The Senate adopted a unanimous consent resolution on Thursday stating the press "is not the enemy of the people,” a declaration put forth by Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. Republican Sen. John Kennedy told Roll Call Thursday afternoon that he’s “always supported freedom of the press.”
When asked if the resolution was a direct rebuke of President Donald Trump's harsh words toward the press, Kennedy said: “I don’t consider it to be a direct rebuke of anybody or anything.”
Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter by subscribing here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman
This week … More primaries! More candidates rejecting corporate PAC money moved on to November, and a competitive Senate race took shape.
No Cooperating With Corporations: Seven candidates who pledged not to accept corporate PAC money won their primaries Tuesday, bringing the total number of party nominees taking that pledge to 85. So what does this mean for corporate PACs looking to influence politics? Find out here.
*Bookmark* There are only a few primaries left! Keep track of which primary contests are up next with Roll Call’s midterm guide.
Diverse Dems: The House Democratic Caucus is poised to become more diverse following Tuesday’s primaries in two safe Democratic districts. Connecticut could elect its first African-American Democrat to Congress and Minnesota could send the first Somali-American and one of the first Muslim women to the House.
Midwest Matchups: Tuesday’s primaries also decided a number of matchups in competitive races, including two Toss-up open-seat races in Minnesota where Republicans are actually on offense. Check out which Democrat will be facing former Duluth police officer Pete Stauber in the 8th District. And in the 1st District, a perennial GOP candidate defeated a female state senator who had the backing of many House GOP women who’d like to add to their dwindling ranks.
In Wisconsin, Randy “Iron Stache” Bryce capitalized on his fundraising and early TV time to win the Democratic primary in the open 1st District race (aka Paul Ryan’s seat). Bryce will face former Ryan aide Bryan Steil in November. (It’s pronounced “style,” in case you were wondering.) And state Sen. Leah Vukmir won the GOP primary to take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, setting up a matchup in what one operative referred to as the “most underrated” contest so far.
Better Get Some Oven Mitts to Handle These Hot Takes: So we learned a few things after Tuesday’s results. Check out our five takeaways. And you can also watch us talk about the lessons from the most recent contests in this quick video.
Hans Hacked: Rolling Stone reported on Wednesday that former congressional hopeful Hans Keirstead was successfully hacked last year, and the California Democrat’s campaign was targeted in a number of subsequent cyberattacks. Officials and cybersecurity experts have warned campaigns about the danger of cyberattacks, but they are still struggling to get campaigns to prioritize this security.
The Congressional Leadership Fund has worked on building a robust field program, diverging from other super PACs that focus on campaign ads. CLF recently opened field offices in six new districts, bringing their total to 40.
In case you missed it last week, Nathan explains why the wave metaphor might not be the best way to describe the 2018 cycle. Instead, he taps into another element: FIRE. Check out his explanation in this video.
With Hagedorn winning the GOP nod Tuesday in Minnesota’s 1st District, this makes the third straight time he’ll seek the seat as the nominee. (He ran in 2010, too, but dropped out after not earning the party’s endorsement.) The businessman is well-connected in Republican circles in the state. His father was a congressman from the 2nd District, so he attended high school in the Virginia suburbs. And these days, he’s engaged to the chairwoman of the Minnesota GOP, who told Roll Call that the state party was carrying Hagedorn’s primary and general election ground-game efforts for him.
But some Republicans are worried his past comments about women and Native Americans could jeopardize GOP chances in the open seat. (About the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, he wrote: “On behalf of all red-blooded American men: THANK YOU SENATOR McCAIN, SARAH’S HOT!”) Hagedorn, however, isn’t phased. “If someone wants to run a political correctness and identity politics campaign against us, we’ll see what happens,” he told us last week.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem like New Mexico’s 2nd District would be on the Democrats’ radar, since President Donald Trump carried it by 10 points in 2016. But GOP Rep. Steve Pearce’s decision to vacate the seat to run for governor put it in play. (Dig into how the demographic shift here could change the district’s politics with Nathan’s column from last year).
The general election pits GOP state Rep. Yvette Herrell against Democratic lawyer Xochitl Torres-Small. Herrell is in the second tier of the NRCC’s Young Guns program for strong candidates. The conservative House Freedom Caucus and VIEW PAC, which works to elect GOP women, endorsed her in the June primary. Torres-Small has been endorsed by EMILY’s List. She was added to the DCCC’s Red to Blue program in February and is considered a strong recruit.
At the end of the second fundraising quarter on June 30, her campaign had $496,000 on hand, while Herrell’s had $100,000. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Leans Republican.For next week, email us at email@example.com and let us know which race you want to know more about: Florida’s 7th District or the Pennsylvania Senate race.
Legendary singer Aretha Franklin died at the age of 76 on Thursday. Franklin received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2005, and sang at the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009. Roll Call looked back at her remarkable performance on the West Front of the Capitol in honor of her life.
