Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 23, 2014

June 24, 2014

Friends to the End — Can Congressional Leaders Overcome?

Never mind what that bitter old grump President Harry Truman said about folks in Washington having to turn to pets for genuine affection.

A chain of obviously uncomfortable congressional leaders Tuesday proved once again that friendship is the only ship you just can’t sink.

The question is: who embodies the spirit of camaraderie better?

House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.; and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., gently swaying together during the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony?

Or Girl Scout Troop 16108 from Eden Prairie, Minn.?

We choose to believe they’re all besties.

White House Intern Faints at Press Briefing (Video)

A White House intern fainted at the end of a press briefing Tuesday, one day after Press Secretary Josh Earnest took over the position Jay Carney held for three years.

According to the White House pool report, it was the intern’s first day on the job.

Wisconsin Candidate Goes to Bat With Baseball Ad

As members of Congress suit up for the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, one congressional candidate is using America’s pastime to appeal to voters.

Wisconsin state Rep. Duey Stroebel is running in a contested Republican primary in the state’s 6th District, which was vacated when Rep. Tom Petri, R-Wis., announced his retirement.

Stroebel showcased his family in the 30-second spot released last week, and said he and his wife have used baseball to teach their children important life lessons. Full story

Vulnerable Members Hope There’s a Next Year for Their Congressional Baseball Careers

Vulnerable Members Hope There’s a Next Year for Their Congressional Baseball Careers

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“Play every game as if it was your last,” says every manager worth his weight in sunflower seeds. And for a handful of members, the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game will be their last if they don’t win re-election later this year.

“This can’t be my last game. I still have at least a dozen hometown high school jerseys I need to wear,” joked Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell. After knocking off long-time Democratic Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark in California’s 15th District in 2012, Swalwell was vulnerable to a challenge from another aspiring Democrat.

Swalwell caught a break in the primary earlier this month, though, and now the 33-year-old, one-time soccer recruit at the University of Maryland is the prohibitive favorite in the fall in a very Democratic Bay Area district.

Other members aren’t quite as fortunate.

Illinois Republican Rep. Rodney Davis is in the middle of the trifecta of congressional danger. He fended off a well-funded primary challenger in March, but is now one of Democrats’ top general election takeover targets. Even more challenging is the fact that he must face Democrats’ star pitcher, Louisiana Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, in the quest for the coveted Roll Call trophy.

Even though Davis went 0-for-2 against Richmond last year, a re-election loss by the 44-year-old No. 3 hitter to former Madison County Judge Ann Callis in the 13th District would be a blow to the Republican squad.

“I might have to leave practice a little early for an event, but that happens regardless of whether you’re in a competitive race or not,” Davis explained. “Rand Paul is playing and practically running for president,” he said with a laugh, talking about Kentucky’s junior senator/outfielder.

Rep. Jack Kingston is giving up his Georgia House seat to run for Senate. “I probably need practice more than anyone out there,” Kingston said. “Fortunately, most of the guys know what I’m going through.” He finished second in the GOP primary a month ago, and faces businessman David Perdue in the runoff a month from now. If he wins the nomination, Kingston will face a competitive general election against Democrat Michelle Nunn.

“[The game] is a great diversion from the barbecues, phone calls, debates and forums,” Kingston said.

A handful of other members face re-election races of varying degrees of difficulty.

Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is in the middle of a competitive primary with Weston Wamp, son of former Rep. Zach Wamp — a one-time shortstop of the Republican team and the 2013 inductee into the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame. Fleischmann defeated Weston Wamp in the 2012 primary, but they’ll face off again on Aug. 7.

GOP Rep. Steve Pearce represents a growing Hispanic population in New Mexico’s 2nd District. His opponent, former Eddy County Commissioner Roxanne “Rocky” Lara, raised more than $700,000 through the end of March and has been named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program, but Pearce is still favored to win at this point.

Rep. Bill Johnson is also favored to win his race with former Democratic state legislator Jennifer Garrison, but his Ohio district is competitive. For now, his biggest challenge might be Richmond.

“I’ve never had a chance to come to the plate against him,” Johnson said. “I’m looking forward to having that chance this year.” Johnson has been a part of the Republicans’ “fielding team” in the past, but he should get some at-bats this year when the GOP squad shifts its strategy away from equal playing time for all.

At least one member is playing in his first and likely last game. Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister was elected to Congress in a November special election, and is waffling on whether he’ll seek re-election after a scandal.

California Rep. David Valadao made his congressional baseball debut in 2013. He is not playing in this year’s game, but an aide said the GOP congressman’s tough re-election contest was not a deciding factor. His opponent, Democrat and former Debbie Stabenow chief of staff Amanda Renteria, played softball at Stanford University and could be a force in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game — and potentially the baseball game, if she wins in November.

