Bridget Bowman

They raised millions and lost. Now what?
Democrats who were top fundraisers look to stay involved in politics

Democrats who ran for the House in 2018 shattered fundraising records, some even surpassing Senate candidates. But not all of the cycle’s top fundraisers ended up winning their races. 

That’s left a number of candidates — with high profiles and massive donor lists — pondering their next moves. And some are still eyeing careers in politics. 

STEM group launches ‘Draft Mark Kelly’ effort in Arizona
314 Action is urging former astronaut to challenge appointed Sen. McSally

314 Action, a group that backs candidates with scientific backgrounds, is launching a new effort Wednesday to encourage former astronaut and Navy veteran Mark Kelly to run for Senate in Arizona. 

Kelly, who is married to former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is among a handful of potential Democratic challengers to appointed Sen. Martha McSally. The race is expected to be a top party target in 2020, and 314 Action is hoping a show of support will bolster Kelly’s decision to run.

Henry Cuellar says liberals targeting him don’t understand his district
Texas congressman says his polling shows his Democratic constituents are moderates

Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar said Friday that the liberal Democrats recruiting primary challengers against him are in for a rude awakening. 

The Washington Post first reported that Justice Democrats, a group targeting sitting Democratic lawmakers, launched a fund to support a primary challenge against Cuellar, one of the more conservative House Democrats.

Steve King primary challenger slams his ‘caustic nature’
Iowa Republican won re-election by just 3 points in solid GOP district

Controversial Iowa Rep. Steve King will face a Republican primary challenger next year, with state Sen. Randy Feenstra announcing Wednesday that he is running in the 4th District.

Feenstra, the assistant majority leader in the state Senate, did not mention the nine-term incumbent by name in his statement announcing he was forming a congressional campaign committee, but slammed King’s lack of influence.

&pizza, Au Bon Pain coming to the Capitol complex
The East Coast pizza company confirmed the move via text

Update 5:58 p.m. | Heads up hungry Hill staffers: &pizza will set up shop on the House side of the Capitol this month, and an Au Bon Pain will open later this year.

House Chief Administrative Officer Philip Kiko, who oversees food service on the House side of the Capitol, confirmed the news Monday evening. Kiko told HOH that &pizza will be opening in the Rayburn Building, and Au Bon Pain will open in the Cannon Building in the spring. The "pop-ups" from restaurants like Mission BBQ and Hissho Shushi that began in 2018 will also continue.

Roberts’ retirement likely to spark crowded GOP primary
Roberts announced Friday he would not run for re-election

Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts announced Friday that he would not run for re-election in 2020, launching what is expected to be a competitive Republican primary for his seat. 

“I have had the honor and privilege of representing Kansas for 16 years in the House, 22 years so far in the Senate,” Roberts said at an event in Manhattan, Kansas, on Friday. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become the longest serving member of Congress in Kansas history.”

Vulnerable new Democrats savor first day as 2020 looms
Democrats now shift to defense after winning back the House

Standing a few strides away from the House floor on Thursday, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips put his arm around another new Democrat, Haley Stevens of Michigan.

“It’s for real!” Phillips exclaimed.

Kevin McLaughlin Returns to the NRSC as Executive Director
McLaughlin served as the committee’s deputy executive director in 2016

Kevin McLaughlin is returning to the National Republican Senatorial Committee as its new executive director, Chairman Todd Young announced Friday.

McLaughlin was the committee’s deputy executive director for the 2016 cycle, when Young was elected to the Senate in Indiana, and he served as a senior adviser in the 2014 cycle. Like 2016, Republicans are largely on defense in 2020. Twenty-two GOP senators are up for re-election compared to 12 Democrats.

Papadopoulos Confirms Plan to Run for Congress
Former Trump campaign aide recently served time in prison

George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide who recently served time in prison, confirmed Friday that he does plan to run for Congress.

“It is true. I will be running for Congress in 2020, and I will win,” Papadopoulos tweeted Friday. “Stay tuned.”

