Moore Campaign Removes Endorsement From Deceased Conservative Leader
Phyllis Schlafly died a year ago

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is racking up endorsements from inside the state and around the country for his challenge to Republican Sen. Luther Strange, but one in particular stood out: renowned — and deceased — conservative leader Phyllis Schlafly.

Schlafly died on Sept. 5, 2016, at the age of 92, two months before Donald Trump won the presidential election and four months before Republican Jeff Sessions left his Senate seat in order to become attorney general, yet she was included on the endorsements page of Moore’s campaign website. 

Strange and Allies Overwhelming Moore in TV Ad Spending
One week to go in competitive Alabama Senate special primary

Sen. Luther Strange and allies are dramatically outspending Roy Moore and friends on television in the special Republican primary in Alabama.

With a week to go before the runoff, Moore is leading the appointed senator by a couple points or more, depending on the poll.

LGBTQ Women Balance Opportunity, Possible Extinction in Congress
Close calls, impossible races, and evolving bench contribute to low numbers

It’s been almost 20 years since Tammy Baldwin’s historic election, yet just one woman has followed her through the LGBTQ glass ceiling. And if both women lose competitive races in 2018, the next Congress could be without any LGBTQ women.

While the lack of LGBTQ women in Congress is inextricably linked to the dearth of women on Capitol Hill, the story of lesbian candidates includes some close calls, quixotic races, and a movement still evolving to position more qualified LGBTQ women to run for higher office.

Rating Change: Dent Retirement Puts Seat in Play
Pennsylvania Republican says seventh term will be his last

Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent capped a tumultuous week for Republicans on the Hill by announcing he would not seek re-election in 2018, leaving his 15th District open and vulnerable to a Democratic takeover.

Dent’s decision is the biggest news to come out of Allentown since earlier this summer when Philadelphia Phillies rookie slugger Rhys Hoskins was called up to the major leagues and hit home runs at a faster initial pace than any player in history, after batting 29 home runs with 91 RBIs for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Ratings Changes in 15 House Races
Expanding battleground benefits Democrats

With 14 months to go before Election Day, the House battleground continues to take shape. Even though there is some uncertainty about what the political climate will look like next fall and whether normal historical midterm trends will hold under President Donald Trump, the House playing field is expanding, almost entirely in the Democrats’ direction.

As we’ve mentioned plenty of times before (and will likely repeat over and over again), history puts the Republican Party at a disadvantage: The president’s party has lost seats in 18 of the last 20 midterm elections, with an average loss of 33 seats. Democrats need to gain 24 seats next year for a majority.

Rating Change: Reichert Retirement Shifts Seat Away From Republicans
Race for Washington’s 8th District moves from Solid Republican to Tilts Democratic

There are still 110 days until Christmas, but Republican Rep. Dave Reichert just gave Democrats an early gift. The seven-term congressman announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election, opening up his competitive 8th District seat in Washington and giving Democrats a prime takeover target.

Democrats have had their eye on the district, which includes suburban King and Pierce counties, east and south of Seattle, but Reichert hadn’t been particularly vulnerable since President George W. Bush left office. His profile as a former King County sheriff who captured a serial killer helped him carve out an image independent from an unpopular Congress.

‘Scam PACs’ Strike Again in Utah, Wisconsin
Beware of fundraising pitches from unaligned committees

Mysterious and misleading political action committees are nothing new, but two recent examples demonstrate just how brazen some PACs are becoming in their money-grabbing email pitches.

“BREAKING: Sheriff Clarke Resigned,” announced the subject line of a Sept. 2 email from the Sheriff David Clarke for U.S. Senate (Official Draft Campaign). The subsequent text of the message was supposedly explanatory, yet nearly completely wrong.

House Retirement Tide Is Coming
Current number of House members retiring is far below average

A large crop of House members are likely to retire in the coming months, not necessarily because President Donald Trump is polarizing, the parties are divided, or Capitol Hill is “dysfunctional” — but because 40 years of history tell us it’s going to happen.

Since 1976, 22 House members, on average, have retired each cycle without seeking another office. Thus far this cycle, just five members fit that description: Republicans John J. Duncan Jr. of Tennessee, Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, Sam Johnson of Texas, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and Democrat Niki Tsongas of Massachusetts.

Rating Change: Democratic Prospects Improve in Kansas House Race
Republican incumbent Lynn Jenkins not seeking re-election

President Donald Trump won Kansas’ 2nd District by nearly 20 points last fall, but Democrats have Republicans on the defensive in the open seat race.

GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins is not seeking re-election to a sixth term in the eastern Kansas district, retiring from public office altogether. Republicans normally wouldn’t have to worry about the seat falling into Democratic hands. Trump topped Hillary Clinton last year, 56 percent to 37 percent, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections, while Jenkins won 61 percent to 33 percent.

Rating Change: Flake More Vulnerable in Arizona
Ongoing feud with Trump complicates GOP senator’s re-election bid

The acrimony between President Donald Trump and Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, which is already making the senator’s re-election bid more challenging, should only intensify during the president’s rally in Phoenix on Tuesday night. 

