Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

GOP Senate Candidate Returns Contributions From Conservative PAC
FEC has questions for Club for Conservatives PAC

The Federal Election Commission sent a letter to Club for Conservatives PAC last month with questions about its previously filed reports. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn is locked in a competitive and expensive race for Senate. But the Tennessee Republican’s campaign decided to return a sizable contribution from a political action committee that’s facing scrutiny from campaign finance regulators.

“Club for Conservatives PAC did not meet our standards for transparency,” Blackburn campaign spokeswoman Abbi Sigler said. 

Ratings Change: Two Top Senate Races Shift Out of Toss-Up
North Dakota Moves to Tilts Republican, West Virginia Moves to Tilts Democratic

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has seen her state shift further to the right since her narrow win in 2012, Gonzales writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When it comes to political handicapping, the easiest thing to do would be to put all of the most competitive contests into the Toss-up category and declare them too close to call. Or to argue that because Donald Trump was elected president against the projections, it’s not worth rating any races at all.

But that’s not particularly helpful to people looking for some direction and distinctions in congressional elections.

Nathan’s 10 One-Liners After Tuesday: Winter Has Come for Democrats
What’s running through my head the night of a stunning New York upset

New York Rep. Joseph Crowley’s defeat Tuesday shows Democrats are not immune to anti-establishment sentiment that Republicans have faced for years, Gonzales writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s plenty to digest from Tuesday’s primaries in New York, Maryland, Utah and beyond, but here are a few initial thoughts encapsulated in some run-on sentences.

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger’s primary loss last month wasn’t a surprise (considering his narrow win in 2016), and his fellow GOP Rep. Mark Sanford’s primary loss in South Carolina two weeks ago wasn’t stunning (considering his personal issues and reputation for opposing President Donald Trump).

Elections, Retirements Could Ransack GOP Baseball Roster
Turnover in the Democratic lineup not expected to be as dramatic

Reps. Rodney Davis of Illinois and Ryan A. Costello of Pennsylvania confer during the 2016 Congressional Baseball Game. Costello is retiring this year while Davis faces a competitive re-election race. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The cold reality of the midterm elections could force Republicans into a completely different roster for next year’s Congressional Baseball Game. Due to retirements and competitive re-election races, over a third of the 36-member GOP team may not be returning in 2019, including more than half of last year’s starting lineup.

Three of the Republicans’ first six batters from 2017 are playing in their last game because they aren’t seeking re-election, including leadoff hitter Ryan A. Costello of Pennsylvania.

After Montana, Senate Matchups Nearly Set for November Battles
Biggest question marks in Arizona and Wisconsin

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., is likely to face state Auditor Matt Rosendale or former district judge Russ Fagg in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a year and half of wondering which senators might retire, if the parties would land star recruits, and how messy primaries would play out, the matchups in nearly all of the most competitive Senate races will be set after the votes are counted in Montana on Tuesday.

Republicans in Big Sky Country are likely to select either state Auditor Matt Rosendale or former district judge Russ Fagg to take on Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, leaving just a couple of unknowns on the broader Senate map, five months before Election Day.

3 Ways Nancy Pelosi Won’t Be Speaker Next Year
GOP could well lose the boogeywoman who keeps its base energized

There are at least three scenarios in which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi won’t become speaker again, Gonzales writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nancy Pelosi is a drug that Republicans just can’t quit, and the GOP hopes that the threat of her becoming speaker of the House again will awaken any potentially apathetic base voters. While that might work for Republicans for yet another cycle, it might be the last cycle with their favorite boogeywoman, considering there are at least three scenarios in which the California Democrat won’t regain the leadership mantle.

Given the presence of a polarizing President Donald Trump in the White House and historical midterm trends, falling short of a majority in November would be a catastrophe for Democrats.

Rating Changes in 19 House Races, All Toward Democrats
In total, 68 GOP-held seats are now rated competitive

New Mexico Democrat Xochitl Torres Small is running for the seat GOP Rep. Steve Pearce is vacating to run for governor. The 2nd District race is now rated Leans Republican. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite forecasts of a blue tsunami, it’s still not guaranteed that Democrats will win back the House majority. But the playing field of competitive House races is expanding and shifting to almost exclusively Republican territory.

After the latest round of changes, Inside Elections now has 68 Republican seats rated as vulnerable compared to just 10 vulnerable Democratic seats. And there are at least a couple dozen more GOP-held seats that could develop into competitive races in the months ahead.

