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Hotline's Wake-Up Call! / WAKE-UP CALL

Embattled GOP Rep. Challenging Cornyn: Hotline's Wake-Up Call! - Brought to You by Harvard's PIFS

December 10, 2013

Wake-Up Call! is Hotline's daily morning briefing on campaigns and elections. Click here to subscribe.


  • Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX), "a conservative firebrand who has been dogged by ethical questions and campaign debt, withdrew as a candidate" for reelection on Monday "and instead filed as a Republican challenger" to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). "The filing gives Cornyn the tea party challenge ... that he long sought to avoid in a state where the GOP electorate has moved increasingly to the right." (Houston Chronicle)
  • Since the summer, Republicans in Washington and Louisiana have been quietly pooling their resources to launch a coordinated attack against Sen. Mary Landrieu (D). The effort, which will be known as Project: Geaux Red, will formally launch in February in Baton Rouge and effectively means that the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the state GOP will operate from the same playbook. (National Journal Daily)
  • In IL GOV, businessman Bruce Rauner (R) debuted 7 new 15-second TV ads, two of which are running on TV presently, and is asking voters to decide which ad should be the next one on the air. (Hotline reporting)
  • The NRCC is launching radio ads against Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA), Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), tying them "to the bungled Obamacare rollout." (Politico)
  • Polls are open in the MA-05 Special until 8 p.m. State Sen. Katherine Clark (D), the heavy favorite, "has already been contacted by the ... House clerk about a swearing-in Thursday." (Boston Globe)
  • In the AL-01 Special, 2010 GOV candidate Bradley Byrne (R) "his final ad ... before next week's election." (Politico)
  • In NE-02, Omaha City Councilman Pete Festerson (D) announced Monday he was ending his campaign for family reasons. (Hotline reporting)
  • In TX-33, 2012 candidate Domingo Garcia (D) did not file to challenge Rep. Marc Veasey (D) again next year. (Dallas Morning News)
  • "Five Republicans ... filed to run for the unexpectedly open-seat race" for Stockman's TX-36 prior to Monday's deadline. (Roll Call)
  • In VA-10, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (D) "will launch a campaign this week to unseat" Rep. Frank Wolf (R), "becoming the best-known Northern Virginia Democrat to challenge the veteran Republican lawmaker in many years." (Washington Post)
  • In WV-03, House Majority PAC is running "a 30-second ad defending Rahall against the coal-related line of attack many GOP groups are using." (Politico)
  • In WI-07, Ashland City Council member Kelly Westlund (D) "will announce Tuesday her bid to challenge" to Rep. Sean Duffy (R). (Roll Call)


Hotline editors weigh in on the stories that drive the day

• Now-Sen. Ted Cruz (R) overcame a huge spending disparity last year to score an upset in the GOP primary in Texas, but Stockman faces an even more daunting financial challenge: At the end of September, he had $32,000 cash on hand and $163,00 in debt, while Cornyn had almost $6 million in the bank. With Texas' early primary scheduled for March 4, Stockman has fewer than 3 months to raise enough money to run a credible campaign. Without a huge showing of support from conservative groups, something that is far from a guarantee, Stockman likely will have a very difficult time getting his message out on TV in the expensive Lone Star State.

• Lesson learned: Even less is permanent in politics than we thought. Festersen's NE-02 candidacy was once a symbol of how House Democrats had taken advantage of their political moment a few months ago to make some structural gains that, unlike a polling lead, couldn't be erased. Now he's gone along with Dems' shutdown boomlet, though plenty of other candidates do remain across the map.

• Meanwhile, events Monday shone a light on a possible GOP candidate problem. TX-23 is one of just 9 districts held by a Democrat (Rep. Pete Gallego) and won by Mitt Romney in 2012, and 3 Republicans -- all, including former Rep. Quico Canseco (R), making repeat bids -- filed to run by Monday. But the NRCC continued recruiting efforts in the district after all 3 got in the race earlier this year, suggesting GOP strategists aren't totally sold on their candidates in a top target district.

• Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) political committee, Let's Get to Work, released a web ad Monday attacking former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) for his support of Obamacare, including the image of Crist's now-iconic hug with President Obama. It should come as no surprise that the Affordable Care Act will be at the center of both federal and non-federal races next year. But try as they might to ensnare their Democratic opponents in the health care law's flawed roll out, Scott is one of at least four blue-state Republican governors up for reelection in 2014 -- along with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R), Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) -- who will face criticism over their failure to expand Medicaid in their states. The battle over the implementation of the ACA in the states won't follow as rigid of a playbook as it will in contests for the House and the Senate next year, and the looming debates over the law could be as rocky as the roll out of the law itself.



