At the Races

Letters in Amy McGrath campaign launch video were postmarked the same day
Three-minute video announcing challenge to McConnell was titled ‘The Letter’ about her own unanswered plea

The campaign launch video for Amy McGrath included four Kentuckians writing letters to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Screenshot)

Kentucky Senate candidate Amy McGrath’s three-minute campaign launch  video retells her personal story of getting no answer to letters to members of Congress, then features four Kentuckians writing to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for help with personal crises.

The video implies that McConnell never responded, but it appears the letters were sent Tuesday, the same day that McGrath announced her bid for the Democratic nomination to challenge him. 

Trump endorses Hagerty in Tennessee Senate race
President’s early involvement could keep other Republicans out

President Donald Trump on Friday endorsed Bill Hagerty, his ambassador to Japan, for an open Senate seat in Tennessee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted his endorsement of Bill Hagerty, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, for the open Senate seat in Tennessee, likely limiting what could have been a crowded GOP field for the seat.  

Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander is not running for fourth term.

Lummis running for Senate in Wyoming, predicts ‘barn burner’ if Cheney runs too
Once the only female member of House Freedom Caucus, Lummis chose not to seek fifth term in 2016

Former Wyoming Rep. Cynthia Lummis is running for the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 2:57 p.m. | Former Rep. Cynthia Lummis announced Thursday she is running for the open Senate seat in Wyoming, officially jumping into what could turn into a crowded Republican primary.

Longtime GOP incumbent Michael B. Enzi announced in May he would not run for re-election. Whoever wins the GOP primary would be the favorite to replace him given the state’s strong Republican lean.

Competitive Tennessee Senate primary likely after Haslam decision not to run
Hagerty and Kustoff could run, while Green and Black have passed on the race

Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam will not be running for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced Wednesday he will sit out the race for Senate this cycle, teeing up a competitive Republican primary in the contest to succeed retiring GOP incumbent Lamar Alexander.

Haslam, 60, described his choice to forgo another bid for public office as “the hardest vocational decision of my life” in a letter published in The Tennessean

Amy McGrath walks back remarks on Kavanaugh confirmation
Kentucky Democrat is challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2020

Amy McGrath is running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky.  (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 7:53 p.m. | Kentucky Democrat Amy McGrath reversed course Wednesday night on whether she would have voted for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, just a day after launching her campaign to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

McGrath tweeted that she would have voted against Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the high court, after saying in an interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal earlier in the day that she “probably would have voted for him.”

North Carolina gears up for competitive special election in 9th District
Voters in the 9th and 3rd districts head to polls on Sept. 10

Voters in two North Carolina districts head to the polls on Sept. 10, but only the race in the 9th District is expected to be competitive. (Courtesy Bishop for Congress and Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer/AP file photo)

With the Republican drama in North Carolina’s 3rd District primary runoff now settled, attention in the Tar Heel State shifts to the more competitive of the two House special elections to be held on Sept. 10. 

Voters in the 9th District will choose a new representative in a redo election of last fall’s contest, which was never certified because of ballot fraud connected to the GOP nominee’s campaign. 

End Citizens United names first 12 Republican targets for 2020
Liberal PAC is going after GOP incumbents in House and Senate

End Citizens United has named Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, left, and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, right, as two of initial targets for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

End Citizens United, a liberal PAC that was a major player in last year’s midterms, announced Wednesday its top targets for 2020. 

The initial list of targets, dubbed the “Big Money 20” and obtained first by CQ Roll Call, includes 12 Republican incumbents — five senators and seven House members. 

Pete Buttigieg, youngest of 2020 hopefuls, was unwilling to wait his turn in 2010 too
Bid for Indiana state treasurer did not attract red-state voters, but provided a ‘crash course’

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, at a rally protesting President Donald Trump’s policies outside the White House in June. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This is the third installment in “Battle Tested,” a series analyzing early campaigns of some Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination. Earlier pieces focused on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign for a New York seat in the House in 2006 and Sen. Cory Booker’s 2002 bid for mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

A decade before he seemingly came out of nowhere at age 37 to become a top-tier candidate in the crowded race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Pete Buttigieg stood at a podium in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and told state party leaders he was not going to wait his turn.

