Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

Rating Change: Alabama Senate Race No Longer Solid GOP
Polarizing potential nominee could give Democrats a shot at takeover

Alabama Republican Roy Moore finished first in Tuesday’s special election GOP Senate primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Alabama Senate special election certainly isn’t a toss-up, but the possibility that former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore might become the Republican nominee creates the potential for a Democratic upset.

President Donald Trump’s polarizing persona is creating significant risk for congressional Republicans in next year’s midterm elections. But his decision to pluck Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions out of the Senate for his Cabinet created a special election this year that is turning out to be more adventurous than expected, considering Trump won the Yellowhammer State by 28 points less than a year ago.

‘Kid Rock’ May Be Ineligible for Michigan Ballot
Elections bureau would decide whether Robert Ritchie can use stage name

A truck with a Kid Rock for Senate decal was seen on a Virginia highway earlier this month. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

Robert Ritchie may end up challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan next year, but his stage name, Kid Rock, may not be allowed to appear on the ballot.

Kid Rock is a household name to Americans under the age of 50, and voters might be attracted to vote for him, as a middle finger to the political establishment. But it’s not immediately clear whether his famous stage name would appear on the ballot or if he’d be required to run under his less-known given name. 

Merkley’s Mild Town Hall in a Red County
Oregon Democrat talks health care to a receptive audience

Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkeley chat with constituents after a town hall in Dallas, Oregon, on Wednesday. (Nathan L. Gonzales/CQ Roll Call)

DALLAS, Ore. — With a divided country and two divided parties, town halls are supposed to be ground zero for angst, anger, and animosity, but not in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Donald Trump carried Polk County in the last presidential election but Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley found a largely sympathetic audience Wednesday at his town hall meeting here in its county seat.

Roughly 150 people gathered at the Oregon National Guard’s Col. James W. Nesmith Readiness Center on the outskirts of Dallas (population: 16,345, according to a sign when you enter town), to hear from one of their senators and enjoy the air conditioning on a sweltering afternoon.

When Congressional Spouses (Allegedly) Misbehave
Jane Sanders not the first to get into legal trouble amid a re-election

A federal investigation is looking into a real estate deal and bank loan during the tenure of Jane Sanders, wife of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, as president of the now-defunct Burlington College. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With congressional job approval hovering around 17 percent, members of Congress are carrying their own baggage into their re-election races, even without the weight of a spouse in legal trouble.

Jane Sanders isn’t a stranger to the spotlight, as her husband, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, ascended the political ladder and nearly claimed last year’s Democratic Party presidential nomination. But now she’s in the news because of a federal investigation into a real estate deal and a corresponding bank loan during her tenure as president of the now-defunct Burlington College in Vermont.

Rating Change: Nevada Senate Race Moves to Toss-Up
Feeling pressure from both sides, Dean Heller is more vulnerable

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller faces a credible Democratic challenger in Rep. Jacky Rosen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the only Republican senator up for re-election in a state won by Hillary Clinton last fall, Dean Heller had a tough task ahead of him next year.

And that was even before he started enduring attacks from within his own party.

Rating Change: Open Seat Gives Democrats Takeover Opportunity in New Mexico
Rep. Steve Pearce vacates 2nd District seat to run for governor

New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce’s run for governor gives Democrats an opening in his 2nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With re-election rates often hovering above 90 percent, open seats represent a critical factor in the Democrats’ quest for a House majority. New Mexico’s 2nd District has been an elusive target for years, as long as Rep. Steve Pearce has been on the ballot.

But the Republican congressman’s decision to run for governor opens up a majority-Hispanic district that could be vulnerable if an anti-GOP wave develops.

Mapping Out 2018 in the Senate
Democrats are still on the defensive but can’t be dismissed

Alabama Sen. Luther Strange faces a competitive Republican special election primary next month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Eight months into the 2018 election cycle and with 16 months to go, the fundamentals of the Senate map haven’t changed.

One state has been added to the map: Alabama.

Rating Change: Bellwether Illinois District Returns to the Playing Field
Democrats land top recruit to challenge Rep. Mike Bost

Illinois Rep. Mike Bost has drawn a high-profile Democratic challenger. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

One Reason Why Republicans Don’t Have More Women in the Senate
GOP misses a rare opportunity in Missouri

Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner, left, and Tennessee Rep. Diane Black at a news conference on Capitol Hill in February. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Women make up less than 10 percent of the Republican senators in Congress, and the GOP’s most qualified (and only top-tier) female hopeful just walked off the Senate playing field with nary a protest from Republican leaders.

Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner’s challenge to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill has been one of the worst-kept secrets of the cycle. The third-term congresswoman, a former United States ambassador and onetime co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, had $2.8 million in her campaign account at the end of March. She had been doing everything a future Senate candidate was supposed to do, right up until Monday when she announced she was running for re-election to her 2nd District seat instead.

Chris Van Hollen Had His Own Fake Time Magazine Cover
Trump isn’t the only politician to embellish a cover story

Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen distributed a campaign brochure featuring an imitation Time magazine cover during his successful run for Congress in 2002. (Courtesy Nathan L. Gonzales)

Some Democrats have enjoyed mocking President Donald Trump after the revelation that a framed copy of a Time magazine cover that hangs in some of his golf clubs was a fabrication. But not everyone on the Democratic side of the aisle is innocent of faking Time magazine covers.

In 2002, Maryland state Sen. Chris Van Hollen was locked in a competitive Democratic primary in the 8th District in suburban Washington, D.C. The Democratic nomination was critical because Maryland Democrats redrew the district to endanger moderate Republican incumbent Constance A. Morella.

11 Things I Think I Think After the Special Elections
Lessons from the Georgia and South Carolina races

Jon Ossoff supporters at the Georgia Democrat’s election night watch party are stunned as CNN calls the state’s 6th District race for Republican Karen Handel on Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One of the best parts about covering elections is that there is a final result. What seems like an endless stream of campaigning and ads and analysis finally comes to an end every time with vote tallies to digest until the next round.

President Donald Trump and the Republicans continue to play with electoral fire, but the GOP pulled off two more special election victories; this time in Georgia’s 6th District and South Carolina’s 5th District. As with the previous results in Kansas and Montana, there are enough tidbits in each result to formulate whatever conclusion helps you sleep better at night.

Race Rating: 2018 Montana At-Large Race Starts as Leans Republican
Gianforte not in immediate danger of losing re-election

Montana Rep.-elect Greg Gianforte is a favorite for re-election next year. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

It’s not good to start your tenure in Congress with a misdemeanor assault charge, but that’s where Republican Greg Gianforte finds himself. It also doesn’t mean he is immediately and automatically vulnerable in 2018.

On May 25, Gianforte won a special election to replace Republican Ryan Zinke (who vacated his seat to become secretary of the Interior) in a race that received some national attention but went viral after an altercation between the candidate and a reporter resulted in assault body-slamming allegations and formal charges. Gianforte pleaded guilty on June 12 and narrowly avoided a few days in jail with 40 hours of community service and 20 hours of anger management counseling.

Race Rating: Virginia Governor Contest Still Leans Democratic
Primary results don’t change GOP nominee’s uphill battle

Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, right, seen here posing for a selfie with Gov. Terry McAuliffe at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia last year, remains the favorite in the commonwealth’s governor’s race this fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

While the margins, if not the outcomes, of Virginia’s gubernatorial primaries may have been a surprise, the long view of the race remains the same — Democrats are in position to hold the commonwealth’s governorship in November.

In the Republican primary, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie defeated Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County board of supervisors, 44 percent to 43 percent. It was a closer-than-expected margin of victory for Gillespie, the 2014 Senate nominee, over Stewart, former state chairman for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Republicans Prove Press Releases Are Useless
RNC’s statement after Virginia primaries includes some ‘alternative facts’

RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said the Democratic gubernatorial contest in Virginia was “a nasty race to the left” while the GOP managed to “emerge unified” from its own contested primary. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

I hate press releases, and election night press releases are a special breed of terrible. They are often a string of cliches and manicured facts in search of a sucker to print them. And the Republican National Committee release on Tuesday night after Virginia’s gubernatorial primaries only reinforced my opinion.

“I would like to congratulate Ed Gillespie on securing the Republican nomination and moving one step closer towards becoming Virginia’s next governor,” said RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel in a statement emailed to reporters at 10:46 p.m. Tuesday.

Race Rating: New Jersey Governor Likely Democratic Takeover
Trump and Christie’s low job ratings hurt GOP chances of winning

Low job approval ratings for President Donald Trump and outgoing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will make it hard for a Republican to replace Christie. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

While it’s still unclear whether Democrats will get their first signature victory of the year in Georgia’s 6th House District, a takeover in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race looks likely later this fall. 

On Tuesday, Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno won the GOP primary with 47 percent against four other candidates. Former Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy won the Democratic primary with 48 percent against five other contenders.