Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

Rating Change: Democratic Challenger Puts Utah Seat in Play
Rep. Mia Love facing competitive race with Salt Lake County mayor’s entry

Utah Rep. Mia Love faces a competitive re-election contest next year. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

It’s not hard to see Democratic takeover opportunities in districts where Hillary Clinton prevailed or President Donald Trump won narrowly last fall, but Democrats have expanded the map with at least a couple of recruits who should make Republicans work to defend some deeper red territory next year.

Former Kansas state Rep. Paul Davis, for example, announced his candidacy in August, giving Democrats a credible candidate in the Sunflower State’s 2nd District, which Trump carried by 18 points, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. Davis, a former state House minority leader, carried the district in his 2014 gubernatorial bid, and when he entered the congressional race for retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ open seat, we changed the rating from Likely Republican to Leans Republican.

Rating Change: New Hampshire Open Seat Moves to Toss-Up
Shea-Porter was already considered vulnerable in 1st District

New Hampshire Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, right, will not seek a fifth term next year.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s retirement leaves an already competitive seat more vulnerable for her party as an open one, considering President Donald Trump carried New Hampshire’s 1st District 48 percent to 46 percent last fall.

“I felt the tug of family at our reunion on Independence Day, and I have continued to feel it,” Shea-Porter said in a statement Friday.

Nine Thoughts After the Alabama Senate Runoff
Moore beat candidate supported by Trump, McConnell

Former Alabama supreme court justice Roy Moore won Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff. He is seeking to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A year ago, the idea that Roy Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, would be elected to the U.S. Senate was absurd. But he took one giant step closer to that reality with a convincing victory over appointed-Sen. Luther Strange in Tuesday’s special election Republican primary runoff.

The recent result wasn’t a surprise, thanks to numerous public polls showing Moore with a commanding lead, but it’s still shocking to see a candidate supported by President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell go down to a significant defeat.

Moore Campaign Removes Endorsement From Deceased Conservative Leader
Phyllis Schlafly died a year ago

Phyllis Schlafly greets supporters at last year’s Republican convention in Cleveland. The conservative activist died later in the year. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is racking up endorsements from inside the state and around the country for his challenge to Republican Sen. Luther Strange, but one in particular stood out: renowned — and deceased — conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly.

Schlafly died on Sept. 5, 2016, at the age of 92, two months before Donald Trump won the presidential election and four months before Republican Jeff Sessions left his Senate seat in order to become attorney general, yet she was included on the endorsements page of Moore’s campaign website. 

Strange and Allies Overwhelming Moore in TV Ad Spending
One week to go in competitive Alabama Senate special primary

Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., speaks with a supporter after the U.S. Senate candidate forum held by the Shelby County Republican Party in Pelham,  Alabama, in early August. Sen. Strange is running in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Luther Strange and allies are dramatically outspending Roy Moore and friends on television in the special Republican primary in Alabama.

With a week to go before the runoff, Moore is leading the appointed senator by a couple points or more, depending on the poll.

LGBTQ Women Balance Opportunity, Possible Extinction in Congress
Close calls, impossible races, and evolving bench contribute to low numbers

If Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema vacates her 9th District seat to run for Senate, there could be no LGBTQ women in the House in the next Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It’s been almost 20 years since Tammy Baldwin’s historic election, yet just one woman has followed her through the LGBTQ glass ceiling. And if both women lose competitive races in 2018, the next Congress could be without any LGBTQ women.

While the lack of LGBTQ women in Congress is inextricably linked to the dearth of women on Capitol Hill, the story of lesbian candidates includes some close calls, quixotic races, and a movement still evolving to position more qualified LGBTQ women to run for higher office.

Ratings Changes in 15 House Races
Expanding battleground benefits Democrats

With 14 months to go before Election Day, the House battleground continues to take shape. Even though there is some uncertainty about what the political climate will look like next fall and whether normal historical midterm trends will hold under President Donald Trump, the House playing field is expanding, almost entirely in the Democrats’ direction.

As we’ve mentioned plenty of times before (and will likely repeat over and over again), history puts the Republican Party at a disadvantage: The president’s party has lost seats in 18 of the last 20 midterm elections, with an average loss of 33 seats. Democrats need to gain 24 seats next year for a majority.

Rating Change: Reichert Retirement Shifts Seat Away From Republicans
Race for Washington’s 8th District moves from Solid Republican to Tilts Democratic

Washington Rep. Dave Reichert is not seeking an eighth term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There are still 110 days until Christmas, but Republican Rep. Dave Reichert just gave Democrats an early gift. The seven-term congressman announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election, opening up his competitive 8th District seat in Washington and giving Democrats a prime takeover target.

