At the Races: Escape Hatch
2018 is here, and more senior Republicans are heading for the exits

The Senate is losing a longtime member — and a songwriter. Utah GOP Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is known for his compositions. His song “Souls Along the Way,” written about the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy and Kennedy’s wife, was included on the “Ocean’s Twelve” movie soundtrack. Hatch and Kennedy worked together on major health care legislation, and the pair were good friends. (Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly file photo)

You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter. (If you didn’t get it in your inbox, *subscribe here.*) We want to hear what you think. Send us your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman.This week … 2018 has arrived! Three Republicans announced their retirement, two Senate Democrats arrived and Steve Bannon put some conservative candidates in a tight spot.

Hatch Heads for the Exit: Utah Republican Orrin G. Hatch ended months of speculation Tuesday by announcing he was retiring after seven terms in the Senate. That opens the door for former presidential nominee/Massachusetts governor/Trump critic/skillful ironer Mitt Romney to run for Hatch’s seat. So is he running? It’s widely believed he will, but Romney has yet to officially say so. He did casually change his location on Twitter from Massachusetts to Utah following Hatch’s announcement. #WeSeeWhatYouDidThere.

DCCC Targets Trump Districts in 2018
Democrats are banking on Trump being unpopular in even deep-red seats

New York Rep. Chris Collins, one of President Donald Trumps biggest House allies, is a 2018 Democratic target. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Fresh off the second weekend of nationwide protests against President Donald Trump, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released its initial list of Republican-held seats it plans to target in 2018.

The House Democrats’ campaign arm is banking on Trump’s unpopularity being a drag on down-ballot Republicans, even though many GOP incumbents proved resilient to efforts to tie them to Trump in 2016. Democrats gained a net of six seats last November.

GOP Opposition to Trump Could Spark 2018 Primary Challenges
Conservative Trump supporters have already targeted Martha Roby and Jeff Flake

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby won her safe GOP seat by just 9 points in large part because of a write-in campaign inspired by her opposition to Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby was projected to easily win a fourth term in her safe Republican district Tuesday. She did win — and comfortably. Just not by Alabama standards. 

Roby carried less than 50 percent of the vote in the state’s 2nd District, defeating Democratic state Rep. Nathan Mathis by just 9 points. All the other Republican members of the Alabama delegation either won their districts by more than 30 points or ran uncontested. Both Sen. Richard C. Shelby and President-elect Donald Trump carried the state by nearly 30 points.