On the Democratic side, it looks like manager Mike Doyle will have his winning roster largely intact for at least another three years. One of Doyle’s best players should also be one of his most vulnerable, but Republicans failed to recruit a top-tier challenger against Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy.

“Nothing in life is easy or guaranteed, except when Cedric Richmond is on the mound,” Murphy said, comparing baseball to running for re-election. “Campaigning is definitely more challenging, but the game is something I look forward to.” Murphy has proved to be a prolific fundraiser and he is one of a handful of Democrats endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Rep. Timothy H. Bishop could be vulnerable, depending on the outcome of the incredibly bitter Republican primary in New York’s 1st District. And Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz starts as the heavy favorite over Republican state Assemblyman Brian Nestande in California’s 36th District.

Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is in a competitive race for the Senate, but he bowed out of this year’s game with an apparent shoulder injury.

For weeks, both teams have been battling weather and election calendars in order to practice. “I missed two weeks because of the primary,” Doyle said. He won with 84 percent and resisted the temptation to donate to Keystone State colleague Bill Shuster’s tea-party-fueled primary challenger. Shuster, usually a solid Republican hitter, won his primary with 53 percent.

Doyle has experienced the pain of losing good players to electoral defeat (Ohio Rep. John Boccieri in the 2010 wave, in particular), but is enjoying his talented roster and superstar players because it wasn’t always this way.

“I lived through the Steve Largent years,” Doyle said.

Get your tickets to the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

 

Related:

Congressional Baseball Game Helps D.C. Adults Get Second Chance at Washington Literacy Center

Joseph Crowley Savors Diamond Memories From Congressional Baseball Games

The Updated Staffer Guide to the Congressional Baseball Game

Bart Stupak Scraps His Way to Congressional Baseball Hall Of Fame

 

DC Toques Mix Things Up for Charity

Local tastemakers are scheduled to take a crack at custom cocktail creation Thursday during a “Chefs Behind Bars” fundraiser benefitting Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

The debut competition is expected to take over the Liaison Capitol Hill’s rooftop deck (415 New Jersey Ave. NW) from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tickets to the glitzy evening — admission is $40 per person, and includes featured cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres — may be purchased via NoKidHungry.org/Events.

Chefs tasked with whipping up crowd-pleasing tipples include:

  • Alba Osteria’s Amy Brandwein (anticipated contribution: “Peaches & Herbs,” blending together peaches, infused whiskey and herbs)
  • Art and Soul’s Wes Morton
  • Bar Pilar’s Jesse Miller
  • Bibiana’s Nick Stefanelli
  • Cave Mezze’s Dmitri Moshovitis (anticipated contribution: “Melåni,” muddling together Grey Goose vodka, harissa syrup, St-Germain liqueur, lemon, mint and squid ink syrup)
  • Liberty Tavern/Lyon Hall/Northside Social’s Matt Hill
  • Pabu’s Jonah Kim
  • Sunnyside Restaurant Group founder Spike Mendelsohn (anticipated contribution: “Diamond Brady,” a gin-oyster shot spiked with chili-infused bourbon, sherry vinegar and brined egg yolk)

The chefs will be competing for both critical approval (seasoned drinks slingers Derek Brown, Gina Chersevani and Duane Sylvester will join a handful of restaurant writers in passing judgment) as well as general love (people’s choice award). Full story

June 23, 2014

Rangel Rap Ain’t All That

Rep. Charles B. Rangel has released a career-recapping rap ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

The last-minute attempt at shoring up the New York Democrat’s street cred isn’t completely terrible.

Yes, the background remains frozen on the campaign’s dull but clearly needed get-out-the-vote instructions rather than flipping through, say, nostalgic images of Rangel’s four decades on Capitol Hill. And the lyrics — main chorus: “If you gonna vote, you gonna vote for da Rangel/Charlie-Charlie-Charlie Rangel!” — could sound a bit more inspired. (Team Rangel did not respond to emails seeking information as to who penned and performed the supportive ditty.)

But the background chimes are hauntingly beautiful. And the song is jam-packed with information about Rangel’s upbringing, military exploits and political accomplishments.

Still, the jingle lacks the grittiness of the anthemic rhymes Memphis-based rapper Al Kapone spit for then-House hopeful Dr. George Flinn (the aspiring politico is attempting to knock off Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., this time around) during the previous cycle.

Full story

Bob Casey Wants FIFA to Strip Qatar of 2022 World Cup

Bob Casey Wants FIFA to Strip Qatar of 2022 World Cup

Casey wants FIFA to strip the World Cup from Qatar. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

As the U.S. national team prepares to take on Germany Thursday to qualify for the knockout stage of the World Cup, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., wants soccer’s governing body to take the 2022 tournament away from Qatar.

