Politics

She Has Congress’ Loneliest Job

By Maria Mendez
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Heard on the Hill

Tim Scott’s Former Intern Shot in Chicago

By Alex Gangitano
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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

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Rep. Keith Ellison won the Democratic primary for Minnesota attorney general Tuesday night, despite allegations that he abused an ex-girlfriend surfacing just days before the election.

With 35 percent of precincts reporting, Ellison led by 53 percent of the vote, according to The Associated Press. His closest challenger was state Rep. Debra Hilstrom, with 17 percent of the vote.

Ellison, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, has indicated he wants to use the attorney general office as a platform to oppose Trump’s policies.

“No one — not even a president — is above the law,” he said in June, when he announced he was running for AG.

Ellison denied that he was abusive to  ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan after her 25-year-old son, Aslim Monahan, wrote a critical post on Facebook Saturday.

Aslim Monahan wrote that he discovered a video on his mother’s computer that showed Ellison “dragging my mama off the bed by her feet, screaming and calling her a “f---ing bitch” and telling her to get the f--- out of his house.”

Ellison confirmed that he’d had a relationship with Karen Monahan in a statement on Sunday but denied the allegations.

“Karen and I were in a long-term relationship which ended in 2016, and I still care deeply for her well-being,” he said in the  statement. “This video does not exist because I never behaved in this way, and any characterization otherwise is false.”

Karen Monahan also weighed in on social media.

“That was my son who posted and its true,” she tweeted. “He wouldn’t lie about his own mom.”

Ellison is a six-term congressman and serves as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Watch: What Midterm Election? Trump Is Already Campaigning for 2020

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The Democratic National Committee said it is looking into charges of domestic abuse by Rep. Keith Ellison, who serves as deputy chairman of the organization.

“These allegations recently came to light and we are reviewing them,” the committee said in a statement to NPR. “All allegations of domestic abuse are disturbing and should be taken seriously.”

The allegations came to light shortly before Ellison won the Democratic Farmer-Labor nomination for attorney general of Minnesota on Tuesday.

Ellison has denied the allegations made by the son of his ex-girlfriend Karen Monahan that he abused her.

Monahan’s son Austin Aslim said in a Facebook post Sunday that he found a video on his mother’s computer showing Ellison “dragging my mama off the bed by her feet, screaming and calling her a ‘f---ing bitch’ and telling her to get the f--- out of his house.”

Monahan tweeted a statement confirming her son’s allegations and has posted what she says are text messages between herself and Ellison.

“He wouldn’t lie about his own mom,” she said.

What my son said is true. Every statement he made was true.@keithellison, you know you did that to me. I have given every opportunity to get help and heal. Even now, u r willing to say my son is lying and have me continue to leak more text and info just so others will believe him

Luis Miranda, a former DNC communications director, told NPR he thought the organization “has no choice but to suspend him at a minimum until they figure out what’s going on.”

“Frankly, it would be malpractice not to. We’ve made it clear we’re going to take these accusations seriously, at a minimum. We set too high a standard not to take this seriously.”

Watch: No More Blue Wave Metaphors: 2018 Is About Too Many GOP Fires

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Vulnerable red-state Democrats are highlighting their work to address the opioid crisis in an effort to hold on to their congressional seats, even as it remains unclear whether the Senate will take key action before the midterm elections.

While the opioid epidemic is a priority for much of Congress, candidates in especially hard-hit states, such as West Virginia, have made it a core issue in their re-election bids.

An ad by the Democratic Senate Majority PAC touts Sen. Joe Manchin III’s efforts in passing legislation as part of the fiscal 2018 omnibus package that would allow doctors to more easily find out if a patient has a history of substance abuse. Manchin, who faces a tough race against Republican Patrick Morrisey, is one of 10 Senate Democrats running in states won by Donald Trump in 2016.

Morrisey, the West Virginia attorney general, has campaigned on his efforts to curb the opioid epidemic, such as suing pharmaceutical distributor McKesson.

Manchin is among the candidates most likely to benefit from making opioids a campaign issue, said Andrew Kessler, founder of Slingshot Solutions, which specializes in behavioral health policy consulting. Both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee also stand out as leaders in taking on opioids, Kessler said.

The Senate returns from a brief recess this week to a busy fall schedule that includes government funding legislation and a Supreme Court nomination, leaving little wiggle room to pass an opioids package before Nov. 6.

Voting on opioids prior to Election Day would benefit Democrats, said Andrea Harris, senior vice president of the Height Capital Markets health care team. The former Hill staffer and ex-Obama administration appointee noted Republicans may not want to give the opposing party a win before the elections. She added Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be skeptical about having anything related to health care on the Senate floor that either party could use as a vehicle for other health-related legislation.