    "Trenton man sleeps for 10 hours unaware of knife stuck in his back until his brother alerted him" (Newark Star-Ledger)


  • "Celebrating one of his personal heroes," President Obama, speaking Tuesday at a memorial service in Johannesburg, "praised Nelson Mandela as the last great liberator of the 20th century, urging the world to carry on his legacy by fighting inequality, poverty and discrimination." (AP)
  • Obama, "after a rocky year that leaves him at the lowest ebb of his presidency, is bringing into his White House circle" former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta. (New York Times)
  • Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) "underwent surgery Monday to remove his gallbladder, according to his office." (Chicago Sun-Times)
  • Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) "lost about $18 million in a scheme" involving a Reston, Va.-based firm "that loaned customers funds in exchange for securities posted as collateral, his office said on Monday." (Reuters)
  • "A Superior Court judge Monday accepted the major terms of the plea bargain" of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D), "sentencing him to 90 days of home confinement with no jail time. Filner pleaded guilty in October to a felony charge of false imprisonment and two of misdemeanor battery, all involving women." (Los Angeles Times)
  • The lawyer representing Virginia state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R) "in the pending statewide recount in the attorney general race on Monday for the first time openly raised the issue of contesting the election in the General Assembly if the tally does not sway the result" in his favor. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
  • "It's embarrassing. I should have run. I should have run. I should have run, because I would not take this. You would be bleeping out everything that I said, but you know what, at least it would be honest." -- Beverly Young, widow of late Rep. Bill Young (R-FL), on FL-13 candidate/state Rep. Kathleen Peters's (R) campaign sending out an email under the heading of "C.W. Bill Young II". (WTSP)
  • "Christmas Shopping DONE: Behold the Ted Cruz Coloring Book" (Mediaite)
  • "I think he probably will. I mean, he's been on TV hinting that he very well might." -- Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), on whether his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), will run for president in 2016 (CNN)
  • A D.C. "party promoter accused of crashing a 2009 White House state dinner is running" for D.C. mayor. "Carlos Allen announced his candidacy in a new rap song entitled 'D.C. My City.'" (The Hill)
  • "Andrew Cuomo in 2016? Think again" (Politico)
  • Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) "either didn't want to answer a question about an investigation into American deaths in Benghazi or had nothing to say when she was asked a few weeks ago in a public setting. Either way, it didn't look good" in a video that just surfaced. (WMUR-TV)
  • "In [George Washington Bridge] Hearing, 'Aberrant' and 'Illegal' Lane Ploy by Christie Men Draws Fire" (WNYC-FM)
  • PA-09 candidate Art Halvorson (R), who's challenging Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), "called the police on a video tracker Monday who trailed him to a meeting with reporters" at Politico. "Halvorson called 911 and told the dispatcher the man carrying a video camera was 'stalking' him in the building's lobby. Halvorson said he had seen the same individual riding up in the elevator with him from the parking garage before his meeting." (Politico)
  • "In an odd example of Washington's revolving door," former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) "has been hired to lobby for a non-profit group" he "had supported with millions of dollars of federal funding while he was in Congress." (USA Today)
  • 1992 IL SEN nominee Richard Williamson (R), "who played a major role in state Republican politics and served in diplomatic posts for three presidents, died Sunday, state GOP officials said. He was 64." (Chicago Tribune)
  • "Boston University has landed star New York Times media columnist David Carr to fill a new endowed chair dedicated to exploring creative business models to support journalism in the digital era." (Boston Globe)


The NSA's World of Watchcraft


  • A Winter Storm Warning is in effect. (until 2 p.m.)
  • Today's weather, from the National Weather Service: Snow. Total snow accumulation of 4 to 6 inches. Highs in the lower 30s. Northwest winds 5 to 10 mph.
  • The federal government, District government and D.C. schools are all closed Tuesday due to inclement weather.
  • The House is scheduled to reconvene at noon, while the Senate was set to be back at 10 a.m.
  • The Capitals host the Lightning. (Verizon Center, 7 p.m.)
  • Have an event for us to highlight? Email us!


  • Levi Woodbury, Salmon Chase and James Byrnes all served as members of Congress, federal judges and state governors.
  • The winner is Joe Luchok, and here's his Swizzle Challenge: "Who is the only president to study medicine (he did not finish his degree) and under whom did he study?" The 1st correct answer gets to submit the next question.



"If you disagree with someone, that's fine, but I really believe you should do it privately, not so publicly." -- Stockman, criticizing Cornyn for refusing to back Cruz's effort to defund the health care law (


"About 110,000 people contract chlamydia each month, more than signed up for Obamacare. Obamacare is less popular than chlamydia." -- Stockton, on Twitter earlier this year (Daily Beast)

Steven Shepard, Editor-in-Chief

Julie Sobel, Senior Analyst

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