Cheri Bustos

If it’s possible to ‘win’ August recess, these members did
Just don’t call it a vacation

Iowa's senior senator celebrates touring all of Iowa’s 99 counties with a brain freeze. (Courtesy Sen. Chuck Grassley/Instagram)

August is traditionally the time when members of Congress take a monthlong break from D.C., escaping the sweaty, oppressively hot swamp for their individual states. Recess, a tradition that predates air conditioning, is now known as a “district work period” — because lawmakers HATE that you’re in any way implying that they’re on vacation.

While their constituents are judging members on how much “work” they did during their time in their districts this August, we’re judging them based on who looked like they had the most fun.

These 4 Democrats want a rematch in 2020 after narrow losses in 2018
Races in California, Illinois, Iowa and New York already on parties’ radar

Democrat J.D. Scholten is running again in Iowa’s 4th District after losing to Rep. Steve King by 3 points in 2018. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Several Democrats have already announced they will run for the House again in 2020 after losing by 4 points or less in their first-ever campaigns last cycle.

Four of those candidates — Betsy Dirksen Londrigan, Ammar Campa-Najjar, Nate McMurray and J.D. Scholten — say they know more now about how to run, and feel there’s unfinished business that merits a sequel.

Democrats go on defense in crucial heartland House race in Iowa
GOP has sights on Iowa’s 2nd District, which backed Trump in 2016

Former Iowa state Sen. Rita Hart is running for the Democratic nomination for Iowa’s 2nd District after Democratic incumbent Dave Loebsack opted against reelection. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

WHEATLAND, Iowa — Republicans sense an opportunity in the rolling corn and soybean fields in southeastern Iowa. But Democrats won’t be giving up their hold on this heartland district without a fight.

Republicans’ path to the House majority runs through the 31 Democrat-held districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016. And one of them, Iowa’s 2nd District, ranks among the GOP’s best pickup opportunities next year because it’s the only one of the 31 without an incumbent defending the seat.

Exodus at the DCCC: Top aides quit House Democrats' campaign arm
Allison Jaslow, a close ally of Bustos, had started at the committee this cycle

Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, flew back to Washington to meet with DCCC staff this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos announced the appointment of a new interim executive director Monday as she seeks to quell internal jousting between lawmakers and the committee about diversity representation in its upper ranks.

“Today has been a sobering day filled with tough conversations that too often we avoid, but I can say confidently that we are taking the first steps toward putting the DCCC back on path to protect and expand our majority, with a staff that truly reflects the diversity of our Democratic caucus and our party,” Bustos said in a statement.

Targeted House members boost fundraising, as Democrats’ dominance continues
On average, targeted Democrats raised $100,000 more than targeted GOP members

California Rep. Katie Porter raised the most of any Democratic lawmaker whom Republicans are targeting in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Targeted House members in both parties generally improved their second-quarter fundraising compared to the same period two years ago, but Democrats continued to outpace their Republican counterparts as they worked to protect their majority.

The fundraising reports, which cover the three-month period of April through June and were filed on Monday, will likely quiet questions about whether the wave of cash that bolstered Team Blue in the midterms would return for Democratic lawmakers facing tough reelections in 2020. 

How long is 4 miles in the shadow of the Capitol?
Horton’s Kids brings Congress east of the river, but gap still remains

Nathan Woods came to the Capitol with Horton’s Kids in the 1990s. (Courtesy Horton’s Kids)

Nathan Woods can still hear the gunshots outside his D.C. home in the early ’90s. He grew up in Wellington Park, a neighborhood less than four miles from the lobbying and lawmaking of Capitol Hill.

When he was a sophomore at Woodberry Forest High School, an all-boys boarding school down in Virginia, he got the call: His oldest brother, Errick, had been shot in the head. By the time he got to the hospital, his brother was dead.

Former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling announces he’s running in Iowa
Former congressman moved across the river from his old district in 2017

Former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling, who lost to DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos after district lines were redrawn, is running for the seat that Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack is retiring from in Iowa . (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Illinois Rep. Bobby Schilling announced that he’s running for the open seat in Iowa’s 2nd District, across the Mississippi River from his old district.

Iowa Democratic Rep. Dave Loebsack announced in April that he would retire at the end of his seventh term next year. The race could be competitive: President Donald Trump carried the district in 2016.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and run somewhere else
Comeback trail for 2020 candidates sometimes means running in a different district — or state

Rep. Susie Lee won Nevada’s 3rd District last fall after losing the Democratic primary in the 4th District two years earlier. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of House candidates this cycle aren’t letting previous losses — or geography — get in the way of another congressional run. Dozens of members of Congress lost races before eventually winning, but some politicians are aiming their aspirations at different districts, and in some cases different states, to get to Capitol Hill.

In Arizona, Democrat Hiral Tipirneni lost two races to Republican Debbie Lesko in the 8th District last year, including a special election. This cycle, she is seeking the Democratic nomination in the neighboring 6th District to take on Republican incumbent David Schweikert.

Bad News Babes defeat Congress for fourth year in a row
Charity game sets record by raising $365,000 for breast cancer charity

Lawmakers high-five members of the media at the congressional women’s softball game Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The forecast that called for rain Wednesday evening cleared out to make way for another, much fiercer storm: the D.C. press team.

The Bad News Babes crushed the members’ team for the fourth year in a row at the Congressional Women’s Softball Game. It was a 10-3 blowout.

Brooks wants more Republican women to run in 2020 — even if she won’t
NRCC recruitment chair says she’ll have more time now to recruit and mentor candidates

Rep. Susan Brooks, one of 13 GOP women in the House, is not running for re-election in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The party that’s already lacking in women in the House is losing a giant in Indiana Republican Susan W. Brooks, who announced her retirement Friday.

One of just 13 women in the GOP conference, the four-term lawmaker had been heavily involved in recruiting and mentoring Republican women well before she was named recruitment chair this cycle for the National Republican Congressional Committee, a role she’ll keep despite not seeking re-election in 2020