Campaigns

At the Races: Walking and chewing

By Bridget Bowman, Simone Pathé and Stephanie Akin

Michigan Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens reminded a group of reporters yesterday, “It’s sort of the metaphor of walking and chewing gum at the same time that everybody likes to use around here.”

National Democratic groups litigate 2020 in the courts
Party committees are trying to expand the electorate by challenging state voting laws

DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos says some GOP state legislators were trying to “keep African Americans away from the ballot box.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than in previous election cycles, national Democratic groups are making litigation over election and voting laws a key part of their 2020 strategy. 

A handful of Democratic groups are currently litigating about a dozen cases over what they see as unfair election laws and maps across the country. 

Pelosi endorses Christy Smith in race to replace Rep. Katie Hill
Democrat has been racking up endorsements from the California delegation

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has endorsed Assemblywoman Christy Smith in the special election for California’s 25th District. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is taking sides in the race to replace former Democratic Rep. Katie Hill in California, endorsing Assemblywoman Christy Smith over liberal talk show host Cenk Uygur.

“I am proud to endorse Christy Smith because she will work to fight corruption, lower the cost of prescription drugs, fully fund public schools and build a strong middle-class economy that works for all Americans,” Pelosi said in a statement shared first with CQ Roll Call. 

Democrats plan campaign health care push ahead of House vote
DNC, state parties view health care as a winning issue in 2020

Democrats in battleground states plan to go on offense on health care this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats in battleground states are using an expected vote this week on a prescription drug bill to shift the focus on the campaign trail to health care, an issue they believe helped them win the House in 2018 and will help them defeat President Donald Trump in 2020. 

The effort comes as GOP super PACs and Trump have been working to portray Democrats as focused on a politically driven impeachment vendetta rather than legislation and policies that would help voters who gave them control of the House last November.

NC Rep. George Holding retiring, cites redistricting as factor
Holding’s district became more Democratic under the redrawn boundaries

Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., speaks as the House Ways and Means Committee marks up tax overhaul legislation in 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected 12/10 | Rep. George Holding announced Friday that he will not run for Congress again in 2020 in his own district or a neighboring one. The North Carolina Republican’s district became more Democratic on a new congressional map.

Holding’s decision comes after he said earlier this week that he would not run in a district that he could not win and that he would not challenge a sitting Republican in a neighboring, and more favorable, district.

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. 

Washington Democratic Rep. Denny Heck not running for reelection
Heck said investigating Russian election interference and impeachment ‘have rendered my soul weary’

Rep. Denny Heck, D-Wash., is not running for reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Denny Heck announced Wednesday that he is not running for reelection. The Washington Democrat, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, cited the impeachment investigation as part of the reason for his retirement.

“The countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary,” Heck wrote in a Medium post.

Kamala Harris drops out of 2020 presidential race
Harris had been lagging in the polls and struggling to gain traction

California Sen. Kamala Harris, seen in Iowa this summer, is ending her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.  (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Sen. Kamala Harris announced Tuesday that she is suspending her presidential campaign, citing a lack of financial resources. 

“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Harris wrote in a letter to supporters Tuesday.  “It is with deep regret — but also with deep gratitude — that I am suspending my campaign today.”

Democratic lawmakers slowly take sides in 2020 primary
30 percent of congressional Democrats have endorsed, with most backing Joe Biden

From left, Massachusetts Reps. Lori Trahan, Ayanna S. Pressley, and Katherine M. Clark have all endorsed their home-state senior senator, Elizabeth Warren. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than two-thirds of Democratic lawmakers have yet to take sides in the presidential primary, a sign that the race remains in flux. But the campaigns that have nabbed congressional endorsements so far could benefit from shows of support, particularly from high-profile freshmen.  

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s decision to back Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna S. Pressley’s endorsement of her home-state senator, Elizabeth Warren, grabbed national headlines. But support from lawmakers with lower profiles can still help presidential campaigns generate local media attention, demonstrate support from key constituencies and provide a team of surrogates who can be deployed across the country. 

Democrats could pick up at least 2 seats with new NC districts
Congressional elections will likely go forward under new map drawn by NC’s GOP-controlled legislature

Former state Rep. Deborah Ross, who lost a 2016 Senate bid, has filed to run in North Carolina’s 2nd District. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

North Carolina’s congressional elections will go forward under the new maps that the GOP-controlled legislature drew last month, a panel of state judges ruled Monday.

Democrats are likely to pick up two seats under the new configuration, which they’d been challenging in court for not adequately remedying the 2016 maps, which the court had already found to be an unlawful partisan gerrymander.

Garland Tucker drops Senate primary challenge to North Carolina’s Thom Tillis
Self funding candidate had forced Tillis to spend money early

A self-funding primary challenger to North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis is dropping his challenge to the first-term senator. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Retired businessman Garland Tucker is not filing for Senate with the state Board of Elections on Monday, dropping his primary challenge to North Carolina GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection in 2020.

Through a combination of loans and contributions, Tucker had given his campaign about $1.3 million by the end of September, which had forced Tillis to spend money early to build up his name recognition and base of support with conservatives. Tillis reserved more than $2 million earlier this year in TV advertising. Trump endorsed Tillis, but the first-term senator was still booed at the president’s most recent rally in the Tar Heel State.