Luke Messer

At the Races: 6 Months to Go
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

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Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter by subscribing here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman

11 Almost, Probably, Most Likely Members of the 116th Congress
These candidates in open seats are all but assured of joining the next Congress

The hopes of some congressional candidates have come to a head early. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s spring in Washington, but for several candidates it may as well be fall. With six months left in their campaigns, these 11 candidates are already virtually assured of becoming new members in the 116th Congress — and the roster of such virtual freshmen could get three times bigger, or more, before Election Day.

Members of this unusual political class have the luxury of running for open seats in places where — thanks to demographics and past election results — locking down one party’s ballot line is tantamount to winning in November.

Mike Braun Wins Indiana GOP Senate Primary
Ex-state representative will face vulnerable Democrat Joe Donnelly in November

Former Indiana state Rep. Mike Braun will face Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Businessman and former state Rep. Mike Braun won the Republican nod for Senate in Indiana on Tuesday. He’ll take on Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly in one of the most competitive races in the country.

Outspending his opponents, Braun defeated Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer to win the nomination. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Braun had 41 percent of the vote to 30 percent for Messer and 29 percent for Rokita, according to The Associated Press.

Greg Pence, Vice President’s Brother, Likely Coming to Congress
Indiana Republican easily wins party nod for open 6th District seat

Greg Pence won the GOP nomination for Indiana’s 6th District Tuesday night. (Courtesy Greg Pence for Congress)

Greg Pence, the eldest brother of Vice President Mike Pence, won the Republican nomination in Indiana’s 6th District on Tuesday night, which means he’s almost certainly coming to Congress next year.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Pence had 65 percent of the vote, according to The Associated Press. His nearest challenger, entrepreneur Jonathan Lamb, took 24 percent. 

5 Things to Watch on Primary Day This Tuesday
Nasty GOP Senate primaries remain ugly until the end

Former Indiana state Rep. Mike Braun, right, and Rep. Todd Rokita, speaking, are running for the GOP nomination for Senate, along with Rep. Luke Messer. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tuesday marks the first big primary day of 2018. Voters go to the polls in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina.

Most of the exciting action is on the Republican side. In all of those states (except for North Carolina), Democratic senators are trying to hold on to seats in territory President Donald Trump won in 2016, which means the GOP primaries are high-stakes contests. (More on that below.)

Opinion: The Case for Ugly Primaries
The process is messy, but it can reveal much

Don Blankenship, who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in West Virginia, conducts a town hall meeting at Macado’s restaurant in Bluefield, W.Va., on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

You can’t blame Republican leaders for trying to pick the winner of Tuesday’s West Virginia primary ahead of time when the words “prison” and “supervised release” show up in nearly every story about Don Blankenship. The Senate hopeful and former coal executive did a year behind bars recently for the dangerously unsafe conditions in his coal mines, but is now somehow surging in the polls.

Republicans want a strong general election candidate to take on Sen. Joe Manchin in November, and trying to block a jailbird from the GOP nomination seems like a no-brainer. Add to that Blankenship’s willingness to savage Mitch McConnell as “Cocaine Mitch” and call the father of his wife, Elaine Chao, a “Chinaperson,” and it would take a Herculean amount of strength for the Senate majority leader and his supporters not to get sucked into a fight against one of their own.

Hollingsworth Won‘t Face Primary — Accused of Buying 2016 Seat
Indiana freshman impresses in Washington and at home

Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, R-Ind., won a five-way primary in 2016 by spending lots of his own money. This year, he doesn’t even have a viable primary challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Recent Tennessee transplant Trey Hollingsworth faced widespread attacks in 2016 from Republicans and Democrats, who accused him of trying to buy an Indiana congressional seat.

But he withstood those charges, winning a contested GOP primary and then the general election by double digits in the 9th District. He’s now the 12th wealthiest lawmaker in Washington, according to Roll Call’s “Wealth of Congress” analysis.

GOP Senate Hopefuls in House Nominate Trump for Nobel Peace Prize
Move comes ahead of key primary battles in Indiana, West Virginia

Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., is among the House Republicans who’ve nominated President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Five incumbent House Republicans running for Senate have co-signed a letter nominating President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize.

It’s a move that could curry favor with the president and his supporters just a week before pivotal primaries in states such as West Virginia and Indiana, two Trump states where GOP candidates are trying to align themselves with the White House.

Photos of the Week: Kids, a Kardashian and Macron at Capitol ... and More
The week of April 23 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., arrives to hold his weekly press conference as press offspring play on stage during Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Thursday saw some cute new members of the press corps and congressional staff — the children who took over the Capitol during Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

The visitors offered moments of levity during leadership news conferences in an otherwise busy and heated week on Capitol Hill. 

Report: Trump Campaign Demands Rokita Take Down Yard Signs
Say they give a false impression Trump endorsed Indiana Senate candidate

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in Indiana, addresses voters in South Bend, Indiana. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita’s campaign signs give the false impression that Trump endorsed his Senate candidacy.

Two people told The Associated Press that Trump’s campaign wants Rokita's campaign to take down the signs.