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At the Races: Get Ready for Another Special Election
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

Arizona’s Special Election Heads to Home Stretch
Both parties watching whether 8th District race will be close

Arizona Republican Debbie Lesko has benefited from significant outside spending in the 8th District special election. (Courtesy Debbie Lesko for Congress)

Rep. Trent Franks resigned in December amid allegations that he sexually harassed female staffers. Next week, no matter which party wins the race to replace the Arizona Republican, a woman will be elected to succeed him.

The April 24 special election in the 8th District pits former GOP state Sen. Debbie Lesko against Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, a cancer research advocate and former emergency room physician. The two could also meet again in November since both intend to file to run for a full term.

It’s Trump’s Party Now
As the GOP remakes itself in the president’s image, defectors can’t win

President Donald Trump gestures during his State of the Union address in January as Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Paul D. Ryan look on. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

It was once Paul D. Ryan’s party, built on the union of upright Middle American values and America’s competitive advantage in the world.

Now it’s Donald Trump’s — the nationalist, me-first team, willing to compromise on character, foreign policy and free-market economics if it brings a win.

More Republicans Ready to Push but Not Force Immigration Votes
Denham won’t commit to discharge petition on queen of the hill rule for DACA bills

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., center, flanked by Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., left, and Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, hold a news conference on the use of the “queen of the hill” rule for DACA legislation in the House on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Four dozen mostly moderate Republicans have joined Democrats in their push for a “queen of the hill” rule that would set up a series of immigration votes. But the GOP congressman leading the charge is reluctant to commit to a discharge petition that could actually force his leadership to bring it to the floor.

“You shouldn’t need a discharge petition,” California Rep. Jeff Denham said. He acknowledged that backers of the rule might discuss such a petition — which if signed by a majority of the House would force leadership to call a vote. But he refused to commit to filing one if his plan to put pressure on Speaker Paul D. Ryan fails.

Sinclair TV Owner Maxed Out Donations to Gianforte, Montana GOP
Robert E. Smith, who identified himself as ‘retired’ and worked in real estate, also donated to Trump’s campaign

Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., has received maximum campaign contributions from an owner of the Sinclair Broadcasting Group. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An owner of the controversial Sinclair Broadcast Group has donated more than $10,000 to Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte in the last year and a half.

Robert E. Smith, whose family owns the largest local television station operator in the country, gave the maximum $5,400 to Gianforte’s campaign in March, The Guardian reported. He did the same last year, ahead of Gianforte’s 6-point special election victory over Democrat Rob Quist.

Why the Speaker Race Won’t Fade Away Until November
Potential candidates lack a path to 218 votes and need time to build coalitions

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is the front-runner to succeed retiring Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., but there is a long way to go until the November elections. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans don’t know if they will be holding a speaker’s race or a contest for minority leader come November, but that isn’t stopping them from preparing for the former. 

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the leading candidate to replace retiring Speaker Paul D. Ryan, needs more time to build sufficient support to win a still-hypothetical speaker’s race. The same goes for other members eyeing the position.

Tax Day Fight Previews Larger Political Battle Over New Law
Midterm messaging is likely to contain a heaping dose of tax rhetoric

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., holds a sample of a postcard-style tax filing during a news conference in the House studio after a meeting of the GOP Conference on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As citizens across the country rush to submit their 2017 tax returns before the deadline, Republicans and Democrats in Congress on Tuesday amped up the messaging battle over last year’s tax law.

The dueling talking points presented by each party are a preview of the months to come as the midterm elections approach.

Nathan’s (Mostly) Political One-Liners: Push Polls, Endorsement Misses and CAVA
What’s running through my head on tax day, April 17

Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., speaks to a group of constituents on the House steps on March 22 after the final vote of the week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Arkansas’ 2nd District: Congratulations to Democrat Clarke Tucker’s campaign for using the term “robocalls” in a press release even though the local media referred to them as a “push poll,” which it most likely wasn’t since push polls don’t exist.

Colorado Governor: State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, recent ex-wife to GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, received a dismal 6 percent of delegates at the Republican state assembly over the weekend, well short of the 30 percent threshold needed to make the GOP primary ballot for governor.

Trump: ‘High Crime’ Likely in California After Gov. Brown Rejects Border Troops
Nonpartisan group rejected president’s claim about barrier being built near San Diego

Members of the Kentucky National Guard 206th Engineer battalion arrive on a C-130 Hercules transport plane in July 2006 in Tucson, Arizona, to support Border Patrol agents maintaining the U.S.-Mexican border. (Gary Williams/Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump slammed California’s Democratic governor Tuesday, contending “high crime” will rise in the state after Jerry Brown rejected the president’s request for National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Brown last week indicated he would deploy California Guard troops to the border — but not for the immigration enforcement mission Trump requested. Instead, the governor told the Trump administration in a letter guardsmen and women would focus on combating transnational crime groups.

Don’t Expect a Dramatic Finish as Ryan Runs to the Tape
Retiring speaker unlikely to rock the boat during the midterms

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is not running for re-election. But that may not give him any more freedom to do what he wants. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With Speaker Paul D. Ryan retiring after this Congress ends in January, he seemingly has newfound freedom to either make a stronger push for conservative policy priorities or strike bipartisan grand bargains with Democrats.

In reality, the Wisconsin Republican has little room to do either — at least not until after November.