Joe Manchin III

At the Races: Keystone State Nail-Biter
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns


Mark Your Calendars: The second congressional primaries in the country are in Illinois on Tuesday. Democrats are targeting four GOP-held seats in the state, where EMILY’s List has played an early, influential role backing candidates it thinks will be viable in the general election. But the Prairie State primary that’s received the most attention is actually in a solid Democratic seat. EMILY’s List is involved in this race too (although it took a while for the group to endorse), and it’s quickly become a flashpoint in the fight over the identity of the Democratic Party. On one side is first-time candidate Marie Newman, who’s backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (who carried the 3rd District in 2016), two members of the Illinois delegation (pictured above), New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, SEIU and a coalition of reproductive rights and progressive groups.

35th PAC Boosting Morrisey with Digital and Mail in West Virginia
Super PAC attacks Jenkins for being “liberal Democrat”

35th PAC is supporting West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the GOP primary for West Virginia Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A super PAC supporting West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the GOP Senate primary is pouring money into mail and digital efforts ahead of the May 8 primary. 

Morrisey is competing against Rep. Evan Jenkins and former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November. 

Trump Upends GOP Plan to Avoid ‘Scary’ Appearance
‘This is the commander in chaos,’ Sen. Robert Menendez says

President Donald Trump talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn after his State of the Union address in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The ousting of a secretary of State once elicited more than shrugs from lawmakers, but not in the era of Donald Trump. His erratic approach to the presidency has become the norm, and that could run counter to the best efforts of his party’s congressional leaders.

Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday morning via a tweet, announcing he would replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. The move, in the works for months as the two clashed, came as House and Senate Republican leaders were hoping for several weeks of legislative progress — and even some high-profile bipartisan votes. For instance, the Senate was preparing for votes on a financial regulation bill that had broad support among Republicans and the backing of key Democrats.

Trump Intensifies War on California’s Immigrant ‘Sanctuaries’
So far, little to show for effort to crack down on illegal immigration

Protesters arrive at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles during a march on Feb. 28. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

The legal struggle over immigrant “sanctuaries” is escalating, and deep-blue California is ground zero.

“This is basically going to war,” Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last week that the Trump administration is suing the state over three recently enacted laws limiting local and state law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents.

Gun Debate Unfolds Outside of Senate Judiciary Panel’s Confines
Grassley uses White House meeting to brief Trump

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley used a meeting last week to explain to President Donald Trump the committee’s role in moving gun-related legislation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley used a White House meeting last week to explain to President Donald Trump the panel’s role in getting a consensus and moving legislation dealing with gun violence and school shootings.

But before the Iowa Republican could finish, Trump pivoted right back to negotiating provisions about age restrictions for gun purchases, a proposal championed by two senators who aren’t on the committee, Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III.

How Vulnerable Senate Democrats Have Pushed to the Center
Of the 10 running in Trump states, four stand apart for siding with the president

Joe Manchin III voted with the president 71 president of the time last year when his wishes were clear in advance. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If you’re wearing a blue uniform but your game is in a stadium where most of the crowd usually roots for the reds, try accessorizing with as much purple as possible.

That bit of fashion advice is one cheeky way of describing the politically pragmatic behavior of most, but not all, of the 10 Democratic senators hoping to hold their seats this fall in states that went for President Donald J. Trump.

Trump Chides GOP Senator for Being ‘Afraid of the NRA’
President signals support for bill raising age limit on assault rifle purchases

President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. He met with lawmakers Wednesday about gun violence and school safety. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would seriously consider signing legislation raising the age limit for assault rifle purchases, and chided a key GOP senator for being “afraid of the NRA.”

He also urged lawmakers who have authored various bills to address school shootings and gun violence to consolidate their ideas in a single bill that he can sign into law.

Wealth of Congress: 14 Vulnerable Incumbents Are Worth at Least $1 Million
Only one of them has spent money on his own campaign so far this cycle

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is the wealthiest member of Congress considered vulnerable for re-election this fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fourteen vulnerable lawmakers were worth at least $1 million at the start of this Congress. These include House incumbents and senators whose November re-election races are rated either Toss-up, Tilts or Leans by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Personal money isn’t always advantageous in a tough campaign, but it can be helpful. Just one of these members has donated or loaned money to their campaign so far this cycle.

Senate Democrats Picked for Select Budget, Pension Committees

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer picked his choices for the bipartisan committees looking for solutions to budget and pension issues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Monday named eight senators to the select committees tasked with overhauling the budget and appropriations process as well as providing recommendations for restoring the solvency of multiemployer pension plans.

The New York Democrat selected Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Michael Bennet of Colorado, and Brian Schatz and Mazie K. Hirono, both of Hawaii, for the budget panel.

The Huntington to Hollywood Heroin(e) Connection
Political Theater, Episode 7

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and his guest Jan Rader, Fire Chief of Huntington, W.Va., before last month’s State of the Union address. Rader, subject of an Academy Award-nominated documentary, will be in Hollywood next month for the Oscars ceremony (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Welcome back to Political Theater, Roll Call’s newsletter and podcast on the spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

Fire Chief Jan Rader has had quite a few months. The first woman to head up Huntington, W.Va.’s fire department, Rader and two other women from her community on the front lines of responding to the opioid epidemic — drug court judge Patricia Keller and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry — became the subjects of filmmaker Elaine McMillion’s documentary “Heroin(e).”