Special Election

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.

Georgia's Tom Graves won’t run for reelection in 2020
Graves’ departure will open up a safe Republican seat

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves said he is retiring to spend more time with his family. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Georgia Rep. Tom Graves, a Republican serving his fifth full term, is not running for reelection in 2020, leaving behind a solid red district.

“As we all do, I’m entering a new season in life. An exciting season,” Graves said in a statement Thursday, in which he said the holidays have been a “time of reflection.”

Duncan Hunter’s expected exit could be a relief for GOP
Republicans are confident they will hold Hunter’s seat without him on the ballot

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter announced he would plead guilty to using campaign funds for personal purposes, he also indicated he wouldn’t run for reelection. That’s likely welcome news for Republicans looking to hold on to his seat. 

“We’re going to pass it off to whoever takes this seat next, and we’ll make sure that that’s a seamless transition,” Hunter told KUSI News on Monday. “I think it’s important to keep the seat a Republican seat.”

North Carolina’s George Holding left with few options for 2020
This is the second time redistricting has altered GOP congressman’s district

North Carolina Rep. George Holding’s new district lines are less favorable to Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

North Carolina Rep. George Holding has been here before, facing a district that doesn’t look like the one he currently represents. 

But unlike in 2016, when court-mandated redistricting moved his seat across the state and he choose to run in a different district closer to home, the partisan composition of his current 2nd District has now changed significantly, becoming virtually unwinnable for a Republican. 

Missouri Democrat underscores challenge to Rep. Ann Wagner with eyebrow-raising 24-hour haul
Democrats are targeting St. Louis-area district in quest for further gains in the suburbs

Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner has drawn a higher-profile Democratic challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Missouri Democratic state Sen. Jill Schupp, who is challenging Republican Rep. Ann Wagner in a St. Louis-area district, raised over $225,000 in the 24 hours after she launched her bid Tuesday, her campaign said. 

Democrats are sure to seize upon the number as a sign of continued leftward momentum in the suburbs. 

Kelly Loeffler’s second day on the job will set mark for Georgia women
The only other woman to represent Georgia in the Senate served a single day

Rebecca Latimer Felton was the first woman to serve in the Senate — for one day in 1922. (Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division).

Businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, appointed Wednesday by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to replace Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson, is set to become only the second woman to represent the Peach State in the United States Senate. But when she is sworn in next month, she will occupy the same seat once held for a single day in 1922 by Democrat Rebecca Latimer Felton, the first woman to ever serve in the chamber.

Felton, an activist for women’s suffrage and a newspaper columnist, already had a long political career when she was appointed at the age of 87 to represent Georgia in the Senate. During the 1870s, she served as an unofficial campaign manager, adviser and speechwriter to her husband, William Felton, who represented Georgia in the House from 1875 to 1881.

Johnny Isakson farewell highlights challenges in Georgia Senate race
Political reality may make it difficult for his GOP successor to follow his bipartisan lead

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson walks to the Senate floor Tuesday to deliver his farewell address. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican and Democratic senators took a break from their predictably partisan conference lunches Tuesday afternoon for a bipartisan barbecue honoring Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The outpouring of tributes made clear the Georgia Republican’s successor will have big shoes to fill, and the political reality is that financial executive Kelly Loeffler, whom Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp will announce Wednesday as Isakson’s replacement, might not have an easy time following his bipartisan lead.

Impeachment hearing more about Judiciary panel than witnesses
Members poised to use testimony to highlight concerns with president’s behavior, committee’s process

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler has not revealed much about impeachment strategy, but the open hearing and unscripted nature of member questions could make that hard to maintain. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Judiciary Committee’s first hearing Wednesday in a push to impeach President Donald Trump will be more about the members of the committee than the witnesses, and what it reveals about where the process is headed in the next two weeks.

Four constitutional law experts will appear to discuss the meaning of the Constitution’s impeachment standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But members from both sides are poised to use the testimony to highlight their concerns with the president’s behavior or their concerns with the impeachment process.

Georgia governor defies Trump with appointment to Isakson Senate seat
Gov. Brian Kemp has chosen Kelly Loeffler, but Rep. Doug Collins may run anyway

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson is resigning at the end of the year. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is expected on Wednesday to appoint financial executive Kelly Loeffler to the Senate seat that Sen. Johnny Isakson is vacating at the end of the year.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which broke the news that Loeffler would be Kemp’s pick, reported the timing of the appointment. Isakson is scheduled to deliver his farewell address to the Senate on Tuesday.

Why Georgia matters to Democrats in 2020
Democrats think they can make the state a presidential, Senate and House battleground

Taking the stage before the Nov. 20 Democratic presidential debate were Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and businessmen Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer. (MSNBC Photo)

Several of the presidential candidates who debated Wednesday night in Atlanta were sticking around on Thursday, even though some of them will be out of the race by the time Georgia holds its March 24 primary and the state has not backed a Democrat for president since 1992.

The reason for that is that Democrats up and down the ballot are expecting intense contests in Georgia next year, including two for Senate seats that could determine which party controls the chamber.