Political Wrangling Over 'People's Pledge' in New Hampshire

Ayotte challenged Hassan to a People's Pledge Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the presidential circus having left their backyard, New Hampshire's Senate candidates lost little time this week digging into each other's commitment to limiting spending in what's expected to be one of the most competitive and expensive Senate races in the country.  

Just days after Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic primary with 60 percent of the vote — a presidential race in which he's made campaign finance a big issue against Hillary Clinton — Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte came out with a surprising campaign finance proposal of her own. “Campaigns don't have to be driven by third-party groups — we can change the status quo and take a stand to say that this race should be about New Hampshire," she wrote to her Democratic rival, Gov. Maggie Hassan, in challenging her to sign a "People's Pledge" to limit outside spending in their Senate race.  

NRSC Relishes Making Russ Feingold Eat His Own Words

Feingold supporters plan a fundraiser for him at 201 Bar on Tuesday.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Supporters of Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold's Senate campaign plan to welcome their candidate back to D.C. next week with a fundraiser at 201 Bar — a spot the former lawmaker once cited as a key place where influence is bought and sold.  

Carson's Anti-Gay Stance Stops With Campaign Consultant

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

That Christian conservatives overwhelmingly support White House hopeful Ben Carson shouldn’t surprise anyone — he's been critical of same-sex marriage and once said equating LGBT rights to civil rights "irritated" him.  

And neither, campaign manager Barry Bennett maintains, should Bennett’s ongoing relationship with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist and business partner Mary Cheney.  

Senate Majority PAC Bars Lobbyists From Its Payroll

Menendez's indictment could have sparked changes to a super PAC's code of conduct. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC that supports Democratic Senate candidates, will prohibit federally registered lobbyists from working for the organization, according to a memo obtained by CQ Roll Call.  

Senate Majority PAC says the change is to make the super PAC a leader in campaign finance ethics. But it comes in the wake of the dismissal of a former staffer who was mentioned prominently in Sen. Robert Menendez’s corruption indictment .  

Poll: Democrats Lead in Illinois, Wisconsin Senate Races

Kirk trails his Democratic opponent in Illinois. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP Sens. Mark S. Kirk of Illinois and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin both trail their likely Democratic opponents a little more than a year out from Election Day, according to polling conducted for End Citizens United PAC .  

Kirk trails Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth, 41-45 percent, while Johnson trails his likely Democratic opponent, former Sen. Russ Feingold, 39-47 percent, according to the poll.  

Senate Majority PAC Releases Second Ad Attacking Ayotte at Home

Ayotte, center, is the target of a new ad by a Democratic super PAC. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC that backs Senate Democrats, on Wednesday released its second ad attacking Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the New Hampshire Republican who is a top target in 2016.  

The 30-second spot, which runs through Sept. 17, blasts Ayotte for "helping the Washington special interests, not you," charging the freshman Republican with supporting tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas.  

Edwards Shakes Off Van Hollen's Outside Money Pledge

Edwards is competing against Van Hollen in Maryland's competitive Democratic primary. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On the heels of a fundraising quarter during which she was seriously out-raised by her Democratic rival, Rep. Donna Edwards said Thursday she disagreed with a proposal offered by Rep. Chris Van Hollen to try to keep outside money out of their race to replace outgoing Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.  

Van Hollen’s campaign manager emailed Edwards' campaign manager Thursday morning asking her to join Van Hollen in signing the “Free State Pledge,” a proposal that would require the two campaigns to pay 50 percent of the cost of an outside-financed advertising buy to a charity of the opposing candidate’s choice.  

Exclusive: Senate Majority PAC Announces Senior Staff

Poersch is a senior adviser at Senate Majority PAC. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority PAC will announce Thursday that Stephanie Potter will be executive director for the 2016 cycle, and also will release its senior staff roster.  

Potter, who was political operations director there last cycle, will be joined by a number of Democratic operatives who worked in 2014 at the super PAC, which spends tens of millions of dollars backing Democratic senators and candidates.  

Operative Gets 2 Years in First Campaign-Super PAC Coordination Case (Updated)

Harber worked for a candidate trying to oust Connolly, above, from his Virginia House seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:35 p.m. |  Tyler Harber, a former Republican political operative, was sentenced to two years in prison for his involvement in illegal coordination between a campaign and a super PAC, according to The Washington Post , in the first case of its kind.  

Harber — who pleaded guilty to the charges in February — is the first political operative to go down for an illegal coordination violation, according to federal prosecutors. Those prosecutors lobbied for a harsh punishment to try to deter others from engaging in similar activities.  

Democrats Frustrated by Unions' Cash Freeze Over 'Fast Track'

Richard Trumka is president of the AFL-CIO, which has frozen campaign contributions to Democrats over a trade bill being debated in Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One of Democrats' best team players on the campaign finance front is playing hardball this cycle, withholding campaign cash over a package of trade bills being debated in Congress.  

The AFL-CIO, along with some public sector unions, announced a campaign finance freeze in March. Unions hoped the threat of withholding contributions would scare Democratic lawmakers out of supporting President Barack Obama's Trade Promotion Authority, or "fast track," to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a trade agreement labor groups say would hurt manufacturing jobs in the U.S.