At the Races

Tim Pawlenty Not Running for Senate in Minnesota
Republicans saw him as strongest recruit to take on Tina Smith in November

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will not run for Senate in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said Tuesday he will not run in November’s special election for Senate.

“I am very interested in public service and service for the common good — there are a lot of different ways to do that — but I’ll tell you today running for the United States Senate in 2018 won’t be part of those plans,” Pawlenty told Fox Business. 

Illinois House Primaries Will Be Early Testing Ground for Democrats
Democrats have several pickup opportunities, but they need viable candidates first

Democrats are confident they’ll have a general election nominee who can take on Illinois GOP Rep. Peter Roskam. The primary is on March 20. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With early voting starting in less than a month, Illinois will be a testing ground for Democrats’ ability to nominate general election candidates they think can win out of crowded primaries. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting four Republican-held districts, but the committee is not explicitly picking favorites in all those primaries. 

Arizona Senate Primary Battle Officially Kicks Off
Martha McSally joins Joe Arpaio and Kelli Ward in likely drawn-out primary

Rep. Martha McSally kicked off her bid for the open Arizona Senate seat on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Arizona Senate primary officially kicked off Friday, and it’s going to be a battle — with war planes and all. 

Republican Rep. Martha McSally launched her Senate run at the Tucson Jet Center on Friday morning and will travel to other areas of the state later in the day. She donned a blue flight suit to fly in a World War II-era AT-6 trainer to Phoenix, and then to Prescott. McSally, of course, is piloting the plane herself. 

McSally Launches Senate Run in Arizona
Congresswoman will likely face a contentious GOP primary

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., is running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arizona GOP Rep. Martha McSally officially announced her Senate campaign Friday, kicking off what is likely to be a divisive Republican primary.

“Like our president, I’m tired of PC politicians and their BS excuses,” McSally said in a video announcement emphasizing her service in the Air Force. “I’m a fighter pilot and I talk like one. That’s why I told Washington Republicans to grow a pair of ovaries and get the job done.”

At the Races: Senate Challengers — One In, One Out
Our weekly newsletter with the latest on House and Senate races

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Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter. We want to hear what you think. Email attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings and sign up for the newsletter here. — Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman

Cramer Passes on North Dakota Senate Run
Trump encouraged him to challenge Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, GOP rep said

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., has decided not to run for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 11: 14 a.m. | GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer said Thursday he does not plan to run for Senate in North Dakota and instead will run for re-election to the House. He had faced pressure from President Donald Trump to challenge Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

Cramer told WZFG-AM’s “Scott Hennen Show” in North Dakota that passing on a Senate run was the best decision for his family.

Renacci Ending Gubernatorial Campaign for Ohio Senate Bid
Ohio Republican made decision after White House meeting

Ohio Rep. James B. Renacci is ending his gubernatorial campaign to run for the Republican nomination for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ohio Rep. James B. Renacci is ending his gubernatorial campaign to launch a bid for the Republican nomination for Senate, he announced Thursday.  

Renacci made his decision after a Wednesday morning meeting at the White House. 

Darrell Issa Retiring, Opening Up Competitive House Seat
Issa was one of the most vulnerable incumbents in 2018

California Rep. Darrell Issa is retiring, leaving behind a competitive Southern California seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 7:58 p.m. | Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is retiring after nine terms in Congress, opening up a competitive House seat in California.

“While my service to California’s 49th District will be coming to an end, I will continue advocating on behalf of the causes that are most important to me, advancing public policy where I believe I can make a true and lasting difference, and continuing the fight to make our incredible nation an even better place to call home,” the congressman said in a statement Wednesday.

Joe Arpaio Senate Candidacy ‘Won't Last Long,’ Flake Says
Former sheriff fires back, saying Flake didn’t have the ‘guts’ to run again

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., has been critical of his own party for nominating controversial conservative candidates for high office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake on Wednesday dismissed Joe Arpaio’s bid for his Arizona Senate seat in 2018, laughing off the controversial former sheriff as a fringe candidate whose campaign will quickly fizzle.

“You’d better write about it and talk about it fast because it won’t last long,” Flake said in an interview with CNN.

DCCC Announces Second Round of ‘Red to Blue’ Candidates
With seven additions, Red to Blue program includes 18 challengers so far

Army veteran Max Rose, who’s running in New York’s 11th District, has been named by the DCCC to its Red to Blue list. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is naming seven more candidates to its Red to Blue program, which highlights Democratic recruits who have met certain campaign goals.

The list of challengers, obtained first by Roll Call, brings the total number of Red to Blue candidates to 18. The DCCC is rolling out additions to its list more frequently and in more targeted batches than in previous cycles. The committee released its first round of picks in November.

North Carolina Congressional Districts Struck Down for 2018
General Assembly has two weeks to come up with new map

North Carolina Rep. George Holding’s original district was moved in the 2016 redraw of the state’s congressional districts, prompting him to run in another district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A panel of three federal judges in North Carolina struck down the state’s 2016 congressional map as an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander on Tuesday.

The ruling blocks the state from conducting any elections under the 2016 map and orders the state’s General Assembly to redraw congressional districts by Jan. 24 for the 2018 elections. 

Joe Arpaio Running for Senate in Arizona
Controversial former sheriff was pardoned by Trump

Joe Arpaio speaks during the Donald Trump campaign rally in Las Vegas in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Controversial former sheriff Joe Arpaio is running in the open Senate race in Arizona, jumping into a Republican primary that is expected to be a contest over who is most closely aligned with President Donald Trump.

Arpaio said he was a “big supporter of President Trump” in an interview with the Washington Examiner, which first reported the news.

O’Rourke Backs Off ‘Mandatory Year of Service’ Idea After Criticism
‘I made a mistake,’ Texas Democrat challenging Sen. Ted Cruz says

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, backtracked Monday on an idea to create a mandatory year of national service for all young Americans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Beto O’Rourke blew out his own match on the idea to introduce a bill making a year of service mandatory for all Americans just days after floating the possibility.

At a town hall outside Dallas last week, the Democratic Senate hopeful proposed a “national service bill” that would require every young person to spend at least a year of service “in a military unit, conservation corps unit, in a medical unit, in a teaching unit — in some way that they’re going to help make this country better and stronger.”

Senate Match-Ups Yet to Take Shape Ahead of 2018 Primaries
Competitive Republican primaries begin in just four months

The first competitive GOP Senate primaries are in May (Illustration by Chris Hale).

With Ohio’s Josh Mandel ending his Senate bid last week, the one Senate race in which the matchup long looked like a foregone conclusion won’t be a rematch of 2012 after all.

The Republican challenger is still unknown in plenty of other races too, with competitive primaries beginning in just four months.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce Announces Retirement
Royce was Democratic target in midterm elections

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., is retiring. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Ed Royce announced Monday he will not be running for re-election. The California Republican is in his final term as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“In this final year of my Foreign Affairs Committee chairmanship, I want to focus fully on the urgent threats facing our nation, including: the brutal, corrupt and dangerous regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran, Vladimir Putin’s continued efforts to weaponize information to fracture western democracies, and growing terrorist threats in Africa and Central Asia,” Royce said in a statement.