Jason Dick

Power, Confirmation & Lies
High court confirmation battle comes to a head, and the midterms loom, kind of


After what seems like a nonstop election cycle since Nov. 9, 2016, with several special elections since then and a president that never seems to tire of political events, it’s safe to say even politics junkies are looking forward to Nov. 6, the day of the congressional midterms. Except … it might not even be over then, according to Roll Call elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales, who says the number of close House races and likely runoffs might preclude us from knowing who will be in control of Congress for maybe weeks to come. Thanks, Nathan. 

High Court, High Political Drama — Probably for Years to Come
Political Theater, Episode 37

In the middle of a singularly rough Supreme Court nomination fight, the business of the high court goes on. The fate of Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the court, is still up in the air. But the  direction of the court, regardless of what happens with Kavanaugh, seems to be moving inexorably negative, at least politically, say CQ legal affairs writer Todd Ruger and senior writer Kate Ackley in the latest Political Theater podcast.


All Senate Judiciary Democrats Formally Ask for Delay to Kavanaugh Vote
Combined with Republican panel member Jeff Flake, panel could entertain postponement

All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday formally asked for a delay in the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which, taken together with similar calls by one of the committee Republicans, Arizona’s Jeff Flake, add to the face-off between the judge and the woman accusing him of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford.

“We write to ask that you delay the vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. There are serious questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s record, truthfulness, and character. The Committee should not move forward until all of these questions have been thoroughly evaluated and answered,” the Democrats wrote in a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.

All Eyes in Congress on the Hurricane, and Beto and Willie
Religion, mother nature cut week short in Washington, so it’s back to the campaign trail

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Thanks to the weather and religion, Congress had one short work week. Due to Rosh Hashanah, neither chamber was in Monday or Tuesday, and didn’t get back into town until Wednesday afternoon. Then Hurricane Florence’s approach to the Atlantic seaboard brought with it worries of flight cancellations.

Beto O’Rourke: Not Just Another Bassist From El Paso
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 36

Rep. Beto O’Rourke has gained rock star status as an insurgent liberal candidate running against the established Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, but, but, but, says Nathan L. Gonzales, Roll Call’s elections analyst and the publisher of Inside Elections, O’Rourke’s rise to national prominence did not happen overnight or come out of nowhere. 

When Burt Reynolds Played a Congressman, It Was a Slippery One
The film icon had many memorable roles, but this was not one of them

Among Burt Reynolds’ least known roles is a particularly baroque portrayal of David Dilbeck, a fictional Florida congressman, in “Striptease,” the 1996 film based on the Carl Hiaasen novel of the same name. 

Playing a corrupt creep who is head over heels for Demi Moore’s stripper with a heart of gold Erin Grant, Reynolds went over the top in oozing sleaze in the role. 

Something Old, Something New, Someone Appointed, Neither Blue
Republicans Jon Kyl and Troy Balderson sworn in on Wednesday

Congress grew by two Republicans on Wednesday when Jon Kyl was sworn on the Senate side and Troy Balderson over in the House. 

Shortly after the Senate convened at noon and voted to confirm Elad Roisman to be a member of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Vice President Mike Pence swore in Kyl, a former Senate minority whip who retired in 2013 but was appointed on Tuesday to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Kavanaugh Drama Provides Political Stage for Democrats
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 35

In Latest Kavanaugh Drama, Democrats Block Routine Request to Meet
Faced with cutting committee meeting short, GOP leaders opt to adjourn chamber

Democrats do not have a lot of options to disrupt the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. But since the Senate can only operate by unanimous consent, it only takes one senator to object, and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer was ready on Wednesday. 

The New York Democrat used one of the few tools at his disposal by objecting to a routine request to allow committees to meet, forcing the chamber to prematurely adjourn for the day. 

Jon Kyl Appointment Latest Twist in Tumultuous Arizona Politics
Grand Canyon State will have two freshman senators for the first time since 1912

Say this for Arizona: Its politics are rarely boring.

Add to it now former Sen. Jon Kyl’s appointment to the Senate, the latest chapter in a period of political uncertainty that’s nevertheless a new experience for most Arizonans — at least when it comes to the relative stability of its senators.

