Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reflects on past campaigns in his upcoming memoir. There's no love lost for outside conservative groups inSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's new memoir, which hits bookshelves next week. The Kentucky Republican, always a political strategist, makes the case inThe Long Game that he could have ascended to majority leader earlier if not for forces like the Senate Conservatives Fund. "As more dollars from patriotic Americans rolled in, SCF staff would direct those resources exclusively toward campaigning against the most electable Republicans from the comfort of their townhome on Capitol Hill," McConnell writes, according to excerpts posted by Google Books. Matt Bevin, now Kentucky's governor, fell to McConnell in the 2014 GOP Senate primary.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Fie Photo) "eminiscent of what happened in 2010 in Delaware, Colorado, and Nevada, thanks to groups like SCF, we threw away two seats with unelectable candidates, this time in Missouri and Indiana," McConnell saysof what played out in 2012, when Republicans ended up nominating Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, respectively. The SCF endorsed Matt Bevin for Senate over McConnell in the current majority leader's 2014 re-election bid. Bevin had a second act, as is often the case in Kentucky, and he is now the governor of the commonwealth. The Long Game dedicates time to revisiting the 2014 Senate primary and general election, though in the excerpts posted ahead of the May 31 publication date, much of the focus is on Bevin. McConnell's trusted staff and advisers are named throughout, particularly in the case of the 2014 contest, top political operative Josh Holmes, who McConnell described as "overseeing things" during the primary. McConnell also quotes from what Holmes told The New York Times at the beginning of November 2013 about what was coming. "S.C.F. has been wandering around the country destroying the Republican Party like a drunk who tears up every bar they walk into," Holmes said in that story. "The difference this cycle is that they strolled into Mitch McConnell’s bar and he doesn’t throw you out, he locks the door." The McConnell operationhad tried to warn Bevin against the buzz saw that he would face, to no avail. "He had no political experience, no familiarity with running for office, and no idea what he was walking into," write McConnell. "he day he announced, we were on the air with an ad defining him as Bailout Bevin. He'd received a government loan to help rebuild his family's bell factory in Connecticut, which had been destroyed by a fire, and had written to his clients that he had supported TARP," McConnell writes. "After he criticized me for my role in passing TARP — a role I was proud of given the cost of not acting — I couldn't allow the hypocrisy." The Troubled Asset Relief Program, frequently derided by critics as a bail out for Wall Street banks, initially authorized some $700 billion to purchase illiquid assets like troubled mortgage-backed securities in an effort to avert a financial collapse. McConnellwrites that he toldcampaign staff to focus on a goal of winning each and every one of the 120 counties in Kentucky, and to avoid distractions. "I had planned to follow that advice myself," McConnell writes. "And then, in October of 2013, a few rogue Republicans decided too the shut down the government." In a section of the book that might have been far more interesting given the publication date had a supporter of the standoff like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, become his party's presumptive nominee for president, McConnell recalls the argument against taking a hard line on defunding Obamacare in the fall of 2013. And the majority leader uses one of his most often repeated expressions in the process. "As we say in Kentucky, 'There's no education in the second kick of a mule.' That lesson was lost here because the first kick had come in 1995 when Republicans, under Newt Gingrich, shut down the government for twenty-seven days over federal spending levels," writes McConnell. "And all that achieved was injuring our economy, inconveniencing Americans, and hurting our party." He also writes about the police chase from the gates of the White House to the Capitol complex on the third day of the 2013 shutdown, which ended with a woman named Miriam Careybeing shot and killed by Capitol Police. "We were asking law enforcement in our capital to protect us, when we were going little to protect them. And I had had enough," McConnell wrote of his thoughts after the Carey incident. There's plenty more in the book, which publishing house Penguin RandomHouse describes as, "the candid, behind-the-scenes memoir of a man famous for his discretion. For more than three decades, McConnell has worked steadily to advance conservative values, including limited government, individual liberty, fiscal prudence, and a strong national defense." McConnell does not always talk about his childhood, growing up in Alabama and battling to overcome polio, nor does he talk much of his personal life, which might well make for the most interesting parts of the memoir for close observers of the Republican from Kentucky. For instance,in an excerpt about McConnell's views on then-Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision to allow judicial nominees to be confirmed with fewer votes, McConnell gives a window into what he did after the day was done. He had margaritas with his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "It was utterly depressing to watch what Harry Reid had done to the Senate," McConnell writes. "The day he'd invoked the nuclear option, Elaine called and asked if I wanted to meet for a late dinner at La Loma. She knew how upset I would be, and when I arrived at the restaurant, she was there waiting for me at a table in the back, my margarita ready." La Loma, a Mexican restaurant on the north side of Capitol Hill near the Heritage Foundation building where Chao has been a distinguished fellow, has been a favorite of the couple— dating back to the chicken enchiladas they shared during their courtship. Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.
