At the Races

Trump Nudges Danny Tarkanian Out of Heller Challenge
Frequent candidate will run for the House again

Danny Tarkanian, Republican candidate for several offices over the years in Nevada, poses with a basketball at the Tarkanian Basketball Academy in Las Vegas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump threw vulnerable Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller a lifeline Friday, nudging conservative primary challenger Danny Tarkanian out of that race and into one for a House seat.

It “would be great” if Heller “could run for Senate unopposed!” he wrote in a tweet. Trump urged “good guy” Tarkanian to end his bid to unseat Heller and run for the U.S. House instead.

Special Election Possible for Louise Slaughter’s Seat
Power to set the date of election lies with New York’s Democratic governor

It is not immediately clear if or when a special election for the seat of the late New York Rep. Louise M. Slaughter might take place. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A special election is possible to replace Rep. Louise Slaughter, who died Friday after suffering a concussion last week. New York state law gives Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo discretion over when to call such an election.

There is no set amount of time by which a governor has to announce a special election after the vacancy occurs. But once the governor does so, the election date must be between 70 and 80 days after the proclamation.

Lamb to Challenge Rothfus in 17th District, Says Local Party Official
Pa. Democrat won special election this week in neighboring district

Conor Lamb, Democratic congressional candidate for Pennsylvania’s 18th district, greets supporters at an election night rally March 14, 2018 in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Lamb claimed victory against Republican candidate Rick Saccone. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Democrat Conor Lamb is running in the 17th District against GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus, after winning an upset victory in the 18th District. The news was first reported by the Beaver County Times and confirmed by a local Democratic official. 

The move was expected since Rothfus’ seat became more favorable to Democrats in the recent Pennsylvania redistricting. The state Supreme Court imposed a new congressional map, which is still being challenged in federal court. Under the new lines, President Donald Trump would have won Rothfus’ seat by two points. 

At the Races: Keystone State Nail-Biter
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns


Mark Your Calendars: The second congressional primaries in the country are in Illinois on Tuesday. Democrats are targeting four GOP-held seats in the state, where EMILY’s List has played an early, influential role backing candidates it thinks will be viable in the general election. But the Prairie State primary that’s received the most attention is actually in a solid Democratic seat. EMILY’s List is involved in this race too (although it took a while for the group to endorse), and it’s quickly become a flashpoint in the fight over the identity of the Democratic Party. On one side is first-time candidate Marie Newman, who’s backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (who carried the 3rd District in 2016), two members of the Illinois delegation (pictured above), New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, SEIU and a coalition of reproductive rights and progressive groups.

Romney Could Create ‘New Power Center’ in Senate, Flake Says
Arizona Republican: Senate needs ‘an independent voice’

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said the Senate needs someone like Mitt Romney. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the same day former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney filed to run for Senate in Utah, retiring Sen. Jeff Flake said the chamber needs someone like Romney to be an “independent voice.”

“We need Mitt Romney in the Senate,” the Arizona Republican said Thursday at an event at the National Press Club. “We need an independent voice, somebody who will enter the Senate chamber with immediate gravitas and someone who can work across the aisle, and actually, I think, create a whole new power center in the Senate. I think that’s desperately needed.”

Plenty of Pitfalls for Hill Staffers Doing Campaign Work
Lines between official and campaign time can be murky

Staffers doing campaign work have to make sure they’re not doing it on government time. But there’s no set way to keep track of that time. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With campaign season here, Hill staffers are likely to find their duties expanding with election-related tasks.

Press secretaries and senior staff doing paid or volunteer campaign work routinely flock to nearby coffee shops with their personal laptops to send campaign press releases or go on walks to take reporters’ calls about their boss’s re-election. Campaign work has to be done on staffers’ own time, off government property.

Luke Messer Launches Second TV Ad in Indiana Senate Primary
Positive spot features GOP lawmaker as son’s basketball coach

Indiana Rep. Luke Messer is releasing the second TV ad of his Senate campaign on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Luke Messer is launching Thursday his second TV ad in the Indiana Republican Senate primary.

The ad, shared first with Roll Call, features the congressman in his role as coach for his son’s fifth grade basketball team and is timed to air during the start of March Madness, the NCAA’s men’s basketball tournament. It’s backed by a cable and broadcast TV and digital buy in the mid six-figures.

