Erik Paulsen

They left Congress. Where are they now?
Ex-members are ‘recovering,’ ‘diving back into reality-land’ after 115th Congress

(Composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Ryan A. Costello, a 42-year-old Pennsylvania Republican who retired after the 115th Congress following a court-ordered redistricting that made reelection difficult, does “a lot of Legos” now with his two children, ages 2 and 5.

Luis V. Gutiérrez, an Illinois Democrat who stepped down after 13 terms, is learning to swim and play the guitar, and hopes to be able to perform a Beatles song by Christmas.

A closer look at what the alumni of the 115th Congress have been up to
Some have moved on to other offices, consulting or punditry. Some are plotting their way back

At the end of her brief tenure last Congress as representative for Michigan’s 13th District, Rep. Brenda Jones returned to the Detroit City Council where she serves as president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

One hundred and fifteen former House members and senators, who served full or partial terms in the 115th Congress, are newly adapting to life after Capitol Hill. CQ Roll Call finds them in a wide variety of roles, ranging from the expected to the unusual.

Three lawmakers from the last Congress have died, either while serving or since leaving office. Here’s what the rest of the alums have been up to. 

Trump admits he was a liability in 2018
New book states president deliberately hindered Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen’s reelection

President Donald Trump might have more of a nuanced self-awareness of his political standing than he advertises, according to a behind-the-scenes moment captured by Tim Alberta for his new book "American Carnage." (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump still won’t publicly admit he was a significant factor in Republicans’ loss of the House in 2018. But a behind-the-scenes moment captured in a new book suggests he is more politically self-aware than he leads on.

We know that Trump doesn’t admit mistakes or commit sins. It’s not in his personality or good for his brand to acknowledge any weakness. But, according to Politico’s Tim Alberta, the president endorsed a vulnerable member of Congress in an intentional effort to weaken his candidacy.

Initial 2020 House race ratings are here
Republicans are on the offense but also running against history

Reps. Max Rose of New York, second from left, and Joe Cunnigham of South Carolina, second from right, here with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy at the State of the Union, are among 31 Democrats holding seats the president carried in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After losing a net of 40 House seats in last year’s midterms, Republicans have plenty of offensive opportunities in 2020. But winning back the majority will not be easy.

On paper, the path back to 218 may look simple for Team GOP because it winds through favorable territory. There are 31 Democrats who currently represent districts that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, and Republicans need to gain 18 or 19 seats to regain House control (depending on the outcome in North Carolina’s 9th District).

Democrats identify 44 vulnerable House members to defend in 2020
Almost all the members named to the Democrats’ Frontline Program are freshmen

Virginia Rep. Abigail Spanberger, left, and Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin are among the freshmen whom the DCCCC has named to its Frontline program for its most vulnerable incumbents. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats made historic gains in the House last fall, and now they need to defend those seats heading into the 2020 election. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Thursday named 44 members to its Frontline Program for its most vulnerable incumbents.

Rep. Steve Scalise and Roommates Pitch Cooking Show on Twitter
Louisiana Republican will lose his sous chef come January

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., speaks during the press conference following the House Republican Conference meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A set of four Republican roommates channeled Julia Child over the weekend with a butter-slathered cooking video.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana shares a house in Washington with lawmaking colleagues Kevin Brady, Erik Paulsen and John Shimkus. Together they cooked up a cajun feast of blackened redfish, jambalaya and gumbo, with mashed sweet potato casserole on the side.

Elise Stefanik Wants to Play in Primaries to Help Republican Women
NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer thinks playing in primaries is a “mistake”

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik is stepping back from her role at the NRCC. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik recruited more than 100 women as the first female head of recruitment at the National Republican Congressional Committee. But only one of them prevailed, with many failing to make it through their primaries.

So Stefanik is stepping back from the NRCC to be involved where she thinks it matters.

Midterms Were a Buffet Election for Democrats, Republicans
Each side can pick what it liked best from the results — and ignore warning signs

Sen.-elect Mike Braun, R-Ind., Sen.-elect Mitt Romney, R-Utah, Sen.-elect Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Sen.-elect Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Sen.-elect Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., pose for a group photo in McConnell’s office in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When I was a kid in small-town Oregon, my family would occasionally go to King’s Table, and my sister and I would get free rein at the buffet.

I became famous in my own family for my condiment salad — an impressive collection of bacon bits, croutons, shredded cheese, sunflower seeds and plenty of ranch dressing. Essentially, my strategy involved choosing what looked and tasted good and avoiding anything of nutritional value.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger ‘Disgusted’ By Trump Mocking Unseated Republicans
‘Some of them lost because people, frankly, were voting against the president,’ GOP congressman says

Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said some Republicans suffered losses on Election Day because of backlash to the president. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As President Donald Trump the day after Election Day read off a list of defeated Republicans whose losses he attributed to not embracing his endorsement on the campaign trail, Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger watched in disgust.

“I wish the president had shown some more grace in that and said ‘Thank you for your service,’ instead of ‘It’s because you didn’t back me,’” the 16th District congressman said in an interview with CNN Tuesday. “I was very disgusted when I heard that.” 

Retiring GOP Congressman: Trump Mocking Defeated Republicans Like ‘Dancing on Somebody’s Grave’
Rep. Ryan Costello has positioned himself as a prominent Trump critic

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., called President Donald Trump's comments at a press conference Wednesday “deeply offensive.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Retiring Rep. Ryan Costello bristled at the president’s chiding words for Republicans who did not campaign on his support and lost their midterm races, likening it to “dancing on somebody’s grave.”

“It’s highly inappropriate, and it’s deeply offensive,” Costello said in an interview with CNN. “Every single one of those members took tough votes in order to advance a center-right agenda because they believed in it, but they took a lot of heat for it. The president should be thanking them for putting up the tough votes and advancing an agenda which I believe we are better off economically because of a lot of the policies that have been implemented.”