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An ‘obvious trap’? Democrats weigh political cost of impeachment
Vulnerable Democrats may be more open to impeachment but aren’t ready to go there yet

Congressional Democrats have a decision to make: Where are they going on impeachment, and at what political cost?

A group that has been pushing since 2017 for President Donald Trump’s impeachment will be airing ads this weekend in Iowa and New Hampshire urging Democratic leaders to take action. 

Get used to talking about Pennsylvania
Political Theater, Episode 74

For pure Political Theater, it will be hard to beat Pennsylvania during the 2020 campaign. The Keystone State will be, well, key to an Electoral College victory. President Donald Trump knows it. That may be why he has visited it six times since taking office, including to Montoursville in the north central part of the state on May 20.

He won’t be alone, though, because the current Democratic frontrunner, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was born in Scranton, represented neighboring Delaware in the Senate for decades and opened his official campaign headquarters in Philadelphia on May 18. Pennsylvania has long been a swing state in presidential politics, and Democrats’ ability to flip several Republican seats in 2018 paved the way for them retaking the majority in the House.

These two Democratic presidential contenders voted for a gas tax increase
Both Sanders and Biden voted for the last federal gas tax hike 26 years ago

When he meets with Democratic congressional leaders Wednesday, a key question will be whether President Donald Trump backs an increase in the federal gas tax the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been pressing him to support.

Trump reportedly backed an increase in private meetings before, but the 2020 election could be a reason for hesitation.

These Democratic women don’t want to be ‘show ponies’
Political Theater: Episode 73

Five Democratic freshmen, all women with military or intelligence backgrounds, are banding together to help each other fundraise for their 2020 races. They all flipped Republican districts in 2018, and they know winning districts like theirs is the key to holding and expanding the House majority in 2020. 

After a few months in Congress, they’ve figured out who are the “workhorses” and who are the “show ponies,” in the words of Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, and they’re tired of the latter getting all the attention. Along with Slotkin, Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania are fighting to hold the majority.

Republicans avoid primary runoff in North Carolina redo
Dan Bishop will face Democrat Dan McCready in September

State Sen. Dan Bishop has won the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s 9th District, avoiding a runoff and kicking off the general election in this year’s most competitive special election.

He’ll next face Dan McCready, who ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and has amassed a large campaign war chest. National groups from both sides are already eyeing this race, with Republicans hoping to keep a longtime GOP seat in their column and Democrats hoping a Marine veteran will help them grow their House majority. 

3 things to watch in the redo primary for North Carolina’s 9th District
Dan Bishop could win GOP nod even if he doesn’t clear 30 percent

The race for North Carolina’s 9th District is the 2018 election that just won’t end. Tuesday’s Republican primary will go a long way toward determining where this competitive special election is headed next. 

It all started with Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger. Just over a year ago, he became the first incumbent of the cycle to lose. He lost his primary to Mark Harris, who’d come within 133 votes of knocking him off in a recount two years earlier. Harris then faced Democrat Dan McCready, a solar energy financier and Marine veteran. 

Democratic female freshmen signal Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t represent them
Democrats with military, CIA backgrounds unite to fundraise for each other

Five freshman Democratic women in the House want the world to know that the newcomers receiving the most attention so far in the 116th Congress aren’t reflective of the women who ran and won in tough districts last fall.

At an event to tout their formation of a joint fundraising committee to tap each other’s donors (and hopefully bring in more), the five, all with military or intelligence backgrounds, never mentioned New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez by name.

Who’s afraid of political gerrymandering?
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 71

Political gerrymandering is losing friends fast, at least in the courts. Ohio and Michigan recently got smacked by federal judges for rigging the maps in favor of Republicans. At the same time, the Supreme Court could decide next month whether Maryland and North Carolina drew unconstitutional gerrymandered maps to favor Democrats and Republicans, respectively.  Why all the interest all of a sudden in such an esoteric part of politics? CQ Roll Call campaign reporters Simone Pathé and Stephanie Akin are our guides through the maze of maps on the latest Political Theater podcast. 

More GOP women want to run for the House. But why now?
Female Republicans are stepping up to run earlier than last cycle

Stephanie Bice is a Republican from a deeply conservative state that’s only sent three women to Congress. But the election of a record-breaking number of female freshmen to the House in 2018, all but one of them Democrats, helped her decide to run for the chamber herself.

“It was a signal to all women that politics isn’t just … a man’s world,” said the Oklahoma state senator, who recently announced her candidacy for the 5th District. “It shows that women have as much of an ability to win these seats. We just need to field the candidates.”

Will the ‘bathroom bill’ animate yet another North Carolina election?
Dan Bishop may be on track to avoid a runoff in 9th District GOP primary

The email from Dan McCready was telling.

