Bridget Bowman

When members of Congress seek county office instead
Rep. Paul Cook cites broader powers of California supervisors, but GOP’s minority status also a factor

California Republican Paul Cook’s decision to run for county office next year rather than a fifth House term might have raised a few eyebrows, especially since more than five dozen of his colleagues have used county positions as stepping stones to Washington.

But what seems like a downward move is not unheard of, particularly in California, where county supervisors wield a fair amount of power. Influencing local policy can also be more appealing than a weekly cross-country commute, especially when working in the nation’s capital means governing in the minority.

Kennedy plans to launch challenge to Markey for Massachusetts Senate seat
Grandson of RFK, serving fourth House term, is last member of political dynasty in Congress

Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III will challenge Sen. Edward J. Markey in a primary, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday evening. Kennedy plans to announce his Senate bid on Saturday, the Globe reported.

Kennedy's decision comes after weeks of speculation that the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy would challenge fellow Democrat Markey, who is serving his the first term. Kennedy had filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission in late August.

California’s Paul Cook joins parade of House Republicans retiring
Cook will run for the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors

Four-term California Rep. Paul Cook is retiring from Congress to run for county office instead, continuing the stream of House Republicans heading toward the exit.

Cook’s chief of staff, John Sobel, told the Los Angeles Times that the congressman plans to run for the San Bernadino County Board of Supervisors. Sobel did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wrote the bill, read the bill: Lawmakers dominate Democratic debate
All but three of the candidates on Thursday's debate stage have served in Congress

Although the 10 Democratic presidential candidates in Thursday night’s debate talked about the importance of unity, they spent plenty of time trying to one-up each other with their own congressional records.

The debate stage was stacked with current or former members of Congress: only businessman Andrew Yang, former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg of Indiana have never served in Congress.

GOP group defends ad showing burning image of AOC during Democratic debate
Elizabeth Heng said ad “is about fighting the socialist agenda”

The founder of a new Republican group is defending an ad that aired during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate that featured a burning image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The New York Democrat criticized the spot as racist. 

New Faces GOP was founded by Elizabeth Heng, who lost a House race in California last cycle. Heng, who is the PAC’s executive director, was featured in the 30-second TV ad, which ran both during and after the debate on ABC. 

Elizabeth Warren backs primary challengers against sitting House Democrats
Warren is endorsing Jessica Cisneros against Henry Cuellar and Marie Newman against Dan Lipinski

Sen. Elizabeth Warren endorsed two House Democratic primary challengers Monday, backing two women taking on sitting lawmakers.

The Massachusetts Democrat is endorsing Marie Newman, who is taking on Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois’ 3rd District and immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros, who is challenging Rep. Henry Cuellar in Texas’ 28th District, Justice Democrats announced in a news release.

Democrats need rural voters to put Iowa in play in 2020
Party hopes to build on midterm gains, but hasn’t settled on the right approach

GREENFIELD, Iowa — The sunlight sparkled on Greenfield Lake on a hot Sunday in August as the Democrats passed around a paper bowl, tossing in a few dollars they had in their pockets.

It was a scene that could easily have taken place in a church earlier that day, when parishioners offer donations as baskets are passed through the pews.

Why you should keep watching Iowa
Roll Call’s Bridget Bowman explains why Iowa is important, before and after the caucuses

DNC blocks virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada
Committee cites cybersecurity concerns as reason not to go forward with plan

The Democratic National Committee formally decided Friday not to move forward with virtual caucuses in Iowa and Nevada amid cybersecurity concerns.

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee agreed by voice vote to adopt the recommendation from DNC Chairman Tom Perez that the virtual caucuses should not take place since they would not be secure or reliable. Both states had devised plans to allow people to participate in the caucuses by phone to fulfill a DNC requirement that states provide an absentee voting option.

Republican retirements raise questions about GOP optimism in 2020
Serving in the minority is a new experience for most House Republicans

The recent string of House Republican retirements — even those from ruby-red districts — have raised new questions about whether GOP lawmakers are pessimistic about winning back the House in 2020.

Some Republican political operatives were split on what the recent retirements say about lawmakers’ political calculations, and whether they’re heading for the exits at the prospect of spending a few more years in the minority.