Chris McDaniel Will Run for Cochran Seat in Special Election
McDaniel had already launched a primary challenge to Roger Wicker

Chris McDaniel, Republican candidate for Mississippi Senate, speaks with patrons of Jean’s Restaurant in Meridian, Miss., May 29, 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Wednesday he will switch from challenging GOP Sen. Roger Wicker in a primary to running in the November special election for resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat. 

“By announcing early, we are asking Mississippi Republicans to unite around my candidacy and avoid another contentious contest among GOP members that would only improve the Democrats’ chances of winning the open seat,” McDaniel said in a statement, alluding to Republicans’ loss in an Alabama special election late last year. 

35th PAC Boosting Morrisey with Digital and Mail in West Virginia
Super PAC attacks Jenkins for being “liberal Democrat”

35th PAC is supporting West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the GOP primary for West Virginia Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A super PAC supporting West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the GOP Senate primary is pouring money into mail and digital efforts ahead of the May 8 primary. 

Morrisey is competing against Rep. Evan Jenkins and former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November. 

Republicans Downplay Pennsylvania Race, But Note Tough Road Ahead
GOP huddled Wednesday to discuss the special election

Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, chairs the NRCC and addressed the conference Wednesday morning. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans downplayed Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania, where a Democrat is poised to win in a solidly GOP district. But it’s another reminder of the tough midterm election cycle ahead, they said.

The race in Pennsylvania’s 18th District had still not been called late Wednesday morning. Democrat Conor Lamb currently leads GOP state Rep. Rick Saccone by 627 votes in a district President Donald Trump carried by 20 points in 2016. Republicans were bracing for a loss in the final days of the race and were already placing blame on Saccone’s lackluster fundraising.

David Jolly Cites Pennsylvania Results for Not Running in 2018
Former congressman says he’ll be focused on Trump primary in 2020

Former Rep. David Jolly tweeted Tuesday night that he won’t run for his old seat in 2018 (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Florida Rep. David Jolly has decided against a 2018 rematch with Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, who defeated him in 2016. 

The former GOP congressman, who has alienated himself from the national GOP, tweeted his decision late Tuesday night while all eyes on Twitter were following the results of the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. 

AFP Launches New Ads Targeting Donnelly and McCaskill on Tax Vote
Conservative group hits Democratic senators for opposing GOP overhaul

Americans for Prosperity is launching another $4 million in TV and digital ads targeting Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, above, and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Americans for Prosperity is rolling out another $4 million ad campaign targeting Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill over their votes against a bill overhauling the tax code.

It’s the second phase of a $20 million digital and TV campaign and comes a month after AFP launched the first $4 million initiative, also against Donnelly and McCaskill.

Pennsylvania’s 18th District Race Too Close to Call
But Democrat Conor Lamb declares victory over Republican Rick Saccone

Democrat Conor Lamb led late Tuesday in a special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District late Tuesday, but the race was too close to call. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images file photo)

Updated 12:57 a.m. | A hotly contested special election in southwestern Pennsylvania was too close to call late Tuesday night. Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone were neck and neck as votes were still being counted.

Lamb, a 33-year-old Marine veteran and former prosecutor, led Saccone, a 60-year-old Air Force veteran, 49.8 percent to 49.6 percent — a difference of 579 votes — with 100 percent of precincts reporting.  

The Fight for a Disappearing District in Pennsylvania
Both parties look for lessons from 18th District special election

Democrat Conor Lamb faces Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in Tuesday’s special election in the 18th District. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images file photo)

MOON, Pa. — Millions of dollars in outside spending and national media attention have been directed at Tuesday’s special election in southwestern Pennsylvania — all for a district that likely won’t even exist come November.

Democrat Conor Lamb, a former federal prosecutor, is locked in a tight race with Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in a district President Donald Trump carried by nearly 20 points in 2016. Whoever wins the 18th District race will head to Congress, but he will run for a full term in a newly configured district, thanks to the state Supreme Court imposing a new congressional map ahead of the midterm elections.

DSCC Launches Digital Ads Against Rick Scott in Florida
GOP governor expected to challenge Nelson for Senate

The DSCC is running five-figure digital ads against Florida Gov. Rick Scott ahead of his expected Senate bid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is launching two digital ads Monday attacking Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who’s expected to run for Senate.

Scott’s character comes under attack in the two 30-second YouTube spots. The first ad, titled “Truth,” accuses Scott of not being able to tell the truth. The second, titled “Blind,” alleges the governor used his office to enrich himself, calling him a “walking conflict of interest.” The ads are backed by a five-figure buy.