At the Races

The ‘squad’ takes center stage in GOP attacks in 2019 state elections
Republican efforts appear to be test run for 2020 messaging strategy

Warnings that Democrats are aligned with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appear prominently in Republican efforts this year to hold on to state legislative seats that could determine which party controls redistricting after the 2020 census. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Take a seat, Nancy Pelosi — you’ve been replaced.

For years, the California Democrat has been the cornerstone of Republican negative attack ads and campaign rhetoric against her party.

Wrote the bill, read the bill: Lawmakers dominate Democratic debate
All but three of the candidates on Thursday's debate stage have served in Congress

Democratic presidential hopefuls Former Vice President Joe Biden, center, speaks as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren listen during the third Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas on Thursday. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Although the 10 Democratic presidential candidates in Thursday night’s debate talked about the importance of unity, they spent plenty of time trying to one-up each other with their own congressional records.

The debate stage was stacked with current or former members of Congress: only businessman Andrew Yang, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana have never served in Congress.

GOP group defends ad showing burning image of AOC during Democratic debate
Elizabeth Heng said ad “is about fighting the socialist agenda”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized as racist the ad by a new GOP group that ran during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The founder of a new Republican group is defending an ad that aired during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate that featured a burning image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The New York Democrat criticized the spot as racist. 

New Faces GOP was founded by Elizabeth Heng, who lost a House race in California last cycle. Heng, who is the PAC’s executive director, was featured in the 30-second TV ad, which ran both during and after the debate on ABC. 

North Carolina’s 9th District highlights trouble spots for both parties
McCready’s strength in Mecklenburg County underscores GOP’s suburban weakness

Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop won the special election in North Carolina’s 9th District on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Within eight minutes of each other Wednesday morning, the two House campaign committees blasted out dueling memos about what Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop’s 2-point victory in North Carolina’s 9th District means for the country’s political future.

The posturing was typical of reactions to special elections in the era of President Donald Trump. Publicly, at least, Republicans say everything is fine, while Democrats celebrate a narrow loss in a district that shouldn’t have been competitive. 

Republicans hold on to North Carolina’s 9th District in redo election
Outside GOP groups spent more than $6 million to boost nominee Dan Bishop

GOP state Sen. Dan Bishop won the redo election in North Carolina’s 9th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans have narrowly held on to a North Carolina district that President Donald Trump won by 12 points in 2016. It’s a relief for a party already in the minority but not enough to ease GOP fears about slippage in the suburbs. 

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, GOP state Sen. Dan Bishop led Democrat Dan McCready 51 percent to 49 percent when The Associated Press called the race. 

Republican Greg Murphy wins special election in North Carolina’s 3rd District
State lawmaker succeeds the late Rep. Walter B. Jones

Republican Greg Murphy is the next congressman from North Carolina’s 3rd District (Courtesy North Carolina General Assembly)

Republican state Rep. Greg Murphy has won the special election for North Carolina’s 3rd District, succeeding the late GOP Rep. Walter B. Jones and likely becoming the next member of the House Freedom Caucus.

With 44 percent of precincts reporting, Murphy led Democrat Allen Thomas 59 percent to 40 percent when The Associated Press called the race. Murphy, who won a primary runoff in July, was largely expected to win this seat left open by Jones’ death in February. Jones won a 13th term without opposition last fall, and President Donald Trump carried the seat by 23 points in 2016.

Can Republicans hold on to a North Carolina Trump district on Tuesday?
Outside GOP groups have spent more than $6 million boosting Republican nominee

GOP state Sen. Dan Bishop, right, rides in the back of a truck while canvassing in Parkton, N.C., last month with David Buzzard. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It may not be 2020 yet, but in North Carolina — which is holding two House contests Tuesday — it might as well be an election year already. 

As the Democratic presidential circus continues to steal national headlines, voters are going to the polls for special elections in two longtime Republican districts — one because election fraud invalidated last year’s result and the other because the sitting congressman died. 

North Carolina Senate candidate targets Trump rally attendees with digital ad
Cal Cunningham criticizes incumbent Tillis in military communities over Trump’s shifting Pentagon funds from NC bases

Democrat Cal Cunningham, who's challenging GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, is launching a digital ad that's intended to reach attendees at Monday evening's rally with President Donald Trump in North Carolina. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is coming to North Carolina on Monday, and Democrats are looking to take advantage of his visit.

Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham, who is challenging Sen. Thom Tillis, is releasing a digital ad Monday afternoon that’s geographically targeted to the location of Trump’s rally in Fayetteville, where the president is coming to boost GOP state Sen. Dan Bishop ahead of Tuesday’s redo election in the 9th District

Elizabeth Warren backs primary challengers against sitting House Democrats
Warren is endorsing Jessica Cisneros against Henry Cuellar and Marie Newman against Dan Lipinski

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., endorsed Rep. Henry Cuellar’s former intern Jessica Cisneros and Marie Newman, who is running against moderate Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorsed two House Democratic primary challengers Monday, backing two women taking on sitting lawmakers.

The Massachusetts Democrat is endorsing Marie Newman, who is taking on Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois’ 3rd District and immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros, who is challenging Rep. Henry Cuellar in Texas’ 28th District, Justice Democrats announced in a news release.

Why talking about Trump isn’t enough to motivate minority voters
DCCC partnered with minority-owned firms to listen to African American voters in North Carolina

Democrat Dan McCready talks with Lauretta Humphrey at Home Game Sports during his education tour in Fairmont, N.C., on Aug. 10. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Democrats are going to flip North Carolina’s 9th District this week, they need minority voters in the rural, eastern part of the district to vote.

That’s why the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has spent more than a million dollars on this toss-up race through its independent expenditure arm, has also been doing more under-the-radar work to study these voters and find effective ways to talk to them.

Trump pressures House GOP leaders to get rid of committee chair term limits
President attacks primary foe Mark Sanford by bringing up affair with Argentine woman

Former South Carolina GOP Rep. Mark Sanford outside the Capitol. He is running for the GOP presidential nomination, drawing an early rebuke from President Trump. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Monday welcomed Congress back to Washington by pressuring House Republican leaders to make a major rule change and by trying to humiliate one of their former colleagues challenging him in 2020.

Trump started the workweek on Twitter after a number of memorable weekend tweets. He drew some GOP backlash after revealing a canceled — and highly controversial — Afghanistan peace summit at Camp David that would have put Taliban leaders within miles of the Pentagon into which their al-Qaeda allies crashed a passenger airliner 18 years ago. Some of his tweets lashed out at a singer John Legend and his TV personality wife Chrissy Teigen, while others touted books by political allies.

Why you should keep watching Iowa
Roll Call’s Bridget Bowman explains why Iowa is important, before and after the caucuses

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, pours waters at the Pork Tent at the Iowa State Fair in August. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

DNC blocks virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada
Committee cites cybersecurity concerns as reason not to go forward with plan

Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez speaks during an interview with radio station WHO at the Iowa State Fair. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic National Committee formally decided Friday not to move forward with virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada amid cybersecurity concerns.

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee agreed by voice vote to adopt the recommendation from DNC Chairman Tom Perez that the virtual caucuses should not take place since they would not be secure or reliable. Both states had devised plans to allow people to participate in the caucuses by phone to fulfill a DNC requirement that states provide an absentee voting option.

Republican retirements raise questions about GOP optimism in 2020
Serving in the minority is a new experience for most House Republicans

Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas, announced this week that he is not running for reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The recent string of House Republican retirements — even those from ruby-red districts — have raised new questions about whether GOP lawmakers are pessimistic about winning back the House in 2020.

Some Republican political operatives were split on what the recent retirements say about lawmakers’ political calculations, and whether they’re heading for the exits at the prospect of spending a few more years in the minority.

GOP poll finds close race for Democratic seat in Houston suburbs
Republican Wesley Hunt led Rep. Lizzie Fletcher by 2 points, survey found

Texas Republican Wesley Hunt is challenging Rep. Lizzie Fletcher in the Houston-area 7th District. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Lizzie Fletcher could be in for a tough reelection fight in 2020, according to a new Republican poll released Thursday. The survey gave GOP challenger Wesley Hunt, a former Army captain, a 2-point lead over the freshman Democrat in the Houston-area 7th District.