At the Races

Was Hillary Clinton a terrible candidate?
Vote Above Replacement suggests she was more valuable than Trump

Hillary Clinton and campaign chairman John Podesta at a July 2016 meeting with Senate Democrats in the Capitol. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At the Races: Managing impeachment (and the spotlight)

By Bridget Bowman, Simone Pathé and Stephanie Akin 

Welcome to At the Races! 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.

Democrats try to expand House battlefield by targeting six more districts
With legislation stalled, campaign memo recommends blaming GOP and McConnell

The DCCC has once again added Alaska Rep. Don Young, the longest-serving House Republican, to its target list. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is adding six new targets to its 2020 battlefield, hoping to flip more Republican-held seats while protecting its House majority.

Having made historic gains in the 2018 midterms, Democrats started the year on defense. Republicans need a net gain of 18 seats to retake the House, and their first targets will be the 30 districts President Donald Trump won in 2016 that are currently represented by Democrats.

Rating change: With Hunter gone, California race shifts to Solid Republican
Democrat took 48 percent against wounded incumbent in 2018

Former Rep. Darrell Issa is seeking a House comeback bid from the district recently vacated by his fellow California Republican Duncan Hunter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected 2:02 p.m. | California Republican Duncan Hunter finally left the House and took any Democratic chances of winning the 50th District with him.

Hunter won reelection in 2018 by 3 points in a Southern California seat that Republicans shouldn’t have to worry about defending, considering President Donald Trump carried it by 15 points in 2016. Hunter was under indictment at the time, which shows the strength any GOP candidate should have in the district.

Liz Cheney is not running for Senate in Wyoming
Cheney is the only woman in House GOP leadership

Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., announced Thursday that she is not running for Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Liz Cheney, the only woman in House Republican leadership, announced Thursday that she is not running for an open Senate seat in Wyoming.

“I believe I can have the biggest impact for the people of Wyoming by remaining in leadership in the House of Representatives and working [to] take our Republican majority,” Cheney told the Casper Star-Tribune.

New Hampshire’s Kuster backs Buttigieg
Kuster is first from Granite State delegation to make an endorsement

New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster is backing Pete Buttigieg for president. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster backed former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg for president Wednesday night, less than a month before the Democratic presidential primary in the Granite State.

“With our country so consumed by division, Pete Buttigieg is the leader who can finally turn the page on the Trump presidency and bring our nation together,” Kuster tweeted. “He has the courage to break from the past to lead us to a better future — I’m excited to endorse him to be our next president.”

Impeachment managers all represent safe Democratic seats
GOP faces steep challenge to oust prosecutors of Trump

Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Wednesday news conference to announce the House impeachment managers: from left, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Sylvia R. Garcia, Jerrold Nadler, Adam B. Schiff, Val B. Demings, Zoe Lofgren and Jason Crow. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call photo)

Updated Jan. 16 10:45 a.m. | Speaker Nancy Pelosi went with Democrats from politically safe districts to prosecute the impeachment case against President Donald Trump in the Senate.

All seven impeachment managers named Wednesday are in races that Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Solid Democratic. Many of their Republican challengers haven’t even raised any money yet. That could change given these Democrats’ new, high-profile role, but the fundamentals of their races would have to shift significantly to make a difference in the outcome.

Klobuchar doubts security explanation for impeachment trial press limits
Rules ranking Democrat has expressed opposition

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar during Tuesday’s Democratic primary debate Drake University in Des Moines. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

The top Democrat on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee expressed vehement opposition to new press access restrictions planned for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was in Iowa on Tuesday to participate in a Democratic presidential debate ahead of the state’s first in the nation caucuses, but it was clear that she was keeping track of the decision-making about the Senate operations during the upcoming trial.

Is Trump really the MVP of the GOP?
Data shows he underperformed compared to baseline Republican vote in key states

President Donald Trump may not be as extraordinary a candidate as he gets credit for, and his status as GOP savior might be overrated, Gonzales writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After a tumultuous 2018 that saw them lose their House majority, Republicans often seem eager to dismiss those midterm results as typical while pining for the next election when President Donald Trump will top the ballot and drive turnout in their favor.

A closer look, however, shows Trump may not be as extraordinary a candidate as he gets credit for, and his status as GOP savior might be overrated.

Senators make their last pitch to Iowa before impeachment trial
Impeachment trial will mean weeks in Washington ahead of caucuses

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, during the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday with former Vice President Joe Biden in Iowa, a state they may not have much time to visit ahead of the Feb. 3 caucuses once President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

For the senators running for president, Tuesday’s debate carried extra importance.

It wasn’t just the last debate ahead of the state’s caucuses — just three weeks away — it was also potentially their last big hoorah in the Hawkeye State before they’re stuck in Washington for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump that’s set to begin next week.

Tough political tactics are not criminal, ‘Bridgegate’ defendants argue
In Supreme Court appeal, ex-New Jersey officials rely on ‘get over it’ defense

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie saw his 2016 campaign for president disrupted by the “Bridgegate” scandal. (Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As members of Congress prepared Tuesday for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, former New Jersey public officials convened at the Supreme Court to argue lingering questions from “Bridgegate,” the last major public corruption scandal to disrupt a presidential election campaign.

As Chris Christie — the former New Jersey governor and unsuccessful 2016 Republican presidential candidate — looked on from the court chambers, lawyers representing two of his former political allies presented an argument that would be familiar to anyone following the White House rebuttal to impeachment charges.

Dems say GOP broke ethics rules using video trackers in House office buildings
Democratic campaign arm seeks ethics probe

Democrats accused Minnesota GOP Rep. Tom Emmer of violating House ethics rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is accusing its GOP counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, of violating ethics rules by sending trackers to video record members of Congress in House office buildings. 

The DCCC filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday alleging the NRCC and its chairman, Minnesota GOP Rep. Tom Emmer, violated House rules barring lawmakers from using official resources for political purposes.  Twitter accounts for the NRCC and some of the committee’s spokespeople posted videos of Democrats in House office building hallways being questioned by someone in December and January. 

West Virginia’s Richard Ojeda is back, this time running for Senate
Ojeda ran for House and president, now takes on Shelley Moore Capito

Richard Ojeda ran for West Virginia’s 3rd District in 2018. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Richard Ojeda, the West Virginia Democrat who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, lost a bid for the House in 2018 and made a short-lived run for president, is now trying to challenge Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito this year. 

Ojeda, a former state senator and retired Army major, announced his campaign on social media and in a blog post on the website of DemCast, a nonprofit advocacy group. 

Max Rose backs Mike Bloomberg, who donated to his 2018 opponent
Rose is one of the most vulnerable House Democrats running in 2020

New York Democratic Rep. Max Rose endorsed former Mayor Michael Bloomberg for president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg picked up his first congressional endorsement Monday, with New York Democratic Rep. Max Rose backing his bid, even though Bloomberg donated to Rose’s 2018 opponent.

Bloomberg gave $5,400, the maximum allowed from an individual, to Republican Rep. Dan Donovan in April 2018, Federal Election Commission documents show. The donation came two months before the June primary, when Donovan was facing a challenge from former GOP Rep. Michael G. Grimm. Donovan went on to win the primary but lost to Rose by 6 points in November. 

New Jersey’s Cory Booker ends his presidential campaign
Booker said he didn’t see a path to victory without more money

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is ending his presidential bid. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker ended his presidential campaign on Monday, saying he was out of money.

“Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win — money we don’t have, and money that is harder to raise because I won’t be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington,” Booker said in a statement.