In a sign of trouble for Democrats’ hope to flip a Pennsylvania House seat, high-powered unions are pledging support for the Republican candidate in the moderate 1st District.
Incumbent Rep. Brian Fitzpatrickhas raised more than $200,000 from labor groups, dwarfing the $3,000 collected by his Democratic opponent, multimillionaire philanthropist Scott Wallace, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, attributing the numbers to the website OpenSecrets.
In his first term, Fitzpatrick has sided with Democrats on key issues, including a 2017 vote against his party’s effort to replace Obamacare, the newspaper reported. He criticized a recent Supreme Court decision weakening unions and was one of a few Republicans who was openly critical of President Donald Trump’s performance at his news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, saying Trump was “manipulated” by the Russian president.
And in a state where Democrats almost always count on labor support, Fitzpatrick has won nods from numerous influential unions, including the official endorsement of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, an alliance of 45 unions across the state.
G. Terry Madonna, a political scientist at Franklin and Marshall College, told the paper that Wallace’s campaign still has millions of dollars to pour into his campaign. But “it diminishes the enthusiasm gap that the Democrats have,” he said.
The moderate suburban district in the Philadelphia suburbs that went for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and one that Democrats have hope of flipping. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put Fitzpatrick on its “target list” for 2018. It is rated Tilt Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.
Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers who have condemned President Donald Trump’s attack on his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman.
“And I can tell him, ‘Shame on you, the fact that you are comfortable, on a national platform, to address a woman in that way. Shame on you,’” Lawrence said Wednesday night on CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front.”
Trump called Manigault a “crazed, crying lowlife” and a “dog,” in a Tuesday morning tweet.
Lawrence said she took the president’s choice of words personally.
“To hear this is insulting,” she said. “And then we have the president of the United States, who took an oath to serve, protect, defend, and here he is destroying relationships and not having the political understanding or compassion to understand the power and the damage his words make every single time he does it. It is so frustrating.”
“And you are the President. And unfortunately, you’re my President, too,” Lawrence said. “And I’m telling you, I always think he’s hit rock bottom. This is totally unacceptable.”
Trump’s comments have forcefully denounced by Democrats as tinged with racial and misogynistic connotations.
Republicans who have spoken out have been more tempered. They include Sen. Orrin Hatch, of Utah Republican, who said on Wednesday that he was “not comfortable” with Trump’s name-calling. Similarly, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, said, “This kind of language is unbecoming of a President of the United States.”
“There is no excuse for it, and Republicans should not be OK with it,” Flake said.
Watch: Sanders Defends Trump's Omarosa Tweets
Michael Bloomberg is the Democrat who could run the most competitive campaign against President Donald Trump in 2020, according to Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s first 2016 campaign manager.
Speaking at a Christian Science Monitor event on Wednesday, Lewandowski said, “He could make it through a primary and be very competitive in a general election,” referring to the former New York City mayor.
Like Trump, Bloomberg is a successful businessman. He could use some of his billions to largely self-fund a presidential campaign.
That combined with his “100 percent name ID” would make him a formidable opponent, Lewandowski argued.
“I think it would be a very competitive race and it would be a race that wouldn’t require enormous amounts of time fundraising,” he said.
Bloomberg could even run a campaign similar to Trump ran his in 2016 by trying to parlay his business acumen and success in creating private sector jobs into an argument that he is an outsider who can come in and do the same for government, Lewandowski suggested.
Nonetheless, Lewandowski projected confidence that his former boss could prevail in a hypothetical race against Bloomberg.
“I don’t know if he could beat Donald Trump,” he said. “The electoral map is so difficult.”
In another 2020 prediction, Lewandowski said he doesn’t see Vice President Mike Pence trying to run in a primary against Trump. Lewandowski is a senior strategist for the Great America Committee, Pence’s political action committee.
“I don’t see any scenario, whatsoever, where the vice president would say I want to challenge the president,” he said.
A Brief Recap of the George Washington Gavel's Long History
Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce, who rose to fame with a viral web video last year, won the party nomination Tuesday night in the 1st District race to succeed retiring Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
Bryce will now have to determine whether his hard-scrabble profile that brought him national recognition and a fundraising boom will help him win what has been a reliable Republican seat — or whether the GOP will adeptly use his legal troubles against him, and energize the conservative base in the southeastern Wisconsin district.
Bryce, who is also known by his Twitter handle “Iron Stache,” defeated Janesville school board member Cathy Myers in Tuesday’s primary. With 76 percent of precincts reporting, he led Myers 61 percent to 39 percent when The Associated Press called the race.
Bryce will next face former Ryan aide and University of Wisconsin Board of Regents member Bryan Steil, who won a six-way contest on the GOP side. With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Steil had 51 percent of the vote.