Flake is known as a Trump opponent, which could make him vulnerable in the primary. The feud appeared to start in a private meeting a year ago, but has since escalated. Earlier this summer, Flake published a book, titled “Conscience of a Conservative,” publicly criticizing the Republican Party for the rise of Trump. 

Rating Change: Alabama Senate Race No Longer Solid GOP
Polarizing potential nominee could give Democrats a shot at takeover

The Alabama Senate special election certainly isn’t a toss-up, but the possibility that former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore might become the Republican nominee creates the potential for a Democratic upset.

President Donald Trump’s polarizing persona is creating significant risk for congressional Republicans in next year’s midterm elections. But his decision to pluck Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions out of the Senate for his Cabinet created a special election this year that is turning out to be more adventurous than expected, considering Trump won the Yellowhammer State by 28 points less than a year ago.

‘Kid Rock’ May Be Ineligible for Michigan Ballot
Elections bureau would decide whether Robert Ritchie can use stage name

Robert Ritchie may end up challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow in Michigan next year, but his stage name, Kid Rock, may not be allowed to appear on the ballot.

Kid Rock is a household name to Americans under the age of 50, and voters might be attracted to vote for him, as a middle finger to the political establishment. But it’s not immediately clear whether his famous stage name would appear on the ballot or if he’d be required to run under his less-known given name. 

Merkley’s Mild Town Hall in a Red County
Oregon Democrat talks health care to a receptive audience

DALLAS, Ore. — With a divided country and two divided parties, town halls are supposed to be ground zero for angst, anger, and animosity, but not in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Donald Trump carried Polk County in the last presidential election but Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley found a largely sympathetic audience Wednesday at his town hall meeting here in its county seat.

Roughly 150 people gathered at the Oregon National Guard’s Col. James W. Nesmith Readiness Center on the outskirts of Dallas (population: 16,345, according to a sign when you enter town), to hear from one of their senators and enjoy the air conditioning on a sweltering afternoon.

When Congressional Spouses (Allegedly) Misbehave
Jane Sanders not the first to get into legal trouble amid a re-election

With congressional job approval hovering around 17 percent, members of Congress are carrying their own baggage into their re-election races, even without the weight of a spouse in legal trouble.

Jane Sanders isn’t a stranger to the spotlight, as her husband, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, ascended the political ladder and nearly claimed last year’s Democratic Party presidential nomination. But now she’s in the news because of a federal investigation into a real estate deal and a corresponding bank loan during her tenure as president of the now-defunct Burlington College in Vermont.

Rating Change: Nevada Senate Race Moves to Toss-Up
Feeling pressure from both sides, Dean Heller is more vulnerable

As the only Republican senator up for re-election in a state won by Hillary Clinton last fall, Dean Heller had a tough task ahead of him next year.

And that was even before he started enduring attacks from within his own party.

Rating Change: Open Seat Gives Democrats Takeover Opportunity in New Mexico
Rep. Steve Pearce vacates 2nd District seat to run for governor

With re-election rates often hovering above 90 percent, open seats represent a critical factor in the Democrats’ quest for a House majority. New Mexico’s 2nd District has been an elusive target for years, as long as Rep. Steve Pearce has been on the ballot.

But the Republican congressman’s decision to run for governor opens up a majority-Hispanic district that could be vulnerable if an anti-GOP wave develops.

Mapping Out 2018 in the Senate
Democrats are still on the defensive but can’t be dismissed

Eight months into the 2018 election cycle and with 16 months to go, the fundamentals of the Senate map haven’t changed.

One state has been added to the map: Alabama.

Rating Change: Bellwether Illinois District Returns to the Playing Field
Democrats land top recruit to challenge Rep. Mike Bost

One Reason Why Republicans Don’t Have More Women in the Senate
GOP misses a rare opportunity in Missouri

Women make up less than 10 percent of the Republican senators in Congress, and the GOP’s most qualified (and only top-tier) female hopeful just walked off the Senate playing field with nary a protest from Republican leaders.

Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner’s challenge to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill has been one of the worst-kept secrets of the cycle. The third-term congresswoman, a former United States ambassador and onetime co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, had $2.8 million in her campaign account at the end of March. She had been doing everything a future Senate candidate was supposed to do, right up until Monday when she announced she was running for re-election to her 2nd District seat instead.

GOP Campaign Tracker Violates Bipartisan Truce (Again)
But party campaign committees still say Senate hallways are off limits

Trackers have become standard operating procedure in today’s campaigns, as young operatives follow and record candidates’ every move and whisper with the hope of catching a gaffe. But up to this point, there has been rare bipartisan agreement that the Senate hallways were off limits.

“New low for 2018 campaign season- Rs are so threatened by @Heidi4ND they have a tracker waiting in the hall outside her Senate office #NDPol,” tweeted Tessa Gould on June 27. Gould is North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s chief of staff and former campaign.