The North Carolina Democrat, who’s amassed more than $2.6 million for a redo election in the 9th District, was fundraising off a poll that showed state Sen. Dan Bishop leading the 10-person Republican field for next Tuesday’s primary. 

Iowa's David Young wants a rematch against Cindy Axne
Republican seeks comeback after bid for third term failed by 2 points last fall

Former Iowa Rep. David Young is back for a rematch in Iowa’s 3rd District, which he lost to Democrat Cindy Axne by 2 points in 2018. 

“The policies advocated by Cindy Axne and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in this current Congress are harming Iowa’s families by hurting our economy and rights,” Young said in a statement Monday evening. “Iowans deserve better from their current representative.” 

Trump loyalty is already at the heart of North Carolina Senate primary
Tillis campaign attacks primary challenger as ‘anti-Trump activist’

Retired businessman Garland Tucker III is launching a primary challenge to North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, one of Republicans’ most vulnerable senators in 2020.

As most primaries have been since President Donald Trump was elected, this one is already being made into a contest over loyalty to the president, which could complicate the GOP’s efforts to defend an increasingly competitive state in 2020. 

Federal court strikes down Ohio congressional map as partisan gerrymander
Republicans last year got 52 percent of the vote, won 12 of 16 districts

A federal three-judge panel on Friday struck down Ohio’s congressional map as a partisan gerrymander, providing fodder for voting rights advocates seeking a definitive Supreme Court ruling about the way electoral lines are drawn.

The ruling comes a week after a different federal court in Michigan also ordered district lines redrawn to address boundaries that unfairly benefitted one party. In both cases, the maps favored Republicans, and the decisions gave Democrats hope of making inroads in 2020.

Here are the 3 Republicans who bucked Trump on the Paris climate accord
No Democrat broke party ranks, while 4 in GOP did not vote

Three Republicans — including two from safe seats — sided with Democrats on Thursday in voting for a measure that would stop President Donald Trump from pulling out of the Paris climate accord.

The bill passed the House, 231-190. Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Vern Buchanan of Florida voted with the Democrats. Four Republicans — including Florida’s Francis Rooney, who’s been an outspoken Republican voice on the dangers of climate change — did not vote. He’s in Florida recovering from knee replacement surgery. 

Republican woman makes North Carolina runoff in race for Walter Jones’ seat
Democratic nominee Allen Thomas will have general election campaign to himself for two months

The first special election primary of the year is heading into overtime, with two of the 17 Republicans in North Carolina’s 3rd District advancing to a July 9 runoff for a seat that’s likely to remain in GOP hands. 

State Rep. Greg Murphy and pediatrician Joan Perry led the multi-candidate field, but since neither surpassed the 30 percent threshold to avoid a runoff, the race continues. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Murphy was in first place with 22.5 percent of the vote, followed by Perry with 15.4 percent, according to the Associated Press.  

Why ambitious Democrats are saying ‘no thanks’ to Senate runs
Stacey Abrams is not the first to reject party wooing, and may not be the last

With Stacey Abrams becoming the latest high-profile Democrat to say no to a 2020 Senate bid — and more rejections of party pressure possible on the horizon — running for the Senate no longer looks look like the step up the political ladder it may once have been.

A few Democrats have chosen to run for president this year instead of challenging Republican senators. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke passed on a race against Sen. John Cornyn. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper isn’t taking on incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is expected to join the presidential field soon, passing on a bid against Sen. Steve Daines.

Stacey Abrams will not run for Senate in Georgia
National Democrats wanted Abrams to challenge David Perdue next year

Stacey Abrams will not challenge Georgia Sen. David Perdue in 2020. 

“The fights to be waged require a deep commitment to the job, and I do not see the U.S. Senate as the best role for me in this battle for our nation’s future,” Abrams said in a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning.  

3 things to watch in the first special election primary of the year
17 Republicans running for North Carolina seat held by the late Rep. Walter Jones

Seventeen Republicans are vying Tuesday for the allegiance of GOP voters in 17 counties across eastern North Carolina in the first special election primary of the year.

The GOP contest in the 3rd District is likely just the first step toward determining who will succeed the late Walter B. Jones, a longtime Republican lawmaker known for bucking his own party. 

Federal court strikes down Michigan districts drawn by GOP
State legislature gets Aug. 1 deadline to enact new maps for 2020

A three-judge panel on Thursday ruled that Michigan must use new congressional and legislative maps in 2020, potentially setting up a more favorable battlefield for House Democrats, who flipped two seats in the state last fall. 

The federal court invalidated portions of the existing maps, drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011, pointing to an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of voters.

Could this be the primary where outside GOP groups help women win?
Female Republicans in North Carolina's 3rd District earn endorsements from super PACs

Republicans’ biggest problem electing women has been in primaries.

But in the first special election primary of the year, where 17 Republicans are vying next week for the nod in North Carolina’s 3rd District, the two candidates who have attracted the most significant outside support are women.