North Carolina likely sending another white male Republican to Congress
Greg Murphy, backed by Freedom Caucus chairman, beats Joan Perry in 3rd District primary runoff

State Rep. Greg Murphy has won the GOP nomination for North Carolina’s 3rd District. (Simone Pathé/CQ Roll Call file photo)

State Rep. Greg Murphy has won the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s heavily red 3rd District, making him the strong favorite to succeed the late Walter B. Jones, who died in February.

Murphy, who was backed by the political arm of the House Freedom Caucus, defeated pediatrician Joan Perry in a low-turnout primary runoff that attracted more than $1 million in spending from outside groups dedicated to electing GOP women. With all precincts in, Murphy got 60 percent of the vote to Perry’s 40 percent, The Associated Press reported.

Tom Steyer launches presidential run, but also pledges $50 million to outside groups
Billionaire makes corporate influence and climate change central themes in campaign

Billionaire activist Tom Steyer speaks to supporters in Des Moines, Iowa, in January. (Steve Pope/Getty Images file photo)

Billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer jumped into the presidential race Tuesday, but he still plans to spend millions through outside groups that influenced 2018 elections for House and Senate and could do so again in 2020.

Steyer said he is resigning from groups he founded and financed, NextGen America and Need to Impeach, but is still committing $50 million to both. That could give him a unique position as a late entrant in a field of two dozen candidates as he tries to build support in states where the organizations he funds are airing ads and organizing activists.

Rating changes: Texas and Minnesota Senate races shift the Democrats’ way
Cornyn remains the favorite, but defending his seat could cost the GOP resources

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas,  is still favored for reelection next year, but may have to work harder than past Republicans as the state trends more Democratic. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The fight for Senate control is still taking shape and, less than 16 months before Election Day, two states appear to moving in the Democrats’ direction on the battlefield.

Donald Trump came within about a point and a half of winning Minnesota in the 2016 presidential election. But that might be the new high-water mark for Republicans, and the GOP will have a hard time unseating Democratic Sen. Tina Smith in 2020.

Amy McGrath will try to deny Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell another term
Former Marine pilot drew national attention in failed 2018 bid against Rep. Andy Barr

Amy McGrath addresses supporters in Richmond, Kentucky, after her loss to Rep. Andy Barr in 2018. (Jason Davis/Getty Images)

Amy McGrath, a retired Marine fighter pilot whose unsuccessful 2018 House campaign attracted national attention, will challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his Kentucky Senate seat, she announced Tuesday.

The highly anticipated announcement keys up what is likely to be one of the most closely watched and well-funded matchups of the 2020 congressional campaign cycle, although even Democratic supporters have acknowledged that McGrath faces long odds to unseat one of the most powerful members of the GOP.

North Carolina Republican runoff tests the future of the House GOP
Outside groups backing GOP women have spent more than $1 million for Joan Perry

Joan Perry, seen here greeting voters on Emerald Isle, N.C., last month, is running for the GOP nomination in the open 3rd District. (Simone Pathé/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Voters in eastern North Carolina are heading to the polls Tuesday for a low-profile special election with a lot at stake. 

Regardless of who wins the Republican primary runoff, the 3rd District seat formerly held by the late Rep. Walter B. Jones will almost certainly remain in GOP hands after the special general election on Sept. 10. But the outcome of Tuesday’s internecine contest could say a lot about how the GOP approaches identity politics heading into 2020.

Citing disappointing fundraising and polls, Rep. Eric Swalwell ends presidential campaign
39-year-old who challenged Biden to ‘pass the torch’ has potential in House leadership

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., his wife, Brittany, their son, Nelson, 2, and daughter, Cricket, 7 months, in a May interview. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ending his bid for the presidential nomination Monday, Rep. Eric Swalwell said he will seek another term in the House by campaigning to end gun violence, fight climate change, and address student loan debt, the same issues he hoped would make him the favorite millennial in a crowded Democratic field.

The 39-year-old will also return to an appointed position in the House leadership as co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee, which could help him advance whenever Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn retire. Pelosi and Clyburn will be 80 and Hoyer 81 after the next election.

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash leaves GOP, declares independence
Amash was only Republican to say Trump committed impeachable offenses

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash is leaving the Republican Party. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the first GOP lawmaker to say that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses, is leaving the Republican Party.

“No matter your circumstance, I’m asking you to join me in rejecting the partisan loyalties and rhetoric that divide and dehumanize us,” he wrote in a Thursday op-ed in The Washington Post that does not mention Trump.