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At the Races: We have 2020 vision

By Stephanie Akin, Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé

Welcome back to At the Races! We are relaunching just as the campaign cycle gets interesting. Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

GOP women’s group backs 13 non-incumbents for 2020
Winning for Women's affiliated super PAC plays in primaries

Former GOP Rep. Karen Handel has secured the backing of Georgia’s Republican governor and two senators in her bid to reclaim the 6th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Winning for Women, a nonprofit political group that supports Republican women, is backing 13 House candidates on Wednesday in its initial round of 2020 endorsements. 

The group is also backing all Republican women in Congress who are seeking reelection. That includes the five of the eight Republican women in the Senate who are up for reelection next year and 11 women in the House. Two of the 13 GOP women currently serving in the House have announced they won’t be running in 2020.

Some Democrats see political system overhaul as winning 2020 issue
Bill to revamp campaign finance and voting passed House early, then stalled in Senate

Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., talks with the media after votes on Capitol Hill in September. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If Rep. Max Rose’s voters expected the freshman lawmaker from Staten Island, New York, to quiet down this election cycle about a major overhaul of the nation’s political system, they were mistaken.

It was a centerpiece of the Democrat’s campaign-trail mantra in 2018. And now, as one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress, he’s not stopping. Neither are many of his similarly situated colleagues.

Senate Majority PAC announces new senior staff
Democratic super PAC raised and spent more than $164 million in 2018 cycle

J.B. Poersch is the president of Senate Majority PAC. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic super PAC focused on Senate races is announcing a new round of senior staff hires, according to an announcement shared first with CQ Roll Call. All of the new staffers are women with experience in competitive races. 

Senate Majority PAC is a major spender in Senate races and its president, J.B. Poersch, said the group is looking to expand the Senate map in 2020. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates eight GOP-held Senate seats as competitive, and Democrats need a net gain of four seats to flip the Senate (or three if they win the White House, since the vice president casts the chamber’s tie-breaking vote).

Fundraising update: Some House freshmen raising more than embattled senators
Democrats continuing to tap large groups of small donors

Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw raised more money during the third quarter than two of his party’s most embattled senators. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than a year out from the 2020 elections, new disclosures show House members continue to set the pace for congressional fundraising, with several freshmen raising nearly as much as or more than some of the most vulnerable GOP senators and their Democratic challengers.

That’s especially true of House Democratic freshmen, some of whom are continuing a trend started last year when, as candidates, they raised more in the quarters leading up to Election Day than Senate candidates.

Democrats press Senate to take up overhaul of campaigns and ethics
Before two-week recess starts, Pelosi touts bill House passed 200 days ago

Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Thursday news conference in the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As House Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry based largely on possible campaign finance violations against President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other House Democrats sought a fresh spotlight for their stalled political money, ethics and elections overhaul measure.  

The House passed the bill by a vote of 234-193 along party lines on March 8, 200 days ago, the California Democrat noted. 

Elizabeth Warren’s K Street overhaul
Plan would prohibit former lawmakers and officials from lobbying, expand ‘cooling-off’ periods and more

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at the Iowa State Fair in August. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator who regularly blasts the lobbying and influence sector, announced a new set of proposals Monday aimed at curbing the revolving door between business and government.

She would prohibit members of Congress and other top officials from ever becoming lobbyists and would expand cooling-off periods to at least two years for lower-level officials.

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. 

Could take FEC a while to regain a quorum, but don’t expect a ‘Wild West’
Watchdog agency will not have enough commissioners to hold meetings or issue guidance

The hearing room sits empty at the Federal Election Commission's headquarters in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even as the Federal Election Commission prepares to grind to a halt on the cusp of the 2020 elections, campaign finance experts say politicians and donors who flout the nation’s political money rules may still suffer consequences.

The hobbled agency, which is supposed to have three Democratic and three Republican commissioners, will be down to just three total commissioners starting next week with the departure of Republican Matthew Petersen on Aug. 31. That means the FEC can’t hold meetings or hearings, let alone take enforcement action against rule-breakers, because it lacks the minimum of four commissioners required for a quorum.

DCCC adds six more Trump districts to its 2020 target list
House Democrats are expanding their potential battlefield to 39 seats

The House Democrats’ campaign arm is targeting Virginia GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is adding six more districts to the list of seats it’s targeting in 2020. 

After gaining a net of 40 seats last fall, the House Democrats’ campaign arm released its initial 2020 target list in January that included 32 GOP-held seats and the open seat in North Carolina’s 9th District, which is holding a special election next month.