At the Races

Utah bill would give primary voters less say on who appears on special election ballots
Measure is latest development in yearslong struggle over party nomination process

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, right, with his wife, Sue, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan at his mock swearing-in ceremony in November 2017. Curtis won his special election after successfully petitioning to get on the GOP primary ballot. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Utah voters would have fewer opportunities to weigh in on candidates to fill certain congressional seats under legislation that quietly passed the state Legislature this week. 

The bill, which has yet to be signed by the governor and has so far received little attention from local media, would change the process by which candidates appear on primary ballots in special elections to replace House members who resign in the middle of their terms. For those elections, only candidates nominated by delegates from either party would be able to run. Candidates would not be able to make the ballot by petitioning voters. 

Dan Lipinski demurs on LGBTQ bill, Marie Newman pounces
Illinois congressman is only House Democrat not co-sponsoring Equality Act

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., hasn’t signed on to the Equality Act because he says it conflicts with his position on religious liberties. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When House Democrats introduced a signature measure this week that would extend civil rights protections for LGBTQ people, only one from their ranks was missing from the long list of co-sponsors — Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski. His likely primary challenger was watching. 

Marie Newman, who is exploring another progressive bid to unseat the eight-term lawmaker, drew attention to Lipinski’s apparent lack of support for the measure, dubbed HR 5, in a fundraising email Thursday. 

NRCC targeting House Democrats on impeachment
Committee is launching new digital ads in all 55 of its target districts

NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer says Democrats need to “definitively state” where they stand on impeachment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The National Republican Congressional Committee aims to pin House Democrats on the issue of impeaching President Donald Trump through a series of digital ads launching Friday.

The ad campaign is the latest sign that Republicans will try to tie vulnerable Democrats to their more liberal colleagues to win back the House. 

Meet the 12 GOP senators who voted to terminate Trump’s national emergency
Group includes conservatives worried about precedent and a moderate facing a tough re-election

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman announced Thursday that he would support the effort to terminate President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Twelve Senate Republicans rebuked President Donald Trump on Thursday by voting to block his declaration of a national emergency at the southern border.

The group includes moderate senators — including one up for re-election in 2020 — and conservatives who balked at the president circumventing Congress. Trump declared a national emergency last month after lawmakers failed to appropriate his desired funds for a border wall. (Six of the 12 Republicans who joined every Democratic senator in supporting the resolution serve on the Appropriations Committee.)

Can Republicans make up any ground in New England in 2020?
Only real pickup opportunities for party are in Maine and New Hampshire

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, right, is the only New England Republican left in Congress. Republicans could pick up another seat by defeating New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The prospects for a Republican rebirth in New England in 2020 are dim.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, the only New England Republican left in Congress, is likely facing her most competitive re-election next year.

No caucus, no problem? Some freshman Democrats avoid ideological groups
Six new Democrats have not joined caucuses with an ideological focus

Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., center, is one of six freshman Democrats who is not in an ideological caucus. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Joining a caucus with like-minded colleagues is a typical ritual for House freshmen, a chance to form alliances with lawmakers in similar wings of their respective parties. 

But it’s not for everyone. A handful of freshman Democrats have opted not to join any of the party’s ideological groups: the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition, and the centrist New Democrat Coalition.

DCCC wastes no time launching positive ads on HR 1 passage
Democrats view legislation as key campaign message even if it won't pass the Senate

The DCCC is running positive digital ads in the districts of its 44 Frontline members, including Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath, left, and Illinois Rep. Lauren Underwood, right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Immediately after the House passed Democrats’ political money, ethics and voting overhaul on a straight party-line vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched digital ads praising the legislation in 44 districts where its incumbents may be facing tough re-elections.

The early digital spending, shared first with Roll Call, underscores how important Democrats view the political optics of HR 1, which is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate. 

