Robert Pittenger

Opinion: Will Tax Bill Open Church Doors Wider Still for Politics?
Knocking down the Johnson Amendment would cheapen America’s pluralism

Rep. Robert Pittenger’s new heavy-handed ad makes one wonder which constituents the North Carolina Republican will serve, Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A place of worship has never been completely clear of politics in America. But that physical and spiritual space for contemplation and reflection may grow smaller still, and moments without intrusion from the bitterness and division in the world could grow shorter.

Tucked into the House version of the tax plan that Republicans dearly crave as “a win” is a provision that would remove a check on places of worship — churches, synagogues and mosques — and some nonprofits. The in-danger Johnson Amendment of 1954, one with more intent than teeth, supposedly prohibits pastors and other faith leaders from endorsing or opposing political candidates from their perches of religious authority or risk losing their tax-exempt status.

New Democrats’ PAC Adds 10 More Challengers to Watch List
PAC now has 23 candidates on watch list for 2018

Lauren Baer, who’s running in  Florida’s 18th District, is one of 10 more Democratic candidates that NewDemPAC is adding to its list of candidates to watch in 2018. (D.A. Banks/CQ Roll Call file photo).

The political arm of the moderate New Democrat Coalition is adding 10 more challengers to its list of candidates to watch in 2018 — a continued effort to get involved in House races earlier this cycle. 

The latest additions by NewDemPAC, obtained first by Roll Call, come from across the country and include a second former member of the coalition. The PAC announced its first 13 candidates to watch earlier this year. 

Just in Time for Christmas, Robert Pittenger Primary Ads Get Religious
North Carolina Republican facing repeat challenge from former pastor

North Carolina Rep. Robert Pittenger, speaking to reporters in the Capitol earlier this month, is launching a TV ad campaign running through Christmas. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Facing a primary challenge from the same GOP candidate who nearly defeated him last year, North Carolina Republican Robert Pittenger is launching an ad campaign about “putting Christ back in Christmas.”

“Let’s end political correctness and put the true meaning of Christ back into Christmas,” Pittenger says in the ad, standing in front of a fireplace and Christmas tree as a holiday jingle plays in the background. 

Let Us Now Praise President Donald Trump
Republicans describe their rally with president

President Donald Trump makes a brief statement to the media as Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., left, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, right, look on, after a meeting with the House Republican Conference in the Capitol to discuss the GOP’s tax reform bill on November 16, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

“Unbelievably engaging.”Mark Meadows, N.C.

At the Races: Moore Problems for GOP Ahead of 2018
GOP leaders struggles with Moore, and Northeastern Republicans face tough tax vote

Alabama GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore holds his book titled “Abuse of Power” about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision at a county GOP meeting in Valley, Ala., back in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Keep track of House and Senate races with At the Races! If you want to receive this weekly newsletter, make sure to sign up *here.* And we want to hear from you! Send us an email at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget BowmanThis week…  More women accused Roy Moore of sexual misconduct, Republicans tried to figure out what to do about it, and some vulnerable members faced a tough choice on taxes. Here’s what happened At the Races:

Moore Problems: Allegations of sexual misconduct have upended the Alabama Senate race with GOP candidate Roy Moore accused of sexual assault, and sexual and romantic advances toward teenage girls when he was in his thirties. (Moore has denied any wrongdoing.) 

DCCC Names First 11 Candidates in ‘Red to Blue’ Program
2018 program will include more targeted and frequent additions

Angie Craig, back for a rematch against Rep. Jason Lewis in Minnesota’s 2nd District, is one of 11 candidates named to the DCCC’s Red to Blue program. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is naming 11 candidates Wednesday in the first round of its Red to Blue program, which highlights strong Democratic recruits.

The list of 11 candidates, obtained first by Roll Call, includes recruits running in 10 competitive Republican-held seats and in an open seat Democrats are hoping to keep blue.

Opinion: Will 2018 Midterms Follow Scorched-Earth Playbook?
Look to lessons from 2017

Polls that showed a tight race were no predictor of the result in Charlotte's mayoral contest Tuesday, which saw the outspent Democrat Vi Lyles win by nearly 20 points. (Courtesy Vi Lyles/Facebook)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It was a nice little mayor’s race in the largest city in North Carolina, considering that Charlotte has gone through a lot of mayors (seven) in the past nine years. And that’s even taking into account Democratic incumbent Jennifer Roberts losing, in the primary, her chance to defend her spot because of her part in a “bathroom” bill that labeled the state in all the wrong ways and her handling of protests that turned violent after a police-involved shooting.

But all that aside, the scorched-earth campaign between two mild-mannered city council members competing to move into the mayor’s office was a bit unexpected. It reached a heated crescendo with a digital ad from the N.C. Values Coalition, which supported Republican Kenny Smith. The ad said Democrat Vi Lyles “is Jennifer Roberts” and featured an ominous voice-over, a man entering a bathroom to the frightened chagrin of a girl already claiming the space, scenes of rioting and the image of comedian Kathy Griffin holding a blurred severed head.

Meet the Challengers Who Outraised House Incumbents
Some Democrats raised two to three times more than GOP lawmakers in third quarter

Democrat Anthony Brindisi raised more money during the third quarter than GOP freshman Rep. Claudia Tenney in New York’s 22nd District. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

Nearly one year out from the 2018 midterms, challengers outraised nearly 30 percent of the incumbents in competitive races during the third quarter.

Sixteen Republican incumbents in competitive races raised less than their Democratic challengers during the third quarter. One Democratic incumbent was outraised by a GOP challenger.

Word on the Hill: Practice Mindfulness on Your Long Weekend
Chief of staff band warms up for the Nationals, and meatless dining in D.C.

The statue of Christopher Columbus is framed by wreaths left over from the 2014 Columbus Day celebration at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station in Washington, D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate staffers have the opportunity to work on being mindful today.

Mindcare: Mindfulness at Work, hosted by the Employee Assistance Program, is the first of several guided instruction sessions to help establish a mindful practice. It’s for Senate employees only from 11 a.m. to noon in the Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC-215. Call 202-224-3902 to register.

Moulton Raises $600,000 for Veteran Candidates He Endorsed
Massachusetts Democrat says Congress needs the ‘fresh perspective’ that his fellow veterans bring

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., is backing 11 fellow military veterans in their bids to unseat Republican members in 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton raised $600,000 for the Democratic candidates he endorsed in his attempt to recruit more veterans to run for Congress.

The announcement came after a forum at Harvard University, Moulton’s alma mater, with four of the candidates he has endorsed: Dan Feehan in Minnesota’s 1st District, Roger Dean Huffstelter in Virginia’s 5th District, Amy McGrath in Kentucky’s 6th District, and Mikie Sherrill in New Jersey’s 11th District.