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The $100 Jacket Politicians Use to Pretend To Be Normal People

The barn jacket has become the go-to fashion accessory for candidates trying to appeal to the common folk. (Screengrab: David Trone for Congress)

David Trone has never run for office before, but he’s wearing the standard issue uniform of a politician in his first television ads: the barn jacket.  

The wealthy Maryland Democrat thrust himself into the 8th District primary with close to a $1 million ad buy in the expensive Washington, D.C., media market. In the ad, entitled “Bet the Farm,” the owner of the Total Wine & More chain of stores dons a barn jacket to take viewers on a tour of the family farm where he grew up.  

Ratings Changes in 5 House Races

While voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are poised to kick off the presidential primaries, the national House landscape continues to take shape.  

You can read updated analysis on 102 districts across the country in the Jan. 25 issue of The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, but here is a quick list of ratings changes for five seats, in coordination with Roll Call. Arizona’s 2nd District. Republican Rep. Martha McSally is proving to be a tremendous fundraiser and a very tough incumbent for Democrats to dislodge from this competitive district. Moves from Lean Republican to Republican Favored.  

Top Races in 2016: The Southwest

Two House races in Arizona are among the most-watched around the country. (Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images File Photo)

This is the sixth in a series of looks at the most competitive House and Senate races in 2016. The Southwest region covers Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.  

Arizona's 1st District: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick’s Senate bid creates an open-seat headache for Democrats. But Republicans have a crowded primary including state Speaker David Gowan, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, and wealthy rancher/2014 candidate Gary Kiehne. Democrats look poised to nominate former GOP state Sen. Tom O’Halleran. The late August primary virtually guarantees the campaign committees will shoulder much of the financial burden in the general election.  

Ratings Shift in Three Senate Races

McCain will probably never be safe from a primary challenge as long as he stays in the Senate (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

A year out from the 2016 elections, the playing field of competitive Senate races is still taking shape, with ratings changes in three contests.  

The new Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call ratings are listed below — with more analysis is included in Friday’s edition of the Report.  

Don’t Blame Gerrymandering for GOP Civil War

Some believe that Boehner's run as speaker was a victim of redistricting, but that's not the whole story. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Blame the earmark ban or Republican leaders. Blame Ted Cruz or even Justin Bieber. But don’t blame gerrymandering for the fighting in the House.  

As Republicans labor through replacing Speaker John A. Boehner, bemoaning redistricting has become a common refrain in explaining the GOP civil war.  

Draft Biden Organizer Dismissed Over Past Legal Problems

Biden is getting closer to a decision on whether to run. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Draft Biden PAC is gaining steam and staff in its unaffiliated effort to encourage Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to get into the presidential race, but it recently dismissed one of the group’s initial organizers after his past legal problems came to light.  

Former congressional aide and campaign consultant Carlos Sierra  was national field and political director for Draft Biden , but his resume also includes felony charges in two states. One Democratic insider was interested in getting involved with the Draft Biden effort, but became concerned as it became clear Sierra was involved.  

Campaign Committees Open Holes While Filling Others

Democrats believe Heitkamp could be a competitive candidate for governor but would loosen the party's hold on her Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats want to hold the White House, take back the majorities in the Senate and the House, and gain ground in governorships. But what happens when those are conflicting goals?  

In Florida, strategists at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are excited Rep. Patrick Murphy is running for the state’s open seat. But Murphy is leaving behind a competitive House district that will be difficult for strategists at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to hold next fall.  

Democrats, Party Switchers and the Ghost of Ed Jany

Jolly might've faced a competitive race had Democrats not cleared the field for a candidate who dropped out. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

   

Former Republican state Sen. Tom O’Halleran announced Tuesday he was running as a Democrat in Arizona’s 1st District. It’s not the first time party strategists have crossed the aisle to recruit, and O’Halleran isn’t even the only party-switcher running this cycle.  

The Software That Draws the Political Landscape

Maptitude's dominance in the redistricting software market came about nearly by accident. (Photo Courtesy of Caliper Corporation)

Maptitude for Redistricting may not be a household name, but it is dominant in the niche market of redistricting software and is used to literally shape the political landscape.  

Its client roster features a majority of state legislatures, two national party committees and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, plus the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which was upheld in a Supreme Court decision last month.  

Key Races in 2016: Politicial Landscape Taking Shape

A few key races across the country next year will determine the balance of power in the Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

   

Election Day is more than a year away, but the field of most competitive Senate and House races is already starting to take shape. While the political environment could change over the next 17 months, the landscape is largely set as a handful of races in each region will likely decide the majorities in the next Congress.