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Former Takai Staffer Still Getting Paid from Campaign Cash
Paid himself a monthly salary of $5,759 a month from late congressman’s campaign account

A former staffer for the late Rep. Mark Takai, D-Hawaii, is still being paid a salary after Takai's death. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A former staffer for the late Hawaii Rep. Mark Takaiis still getting paid thousands of dollars from Takai’s campaign coffers after the congressman’s death more than a year ago.

Dylan Beesley was Takai’s campaign manager and said after Takai died of pancreatic cancer that he became campaign treasurer at the request of the family, according to Hawaii News Now.

Darrell Issa Retiring, Opening Up Competitive House Seat
Issa was one of the most vulnerable incumbents in 2018

California Rep. Darrell Issa is retiring, leaving behind a competitive Southern California seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 7:58 p.m. | Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is retiring after nine terms in Congress, opening up a competitive House seat in California.

“While my service to California’s 49th District will be coming to an end, I will continue advocating on behalf of the causes that are most important to me, advancing public policy where I believe I can make a true and lasting difference, and continuing the fight to make our incredible nation an even better place to call home,” the congressman said in a statement Wednesday.

DCCC Announces Second Round of ‘Red to Blue’ Candidates
With seven additions, Red to Blue program includes 18 challengers so far

Army veteran Max Rose, who’s running in New York’s 11th District, has been named by the DCCC to its Red to Blue list. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is naming seven more candidates to its Red to Blue program, which highlights Democratic recruits who have met certain campaign goals.

The list of challengers, obtained first by Roll Call, brings the total number of Red to Blue candidates to 18. The DCCC is rolling out additions to its list more frequently and in more targeted batches than in previous cycles. The committee released its first round of picks in November.

Senate Match-Ups Yet to Take Shape Ahead of 2018 Primaries
Competitive Republican primaries begin in just four months

The first competitive GOP Senate primaries are in May (Illustration by Chris Hale).

With Ohio’s Josh Mandel ending his Senate bid last week, the one Senate race in which the matchup long looked like a foregone conclusion won’t be a rematch of 2012 after all.

The Republican challenger is still unknown in plenty of other races too, with competitive primaries beginning in just four months.

More Than $175,000 Raised for Moore Accuser After House Fire
Neighbors say a man with a history of public intoxication was seen near the house before the fire

Authorities suspect arson in the fire that burned Roy Moore accuser Tina Johnson’s home last week, but they don’t believe it is related to her accusations. (gofundme.com)

More than $175,000 has been raised to assist one of Roy Moore’s accusers whose house was destroyed in a fire last week.

Tina Johnson’s home in Gadsden, Alabama, caught fire on Wednesday, but authorities said they do not believe it was related to her accusing the disgraced former Senate candidate, ABC News reported.

Budget Chairman Race: Three Candidates, Few Differences
Republican Steering Committee meets Tuesday to recommend Diane Black’s replacement

From left, Reps. Rob Woodall of Georgia, Bill Johnson of Ohio, and Steve Womack of Arkansas are vying to be the next House Budget chairman. The Republican Steering Committee will meet Tuesday to make its recommendation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photos)

Three Republican congressman elected in 2010 who want Congress to overhaul mandatory spending programs and believe they have the consensus-building skills to make it happen are all competing to be the next House Budget chairman. 

The three-way race between Reps. Rob Woodall of Georgia, Steve Womack of Arkansas and Bill Johnson of Ohio has largely been conducted behind the scenes as the candidates have reached out to colleagues on the Republican Steering Committee.

Blackburn Announces $2 Million Haul
Has $4.62 in cash on hand

Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Steve King, R-Iowa, are seen outside a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol last month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn is set to report she raised $2 million since she announced her candidacy for Tennessee’s Senate seat. 

Blackburn’s campaign also announced that the average donation for her campaign was $341. 

Topic for Debate: Time to End Congressional Debates?
Real deliberation and persuasion are so rare, the move might improve Hill functionality

In the GOP’s successful push for its tax overhaul, floor debates appeared to have no influence on changing members’ positions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Here’s a modest proposal to jumpstart the new year: Do away with what passes for “debate” on the floors of the House and Senate.

Doing so would mean Congress is facing up to its current rank among the world’s least deliberative bodies. It may be a place suffused with rhetoric, some of it pretty convincing at times, but next to no genuine cogitation happens in open legislative sessions and precious few ears are ever opened to opposing points of view.

Tina Smith Has Just 10 Months to Keep Her New Job
New Minnesota senator will face voters in November special election

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, appointed to replace Sen. Al Franken, will face voters in a special election in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Tina Smith just got here. And now she has 10 months to try to keep her new job as Minnesota’s junior senator.

She’ll face voters in a November special election to fill out former Democratic-Farmer-Labor Sen. Al Franken’s term. It’s an incredibly condensed timeline for what could be a competitive race in a state Hillary Clinton won by less than 2 points in 2016.

EMILY’s List Endorses Minnesota’s Tina Smith
Democratic PAC will connect her with national donor network

Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith, seen here with family members at her mock swearing-in ceremony Wednesday, has earned the endorsement of EMILY’s List. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A day after being sworn into the Senate, Minnesota’s Tina Smith picked up the endorsement of EMILY’s List on Thursday for the November special election.

The political action committee, which backs female Democratic candidates who support abortion rights, will work with Smith’s campaign in an advisory role and introduce her to its national donor network.