Politics

At the Races: A Knight’s Tale

Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter by subscribing here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman

This week...Another House Republican called it quits, Trump endorsed Donovan and candidates sprinted toward next week’s primaries.

#TBT

California GOP Rep. Steve Knight celebrated in 2014 when he drew the first pick for a congressional office. Will he be celebrating his re-election this November? Democrats hope not.
California GOP Rep. Steve Knight celebrated in 2014 when he drew the first pick for a congressional office. Will he be celebrating his re-election this November? Democrats hope not.

Starting Gate

The Most Vulnerable California Republican? Some operatives in both parties believe Rep. Steve Knight is the most vulnerable Republican in California. So what’s going on in his race, and why are Democrats optimistic about flipping a seat once considered a GOP stronghold? Find out with Bridget’s dispatch from northern Los Angeles County, where she caught up with Knight and the Democrats trying to beat him. And get a glimpse of the campaign on the ground with this two-minute video.

*BOOKMARK* There’s been a lot of attention on California, but seven other states are hosting primaries Tuesday. Keep track of which primaries are when with Roll Call’s midterm guide. And stay tuned to At the Races for our coverage of next week’s contests.

Where Are All the Women? Democratic women have found success in recent primaries, but many say they’ve faced a few barriers in California. That could help explain why there aren’t any Democratic women in three out of the party’s 10 targeted races there, and why only one top woman is left in some of the other contests.

For more on next week’s primary in California, check out Roll Call’s Decoder podcast, where Nathan L. Gonzales explains the origins of the top-two primary system. He and Bridget also break down the races where the top-two system could be an issue for Democrats looking to win back the House.

Big Sky Spending: For most of this year, the GOP Senate primary in Montana was a relatively sleepy affair, especially compared to nastier internecine battles in Indiana and West Virginia. But recent outside spending is breathing life into this “beauty pageant.”

Grimm News for Michael: The former Staten Island congressman who’s cast himself as the pro-Trump candidate for New York’s 11th District got snubbed Wednesday night

A Plot Twist? After insisting he’d return to Congress in 2019 at a bizarre press conference last week, Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett reversed course on Monday. The freshman Republican announced that he’s an alcoholic and will not be running for re-election to focus on his recovery. So while the Garrett saga seems to have come to an end, the battle for the 5th District could just be getting started. Democrat Leslie Cockburn had already been outraising Garrett. Republicans in the district will pick a replacement candidate this weekend.

The Count: 5

Immigration legislation is a priority for many moderate Republicans in tough races this year. But House Republicans face five major obstacles in trying to strike a deal, our colleague Lindsey McPherson writes.

Nathan’s Notes

Stu Rothenberg doesn’t trust anyone who tells him they already know the makeup of the electorate in the fall. But we’re trusting him to tell us what to look for. In his column this week, he spells out the most important ingredient to explaining recent midterm election outcomes.

Candidate Confessions

Dean Phillips’ first business venture, before joining his family’s company, was making bicycle seat cushions filled with liquid to ease the ride. He admits it didn’t work out that well. These days, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate drives an International Harvester around Minnesota’s 3rd District. The “Government Repair Truck” (and you thought we were hokey…) is from 1960 — the last time a Democrat held the seat. Phillips doesn’t pass out Talenti gelato or vodka through the side window (two products that have been part of his family fortune), but he does serve coffee from what he described as a solar-powered coffee maker. He sold the gelato company to Unilever in 2014, but his favorite flavors remain vanilla and pistachio.

Reader’s Race

What happens in Vegas … You all wanted to hear about Nevada’s 3rd District this week, so here we go. Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen is vacating the seat to run for Senate. The seat was open last cycle too, and it attracted the most outside money of any House race (cha-ching goes the slot machine). Republicans were hopeful that this could be one of their few offensive opportunities with Rosen out of the way, since President Donald Trump carried the district by 1 point in 2016. But a lot depends on who gets through the June 12 primary.

Nine Republicans have filed for the seat and three have more than $100,000 in cash on hand, with perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian leading the pack with $730,000 in the bank. This is his second consecutive run for the 3rd District, after dropping an earlier primary challenge to GOP Sen. Dean Heller at Trump’s urging. State Sen. Scott Hammond and physician Annette Teijeiro also have more than $100,000 on hand. Former television news reporter Michelle Mortensen is also in the GOP mix.

Seven Democrats have filed for the seat, but Susie Lee, a philanthropist involved in an education nonprofit, is considered the top candidate. She has more than $1 million on hand and has been endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden. Lee was also part of the first wave of candidates added to the DCCC’s Red to Blue program, and she’s been endorsed by the political arm of the moderate New Democrat Coalition. Inside Elections rates the race Tilts Democratic.

For next week, let us know which race you want to know more about: Maryland’s 6th District or Colorado’s 2nd District.

We Want to Hear from You!

Talk to us. It’s easy. Reply to this email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. As always, send us any race you think we should pay more attention to and we’ll look into it.

Photo Finish

When you’re the only Democrat at a conservative radio candidate forum, you kind of stand out. Sam Jamal, second from left, abstains from showing support for the death penalty during a forum with Republican candidates in California’s 39th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call).
When you’re the only Democrat at a conservative radio candidate forum, you kind of stand out. Sam Jamal, second from left, abstains from showing support for the death penalty during a forum with Republican candidates in California’s 39th District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call).

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