Myers had invoked Bryce’s previous failure to pay child support as well as his past arrests to argue that he was not a good candidate for the general election. Bryce has apologized for his past and his campaign noted that voters were more interested in how he would fight for them in Congress.
Myers had also been counting on female voters to propel her to victory, but her own fundraising and advertisements were not enough to overcome Bryce, who has been airing television ads in the district for the last six months.
While Bryce has still been able to rake in money, he may not be able to continue raising eye-popping amounts without Ryan on the ballot to energize Democrats looking to take down the most powerful Republican in the House. But the open-seat race also means he will not have to contend with Ryan’s multimillion-dollar war chest.
Steil’s campaign had $631,000 on hand at the end of the pre-primary reporting period on July 25, compared to nearly $1.7 million for Bryce.
The 1st District could be the Democrats’ best target in the Badger State. President Donald Trump carried it by 10 points in 2016, but that was his smallest winning margin among the five GOP-held House seats in Wisconsin. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Leans Republican.
ICYMI: Best of Speaker Paul D. Ryan — Congressional Hits and Misses
The Associated Press has not yet called a winner in the primary to take on Duffy between Navy veteran Margaret Engebretson and physician Brian Ewert. Inside Elections rates the race Solid Republican.
In the 6th District, Dan Kohl, the former assistant general manager for the professional basketball team in Milwaukee, ran unopposed in the Democratic primary. Kohl, the nephew of former Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl, has outraised Grothman in a few fundraising quarters. Inside Elections rates the race Solid Republican.
Republicans also have a House target in Wisconsin: Democratic Rep. Ron Kind in the 3rd District. Army veteran Steve Toft ran unopposed in the GOP primary Tuesday night. Inside Elections rates the 3rd District race Solid Democratic.
Former state Rep. Joe Randinovich has won the Democratic-Farmer-Labor nomination in Minnesota’s 8th District, which, if the past two cycles are any indication, could be among the most expensive House races this fall.
With 62 percent of precincts reporting, Radinovich led the five-person field with 47 percent of the vote, when The Associated Press called the race.
DFL incumbent Rick Nolan is not running for re-election. After announcing his retirement, he joined a last-minute gubernatorial ticket as the lieutenant governor nominee, but came up short Tuesday night.
Radinovich was Nolan’s 2016 campaign manager. He will face Pete Stauber, who ran with the GOP’s endorsement and easily won his primary Tuesday. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-up.
A former Duluth police officer and hockey player, Stauber is regarded as a top recruit for Republicans this cycle. President Donald Trump already held a rally for him in June, and Vice President Mike Pence was in the district fundraising for him last week.
This is one district in this year’s midterm landscape where Trump’s strong support could actually be beneficial to the GOP nominee. The president carried the northeast Minnesota district, which includes the mining region known as the Iron Range, by 16 points in 2016, while Nolan won re-election by just half a point. Trump on Monday reiterated his support for Stauber on Twitter.
On a map where Republicans are mostly playing defense, national operatives view this race as a top pickup opportunity. Having avoided a divisive primary, Stauber starts with a cash advantage. He ended the pre-primary reporting period on July 25 with $479,000 in the bank to Radinovich’s $60,000.
But outside groups on both sides of the aisle have already reserved millions of dollars of TV airtime here for the fall, signifying that neither party is going to give up on this race without a fight. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House majority, so losing this seat would increase the number of seats they need to pick up.
The fight over copper-nickel mining, which has divided the DFL, is likely to be a major issue in this race. Stauber is a strong proponent. Radinovich is open to copper-nickel mining, saying he believes it can be done safely. But Republicans are likely going to try to tie Radinovich to elements of the party that oppose mining. The Democrat most recently served as chief of staff to the Minneapolis mayor, opening him up to criticism of being too allied with metropolitan interests in the Twin Cities.
Although not on the ballot in the 8th District, Nolan could also be a factor in this race with Republicans looking to tie Radinovich to his former boss. The congressman’s reputation has soured in recent weeks for mishandling allegations of sexual harassment against a former top aide.
Radinovich is from Crosby, Nolan’s hometown, and he’s using most of the same consultants who traditionally worked on his former boss’ congressional campaigns. Radinovich’s first TV ad touted him as a top aide to Nolan and a super PAC that dropped $175,000 on pro-Radinovich mailers linked him to the congressman.
But media reports about Radinovich’s role in handling the sexual harassment allegations against the former Nolan staffer have made him look better than the congressman. When he found out about the accusations against the staffer — who’d been let go from Nolan’s official staff and brought on to the campaign — he fired him. Women involved in the sexual harassment allegations in Nolan’s office reached out to the Duluth News Tribune to defend Randinovich.
Radinovich’s latest ad doesn’t mention the congressman and is instead focused on “Medicare for All” and a campaign finance overhaul.