Rep. Rich Nugent is one of those leaving the House this year. He doesn't want to live out of a suitcase anymore. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) Florida is renowned as a great place to retire. That's exactly what 10 members of its congressional delegation plan to do this year. But they aren't giving up politics together: Four House members are running for the Senate, and another may run for governor. Altogether, nine Florida House members and one senator are retiring this year, driven in part by a dramatic redistricting plan, term limits on chairmanships and, in the case of Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a bid for the White House. That’s a third of the state’s delegation, the highest turnover rate among large states in 2016. Members decide to retire every year, often after the holiday recesses when they’ve been back home, discussing future plans with family. There are many forces at play, however, in the decision of nine House members from the Sunshine State to voluntarily not return to Washington next year. Court-approved redistricting redrew Florida’s congressional map this year, putting some members in districts that would have been tough for them to win come November. That was the case for Florida 2nd District Rep. Gwen Graham. Redistricting made the freshman Democrat’s district much more Republican. She announced in April she was “seriously considering” running for governor in 2018 rather than seeking re-election. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican from the 13th District, was another victim of redistricting. He’s now running in the crowded GOP primary to replaceRubio. Rubio’s decision to vacate his Senate seat to run for president set off retirement dominoes with four House members now competing for his seat. Besides Jolly, 6th District Rep. Ron DeSantis is vying for the Republican nod on Aug. 30. Ninth District Rep. Alan Grayson and 18th District Rep. Patrick Murphy are running for the Democratic nomination. Rubio has repeatedly said since his exit from the presidential race that he wouldn’t be running for a second term. Although, as he joked to reporters last week, he knows he still could: the filing deadline is not until June 24. Another reason members are leaving? Committee chairmanship term limits. The House Republican Conference places term limits on the chairmen of standing committees — once a member's term is up, many don't want to face the prospect of going back to the rank and file. Florida is losing one committee chairman, 1st District Rep. Jeff Miller, who announced his retirement in March. Miller won a 2001 special election and in 2011 became chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. His term would be over at the end of this Congress. Miller has been an outspoken critic of the Department of Veterans Affairs, pressing for reforms at the department. Another long-time member, 4th District GOP Rep. Ander Crenshaw, announced in April he’d be retiring. Crenshaw chairs the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. "Progress is measured in projects completed and lives impacted, and I think we made a difference. Now, it is time to turn the page on this chapter of my life and see what’s next," Crenshaw said in a statement in April. For many members, the draw of family is too alluring to pass up. GOP Rep. Rich Nugent announced in November he’d be leaving at the end of 2016. “After five years of living out of a suitcase … the tug of being apart from family has just become too great,” he said in a statement. The most recently announced exit was last week’s retirementnotice fromRep. Curt Clawson, a Republican from the Fort Myers area. It’s not a guarantee that every member of the delegation who wants to return will make it back to Washington next year. GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo is facing a tough re-election in a district that President Barack Obama twice carried by single-digit margins. Redistricting has since made the his 26th District even more Democratic, and it’s currently rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call. Trying to distance himself from the top of the GOP ticket, Curbelo has said he will not vote for Donald Trump. It’s not just Republicans who could be in trouble. Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, a 12-term member from Jacksonville, will be running in a newly designed district that changes the makeup of her constituency. The new district runs east to west, instead of meandering from Jacksonville south to Orlando as her current district does. All of the departures mean there will be lots of new Floridian faces around the halls of Congress come January.But they won’t all be new to politics. One of the men Rubio beat in the 2010 Senate race, former governor Charlie Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, is likely to win the newly configured Democratic-leaning 13th Congressional District. That seat is currently held by Jolly, who is running for Rubio’s Senate seat. If Crist wins his House race, he’ll join one other ex-governor in the House, Republican Mark Sanford of South Carolina. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who spurned an invitation to testify at a House hearing, will not be permitted to provide an on-the-record statement, the committee ruled at the beginning of a hearing on Monday.
