House and Senate primaries

Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar gets primary challenger
Immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros interned for Cuellar in 2014

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, one of the more conservative Democrats of Congress, is getting a primary challenge from the left. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Henry Cueller, one of the more conservative Democrats in Congress, is getting a primary challenger who has support from the progressive group that backed New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her bid for office.

Immigration and human rights lawyer Jessica Cisneros, 26, who was an intern for Cuellar five years ago, announced her primary campaign Thursday to unseat the eight-term incumbent in Texas’ 28th District that stretches along the southern border with Mexico and reaches north into San Antonio.

Rep. Mark Walker won’t challenge him, but Sen. Thom Tillis still faces a primary
Walker may be eyeing open North Carolina Senate seat in 2022

North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker is passing on a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Thom Tillis this cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

North Carolina Rep. Mark Walker will not be launching a primary bid against Sen. Thom Tillis, one of the most vulnerable Republicans facing re-election next year.

“After prayerful reflection and consideration, I am confident that my continued service in the House will best help our efforts to reclaim the majority from Nancy Pelosi and advance our shared conservative goals,” Walker said in a statement to Politico, which first reported the news. 

Upcoming debates an important next stage in presidential campaign
2016 GOP race showed launching attacks in crowded field doesn’t always end as planned

Then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, shown at a 2016 campaign event in Ames, Iowa, went on the attack in a televised debate before the New Hampshire primary, but it may not have had the desired effect. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a little more than two weeks, 20 candidates will take the debate stage in their quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. And with increasing pressure to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, some contenders could choose to take the gloves off and attack an opponent, which would have a ripple effect on the race.

Up to this point, the Democratic race has largely been cordial, except for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders going after former Vice President Joe Biden. But one or more of the 2020 hopefuls could decide that a nationally televised debate would be an excellent place and time to knock an opponent down a few slots.

These senators running for president made $7.1 million writing books
Disclosures show extracurricular activities pay off for some candidates

(Composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Wealth of Candidates: A dive into CQ Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress data to illustrate the finances of some of the Democrats running for president.

Writing a book is a good way for politicians to get their message out to voters and promote their biographies, core values and platforms.

Does open seat in Montana help or hurt Democrats’ pickup opportunity?
Gianforte, who underperformed a generic Republican in the past, is leaving the House to run for governor

The decision by Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., to run for governor creates an open seat that could be easier for Republicans to defend.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Parties crave open seats, considering the vast majority of incumbents win re-election. But in the case of Montana’s at-large district, Democrats may have lost their preferred opponent when Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte filed to run for governor.

While it might have been daunting for Democrats to face Gianforte’s personal wealth in a presidential year in a state President Donald Trump carried by 20 points, the congressman has actually underperformed the partisan lean of the state in past elections. It might have something to do with him assaulting a reporter in 2017.

Who protects whom? Depends on presidential candidate, congressional status
Kamala Harris incident in San Francisco prompts campaign security concerns

Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., received Secret Service protection when he ran for president in May 2007, more than a year out from the general election. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

When a protester walked onstage and took the microphone from California Sen. Kamala Harris at an event earlier this month, it raised serious questions about who is in charge of protecting the Democratic presidential candidate and at what point in her campaign — and others’ — the Secret Service should step in. 

Harris remained calm, and security personnel at MoveOn’s Big Ideas Forum in San Francisco leaped onstage as the senator walked away. Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, wrestled the microphone from the protester. But the incident brought with it a flurry of concern about how vulnerable candidates can be on the trail, and who is responsible for protecting them.

National Democrats take sides in Iowa Senate primary
DSCC and EMILY’s List back Theresa Greenfield in race to take on GOP Sen. Joni Ernst

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, is running for a second term in 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Update 3:26 p.m. | National Democrats are taking sides in the primary to take on Republican Sen. Joni Ernst in Iowa, with two groups and a presidential candidate backing Theresa Greenfield, who was an early favorite for a House race last year. 

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and EMILY’s List, which backs female Democrats who support abortion rights, both announced they were endorsing Greenfield in the race over two other Democrats who are running.

Beto O’Rourke ‘very likely’ to back Democrat over GOP friend Rep. Will Hurd, reversing his 2018 position
Hurd defeated Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones by 1,000 votes in 2018 midterms, as O’Rourke declined to endorse her

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke indicated Wednesday that he will “very likely” endorse the Democratic nominee running against his friend Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke will “very likely” support the eventual Democratic nominee challenging one of his best friends in Congress, GOP Rep. Will Hurd. It’s a reversal from O’Rourke’s vow of neutrality in the 2018 midterm elections.

Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer who raised more than $6 million in her failed bid to unseat Hurd in 2018, recently announced she is jumping into the race to challenge Hurd again in 2020. O’Rourke indicated Wednesday that he does not plan to repeat his neutrality vow and, instead, “will be supporting” Ortiz Jones if she emerges victorious from the Democratic primaries.

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.

Think Kirsten Gillibrand has no chance? She’s heard that before — and won anyway
New York Democrat touts 2006 win in GOP-leaning House district as proof she can win tough races

Former President Bill Clinton campaigns with then-challenger Kirsten Gillibrand in October 2006 in Albany, N.Y. Gillibrand cites the victory in upstate New York to argue she could appeal to Republican and independent voters if she wins the Democratic presidential nomination.  (AP/Jim McKnight file photo)

At Kirsten Gillibrand’s Fox News town hall Sunday night, she was asked how she would win over voters who supported Barack Obama and then voted for Donald Trump. She had a simple answer: “Campaigning everywhere.”

For the New York senator struggling to break through a crowded field of 23 Democratic presidential hopefuls, “campaigning everywhere” means traveling to Iowa, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Georgia.