Watch: No More Blue Wave Metaphors, 2018 Is About Too Many GOP Fires
State Sen. Leah Vukmir won Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary in Wisconsin, notching a victory for the state GOP. Vukmir’s win sets up another opportunity for Wisconsin Republicans to take down one of the last remaining high-profile Democrats in the state.
Vukmir led Marine veteran and businessman Kevin Nicholson 54 percent to 40 percent, when The Associated Press called the race with 56 percent of precincts reporting. She will now take on vulnerable incumbent Tammy Baldwin, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.
GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein dumped millions on behalf of Nicholson, which raised questions whether such outside money would come in for Vukmir if she won. Republicans appear to be attempting to quell any concerns about party divisions by hosting a unity fundraiser Friday featuring both Uihlein and Diane Hendricks, a billionaire businesswoman who supported Vukmir.
The Wisconsin Senate race has attracted nearly $18 million in outside spending, the most of any Senate race so far, according to OpenSecrets.org. Along with the millions spent in the GOP primary, several million have also been spent attacking Baldwin.
The challenge for Vukmir is whether she can raise her own money to compete with Baldwin’s sizable war chest. A campaign with its own fortune can be an asset even if there is a deluge of outside spending, since candidates get better rates on television advertisements.
Baldwin had $6.7 million in cash on hand at the end of the pre-primary reporting period on July 25, according to her campaign. Vukmir ended the same period with $430,000 in the bank.
Another key question following the primary is whether the national GOP will be involved in the race. Republicans largely abandoned Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson’s re-election campaign in 2016, but he ended up scoring a surprising win that fall. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in various media interviews has noticeably not named Wisconsin as a top race this cycle.
The conservative Club for Growth Action did assist Johnson in 2016, and backed Nicholson in the primary. David McIntosh, the president of CFG Action Wisconsin, said recently that the group would still direct its donors to Vukmir if she won, but he was not sure if it would endorse her.
National Republicans are expecting the Wisconsin Senate race to pick up. One GOP operative involved in Senate races deemed it the “most underrated race of the cycle so far.”
Republicans see Baldwin as a prime target because of some of her more liberal positions. She is the only Democrat running in a state that President Donald Trump won who signed on as a co-sponsor of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill. (Trump carried the Badger State by 1 point in 2016, the first GOP presidential nominee to do so since 1984.)
Republicans also note the strength of the state party, which scored another victory Tuesday with Vukmir’s win. Vukmir had the Wisconsin GOP’s endorsement as well as support from the state’s Republican congressional delegation, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan.
Baldwin has said she intends to continue to focus on her work combating the opioid crisis and supporting American industries. She frequently touts her “Buy America” legislation, which would require that federal infrastructure projects use American steel and other materials.
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State Rep. Ilhan Omar is the likely new member from Minnesota's 5th District, setting her up to be the first Somali-American in Congress.
With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Omar led the six-way Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party field with 48 percent of the vote, when The Associated Press called the race.
Omar ran with the endorsement of the 5th District DFL in the Minneapolis-based seat. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Solid Democratic.
If she wins in November, as expected, Omar would also be one of first Muslim-American women in Congress. (Michigan’s Rashid Tlaib won the Democratic primary in Michigan’s heavily Democratic 13th District last week, and she faces no GOP opposition in November.)
Omar would bring a progressive voice to the Democratic Caucus. She was endorsed by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and several major Democratic organizations such as MoveOn.org, Our Revolution and Women Winning
Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison chose not to run for re-election and to instead seek the DFL nod for state attorney general. The vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Ellison is facing accusations of abuse from a former girlfriend, which he has denied.
Jeff Cirillo contributed to this report.
Teacher Jahana Hayes has won the Democratic nod in Connecticut’s 5th District, defeating the party-endorsed candidate and setting her up to be the likely new member from the safe Democratic seat next year.
With 44 percent of precincts reporting, Hayes led 2006 lietunant governor nominee Mary Glassman 60 percent to 41 percent, when The Associated Press called the race.
Hayes is poised to become the first African-American Democrat to represent Connecticut in Congress. Running with the backing of organized labor, she is expected to add a progressive voice to the House Democratic Caucus.
Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Esty opted to vacate the western Connecticut seat after coming under criticism for her handling of a former top aide who was accused of sexually harassing and threatening a staffer.
Glassman had the baking of the state party. A former first selectman of Simsbury in suburban Hartford, she was also endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Hayes was encouraged to run by Connecticut Democratic Sen. Christopher S. Murphy and had support from Africa-American members of Congress, including California Sen. Kamala Harris and Louisiana Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The 2016 national teacher of the year, Hayes had the backing of organized labor groups such as the Service Employee International Union, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.
Esty narrowly won the seat in 2012, but was comfortably re-elected in 2014 and 2016. Hillary Clinton carried the district by 4 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Solid Democratic.