For much of this year, if it's Tuesday, it's been a primary day.
Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland released a "Star Wars"-themed video after an LGBT anti-discrimination measure failed on the House floor. When things didn't go Rep. Steny Hoyer's way on the House floor, he channeled The Force —of video, that is. House Democrats had just lost a contentious vote relating to same-sexdiscrimination, and Hoyer, the House Minority Whip, tweeted a video explaining the debacle with "Star Wars" theme rolling text, and the caption, "The Republican Empire Strikes Back to Allow Discrimination Against LGBT Americans." The Republican Empire Strikes Back to Allow Discrimination Against LGBT Americanshttps://t.co/bZmGhIPNDA — Steny Hoyer (@WhipHoyer) May 19, 2016 The social media post was one of the latest examples of lawmakers using videos to promote theirmessages. And, according to Hoyer's office, it worked. "The LGBT video, in particular, was shared over 2,500 times and reached over 720,000 people so we feel it’s an effective way of reaching Americans with our message," Hoyer's spokeswoman Mariel Saez wrote in an email. And Democrats aren't the only ones turning on the video cameras. The House Republican Conference established a full-time video production unit and in-house studio in 2013, with a renewed emphasis to push the GOP message outside the nation's capital following the Republican loss of its second consecutive presidential election. According to a conference spokesman, it began as a way to help conference members record messages to their constituents. Today, the unit has a full-time staff member and full-time intern. On average, the studio produces 40 lawmakervideo messages a week. The conference also produces videos to promote its members, and highlight some unique aspects of its members through series like "snapshot." A recent video, for example, delved into Wisconsin GOP Rep. Sean Duffy's experience on MTV's "The Real World." "We’ve always focused on letting innovation and new technologies guide us in developing new ways to connect with the American people how and where their conversations happen; and lately that's video content," explained GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. Speaker Paul D. Ryan's office also has its own staff members who work on video production. The Wisconsin Republican's staff has been active on the digital front, posting 99 videos in the six months since Ryan became speaker on his YouTube channel. The videos range from speeches and press conferences to lighter "get to know you" segments, and are all made by the speaker's communications team, led by digital director Caleb Smith. Some of the videos promoting Ryan's "Confident America" slogan even have a campaign-style feel to them, fueling some of the speculation that Ryan was eying the White House, and even prompting a ribbing from Saturday Night Live. But, Ryan's office said the videos are about reaching the American people. "Upon taking this job, Speaker Ryan committed to being a communications speaker," said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong. "An important part of that involves speaking directly to the American people through our digital efforts, including videos. Speaker Ryan’s videos ensure the ‘People’s House’ is open and accessible to everyone." The Senate is also getting in on the action. Senate Republicans snagged Jonathan Gallegos from the House GOP conference, who developed a recent Senate video making the rounds on social media. "Senate Squad," which shows Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walking through the Senate hallway, waving to various Republican senators and listing their accomplishments, has garnered more than 10,000 views in four days. According to a Senate GOP aide, Gallegos discovered the funkymusic, and the video grew from there. The aide explained that Republicans have been sharing their accomplishments with constituents."Sometimes, though, you need a different approach to break through," the aide said. "We wanted to find a unique and even entertaining way to tell the story. That’s why we took a different approach with this particular video. WATCH ⏩ The #GOP Senate is #backtowork for the American people. 🎥👍🏼🇺🇸https://t.co/Ac8OfL7Pah — Leader McConnell (@SenateMajLdr) May 19, 2016 Chris Arterton, a political management professor at George Washington University, was not surprised to hear some offices had hired their own production staff, noting high quality videos will help maintain viewers' attention. "I think the question really is the accessibility of these," Arterton said of the Hoyer and "Senate Squad" videos. "One has to have a pretty extensive social media presence in order to get the attention of people who will look at a video." These sorts of congressional videos, Arterton added, have yet to achieve the reach they need. “This is a nice try but so far we haven't seen one that has hit the mark in terms of gaining any real substantialvisibility that would have any political punch,” he said. Contact Bowman firstname.lastname@example.org follow her on Twitter at @bridgetbhc. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.