GOP poll finds close race for Democratic seat in Houston suburbs
Republican Wesley Hunt led Rep. Lizzie Fletcher by 2 points, survey found

Texas Rep. Lizzie Fletcher could be in for a tough reelection fight in 2020, according to a new Republican poll released Thursday. The survey gave GOP challenger Wesley Hunt, a former Army captain, a 2-point lead over the freshman Democrat in the Houston-area 7th District.

Longtime Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner not running for reelection
Congressman becomes 12th House Republican to retire this year

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced Wednesday that he will not run for reelection next year, according to multiple local media reports.

The longtime lawmaker’s exit means the Badger State is losing its most senior member, and the second-most-senior Republican in the House. He is also the second Wisconsin Republican to announce he is leaving Congress after Rep. Sean P. Duffy said last month that he would be resigning on Sept. 23.

California Democratic Rep. Susan Davis announces retirement
Davis is the third House Democrat to decide against reelection this cycle

California Rep. Susan A. Davis announced Wednesday that she is not running for reelection, opening up a safe Democratic seat in San Diego. 

Davis, who was first elected in 2000, is the third House Democrat to retire so far this cycle.

Republican Rep. Bill Flores to retire, continuing exodus from Texas ranks
Flores is fifth House Republican from the Lone Star State to announce his retirement in recent weeks

Rep. Bill Flores has joined the ranks of Texas Republicans announcing they won’t run for reelection in 2020.

The five-term congressman said he initially pledged to serve no more than six terms when he launched his first campaign for Texas’ 17th District.

Iowa Democrats stress rural roots as they vie to take on Sen. Joni Ernst
National groups back Theresa Greenfield, but she faces a fight for nomination

GREENFIELD, Iowa — Facing a group of Democrats gathered in a brick park shelter here, Theresa Greenfield pitched herself as the best candidate to take on Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst

“I am a businesswoman, and I am a mother of four, and I am a farm girl,” the real estate executive told attendees at the Adair County Democratic Party potluck earlier this month. 

Iowa’s Joni Ernst preps for ‘full throttle’ Senate race
With Trump on ballot, candidates from both parties walk a fine line in historic swing state

PARKERSBURG, Iowa — In the span of 10 minutes, Sen. Joni Ernst was confronted with her reelection dilemma.

At a town hall meeting at Aplington-Parkersburg High School earlier this month, a woman stood up and encouraged the Iowa Republican to support President Donald Trump in his ongoing trade dispute with China. Less than 10 minutes later, another woman said she was ashamed of Trump’s immigration policies, and called on the senator to speak out.

Kirsten Gillibrand drops out of Democratic presidential race
New York senator had stressed women’s rights and her appeal to Trump voters in her campaign

New York Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the presidential race Wednesday after failing to make the third round of the Democratic primary debates.

Gillibrand is the fourth presidential candidate to exit the contest in recent days, following former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton. Just 10 candidates appear to have qualified for the upcoming debate in September due to higher polling and donor thresholds set by the Democratic National Committee.

Former GOP Rep. Valadao launches comeback bid in California
Republican lost to Democrat TJ Cox in one of the closest elections of 2018

California Republican David Valadao is looking for a congressional comeback against Democratic Rep. TJ Cox, who narrowly ousted him in last year’s midterms.

Valadao was one of seven GOP lawmakers in the Golden State who lost reelection in 2018. His race in the Central Valley-based 21st District was one of the closest in the country, with Cox winning by 862 votes, or less than 1 percentage point.

GOP Rep. Sean Duffy resigning on Sept. 23
Wisconsin congressman announced child his family is expecting has a heart condition

Wisconsin GOP Rep. Sean Duffy announced Monday that he is resigning from Congress on Sept. 23, after news that the child his family is expecting will have a heart condition.

“Recently, we’ve learned that our baby, due in late October, will need even more love, time, and attention due to complications, including a heart condition,” Duffy wrote in a Facebook post. The child will be Duffy’s ninth. 

Hickenlooper enters Colorado Senate race, but he will have competition
Former governor announced his withdrawal from the presidential race a week ago

After spending a week off the campaign trail, former presidential candidate John Hickenlooper announced Thursday that he will run for Senate in Colorado. 

The former two-term Democratic governor said he wants to challenge Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in next year’s election. Hickenlooper will face several challengers for the Democratic nomination, and will have to address statements he made earlier this year that he was not interested in the job.