Cindy Hyde-Smith Gets Appointment to Mississippi Senate Seat
State’s first woman in Congress expected to seek election in November

Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith is the designated successor to Sen. Thad Cochran. (Courtesy Cindy Hyde-Smith Campaign)

Mississippi’s Cindy Hyde-Smith will be coming to the U.S. Senate next month.

Gov. Phil Bryant formally tapped the Republican agriculture and commerce commissioner to fill the unexpired term of Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran, who is poised to go out with a win on an omnibus spending bill. Currently in his seventh term, Cochran is resigning effective April 1 for health reasons. 

Trump Nudges Danny Tarkanian Out of Heller Challenge
Frequent candidate will run for the House again

Danny Tarkanian, Republican candidate for several offices over the years in Nevada, poses with a basketball at the Tarkanian Basketball Academy in Las Vegas on Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump threw vulnerable Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller a lifeline Friday, nudging conservative primary challenger Danny Tarkanian out of that race and into one for a House seat.

It “would be great” if Heller “could run for Senate unopposed!” he wrote in a tweet. Trump urged “good guy” Tarkanian to end his bid to unseat Heller and run for the U.S. House instead.

No GOP Candidates Step Up to Challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein
California Democrat will likely face state Sen. Kevin de León in general election

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein faces a challenge from the left in her bid for a fifth full term this November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California’s 2018 Senate race will likely be a Democrat-on-Democrat battle for the second consecutive cycle after no big-name Republican candidates stepped up to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein before the filing deadline.

The Golden State’s jungle primary pits the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, against one another in the general election.

The Slow Breakup Between Democrats and the NRA
Group’s all-or-nothing approach to gun rights is forcing some to abandon ties

New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich, left, and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid both received donations from the National Rifle Association in 2010, two of 66 incumbent Democrats to receive money from the group that cycle. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Just eight years ago, the National Rifle Association dished out $372,000 in campaign contributions to a record 66 Democratic incumbents.

By the 2016 cycle, that number had dwindled to four.

Orrin Hatch and the Origins of Mitt Romney’s Senate Bid
Lunch at the Marriott plants seeds for Romney’s political second coming

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is expected to announce his bid for Sen. Orrin G. Hatch's open Senate seat in Utah on Feb. 15. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Utahns await Mitt Romney’s expected Feb. 15 announcement that he will run for Orrin G. Hatch’s Senate seat, the story of why the former GOP presidential nominee decided to make his political comeback now has begun to emerge.

It all started nearly a year ago over lunch with Hatch at the JW Marriott in downtown Washington, The Boston Globe reported Tuesday.

Thanks, but No Thanks, Bryant Tells McConnell, Trump of Cochran’s Seat
Mississippi governor not interested in potentially replacing ailing senator

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., could step down amid lingering health concerns, many around Capitol Hill believe. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is not interested in replacing Sen. Thad Cochran if Cochran steps down due to health concerns.

Bryant will not appoint himself to fill Cochran’s seat, the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson reported Thursday, even though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump both broached the idea in separate conversations with the governor.

Issa Announces Who He Wants to Replace Him
Diane Harkey was one of the first of a slew of Republicans to get into the race

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., endorsed Diane Harkey, a member of the California Board of Equalization, to replace him as he retires from Congres. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa endorsed California Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey to succeed him in California’s 49th District.

Issa endorsed Harkey in an interview Fox5 San Diego

AFL-CIO Passes on Endorsing O’Rourke
Comes after concerns about his support for free trade

Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, said he was unable to attend the Texas AFL-CIO convention because of other commitments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Texas branch of the AFL-CIO passed on endorsing Rep. Beto O’Rourke at its convention in his challenge against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

O’Rourke did not attend the labor group’s convention in Austin on Sunday and was not listed on the slate of statewide candidates the group was endorsing, the Texas Tribune reported.

Joe Arpaio Senate Candidacy ‘Won't Last Long,’ Flake Says
Former sheriff fires back, saying Flake didn’t have the ‘guts’ to run again

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., has been critical of his own party for nominating controversial conservative candidates for high office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake on Wednesday dismissed Joe Arpaio’s bid for his Arizona Senate seat in 2018, laughing off the controversial former sheriff as a fringe candidate whose campaign will quickly fizzle.

“You’d better write about it and talk about it fast because it won’t last long,” Flake said in an interview with CNN.

DeSantis Touts Trump Endorsement in Announcing Florida Governor Run
Florida rep is 10th GOP House member to announce run for higher office

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., announced Friday he will run for governor of Florida. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Ron DeSantis will run for Florida governor in 2018, the third-term Republican announced Friday morning.

Appearing on the morning cable show “Fox & Friends,” DeSantis touted his strong relationship with President Donald Trump — who endorsed the 39-year-old lawmaker for a governor bid in recent weeks — before revealing his intention to run.