At the Races

Stefanik launches PAC to boost female candidates, now with GOP leadership support
New York Republican says party’s problem with women goes beyond Trump

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., aims to help more Republican women win primaries in the 2020 cycle through early political money and mentorship. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans have trouble electing women. And for at least one afternoon in Washington, everyone recognized that problem.

House GOP leadership, consultants, members and former candidates all showed up Thursday to a five-hour confab just off Capitol Hill to help New York Rep. Elise Stefanik launch her rebranded leadership PAC, which will be dedicated to helping women in primaries.

They raised millions and lost. Now what?
Democrats who were top fundraisers look to stay involved in politics

Kentucky’s Amy McGrath was one of the top Democratic fundraisers of the 2018 cycle in her unsuccessful challenge to GOP Rep. Andy Barr. (Jason Davis/Getty Images file photo)

Democrats who ran for the House in 2018 shattered fundraising records, some even surpassing Senate candidates. But not all of the cycle’s top fundraisers ended up winning their races. 

That’s left a number of candidates — with high profiles and massive donor lists — pondering their next moves. And some are still eyeing careers in politics. 

STEM group launches ‘Draft Mark Kelly’ effort in Arizona
314 Action is urging former astronaut to challenge appointed Sen. McSally

Mark Kelly, the husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is being encouraged to run for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

314 Action, a group that backs candidates with scientific backgrounds, is launching a new effort Wednesday to encourage former astronaut and Navy veteran Mark Kelly to run for Senate in Arizona. 

Kelly, who is married to former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, is among a handful of potential Democratic challengers to appointed Sen. Martha McSally. The race is expected to be a top party target in 2020, and 314 Action is hoping a show of support will bolster Kelly’s decision to run.

Henry Cuellar says liberals targeting him don’t understand his district
Texas congressman says his polling shows his Democratic constituents are moderates

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, is among the more conservative Democrats in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar said Friday that the liberal Democrats recruiting primary challengers against him are in for a rude awakening. 

The Washington Post first reported that Justice Democrats, a group targeting sitting Democratic lawmakers, launched a fund to support a primary challenge against Cuellar, one of the more conservative House Democrats.

Steve King primary challenger slams his ‘caustic nature’
Iowa Republican won re-election by just 3 points in solid GOP district

Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King is facing a GOP primary this cycle after a narrow re-election in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Controversial Iowa Rep. Steve King will face a Republican primary challenger next year, with state Sen. Randy Feenstra announcing Wednesday that he is running in the 4th District.

Feenstra, the assistant majority leader in the state Senate, did not mention the nine-term incumbent by name in his statement announcing he was forming a congressional campaign committee, but slammed King’s lack of influence.

After bailing last year, Lipinski set to return to March for Life
Illinois Democrat survived a competitive primary challenge from the left in 2018

Illinois Rep. Daniel Lipinski has been announced as a speaker at this year’s March for Life rally in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After bailing on last year’s March for Life during a heated Democratic primary, Illinois Democrat Daniel Lipinski is once again on the list of speakers for the annual anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C., later this month.

Organizers announced Tuesday that the congressman will be among three Hill lawmakers who will address the march on Jan. 18. He’ll be joined by Montana Sen. Steve Daines and New Jersey Republican Rep. Christopher H. Smith

Roberts’ retirement likely to spark crowded GOP primary
Roberts announced Friday he would not run for re-election

Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts is not running for re-election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts announced Friday that he would not run for re-election in 2020, launching what is expected to be a competitive Republican primary for his seat. 

“I have had the honor and privilege of representing Kansas for 16 years in the House, 22 years so far in the Senate,” Roberts said at an event in Manhattan, Kansas, on Friday. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become the longest serving member of Congress in Kansas history.”

Vulnerable new Democrats savor first day as 2020 looms
Democrats now shift to defense after winning back the House

Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Okla., said voting for Nancy Pelosi for speaker was in the best interest of her district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Standing a few strides away from the House floor on Thursday, Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips put his arm around another new Democrat, Haley Stevens of Michigan.

“It’s for real!” Phillips exclaimed.

Dick Durbin says he’s running for Senate re-election in 2020, unofficially
Minority whip signaled he plans to seek a fifth term representing Illinois

Sen. Richard J. Durbin is planning a re-election bid, at least informally. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin said Thursday that he intends to run for re-election in 2020.

The Democrat from Illinois said he would be seeking a fifth term when asked during a CNN interview.

Democrats Fundraise off of Possible North Carolina Special Election
Through ActBlue, politicians solicit funds to be divided between them and McCready

Democrats are sending out fundraising solicitations for contributions to be split between themselves and North Carolina Democrat Dan McCready.  (Jeff Siner/The Charlotte Observer via AP)

It’s not yet known when or if there will be another election in North Carolina’s 9th District, but that’s not stopping politicians and PACs from using the prospect of such a contest for end-of-the-year fundraising — for Democrat Dan McCready and for themselves. 

McCready had conceded the race to Republican Mark Harris, but after the Associated Press retracted its call for Harris, McCready withdrew his concession. 

Who Might Run for Alexander’s Tennessee Senate Seat in 2020?
All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam and Rep.-elect Mark Green

Outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, seen here at a rally with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016, is a likely candidate for the open Senate seat. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s announcement on Monday that he won’t seek a fourth term opens up a 2020 Senate seat in a state President Donald Trump carried by 26 points in 2016.

All eyes are on outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, who could clear the field and would likely be a successor in the same Republican mold as Alexander.

Kevin McLaughlin Returns to the NRSC as Executive Director
McLaughlin served as the committee’s deputy executive director in 2016

Incoming NRSC Chairman Todd Young, R-Ind., is welcoming a new committee executive director, Kevin McLaughlin. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Kevin McLaughlin is returning to the National Republican Senatorial Committee as its new executive director, Chairman Todd Young announced Friday.

McLaughlin was the committee’s deputy executive director for the 2016 cycle, when Young was elected to the Senate in Indiana, and he served as a senior adviser in the 2014 cycle. Like 2016, Republicans are largely on defense in 2020. Twenty-two GOP senators are up for re-election compared to 12 Democrats.

Papadopoulos Confirms Plan to Run for Congress
Former Trump campaign aide recently served time in prison

Former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos, here arriving for a closed-door hearing at the House Judiciary and Oversight committees on Oct. 25, says he plans to run for Congress. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide who recently served time in prison, confirmed Friday that he does plan to run for Congress.

“It is true. I will be running for Congress in 2020, and I will win,” Papadopoulos tweeted Friday. “Stay tuned.”

Defeated GOP Rep. Bruce Poliquin Calls for Recount to End
Maine Republican still has concerns about state’s ranked-choice voting system

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, lost his re-election to Democrat Jared Golden. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Bruce Poliquin called Friday for the recount in his 2nd District to end. The Maine Republican initially requested the recount following his apparent loss to Democrat Jared Golden

Poliquin lost his race as part of the state’s new ranked-choice voting system for congressional races. Voters rank their choices in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority, the last place candidate’s votes are distributed to his or her supporters’ second choice. The process of elimination continues until a candidate gets majority support.

At the Races: The Ghost of Midterms Past
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. 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.

This week … Some Republicans started worrying about retirements, Mainers have been recounting ballots faster than expected, and one Pelosi rebel faced a primary threat.