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Trump vulnerability in a primary is more fiction than fact
President has solid GOP support, a huge cash advantage, and it’s already late in the process

Former Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina is considering a challenge to President Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford is seriously considering challenging President Donald Trump in the primary, even though he called the idea “preposterous” on many levels. It’s a rare moment when you should take a politician at his word.

Even if you look past the huge hurdles of the president’s popularity among the Republican base and the humongous fundraising advantage, the anti-Trump movement is simply running out of time, and it’s arguably too late to mount a serious presidential campaign at all.

Trump missing an opportunity to burnish his legacy with gun law
If anyone in GOP can stand up to the NRA, it's the outsider president

President Donald Trump has not been clear about what changes he would seek to gun background checks, but he has the political capital in the GOP to stand up to the NRA if he wants a new gun law to be part of his legacy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has forgotten who holds the power within the Republican Party.

There’s a perception that the National Rifle Association has an impenetrable lock on base Republican voters and thus is holding GOP members of Congress captive. But Trump is the one person who has the capital with the GOP base to oppose the NRA and get something done on guns. And the president is missing an opportunity to add a legacy item to his time in office and even help his chances of winning a second term.

Hickenlooper says he’ll give ‘serious thought’ to Senate run after dropping presidential bid
Colorado and national Democrats see former governor as best chance to capture Gardner’s seat

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, shown in Iowa on Saturday, announced Thursday he is ending his bid for the presidency. (Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper ended his campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, and said he will consider a run against Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in a battleground state Democrats need to win to take control of the upper chamber.

“People want to know what comes next for me,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “I’ve heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate. They remind me how much is at stake for our country. And our state. I intend to give that some serious thought.”

GOP will need more than promoting their preferred opponent to affect Democratic primaries
Republicans appear to be taking a page from Democrat Claire McCaskill’s winning 2012 Senate campaign

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill ran ads during her 2012 reelection campaign that called Republican Todd Akin’s stances too conservative. But the spots were designed to help him win the GOP nomination because she considered him a weaker challenger. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Democratic state senator bragged this week about drawing the attention of national Republicans in the competitive race for U.S. Senate in North Carolina. But Erica Smith shouldn’t wear the attacks as a badge of honor. And if Republicans really want to make an impact, they’re going to have to spend a lot more money.

“The @NRSC has purchased a billboard attacking me in Raleigh — calling me ‘too liberal,’” Smith tweeted Monday, referring to the National Republican Senatorial Committee effort. “I am the only candidate that they are spending money against — it shows you who @ThomTillis is worried about. Can’t attack @CalforNC bc no one knows what he stands for.”

After Marchant retirement, race for Texas’ 24th District remains competitive
With Trump atop the 2020 ticket, GOP can’t feel comfortable about attracting suburban voters

Texas Rep. Kenny Marchant is retiring after eight terms in the House. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Another day, another Republican retirement.

It might seem like there’s a flood of members announcing they will not seek reelection, but we’re still not close to historical levels. And the location of the open seats matters more than the timing.

GOP Rep. King gets rematch against J.D. Scholten, who he narrowly defeated in 2018
King defeated Scholten by 3 percent in 2018 in a district Trump won by 27 points in 2016

J.D. Scholten, Democratic candidate for Iowa's 4th congressional district, is interviewed by CQ Roll Call at their D.C. office, July 27, 2018. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrat J.D. Scholten announced Monday that he will once again challenge controversial GOP Rep. Steve King in Iowa’s 4th District. He had also been considering entering the Democratic primary to take on Republican Sen. Joni Ernst, who is up for reelection in 2020.

King eeked out a 3-point victory over Scholten in the 2018 midterm elections, even though President Donald Trump carried the 4th District by 27 points in 2016. His reelection prevented Iowa’s entire four-seat House delegation from going blue in 2018, after Republicans controlled all but one seat the previous Congress.

Rating change: Hurd retirement moves Texas district toward Democrats
Three-term Republican won his Clinton seat along U.S.-Mexico border by less than 1,000 votes in 2018

Texas Rep. Will Hurd will not seek another term in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Will Hurd of Texas has been considered one of the Republicans’ strongest incumbents. He proved that last fall, when he was one of just three in the House GOP Conference to win reelection in a district that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016.

But Hurd, who founded a cybersecurity firm before running for Congress, announced Thursday night that he will be returning to his roots.

How recent House retirements change the battleground in Texas and Michigan
More members will follow Olson and Mitchell and forego 2020 if historical trends hold

Texas Rep. Pete Olson of Texas will not run for another term in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Reps. Pete Olson of Texas and Paul Mitchell of Michigan recently announced they will not seek reelection, but how much do their decisions affect the fight for the House majority? Open seats are usually more vulnerable than districts where an incumbent is seeking another term, but these two retirements aren’t political earthquakes.

First, we are still well below the historical average for retirements, so there will be plenty more of these stories to come.

‘Extremists’ in Virginia candidate’s video include Democrats and fellow Republicans
Afghanistan veteran vying to challenge Rep. Jennifer Wexton swipes at McConnell, King, Meadows

Rob Jones’ video announcing his campaign for Virginia’s 10th District brands both Democrats and a few fellow Republicans, including Iowa Rep. Steve King, as ‘extremists.’ (Screenshot/YouTube/Rob Jones for Congress)

It’s no surprise that a Republican congressional candidate used Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a campaign video. But including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and two other GOP House members as targets for criticism is a novel approach for a Republican candidate.

GOP strategists knew they needed an atypical candidate to have any chance of recapturing Virginia’s 10th District. As a double amputee Marines Corps veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Rob Jones fits that bill.

Democrats not sweating contested Senate primaries — yet
Another Democrat jumped into the Texas Senate race on Monday

Democrats are gearing up for a competitive Senate primary in Texas to take on Republican incumbent John Cornyn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Another Democratic candidate jumped into the race Monday to take on Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn — the latest sign that Democrats could face multiple contested primaries for Senate seats they think they can win in 2020.

Despite the prospect of intramural warfare, Democrats say they aren’t fretting yet that the primaries could endanger efforts to win control of the Senate, which will likely go through Texas, Colorado and other states.