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This week … two more lawmakers announced their retirements, red-state Democrats took a stand on taxes, an Indiana super PAC jumped into the Alabama Senate race and liberals started attacking Democrat Dan Lipinski.
Breaking Up Is Hard: Every member announces their retirement a little differently. Several lawmakers told us they didn’t tell the party campaign committee or leadership for fear their decision would leak out. So far, 19 current House members have announced they’re not running for any office next year, and the time after a holiday recess often brings a fresh round of retirements. The first after the Thanksgiving recess was Illinois Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez. Texas Rep. Joe L. Barton is the latest.
*BOOKMARK* Keep track of all the members who won’t be returning here with Roll Call’s Departing Members list.
A Taxing Dilemma? A number of Senate Democrats running for re-election in 2018 announced this week they’re opposed to the GOP tax plan. That means they could face sharp criticism from President Donald Trump, who won 10 of the states with Democratic senators up in 2018. He wasted no time calling out Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill on his Wednesday trip to Missouri and also made a nod to her potential GOP opponent.
Indiana First, or Indiana Second? An Indiana-based super PAC recently created by a former leader of a youth group that turned to white nationalism is hoping to spend $40,000 on canvassing and radio ads for Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore. Its founder once worked for former Indiana state Rep. Mike Braun’s Senate bid (more on Braun below), but the PAC has no plans to play in the Indiana Senate race. So what are its plans for the Hoosier State in 2018?
Your Choice: NARAL Pro-Choice America is on the air against Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, who has a primary challenger from the left. Marketing consultant Marie Newman picked up the backing of four other liberal groups on Tuesday, as well as New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand earlier this month. Lipinski has maintained abortion opponents need a home in the Democratic Party. (Meanwhile, the national party has recruited another conservative Democrat, who voted against legalizing same-sex marriage, to run in New Jersey’s 2nd District in 2018.)
The Count: 23
The political arm of the New Democrat Coalition added 10 challengers to its list of candidates to watch in 2018. That brings the total number of Democratic recruits on the list to 23. While not an endorsement, the recognition is an effort by the PAC to get involved in House primaries earlier this cycle.
A handful of competitive races in Orange County could decide the House majority. Nathan L. Gonzales recently spent time in the area, where he saw both parties’ ground games up close. While the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee can coordinate with candidates, the Congressional Leadership Fund is focused on canvassing. A couple of things CLF door-knockers care about? Whether you have an American flag and/or a pet.
All three major candidates for the GOP Senate nod in Indiana are graduates of Wabash College. Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita graduated just one year apart, while former state Rep. Mike Braun graduated about a decade and a half earlier. He’s got plenty of his own money to put into the race … just not from his brother. Former state Rep. Steve Braun, who’s running for the open 4th District, maxed out to Rokita. Dipping his toe into the age-old Hoosier residency debate, Braun (the Senate candidate) says he won't move to D.C.
Wisconsin Senate Race: Last week we asked you to choose between the Wisconsin Senate race and North Carolina’s 9th District. The Badger State won. All eyes are on the GOP primary in Wisconsin, where the winner will take on Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Trump carried the state in 2016 by less than 1 point. Nathan rates this race Tilts Democratic.
Marine veteran (and former Democrat) Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir are facing off in the Republican primary. Both have significant financial backers. Nicholson is supported by Richard Uihlein (who is also funding a pro-Roy Moore super PAC), while Vukmir has the support of billionaire Diane Hendricks, who backed GOP Gov. Scott Walker.
Nicholson already has the support of the conservative Club for Growth PAC. This week he also hired Jeff Roe (Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign manager) as his general consultant. (Remember, Cruz won Wisconsin.) Vukmir is allied with Walker. The governor’s son is working as her deputy political director, and Walker’s former campaign manager launched a super PAC to support her.
While Republicans battle it out before the Aug. 14 primary, Baldwin is highlighting policies that she said she championed long before Trump, like “Buy America” provisions that support U.S. products. But Republicans say she’s too liberal for the GOP-leaning state. (She was the only Trump-state Democrat to sign onto Medicare-for-All legislation.)
For next week, let us know which race you want to know more about: Ohio’s 7th District or the Missouri Senate race.
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