose long hours make House and Senate offices run.

‘You took off our Post-its?’ Capitol Hill officials tell Ocasio-Cortez to move her sticky notes
Capitol Hill officials complained they blocked a name plaque by the door, according to N.Y. Democrat’s office

The brightly colored sticky notes that for weeks have marked the entrance to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ Cannon Building office have been removed after Capitol Hill officials complained they blocked a name plaque by the door, according to the New York Democrat’s staff.

The move apparently came as a surprise to Ocasio-Cortez, who returned to her office as an aide was busily moving the notes to a wall inside. “You took off our Post-its?” she exclaimed.

House Democrats to consider publishing internal caucus rules ‘in short order’
Progressive groups have called out secrecy surrounding how Democrats govern themselves

House Democrats will consider making public their internal party rules after pressure from outside groups who say such a move would exemplify the party’s “commitment to open government.” 

“We believe in transparency and accountability,” Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries wrote Thursday in a letter obtained by Roll Call, “and in that spirit, this issue will be presented to the Caucus for consideration in short order.” 

Elizabeth Warren planned fanfare, but instead she’s getting panned
Warren’s anticipated 2020 campaign rollout overshadowed by reports renewed criticism over Native American heritage claim

Elizabeth Warren planned to spend the week gearing up for a “big announcement,” in her home state of Massachusetts followed by a ceremonial tour of Iowa.

Instead, she has been overwhelmed yet again with criticism about her claims of Native American heritage. It is the latest in a series of unforced errors that have destabilized Warren, as she attempts to roll out one of the most highly anticipated presidential campaigns in a competitive Democratic field. 

No ‘material impact’ of foreign interference in 2018 elections, Trump administration finds
Report is second to probe foreign meddling in midterms

A Trump administration report found “no material impact of foreign interference,” in the 2018 elections, the Department of Justice announced Tuesday. 

The report, by Acting Attorney General Matthew G. Whitaker and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen, is classified. But a Department of Justice press release said it, “concluded there is no evidence to date that any identified activities of a foreign government or foreign agent had a material impact on the integrity or security of election infrastructure or political/campaign infrastructure used in the 2018 midterm elections for the United States Congress. ”