Lying in State, Lying in Honor: How Capitol Hill Helps a Nation Mourn
Undercover Capitol takes you inside the historic workplace — one video at a time

Beginning Friday, Sen. John McCain's casket will be placed at the center of the Capitol Rotunda to honor his military service and decades of work in both the House and Senate. Editor Jason Dick offers a brief explainer of the two different ways to honor notable figures on Capitol Hill....
John McCain, One Senator, Five Funerals, No Shortage of Laugh Lines
Saying goodbye to an American icon

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

The Arizona part of the John McCain remembrance concluded Thursday, with three days to follow on the East Coast with memorial services at the Capitol Rotunda on Friday, the Washington National Cathedral on Saturday and burial at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, on Sunday. 

Remembering McCain: Personal Stories From CQ Roll Call Journalists
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 34

Sen. John McCain had countless interactions with members of the press during a career on Capitol Hill that spanned more than three decades. CQ's Patrick Pexton and Megan Scully along with Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski share personal anecdotes that reveal a more personal side to the late Arizona senator.

Show Notes:John McCain, Arizona and What It Means to be HomeMcCain vs. Trump: Can the President Give Up the Spotlight?Google ‘Prematurely’ Renames Russell Senate Office Building for McCain

John McCain, Arizona and What It Means to be Home
The Arizona Republican’s ideals about America were reflected in where he lived, and died

Like many Arizonans, Sen. John McCain was from somewhere else. But the Grand Canyon State has a way of getting its hooks into you, and that is particularly the case with Yavapai County’s Verde Valley, where McCain died on August 25 at his retreat near Cornville.

It’s a place I have my own complicated relationship with: It’s where I’m from, where I thought I’d left behind years ago and where I return to with greater fondness and attachment as I get older, but not necessarily wiser. (I would like to think McCain would approve of such self-deprecation, being a master practitioner himself.)

For Duncan Hunter, Legal Jeopardy — And Legal Fees Jeopardy
Courtroom and legal battles can lead to costly bills for years to come

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Rep. Duncan Hunter has legal problems that could haunt him for years. Not only are he and his wife Margaret facing multiple federal charges alleging they misused campaign funds for personal use, he will have a mounting pile of legal bills along the way.

How Duncan Hunter Became the Hunted Over Campaign Cash — Podcast
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 33

Pro tip: Don’t put in writing your complaints that your campaign treasurer won’t dish out petty cash for your personal use. That’s just one of the details outlined in the federal indictment against Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret.

They are in hot water over their alleged misuse of campaign finance funds, a pattern of using that cash for personal use, including for their kids’ tuition, family vacations and even dental work, and passing off purchases as charitable actions. The California Republican was already facing a potentially tough re-election race before the indictment hit on August 21. Roll Call’s Katherine Tully-McManus and Inside Election's Nathan Gonzales work through the legal and political ramifications on the latest Political Theater podcast. 

Hot on the Hill? Catch a Summer Break at This Hidden Capitol Gem
Undercover Capitol takes you inside the historic workplace — one video at a time

Long before air conditioning in the 1870s, a cool, sunken oasis with a babbling fountain was built to provide a welcome respite from the notorious heat of Washington summers. Have a virtual seat in the shade and learn more about the Summerhouse — sometimes called the grotto — on the Capitol grounds....
We Reviewed Andy Barr, Amy McGrath and Beto O’Rourke’s New Campaign Ads

Deputy editor Jason Dick and elections analyst Nathan L. Gonzales watch campaign ads from candidates in Kentucky and Texas and break down what the messaging might mean in the election to come....
Senate Busies Itself, Plus Chuck Norris and Some Cactus
The one-day work week is something we can all get behind

The spectacle of politics and how it fits, or doesn’t, into the nation’s culture. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

The Senate convened around noon on Wednesday. The Senate adjourned around 4:33 p.m. on Thursday. Now THAT is a work week!

Aretha Franklin Gets R-E-S-P-E-C-T From Lawmakers
Members of Congress recall personal connections, dedication to civil rights

As the news of the death of Aretha Franklin circulated, members of Congress recalled their personal connections to the Queen of Soul, as well as her long advocacy of civil rights. 

“What made her talent so great was her capacity to live what she sang. Her music was deepened by her connection to the struggles and the triumphs of the African American experience growing up in her father’s church, the community of Detroit, and her awareness of the turmoil of the South. She had a lifelong, unwavering commitment to civil rights and was one of the strongest supporters of the movement,” Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon in his own right, said in a statement.