Marie Newman gearing up for another primary challenge to Dan Lipinski
Illinois challenger came within 2 points of defeating the longtime Democratic incumbent

Marie Newman is raising money for another possible primary challenge to Illinois Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After falling 2 points short of defeating longtime Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski in a Democratic primary last year, Marie Newman is raising money for a 2020 challenge to the eight-term incumbent. 

“I want you to know the rumors are true: I’m actively exploring another run for Congress,” she wrote in an email to supporters Thursday morning. 

It’s no longer all about Republican primaries for the Club for Growth
The club played in more general elections in 2018 and expects that to continue in 2020

David M. McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth, believes his group needs to play in general elections, not just Republican primaries. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Club for Growth has long been an arbiter of crowded primaries in safe Republican seats, but its role is evolving in the era of President Donald Trump. 

The group’s super PAC and PAC are still major players in internecine battles — the club successfully torpedoed a candidate in a Pennsylvania nominating convention over the weekend and is already interviewing candidates for two House special elections in North Carolina. 

Why this North Carolina Democrat thinks he can succeed Walter Jones
Conservative 3rd District backed Trump by 24 points in 2016

Retired Marine Col. Richard Bew is running for North Carolina’s 3rd District as a Democrat. (Courtesy Richard Bew’s campaign)

No Democrat stepped up to challenge Rep. Walter B. Jones last fall. The Republican congressman ran unopposed for a 13th term in North Carolina’s 3rd District.

But Jones’ death last month has triggered a September special election, and some Democrats are giving this military-heavy district another look. 

North Carolina officials set dates for 9th District special election
A new election was called following allegations of election fraud

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has set the dates for a special election in the 9th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has set dates for a special election in North Carolina’s 9th district after allegations of election fraud threw the results into question.

A primary election will take place on May 14. If no candidate receives 30 percent of the vote, a runoff will take place on Sept. 10 and the general election will be Nov. 5. But if a primary runoff is not necessary, the general election will take place on Sept. 10.

Gun safety group hits Democrats and Republicans on background check vote
Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is running digital ads in seven districts

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is running digital ads urging Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton’s constituents to contact him about his vote against expanded background checks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is running digital ads to try to hold accountable lawmakers who voted against expanding background checks in the House this week. 

The ads, obtained first by Roll Call, target five Republicans who voted against the so-called Bipartisan Background Check Act of 2019, as well as the two Democrats who opposed it. The legislation would require background checks for all gun sales between private individuals.

EMILY’s List names 2020 House and Senate targets
Pro-abortion rights group is targeting 43 House Republicans and six senators

EMILY’s List plans to target Minnesota GOP Rep. Pete Stauber in 2020, although he was not listed as an initial DCCC target. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

EMILY’s List is looking to expand the Democratic House majority and flip the Senate next year, naming 43 House Republicans and six GOP senators on its initial list of 2020 targets, shared first with Roll Call.

“EMILY’s List is actively recruiting and working with potential candidates in these flippable districts,” Stephanie Schriock, president of the pro-abortion rights group, said in a statement. “We look forward to sending even more pro-choice Democratic women to Congress next year to fight for health care, economic justice, and to end corruption.”

Meet the lawmakers who didn’t stick to their parties’ position on guns
Eight Republicans and two Democrats crossed the aisle on Wednesday

New York Rep. Peter King voted for expanded background checks and has long been the lead Republican co-sponsor of the measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With the help of eight Republicans, the Democratically-controlled House on Wednesday passed new gun safety legislation that would expand background checks.

And while the legislation isn’t likely to go anywhere in the Senate, it was a top priority for many new Democratic members who came to power last fall by making gun safety a salient campaign issue. An overwhelming majority of Americans support universal background checks.

Joaquin Castro coy on Senate run while leading border wall fight
Texas Democrat has been mentioned as potential challenger to GOP Sen. John Cornyn

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, led the effort to overturn President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro has been at the forefront of the Democratic effort to overturn  President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to fund a wall along the southern border. 

Almost every Democrat and 13 Republicans supported Castro’s disapproval resolution, which passed Tuesday evening by a vote of 245—182.