At the Races

Mueller report isn’t changing 2020 campaign dynamics — yet
Conclusions have emboldened some Republicans, but Democrats still aren’t talking about Russia

While some Republicans like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham used the Mueller report to double down on defending Trump, Democrats signaled they’d continue their 2018 focus on economic issues  — and not the Russia investigation — heading into 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As news of the just-completed Russia investigation engulfs Washington, not much has changed on the campaign trail — for either party.

The full report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has yet to see the light of day. And with the 2020 elections more than a year and a half away, plenty could change between now and then. But so far, the calculation on both sides isn’t too different from the past two years.

Ruben Gallego passes on Arizona Senate run
Democrat Mark Kelly is already in the race to take on GOP Sen. Martha McSally

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., is passing on a run for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego has decided not to run for Senate against appointed Republican Sen. Martha McSally.

A spokeswoman for the Phoenix congressman confirmed his decision to Roll Call, and Gallego told The Arizona Republic he was passing on the race to avoid a divisive primary.  

House GOP is down to 13 women. Will North Carolina special elections boost their ranks?
Of the 27 Republicans running in 3rd or 9th districts, seven are women

Women listen to candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 rally in Raleigh, N.C. Seven GOP women are running in the North Carolina special elections this year. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

With two special elections in North Carolina this year, Republicans have a chance to send to Congress some company for West Virginia Rep. Carol Miller, the only female GOP lawmaker in the House freshman class.

The number of Republican women in the chamber is at a new low with just 13 in the 116th Congress, down from 23 the previous session. About 100 GOP women ran for the House in the 2018 cycle, but many of them struggled to get through primaries. 

Capitol Ink | Biden Bracketology

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

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, right, with his wife, Sue, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan at his mock swearing-in ceremony in November 2017. Curtis won his special election after successfully petitioning to get on the GOP primary ballot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., hasn’t signed on to the Equality Act because he says it conflicts with his position on religious liberties. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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. 

NRCC targeting House Democrats on impeachment
Committee is launching new digital ads in all 55 of its target districts

NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer says Democrats need to “definitively state” where they stand on impeachment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee aims to pin House Democrats on the issue of impeaching President Donald Trump through a series of digital ads launching Friday.

The ad campaign is the latest sign that Republicans will try to tie vulnerable Democrats to their more liberal colleagues to win back the House. 

Meet the 12 GOP senators who voted to terminate Trump’s national emergency
Group includes conservatives worried about precedent and a moderate facing a tough re-election

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced Thursday that he would support the effort to terminate President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Twelve Senate Republicans rebuked President Donald Trump on Thursday by voting to block his declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.

The group includes moderate senators — including one up for re-election in 2020 — and conservatives who balked at the president circumventing Congress. Trump declared a national emergency last month after lawmakers failed to appropriate his desired funds for a border wall. (Six of the 12 Republicans who joined every Democratic senator in supporting the resolution serve on the Appropriations Committee.)

Can Republicans make up any ground in New England in 2020?
Only real pickup opportunities for party are in Maine and New Hampshire

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, right, is the only New England Republican left in Congress. Republicans could pick up another seat by defeating New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The prospects for a Republican rebirth in New England in 2020 are dim.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the only New England Republican left in Congress, is likely facing her most competitive re-election next year.

No caucus, no problem? Some freshman Democrats avoid ideological groups
Six new Democrats have not joined caucuses with an ideological focus

Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., center, is one of six freshman Democrats who is not in an ideological caucus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Joining a caucus with like-minded colleagues is a typical ritual for House freshmen, a chance to form alliances with lawmakers in similar wings of their respective parties. 

But it’s not for everyone. A handful of freshman Democrats have opted not to join any of the party’s ideological groups: the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, and the centrist New Democrat Coalition.

DCCC wastes no time launching positive ads on HR 1 passage
Democrats view legislation as key campaign message even if it won't pass the Senate

The DCCC is running positive digital ads in the districts of its 44 Frontline members, including Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath, left, and Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Immediately after the House passed Democrats’ political money, ethics and voting overhaul on a straight party-line vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched digital ads praising the legislation in 44 districts where its incumbents may be facing tough re-elections.

The early digital spending, shared first with Roll Call, underscores how important Democrats view the political optics of HR 1, which is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate. 

Marie Newman gearing up for another primary challenge to Dan Lipinski
Illinois challenger came within 2 points of defeating the longtime Democratic incumbent

Marie Newman is raising money for another possible primary challenge to Illinois Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After falling 2 points short of defeating longtime Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski in a Democratic primary last year, Marie Newman is raising money for a 2020 challenge to the eight-term incumbent. 

“I want you to know the rumors are true: I’m actively exploring another run for Congress,” she wrote in an email to supporters Thursday morning. 

It’s no longer all about Republican primaries for the Club for Growth
The club played in more general elections in 2018 and expects that to continue in 2020

David M. McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, believes his group needs to play in general elections, not just Republican primaries. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Club for Growth has long been an arbiter of crowded primaries in safe Republican seats, but its role is evolving in the era of President Donald Trump. 

The group’s super PAC and PAC are still major players in internecine battles — the club successfully torpedoed a candidate in a Pennsylvania nominating convention over the weekend and is already interviewing candidates for two House special elections in North Carolina. 

Why this North Carolina Democrat thinks he can succeed Walter Jones
Conservative 3rd District backed Trump by 24 points in 2016

Retired Marine Col. Richard Bew is running for North Carolina’s 3rd District as a Democrat. (Courtesy Richard Bew’s campaign)

No Democrat stepped up to challenge Rep. Walter B. Jones last fall. The Republican congressman ran unopposed for a 13th term in North Carolina’s 3rd District.

But Jones’ death last month has triggered a September special election, and some Democrats are giving this military-heavy district another look. 

North Carolina officials set dates for 9th District special election
A new election was called following allegations of election fraud

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has set the dates for a special election in the 9th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has set dates for a special election in North Carolina’s 9th district after allegations of election fraud threw the results into question.

A primary election will take place on May 14. If no candidate receives 30 percent of the vote, a runoff will take place on Sept. 10 and the general election will be Nov. 5. But if a primary runoff is not necessary, the general election will take place on Sept. 10.