The $100 Jacket Politicians Use to Pretend To Be Normal People

The barn jacket has become the go-to fashion accessory for candidates trying to appeal to the common folk. (Screengrab: David Trone for Congress)

David Trone has never run for office before, but he’s wearing the standard issue uniform of a politician in his first television ads: the barn jacket.  

The wealthy Maryland Democrat thrust himself into the 8th District primary with close to a $1 million ad buy in the expensive Washington, D.C., media market. In the ad, entitled “Bet the Farm,” the owner of the Total Wine & More chain of stores dons a barn jacket to take viewers on a tour of the family farm where he grew up.  

Stop the Presses: O’Malley Nabs Swalwell Endorsement

O'Malley's playing up Swalwell's endorsement says a lot about his campaign. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Who knew the Democratic presidential race would be fundamentally changed in the blink of an eye? But that happened recently when California congressman Eric Swalwell, 34, endorsed former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.  

Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little.  

Key Races in 2016: Politicial Landscape Taking Shape

A few key races across the country next year will determine the balance of power in the Senate. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)


Election Day is more than a year away, but the field of most competitive Senate and House races is already starting to take shape. While the political environment could change over the next 17 months, the landscape is largely set as a handful of races in each region will likely decide the majorities in the next Congress.  

Top Races to Watch in 2016: Mid-Atlantic States

The Senate race in Pennsylvania will likely be a rematch of the 2010 race between Toomey, above, and Sestak. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Editor's note: This is the third in a series of regional looks at the most competitive House and Senate races to watch in 2016. The Mid-Atlantic region includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Pennsylvania Senate:  Democrats are on a quest to gain five seats and the Senate majority, and the Keystone State looks like one of the key contests. Republican Patrick J. Toomey defeated Democrat Joe Sestak in 2010, 51 percent to 49 percent. Even though some Democrats are unconvinced Sestak is the best candidate for 2016, no credible alternative has emerged, and the former congressman looks likely to be the nominee once again. Skepticism about Sestak doesn’t mean he can’t win. The Democrat will be a credible nominee and gets the chance to run in a presidential year this time, when Democratic turnout should be better. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race as a Tossup/Tilts Republican .  

New York’s 24th District:  Republican John Katko defeated Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei, 58 percent to 40 percent, in one of the late-breaking races of 2014 and with one of the most stunning margins of victory. Katko now represents a district which President Barack Obama won with 56 percent in 2008 and 57 percent in 2012. Democrats are still searching for a challenger after Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner declined to run. But this is a top-tier takeover target and a must win for House Democrats. The Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report /Roll Call rates the race as a Pure Tossup .  

Kathleen Matthews Joins Race for Van Hollen's Seat

Matthews introduces herself to voters. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The race to succeed Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s 8th District became even more crowded Wednesday, when former Marriott executive and news anchor Kathleen Matthews announced her candidacy.  

“I have spent a lifetime shattering the glass ceiling, advocating for women and children in all of my career work as well as being a strong fighter for human dignity, opportunity, as well as equality,” Matthews said outside the Silver Spring Metro station. “And those are the values that I want to bring to the U.S. Congress.” Matthews greeted commuters on the misty gray morning before her announcement, shaking hands and letting them know she's running for Congress. She planned to spend her first day on the campaign trail visiting a senior center and a local market in Rockville, and hosting a fundraiser.  

Van Hollen, Edwards Square Off in First Maryland Senate Race Debate

Van Hollen, second from left, and Edwards, third from right, appeared with Pelosi at the Capitol on April 22. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Maryland Reps. Donna Edwards and Chris Van Hollen faced off for the first time Sunday, showcasing sharply different styles as they vie for the Democratic nomination for Senate.  

Speaking here in an office park at a forum hosted by the National Organization for Women, the two candidates running to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski touched on issues of women's health, economic inequality, trade and violence. Van Hollen, a white man, and Edwards, a black woman, spoke before a women's group after a week in which racial tensions in Baltimore overwhelmed the national conversation, a fact of which both were keenly aware.  

Baltimore Riots Change Senate Race Conversation

Cummings has been in the spotlight as Maryland moves forward after the Baltimore riots. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The nascent Maryland Senate race will likely take on a new focus, as the state’s largest city works to heal its wounds following the death of a young black man in police custody and the sometimes violent expressions of anger that followed.  

Maryland Democrats say voters are paying attention to how candidates react to the situation in Baltimore, and looking to see if anyone steps up as a leader as the city tries to move forward from the events of the past 10 days.  

Democrats' Maryland Senate Circus

There is plenty of interest in Mikulski's seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

CHESAPEAKE BEACH, Md. — When Barbara A. Mikulski announced her retirement last month, she instructed fellow Maryland Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin to brace himself.  

"She said it would take about 10 minutes before things would get really interesting in Maryland," Cardin recounted at a March 12 event on the Chesapeake Bay. "It took about 30 seconds until things got very interesting." In the 17 days since the Democratic senator announced she would not seek another term, two House members have already launched bids for her seat and only one Democrat in the delegation has indicated he has no interest in the race.  

What Did — and Didn't — Surprise Me This Cycle
Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call Race Ratings Changes

Nunn is challenging Perdue for Georgia Senate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

While national polls show a stable landscape, polls in individual races continue to show some movement. That movement leads us to make a number of changes to our Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings .  

Most of the House changes benefit the GOP, while the Senate and governor changes are far more mixed.