illinois

Dem Senate Takeover Probable, If Cruz or Trump Nominee

The prospect of Trump or Cruz at the top of the ticket makes Republicans holding onto control of the Senate much more difficult. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

With Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz seemingly positioned to fight it out for the Republican presidential nomination, Democrats are now poised to take over the Senate in November.  

The two Republicans still in the race who could help their party’s Senate prospects, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, continue to flounder. While a deadlocked GOP convention in Cleveland could, at least in theory, nominate a candidate with broad appeal and low enough negatives to revive the party’s Senate prospects, that development is both a long way in the future and a long shot.  

Cruz and Kasich Implausible Scenarios Keeping Trump on Top

Even though he's not a factor in the Super Tuesday primaries, Kasich is banking on later ones in his home state of Ohio and in neighboring Ohio and Michigan. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

The early primaries usually winnow presidential fields because each one tests aspects of a candidacy, and because only victories keep the money flowing.

But while this Republican field has winnowed, it hasn’t shrunk as much as some would like. Part of the answer involves the existence of super PAC money, which allows a handful of contributors to keep a candidacy alive. But maybe even more important this time is the shape of the field and the nature of the front-runner.  

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.  

Handicapping the GOP Race Past Iowa

While Trump, center, and Cruz, right, have established themselves as front-runners, Rubio has broken away from other establishment candidates. (Scott Olson/Getty Images File Photo)

Have we entered a new period in American politics, when establishment candidates on the GOP side don’t win their party’s nomination? That is the question I posed in a June 4, 2015 column . It is still a relevant question.  

While I answered that it is a mistake to assume that the establishment candidate would inevitably win the GOP nomination, I doubted that combative candidates such as Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, could pass the smell test for most Republicans.  

Obama’s Empty Campaign Threat on Gun Control

Obama listens to a question from Pintal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu during a town hall event on Thursday. (Aude Guerrucci/Pool/Getty Images)

In the heat of his push for more gun control, President Barack Obama threatened to withhold support from anyone, including Democrats, who didn’t support “common-sense” changes. But based on the political realities of this cycle, his comments aren’t likely to dramatically impact Senate races.  

“Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen,” Obama wrote in a New York Times op-ed . “I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform.”  

Top Races in 2016: The Midwest

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker votes in Milwaukee on Election Day 2014. (Darren Hauck/Getty Images File Photo)

This is the fourth in a series of eight regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races for 2016. The Midwest Region covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.  

Wisconsin Senate: Republican Ron Johnson knocked off Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold by 5 points in 2010, but Feingold is back to try to reclaim his seat. Even though Feingold lost re-election, he starts the rematch with a positive image and Republicans have to remind voters about why they fired him or what they should like about him in the years since he was tossed from office. Johnson is laser focused on fixing the economy and hasn’t bothered with some of the niceties of the Senate.  

Illinois Filing Deadline Passes, Along With 2 Democratic Takeover Opportunities

Davis appears to be in better shape next year than when he narrowly won last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 3:20 p.m. | It’s not even 2016 yet, but the filing deadline for candidates in Illinois came and went on Tuesday. Democrats failed to recruit top-tier candidates in two competitive districts, which means the map Democrats drew after the last census will fall short of its desired intent once again.  

In the last round of redistricting, Democratic majorities in the state Legislature redrew the congressional map to favor Democratic candidates, and the party controlled two-thirds of the delegation (12 of 18 districts) after the 2012 elections. The only Democratic or swing district that Democrats didn’t win was the 13th, where Republican Rodney Davis won a narrow victory.  

Who Is the Second Most Vulnerable Senate Incumbent in 2016?

Johnson's re-election race, along with those of Ayotte and Toomey, are at the core of the battle for control of the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There is little doubt about the identity of the most vulnerable senator seeking re-election next year. It’s Illinois Republican Mark S. Kirk, who hopes to win a second term in a very Democratic state in a presidential year. His prospects are bleak.  

But who ranks just behind Kirk as the second most vulnerable senator up next year?  

State Senator Prepares GOP Primary Challenge to Shimkus

Shimkus has a lifetime 66 percent rating from the Club for Growth but his 2014 score fell to 34 percent. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

State Sen. Kyle McCarter is poised to launch a primary challenge to GOP Sen. John Shimkus in Illinois’ 15th District later this week, according to GOP sources.  

The news shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. McCarter has been openly discussing the possibility with fellow Illinois Republicans since at least August, when I wrote about him in The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report.  

Group Suggests 'Schock Waves' in Illinois Special Election

Schock's replacement will be chosen in a Sept. 10 special election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Most Democratic strategists probably couldn’t name their party’s nominee in the upcoming race for Illinois’ 18th District, or even remember that there is a special election on September 10. But one not-for-profit group is trying to gin up interest in a possible historic outcome, even as the final result is likely to be pretty routine.  

Rob Mellon sounds like it could be the name of a band featuring White Zombie’s frontman covering Blind Melon songs. In reality, Mellon is an Army veteran, high school history teacher and the Democratic nominee against Republican Darin LaHood in the race to replace former GOP Rep. Aaron Schock.