Watch: Congress’ Proposals on Opioids Aren’t Keeping Up with Epidemic

For Democrats, who are in a position to topple the GOP majority in the House, their campaign messaging is focused on criticizing Republicans for not doing enough to fund opioid-fighting efforts.

“Time and again, Republican lawmakers say they will help those impacted by this crisis, only to turn around and refuse to expand Medicaid or propose cuts to this vital source of treatment funding,” said Sabrina Singh, deputy communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

Republicans, meanwhile, can point to more than 50 bills passed by the House aimed at improving awareness for at-risk patients and increasing access to treatment, said Jesse Hunt, national press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

During a campaign event last week, Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana stated he plans to continue bipartisan work on passing his bill that gives students pursuing fields related to substance use disorders some loan forgiveness if they commit to working in an area with elevated overdose rates for at least six years.

[Number of Pregnant Women Abusing Opioids Skyrockets]

In July, Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri released an ad touting her work in taking on pharmaceutical companies, including those that may have played a role in the opioid crisis. McCaskill also released a report last month that examined opioid distributors and manufacturers in her home state, as well as the volume of opioids shipped into it.

McCaskill’s opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, is also campaigning on what he’s done to investigate opioid manufacturers. His office filed suit against Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions and Janssen Pharmaceuticals last year, arguing that the companies deliberately misrepresented the addictiveness of opioids.

Donnelly and McCaskill are locked in Senate races that are rated as toss-ups by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

In the Wisconsin Senate race, rated by Gonzales as leaning Democratic, incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin opened up about her mother’s drug problem in a May ad. The Democrat talks of a bipartisan approach to solve the problem.

[For Some in Congress, the Opioid Crisis Is Personal]

“I have worked with Republicans and Democrats to get the funding Wisconsin needs, so people have somewhere to turn for help,” she said in the ad. “It’s just a start.”

But Kevin Nicholson, a Republican businessman and veteran who is running against Baldwin, wants more.

“Solving the opioid epidemic will take a multi-pronged approach. Wisconsin needs a senator who’s willing to provide solutions that prevent drug dependency from the start,” Nicholson tweeted last month.

Republicans may be less likely to lose ground at the polls by not sending opioid legislation to Trump’s desk this fall, strategists say. They can point to a House-passed bill that has been awaiting Senate action since June and could be sent to a conference committee.

“If you’re a House member and you voted for it, you can say you’ve voted for it,” said Christopher Nicholas, a GOP political consultant and president of Eagle Consulting Group. “If you’re a senator who is going to support it and it doesn’t come up, you can still say I support the bill, even though it hasn’t come to a floor vote yet.”

A senator could also put out a memo with other things he or she has done to address the issue even if a vote on opioids legislation doesn’t happen before the elections, Nicholas said.

“It would be hard for your opponent to take a swipe at you,” he said.

[Congress’ Focus on Opioids Misses Larger Crisis]

Former NRCC Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon has spearheaded much of the House effort as the leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has spotlighted many personal stories from members and constituents about the impact of opioids. The party has also launched opioidcrisis.gop to highlight Republican efforts.

The Senate returns Wednesday. A GOP leadership aide has said four committees are working to craft an opioids package that the Senate can vote on, resolve differences with the House and send to Trump. Timing could be key.

“If they wait until late October [for opioids] and then only have part of the lame-duck session to hammer out the conference, that’s not going to help anybody,” said Kessler with Slingshot Solutions.

Advocacy groups such as the American Action Network demand action.

The center-right group spent more than $5 million earlier this year on ads encouraging the House to pay attention to opioid abuse. It targeted a bipartisan group of more than 25 districts, including those of vulnerable GOP Reps. Leonard Lance of New Jersey, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania.

Combating the opioid epidemic is a little like backing education or parks, said Jason Husser, who conducts an associate professor of political science and policy studies at Elon University and a pollster. Essentially, no one opposes it.

“One thing that stood out to me is just how little variation there is … across party lines. Dealing with this issue has support from both parties,” said Husser, who conducted an Elon Poll on attitudes toward the epidemic among likely voters in North Carolina last year.

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In March, Hawaii Democrat Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Securing America’s Elections Act to require the use of paper ballots as backup in case of alleged election hacking. Now voting advocates are suing Georgia to do the same thing.

Some voting systems are so easy to hack a child can do it. Eleven year old Emmett Brewer hacked into a simulation of Florida’s state voting website in less than 10 minutes at the DefCon hacking conference last week in Las Vegas, according to Time

Of the approximately 50 children age 8 to 17 who took part in the Election Voting Hacking Village at DefCon, 30 were able to hack into imitation election websites within three hours, Time reported. The kids were able to rewrite vote tallies so that they totaled as much as 12 billion, and change the names of parties and candidates, according to the Guardian.