“I’m urging FIFA to remove the cloud that hangs over the 2022 World Cup and swiftly reallocate this event,” Casey said in a Monday letter to FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter, adding that the United States conveniently stands ready to host.

Casey, chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, cited  labor practices and allegations of corruption and bribery as reasons to strip the tournament from the Gulf state monarchy.  Full story

Bill Maher’s #FlipADistrict Project Enters Final Countdown

Bill Mahers #FlipADistrict Project Enters Final Countdown

Coffman, left, and Walorski are two of the House Republicans targeted in the Bill Maher ‘Flip a District’ project. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

There are just two chances left to nominate House GOP lawmakers for ousting at the hands of HBO’s Bill Maher.

The political comedian announced during the June 20 “Real Time With Bill Maher” that he has added Republican Reps. Tim Walberg of Michigan and freshman Jackie Walorski of Indiana to his list of incumbents who might be vulnerable in the November midterm elections.

Full story

Trey Gowdy Does His Best Don Rickles With Boehner Joke

Trey Gowdy Does His Best Don Rickles With Boehner Joke

Gowdy, right, needles colleagues Boehner, Graham and Harris. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Who knew Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., was so deft with a punchline (admittedly, a pretty corny one)?

The former prosecutor had the audience at Maryland GOP’s Red, White and Blue dinner last week howling over a shaggy-dog tale featuring fellow Republicans Speaker John A. Boehner, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Andy Harris in heaven.

Here’s a transcript of the joke, currently getting a lot of attention on YouTube:

“Before we talk about how to win again — and I know this is the first time I’ve met many of you and it’s socially inappropriate to share the details of a dream with a group that you’ve just met. I don’t know how many of you have a background in psychiatry or psychology, but I did, I had a horrible dream last night. If you’d give me just a couple of minutes I’d love to share it with you and if any of you can interpret it, that’d be great too.

“In my dream John Boehner, Lindsey Graham and Andy Harris all tragically died and, and went to heaven the same day. It can happen, I guess. Two of ‘em for sure. I think, I think it was a lightning bolt hitting a golf cart but I am not for sure how they died.

“But I know that they got to heaven and St. Peter said, “Look, I know you’re big shots on earth but there are rules up here. You need to follow the rules or there are going to be consequences.” Well Speaker Boehner was the first person to break the rules in heaven. He broke into a CVS to steal some cigarettes and some tanning lotion.  It’s my dream, it happened. Trust me, I’m a lawyer.

“So in my dream I see John Boehner and he is chained to Nancy Pelosi with a ten-foot long chain. And in a voice as loud as thunder I hear, ‘John Boehner you violated the rules of heaven and this is your punishment for all of eternity.’

“And then I see Lindsey Graham. And Lindsey’s running around in heaven, wanting to know where John McCain is. I’m not going to get into why McCain wasn’t there. That’s up to somebody else but in my dream, in my dream, Senator Graham was chained to Roseanne Barr with a five-foot, a five-foot long chain. And a voice as loud as thunder I hear, ‘Lindsey Graham you have violated the rules of heaven and this is your punishment for all of eternity.’

“And this is where I get emotional because Andy’s a friend. Andy’s a friend but in my dream I see Dr. Andy Harris and he is chained with a five-foot long chain to the former supermodel Cindy Crawford. And in a voice as loud as thunder I hear, ‘Cindy Crawford you have violated the rules — ‘ [interrupted by laughter]

Marion Barry Discusses His Book, the Blues and Yogurt

Marion Barry Discusses His Book, the Blues and Yogurt

Barry, seen here at a 2009 rally, has thoughts about healthy diets and the Clinton marriage. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Marion Barry told reporters at a local restaurant he’s not afraid of their questions, as long as they read his book first.

The D.C. councilmember and former mayor is on a book tour promoting “Mayor for Life,” which he describes as “very honest.”

“I have no fear of being around reporters,” Barry told the group of roughly 20 journalists on June 20. “The only thing I ask you all to do, read the book first. … It’s the truth: the good, the bad, the ugly.”

While the reporters sat down to a dinner at Look Supper Club on K Street, a singles mixer occurred on the other side of a thin curtain. With the chattering of small talk and music, there was some confusion throughout the night as Barry and the journalists strained to hear above the noise.

At one point, the four-term former mayor was asked about the proposed yoga tax in D.C., but he thought the reporter said “yogurt,” which prompted a passionate defense of the snack.

Full story

By Bridget Bowman Posted at 1:28 p.m.
Books, DC

June 22, 2014

House Republicans’ Happy Marriage | Capitol Quip

House Republicans Happy Marriage | Capitol Quip

House Republicans have chosen a new majority leader and whip, setting up a more stable leadership team for the remainder of the 113th Congress. Right? That brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.

Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.

To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7:05 p.m.
Capitol Quip

A Brat in the House? | Capitol Quip

A Brat in the House? | Capitol Quip

Thanks to the many readers who contributed captions for last week’s Capitol Quip contest. Here’s the winning entry, as voted by readers of Heard on the Hill.

The winner will receive a signed color print suitable for framing from Roll Call cartoonist R. J. Matson. Check out our past winners on Pinterest.

By Jason Dick Posted at 7 p.m.
Capitol Quip

Bart Stupak Scraps His Way to Congressional Baseball Hall Of Fame (Video)

Bart Stupak Scraps His Way to Congressional Baseball Hall Of Fame (Video)

Stupak plays first base as the Democrats practice at Brentwood Park in 2010. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Some ballplayers rack up win after win from the pitcher’s mound. Others bash hit after hit. Managers capture the coveted Roll Call trophy and put it on display in their offices. Any of these career paths can lead to recognition and honors.

But what about the low-key player who, over the course of 14 years, out-pitches his more celebrated teammates, wins an MVP award for his defensive prowess, changes the way pitchers are handled — and is the only player to ever strike out a Hall of Famer? One man has accomplished all of the above, and for that we have selected former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., as the 2014 inductee into the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame.

Full story

June 21, 2014

Joseph Crowley Savors Diamond Memories From Congressional Baseball Games

Joseph Crowley Savors Diamond Memories From Congressional Baseball Games

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle — or “Coach Doyle,” as he’s deferentially called by colleagues — doesn’t want to see anybody get hurt at the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

That’s a good thing for a team of amateur athletes with an average age far past that of a professional ballplayer in his prime, and perhaps especially good for Rep. Joseph Crowley.

“I’ve been hurt twice in the last three seasons,” the New York Democrat readily admitted. “I’ve been hurt at the game. Typically, it’s pulling a muscle.

“We’re so psyched,” Crowley explained. “The adrenaline’s pumping. You’re running from votes, you’re changing in the car, you’re running into the stadium. There’s no time to warm up, the game starts. You’re just, like, pumping. All those people there!”

He paused and smiled. “It’s a really, really cool thing.”

Crowley, the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus when he’s not manning first base, played in his first Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game in 1999, as a freshman lawmaker. He’s seen a lot and has a humble idea of his place in the scheme of things. “The second year, I remember I was out in the outfield, and I didn’t have my cleats that morning, and I was shagging a fly ball,” he recalled. “The field was so wet and dewy, I just lost my feet completely. Bang! Right smack on my back. And I got up and I said, ‘Why am I doing this? I don’t know why I’m doing this.’”

Crowley uses the word “hate” for anyone who’s a standout player, and “jealous” for anyone who competes to play first base. The latter point has been the source of a rivalry between him and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.

But despite his somewhat imposing stature and gruff baritone, Crowley is quick with a laugh and his eyes twinkle when he’s talking trash — a sign he takes it all in stride.

Some of Crowley’s favorite memories? “I enjoyed watching the Weiner years,” said Crowley of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, a fellow New York Democrat and Mets fan.

Crowley’s nicknamed the Democrats’ star pitcher, Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana, “Franchise” and calls freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy of Florida, “Franchise 2.” Murphy, Crowley said, is “like a gazelle” on the field.

He says his favorite moment inside the diamond was in 2012, the same day the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.

“Folks made signs out in the field,” Crowley said. “‘Supreme Court 1, Republicans Nothing.’ Something like that.”

Was there ever a low-point in his congressional baseball career?

“Yeah,” Crowley said, trying to deadpan but ultimately bursting out laughing. “The day Steve Largent struck me out my only time at bat. I said, ‘I’m never gonna be here again!’ ”

The Oklahoma Republican who’s in two halls of fame — pro football’s and the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game’s — made him look silly. “I was there at the plate, and he threw a ball, and I fouled it off. And he threw another ball, and it was a ball. And he threw another ball, it was a strike, and I knew it was coming, and all I could do was look at it. And I watched it. It was a beautiful pitch, it was a curveball over the plate, and I remember thinking: ‘That guy is such a great athlete. I hate him.’

“But that was 15, 16 years ago,” Crowley shrugged. “Every year is a new beginning. I’m hoping to hit it out soon.”

Get your tickets to the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

 

Related:

Republican and Democratic team rosters for the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game

Congressional Baseball Game Helps D.C. Adults Get Second Chance at Washington Literacy Center

 

 

June 20, 2014

Congressional Hits and Misses: Week of June 16 (Video)

As summer approaches, members turned to flavored e-cigarettes, arithmetic and CIA analysts on acid to make it through the heat of the week.

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