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Capitol Ink | Tax Cuts R Us

Hickenlooper says he’ll give ‘serious thought’ to Senate run after dropping presidential bid
Colorado and national Democrats see former governor as best chance to capture Gardner’s seat

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, shown in Iowa on Saturday, announced Thursday he is ending his bid for the presidency. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ended his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, and said he will consider a run against Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in a battleground state Democrats need to win to take control of the upper chamber.

“People want to know what comes next for me,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state. I intend to give that some serious thought.”

GOP will need more than promoting their preferred opponent to affect Democratic primaries
Republicans appear to be taking a page from Democrat Claire McCaskill’s winning 2012 Senate campaign

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill ran ads during her 2012 reelection campaign that called Republican Todd Akin’s stances too conservative. But the spots were designed to help him win the GOP nomination because she considered him a weaker challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic state senator bragged this week about drawing the attention of national Republicans in the competitive race for U.S. Senate in North Carolina. But Erica Smith shouldn’t wear the attacks as a badge of honor. And if Republicans really want to make an impact, they’re going to have to spend a lot more money.

“The @NRSC has purchased a billboard attacking me in Raleigh — calling me ‘too liberal,’” Smith tweeted Monday, referring to the National Republican Senatorial Committee effort. “I am the only candidate that they are spending money against — it shows you who @ThomTillis is worried about. Can’t attack @CalforNC bc no one knows what he stands for.”

Locking out ‘Team Mitch’ could cost Twitter
Decision by Republican campaign committees to withhold ad dollars from Twitter could have a tangible effect

Twitter locked out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The decision by Republican campaign committees to withhold ad dollars from Twitter could have a tangible effect.

The Republican National Committee, President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign as well as the House and Senate GOP campaign committees took that step in response to the social media platform’s temporary lockout of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign account.

Ben Sasse, one of the Senate’s last remaining Republican Trump critics, to seek reelection
Nebraska senator has already drawn a primary challenger in his bid for a second term

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse,  left, here with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz last week, faces a primary challenger as he bids for a second term. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ben Sasse, who has publicly grappled with ambivalence about the Senate, the Republican Party and President Donald Trump, ended months of speculation about his plans with the announcement that he will run again for his Nebraska Senate seat. 

“What’s at stake in 2020 is a choice between civics and socialism,” he said Monday at the Millard airport, outside of Omaha, where he was introduced by a string of state GOP leaders.  

Republican John James will run again, this time against Sen. Gary Peters
The Michigan businessman’s run could shape the presidential race in a key swing state.

Republican businessman John James will challenge Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters in 2020. (Courtesy Facebook)

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, one of the two most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, picked up a Republican challenger on Thursday that national Republicans hope will put the Wolverine State in play in 2020. 

Army veteran John James, the 2018 Senate nominee, announced Thursday that he’s challenging Peters, one of just two Democratic senators up for reelection in a state that President Donald Trump carried in 2016.

Trump loyalty is already at the heart of North Carolina Senate primary
Tillis campaign attacks primary challenger as ‘anti-Trump activist’

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis earned a primary challenge on Monday from a retired businessman. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Retired businessman Garland Tucker III is launching a primary challenge to North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, one of Republicans’ most vulnerable senators in 2020.

As most primaries have been since President Donald Trump was elected, this one is already being made into a contest over loyalty to the president, which could complicate the GOP’s efforts to defend an increasingly competitive state in 2020. 

Sen. Mike Enzi announces he will retire rather than seek a fifth term
Wyoming Republican has served in the Senate for more that two decades

Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., announced Saturday that he will not run for re-election in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Wyoming Republican Michael B. Enzi announced Saturday that he will not run for re-election in 2020 after more than two decades in the Senate.

Enzi’s decision — which he announced at a press conference in Wyoming, according to the Casper Star-Tribune — opens up a seat in the strongly Republican state.

Stop grading 2020 candidate recruitment, particularly this far from Election Day
Victories by past recruitment ‘failures’ should make parties and press more cautious

The decision by former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams not to run for Senate was branded a Democratic recruitment failure by Republicans, but the state remains competitive, Gonzales writes. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images file photo)

Gloating about and reporting on candidate recruitment has become commonplace in the election process. But too often, the grading and grandstanding is premature — and even completely wrong.

This cycle, Republicans are crowing after former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams declined to run for the Senate and freshman Rep. Cindy Axne decided to forgo a Senate run in Iowa. But their decisions don’t change the national dynamic (the GOP majority is still at risk) or the local dynamic (both of those races are still competitive). History tells us we have a long way to go before November 2020.

Why ambitious Democrats are saying ‘no thanks’ to Senate runs
Stacey Abrams is not the first to reject party wooing, and may not be the last

Former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke decided to run for president instead of challenging GOP Sen. John Cornyn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With Stacey Abrams becoming the latest high-profile Democrat to say no to a 2020 Senate bid — and more rejections of party pressure possible on the horizon — running for the Senate no longer looks look like the step up the political ladder it may once have been.

A few Democrats have chosen to run for president this year instead of challenging Republican senators. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke passed on a race against Sen. John Cornyn. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper isn’t taking on incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is expected to join the presidential field soon, passing on a bid against Sen. Steve Daines.