Defeated GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin Calls for Recount to End
Maine Republican still has concerns about state’s ranked-choice voting system

Rep. Bruce Poliquin called Friday for the recount in his 2nd District to end. The Maine Republican initially requested the recount following his apparent loss to Democrat Jared Golden

Poliquin lost his race as part of the state’s new ranked-choice voting system for congressional races. Voters rank their choices in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority, the last place candidate’s votes are distributed to his or her supporters’ second choice. The process of elimination continues until a candidate gets majority support.

Sen. Jon Kyl Will Resign at the End of the Year
Arizona governor will have opportunity to appoint new senator

Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl is expected to retire from the Senate at the end of the month.

The Republican senator returned to the chamber in September after Gov. Doug Ducey appointed him to replace the late Sen. John McCain. He previously served three terms in the Senate from 1995 to 2013. 

At the Races: The Ghost of Midterms Past
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter. 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 … Some Republicans started worrying about retirements, Mainers have been recounting ballots faster than expected, and one Pelosi rebel faced a primary threat.

Bustos Announces DCCC Senior Staff, With New Female Executive Director
Allison Jaslow will be the committee’s executive director in 2018

Rep. Cheri Bustos, the new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairwoman, announced her senior staff hires for the 2020 cycle Thursday. Her campaign manager Allison Jaslow will be the committee’s executive director. 

The DCCC is shifting to defense in 2020 after flipping 40 seats to take over the House. The committee will be tasked with protecting vulnerable new members, including 31 Democrats running for re-election in districts President Donald Trump won in 2016.

With Minority Looming, Could More Republicans Be Headed for the Exits?
After the 2006 Democratic wave, 23 Republicans retired

Life in the minority will be a new experience for most House Republicans next year. And many of them may not remember what happened the last time the GOP lost the House.

After the 2006 Democratic wave, about two dozen Republicans opted to retire the following cycle instead of languishing in the minority. And some in the party are worried about a repeat. 

The Future of Ads Is Digital — But Not Quite the Present
Some say campaigns are still slow to shift to digital-focused strategies

There were plenty of signs that Democrats found success online this election cycle: catchy videos went viral; a burgeoning army of small-dollar donors produced eye-popping fundraising numbers; and voters targeted online showed up at the polls. 

But for some in the party, their digital efforts left much to be desired. Television ads still dominated campaigns, and Republican outside groups outpaced Democrats in digital ad spending. 

Scott Fairchild Named DSCC Executive Director
Fairchild is incoming chairwoman Cortez Masto’s chief of staff

Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is bringing her chief of staff over to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, naming Scott Fairchild on Friday as the committee’s new executive director.

Democrats are largely on offense in the 2020 cycle, but they will have to protect vulnerable incumbents including Alabama Sen. Doug Jones. Democrats are defending 12 seats while Republicans are defending 22.

The Antonia Ferrier Guide to Being Kind and Not Sweating the Small Stuff
Veteran Capitol Hill aide joining public affairs firm Definers

Antonia Ferrier is moving on from Capitol Hill, but she isn’t totally done with politics.

“I will definitely keep my toe, if not my foot, in politics,” the veteran staffer said in an interview at a coffeeshop downtown Thursday. She’s still figuring out exactly how she will continue to help the Republican team, and for now is looking forward to her new role off the Hill in public affairs.

Democrats Complete California Sweep as Valadao Concedes Central Valley Race
TJ Cox unseats three-term congressman in 21st District by 862 votes

California Republican Rep. David Valadao has conceded his re-election race to Democratic businessman TJ Cox, with the final vote count showing Cox ahead by 862 votes in the Central Valley district. 

Cox’s victory means Democrats have swept all seven GOP-held seats in California that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. Clinton won the 21st District by more than 15 points two years ago, while Valadao was winning re-election by 13 points. 

At the Races: Newsflash! GOP Women Call Their own Shots
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter. 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

NRCC Hacked in 2018 By ‘Unknown Entity’
FBI investigating but no further comment

The National Republican Congressional Committee was hacked in 2018 by an “unknown entity,” a committee spokesman acknowledged Tuesday.

“The NRCC can confirm that it was the victim of a cyber intrusion by an unknown entity,” spokesman Ian Prior said in a statement. “The cybersecurity of the committee’s data is paramount, and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter.”