Where House and Presidential Races Converge

Coffman, R-Colo., faces a tough re-election race in a true presidential swing state. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s going to be hard for most House races to get any attention this year, with a competitive presidential race and the fight for control of the Senate. But a handful of districts have the luxury of not only hosting a competitive House race, but also being swing areas of presidential battleground states.  

In states such as New York, California or Minnesota, House strategists and campaigns are largely on their own to motivate voters and get them to the polls. But in a few districts, House strategists and candidates can focus on persuading voters, since the presidential nominees, national parties and, in some cases, the Senate campaigns will have done the heavy lifting to get out the vote.  

In Purple Virginia, Bill Clinton Revs Up Democrats

Former President Bill Clinton speaks at a campaign event for his wife, Hillary Clinton, in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Former President Bill Clinton waltzed into a stifling recreation center in Alexandria, Va., Wednesday afternoon and told 400 Hillary Clinton supporters that this time, it wasn't his fault.  

"I was dressed and ready to go two hours ago," he said, explaining that he was late because first, his plane couldn't take off and then, it couldn't land. The crowd, who'd queued up hours earlier in a persistent drizzle, didn't care. They wiped their brows and settled in to hear Clinton improvise one of his characteristically engaging, and sometimes rambling, stump speeches about what his wife would do if president.  

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.  

Rigell Retirement Shifts Seat Out of Safe for GOP

Rigell's retirement will likely cause Democrats to take a look at the seat he is vacating. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Why House Races Still Matter (Even in Safe Districts)

Brat's primary upset over then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in 2014 interrupted the GOP's succession plan, which was years in the making. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The media is laser focused on Donald Trump and the presidential race and any scraps of attention are given to the fight for the Senate majority, while House races are deemed irrelevant.  

But even though the majority is not in imminent danger, there are at least three reasons to pay attention to House races.  

Before He Runs for Governor in 2017, Wittman Faces Uncertain District in 2016

Wittman is running for governor in 2017. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Virginia's 1st District Rep. Rob Wittman announced over the weekend that he's running for the GOP nomination for governor in 2017.  

“Obviously our focus is on winning in 2016, but I am preparing for 2017,” Wittman told The Washington Post on Dec. 12.  

4 Court Cases That Could Impact the 2016 Elections

The court will review whether Virginia lawmakers improperly “packed” minority voters into Scott district to minimize their influence elsewhere. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Breaking news can be hard to predict, except when it’s tied to a controversial court case.  

Candidates and consultants spend their time, energy and dollars staying on message — trying to focus voters on winning issues. But breaking news, even something such as a court decision that can be anticipated, often derails those plans by interjecting a subject that wasn’t in the campaign prospectus into the national conversation. It’s far too early to declare which issues will be decisive in the 2016 elections, but a handful of court cases are likely to become news throughout the next year. That would force candidates for president, the Senate, and the House to respond, creating opportunities for them to shine — or to say something controversial, even stupid.  

What to Watch for on Election Day

Bevin, left, who ran an unsuccessful GOP Senate primary in Kentucky in 2014, is trailing in the Bluegrass State gubernatorial contest. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Voters in a handful of states across the country head to the polls Tuesday for a slate of elections that political handicappers use as an off-year election bellwether of what might happen in 2016.  

And while no federal offices are on the table, results from these states will have implications for House and Senate contests in 2016.  

Former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie Announces Virginia Governor Run

Gillespie is a longtime political operative. Above, he speaks to the crowd during Mitt Romney's campaign election night event event in Boston. (Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)

Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie confirmed to The Washington Post Friday that he intends to run for governor in Virginia.  

There was wide speculation earlier this week that Gillespie, who narrowly lost a challenge to Sen. Mark Warner last fall, would mount a bid after his friend, state Sen. Mark Obenshain, passed on the race Monday.  

Virginia Republicans Expect Ed Gillespie to Run for Governor

Virginia Republicans expect Gillespie to launch another bid for statewide office. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Photo)

Virginia Republicans are chattering that former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, who narrowly lost a 2014 Senate bid to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, is ready to run for political office again. Gillespie has been widely considered a potential gubernatorial candidate since his November loss. But r eports of Gillespie's intentions to launch a bid surfaced after GOP state Sen. Mark Obenshain, a friend of Gillespie's,  announced Monday that he would not seek the executive mansion. Aides to Gillespie told CNN  Monday afternoon that a formal announcement of his campaign will come "at the appropriate time."  

"I think they had an agreement," former Rep. Tom Davis told CQ Roll Call on Monday. "But I don't know if that's the last word," Davis added, suggesting other Republicans are likely to get into the race.