DCCC Makes Initial TV Reservations for Fall Fight
Committee is the last of four biggest House-focused groups to make initial buy

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., right, and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., conduct a news conference at the Capitol in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved more than $12.6 million in broadcast television ad time for the last month of the fall campaigns, according to a source familiar with the committee’s independent expenditure buy.

More ad reservations are certainly to come, considering the DCCC spent more than $66 million on TV ads during the 2016 cycle, in addition to an ongoing, seven-figure digital buy, according to the same source.

Ratings Change: 5 GOP Open House Seats Shift Toward Democrats
Recent Republican struggles in special elections don’t augur well for party in fall

The race for retiring Michigan Rep. Dave Trott’s 11th District seat is now a Toss-up. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s dangerous to extrapolate too much from any single special election, but the trend is clear across nearly all of the special contests over the past year: Democrats are over-performing and Republicans are struggling to hold open seats.

The over-performance by Democratic candidates hasn’t been limited by geography, considering they have done better than expected in Montana, Kansas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Arizona, even if they’ve fallen short in all but one of those races.

Nine House Members Pushing for Gubernatorial Promotion
But for many, the road to the governor’s mansion won’t be easy

Of all the House members running for governor this year, Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa may have the best shot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just seven of the 50 current governors have previously served in the House, and only five of those were elected directly from the House without holding a statewide office or another job in the interim period. But a handful of lawmakers are hoping to buck the trend and push that total number closer to double digits.

Many of them have to navigate competitive primaries first, and the precedent for members getting elected governor isn’t great. But while most of them are leaving behind safe seats, there’s an upside: becoming their state’s top elected official and departing from an unpopular Congress.

Rock Climbing Candidates, SNL, and Hairy Montana Ads: Nathan’s (Mostly) Political One-Liners
What’s running through my head on April 27

(Courtesy Katie Hill for Congress/YouTube)

Arizona’s 8th District Special (a): The House majority was in play before the special election and it’s in play after the special election (and more thoughts in the aftermath of the race).

Arizona’s 8th District Special (b): Two months ago, we changed our rating from Solid Republican to Likely Republican and based on Lesko’s 5-point victory in a 21-point Trump district, that was the right move.

How Vulnerable is Deb Fischer in Nebraska?
Race still ‘Solid Republican’ at this point

The burden of proof is still on Democrats to demonstrate that a challenge to Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., is a serious takeover opportunity, Nathan L. Gonzales writes. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Nebraska has been dubbed a “sleeper” Senate race and rated as competitive by some handicappers. House Democrats just came close to winning a special election in a congressional district President Donald Trump won by 21 points, so how vulnerable is GOP Sen. Deb Fischer?

At a minimum, the senator faces a spirited challenge from Lincoln City Council member Jane Raybould. But the perception that Nebraska is a legitimate Democratic takeover opportunity seems to lean on the proclamation that no Republican seat is safe and limited public polling. Other evidence, including previously unreleased polling from the Fischer campaign, paints a different picture of the race.

Nathan’s (Mostly) Political One-Liners: BonChon, Accessible Campaigns, and Let’s Remember Some Candidates
What’s running through my head on Monday, April 23

Popcorn chicken is no longer on the menu at Bonchon, Gonzales laments. (Courtesy Enoch T./Yelp!)

“Accessible” Attacks: Three Democratic candidates recently compared and contrasted their accessibility to the incumbents they are challenging, but neither Ken Harbaugh (OH-07) nor Dean Phillips (MN-03) nor Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) appear to have a working phone number on their campaign websites.

Bonchon Bust: The previously infallible Korean fried chicken establishment made a critical mistake by removing popcorn chicken from the menu and thinking kids wouldn’t notice that they now offer popcorn shrimp instead.

Dentists on the March to Congress
November could see two more join the cavity-fighting caucus

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., walks up the House steps for a vote in the Capitol in February. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress is probably as popular as going to the dentist, but a handful of dentists are looking to make their way to Congress.

Of course, the first step to growing the number of dentists on the Hill is re-electing the current ones. Considering they represent heavily Republican districts, their prospects are good, even though the political winds might be blowing against them.

Nathan’s (Mostly) Political One-Liners: Push Polls, Endorsement Misses and CAVA
What’s running through my head on tax day, April 17

Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., speaks to a group of constituents on the House steps on March 22 after the final vote of the week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arkansas’ 2nd District: Congratulations to Democrat Clarke Tucker’s campaign for using the term “robocalls” in a press release even though the local media referred to them as a “push poll,” which it most likely wasn’t since push polls don’t exist.

Colorado Governor: State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, recent ex-wife to GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, received a dismal 6 percent of delegates at the Republican state assembly over the weekend, well short of the 30 percent threshold needed to make the GOP primary ballot for governor.