The National Association of Secretaries of State released a statement saying that the pseudo environments used in the simulation are not realistic enough to raise an issue, and that the voting machines they emulated are no longer in use.

“Providing conference attendees with unlimited physical access to voting machines, most of which are no longer in use, does not replicate accurate physical and cyber protections established by state and local governments before and on Election Day,” the NASS said. “It would be extremely difficult to replicate these systems since many states utilize unique networks and custom-built databases with new and updated security protocols.”

But Jake Braun, an organizer of the Election Voting Hacking Village at DefCon and a former national deputy field director on President Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign who later served in the White House, said it’s possible for hackers to access the machines physically or over the internet.

“It’s not like these machines are kept in Fort Knox,” he told CNN.

This came just as Georgia secretary of state and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp is being sued for allowing a security breach which exposed the information of millions of voters in Georgia.

In 2016, hacker Logan Lamb inadvertently downloaded the personal records of 6.3 million voters, including their full name, date of birth, driver’s license and partial Social Security number, according to WALB. The state’s election security contractor had left it open on a public website.

He notified Georgia’s Center for Election Systems, and six months later the information was still there.

The group suing Georgia is asking the state to use paper ballot backups in the upcoming midterm elections. Kemp has said that this is unnecessary, but that he does hope to update the state’s aging voting system by the 2020 election, CNN reported. Georgia is one of five states without paper trails, which make manual recounts possible when there is alleged tampering or a contested election, according to the Guardian.

In the state’s May primary, the Mud Creek precinct showed a voter turnout rate of 243 percent of registered voters. On Georgia’s Secretary of State’s website, Mud Creek had 276 registered voters ahead of the primary, but 670 ballots were cast.

On Aug. 2, the site was updated to 3,704 registered voters in Mud Creek, which reflected a more typical 18 percent turnout, according to McClatchy DC. This was also used as evidence of an insecure voting system in the lawsuit.

“The tough thing is that the Russians don’t have to be successful to achieve their goals. They don’t necessarily need to change the outcome or races or change voter records. What they can do is attack our systems and get us to delegitimize our own democracy,” David Beck of the Center for Election Innovation and Research told the Guardian.

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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

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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

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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. 

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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.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Leans Democratic.

ICYMI: Iowa’s Blum Now Most Vulnerable House Member, Nelson Moves Up List for Senate

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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

Democrats are targeting two other Republicans in Wisconsin: Reps. Sean P. Duffy in the 7th District and Glenn Grothman in the 6th.

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.

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Heard on the Hill

What Lawmakers Are Reading This Summer

By Alex Gangitano
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As more Democratic candidates say they will not support keeping Nancy Pelosi as Democratic leader next year, President Donald Trump is urging them to reconsider. 

“Democrats, please do not distance yourselves from Nancy Pelosi,” Trump tweeted Friday evening. “She is a wonderful person whose ideas & policies may be bad, but who should definitely be given a 4th chance. She is trying very hard & has every right to take down the Democrat Party if she has veered too far left!”

The sarcasm-dripping tweet aside, Trump’s interest in Democrats backing the House minority leader is likely genuine. One of House Republicans’ primary campaign tactics has been to use Pelosi as a boogeywoman of sorts, trying to tie Democratic hopefuls to her. The California Democrat, like most congressional leaders, has low national approval ratings. 

Many Democratic candidates have refused to back Pelosi for speaker if their party takes control of the House in November. NBC News on Friday released a list of 51 such candidates and incumbents who have said they will not support Pelosi. 

ICYMI: Pelosi Campaigns in New Mexico, Speaking About Violence Against Women Bill

Trump’s reference to a fourth chance is about Democrats trying to take back the House. Since losing their majority to the GOP in 2010, Democrats have failed to regain control for three straight election cycles — 2012, 2014 and 2016.

The 2016 loss was particularly troubling for House Democrats, and anti-Pelosi fervor within the party grew. But she still won her race for minority leader that November against Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan by a roughly 2-to-1 margin. 

A speaker’s race would be a different animal, however, because not only would Pelosi need majority support from the House Democratic Caucus, she would need a majority of the House to vote to elect her speaker on the floor.

With her unlikely to get any Republican votes, Pelosi would need to hope that some of the Democrats who have said they won’t support her could be convinced to back her in a floor vote.

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The Senate will attempt to pass the two biggest spending bills of the year in one fell swoop. Consideration of the Defense and Labor-HHS-Education bills could begin this week (senators are expected back on Wednesday).

CQ’s Kellie Mejdrich explains why the package could prove to be a heavy lift. 

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