Democrats have had their eye on the district, which includes suburban King and Pierce counties, east and south of Seattle, but Reichert hadn’t been particularly vulnerable since President George W. Bush left office. His profile as a former King County sheriff who captured a serial killer helped him carve out an image independent from an unpopular Congress.

‘Scam PACs’ Strike Again in Utah, Wisconsin
Beware of fundraising pitches from unaligned committees

Critics complain that political action committees are misleading donors by inappropriately using the names of politicians and public figures. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mysterious and misleading political action committees are nothing new, but two recent examples demonstrate just how brazen some PACs are becoming in their money-grabbing email pitches.

“BREAKING: Sheriff Clarke Resigned,” announced the subject line of a Sept. 2 email from the Sheriff David Clarke for U.S. Senate (Official Draft Campaign). The subsequent text of the message was supposedly explanatory, yet nearly completely wrong.

House Retirement Tide Is Coming
Current number of House members retiring is far below average

With Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s upcoming retirement, Democrats are favored to pick up her south Florida seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A large crop of House members are likely to retire in the coming months, not necessarily because President Donald Trump is polarizing, the parties are divided, or Capitol Hill is “dysfunctional” — but because 40 years of history tell us it’s going to happen.

Since 1976, 22 House members, on average, have retired each cycle without seeking another office. Thus far this cycle, just five members fit that description: Republicans John J. Duncan Jr. of Tennessee, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Sam Johnson of Texas, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and Democrat Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts.

Rating Change: Flake More Vulnerable in Arizona
Ongoing feud with Trump complicates GOP senator’s re-election bid

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake is drawing heat from both sides as he seeks a second term next year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The acrimony between President Donald Trump and Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, which is already making the senator’s re-election bid more challenging, should only intensify during the president’s rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night. 

Flake is known as a Trump opponent, which could make him vulnerable in the primary. The feud appeared to start in a private meeting a year ago, but has since escalated. Earlier this summer, Flake published a book, titled “Conscience of a Conservative,” publicly criticizing the Republican Party for the rise of Trump. 

Rating Change: Alabama Senate Race No Longer Solid GOP
Polarizing potential nominee could give Democrats a shot at takeover

Alabama Republican Roy Moore finished first in Tuesday’s special election GOP Senate primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Alabama Senate special election certainly isn’t a toss-up, but the possibility that former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore might become the Republican nominee creates the potential for a Democratic upset.

President Donald Trump’s polarizing persona is creating significant risk for congressional Republicans in next year’s midterm elections. But his decision to pluck Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions out of the Senate for his Cabinet created a special election this year that is turning out to be more adventurous than expected, considering Trump won the Yellowhammer State by 28 points less than a year ago.

‘Kid Rock’ May Be Ineligible for Michigan Ballot
Elections bureau would decide whether Robert Ritchie can use stage name

A truck with a Kid Rock for Senate decal was seen on a Virginia highway earlier this month. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

Robert Ritchie may end up challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan next year, but his stage name, Kid Rock, may not be allowed to appear on the ballot.

Kid Rock is a household name to Americans under the age of 50, and voters might be attracted to vote for him, as a middle finger to the political establishment. But it’s not immediately clear whether his famous stage name would appear on the ballot or if he’d be required to run under his less-known given name. 

Merkley’s Mild Town Hall in a Red County
Oregon Democrat talks health care to a receptive audience

Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkeley chat with constituents after a town hall in Dallas, Oregon, on Wednesday. (Nathan L. Gonzales/CQ Roll Call)

DALLAS, Ore. — With a divided country and two divided parties, town halls are supposed to be ground zero for angst, anger, and animosity, but not in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Donald Trump carried Polk County in the last presidential election but Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley found a largely sympathetic audience Wednesday at his town hall meeting here in its county seat.

Roughly 150 people gathered at the Oregon National Guard’s Col. James W. Nesmith Readiness Center on the outskirts of Dallas (population: 16,345, according to a sign when you enter town), to hear from one of their senators and enjoy the air conditioning on a sweltering afternoon.

When Congressional Spouses (Allegedly) Misbehave
Jane Sanders not the first to get into legal trouble amid a re-election

A federal investigation is looking into a real estate deal and bank loan during the tenure of Jane Sanders, wife of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, as president of the now-defunct Burlington College. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With congressional job approval hovering around 17 percent, members of Congress are carrying their own baggage into their re-election races, even without the weight of a spouse in legal trouble.

Jane Sanders isn’t a stranger to the spotlight, as her husband, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, ascended the political ladder and nearly claimed last year’s Democratic Party presidential nomination. But now she’s in the news because of a federal investigation into a real estate deal and a corresponding bank loan during her tenure as president of the now-defunct Burlington College in Vermont.