Bridget Bowman

The Iowa State Fair: Our hits, misses and lessons learned
Political Theater, Episode 88

DES MOINES, Iowa — For all its quaintness and fun, the Iowa State Fair does a pretty good job of approximating politics at the national level, be it questions about electability and charisma or trade and agricultural policy.

“The debate within the party that is happening right now, is happening right in front of me at the Iowa State Fair between these two people,” CQ Roll Call senior politics writer Bridget Bowman says, recounting a conversation between a couple after hearing South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg speak at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox on Aug. 13. The couple, both of whom told Bridget they were impressed with Buttigieg, were torn between what was more important for a Democratic candidate: offering bold ideas or being more likely to beat President Donald Trump.

Democrats go on defense in crucial heartland House race in Iowa
GOP has sights on Iowa’s 2nd District, which backed Trump in 2016

WHEATLAND, Iowa — Republicans sense an opportunity in the rolling corn and soybean fields in southeastern Iowa. But Democrats won’t be giving up their hold on this heartland district without a fight.

Republicans’ path to the House majority runs through the 31 Democrat-held districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016. And one of them, Iowa’s 2nd District, ranks among the GOP’s best pickup opportunities next year because it’s the only one of the 31 without an incumbent defending the seat.

Tom Harkin makes rare appearance with 2020 contender
Event with Kirsten Gillibrand on disability rights draws former Iowa senator

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Bob Raker came to the Holiday Inn’s ballroom Sunday to see a Democratic senator, just not the one running for president.

“Anytime you get to see Sen. Tom Harkin, it’s worthwhile,” said Raker, a 65-year-old retired government worker. Harkin, a five-term senator who retired in 2015, has steered clear of the campaign trail as presidential hopefuls have crisscrossed his home state of Iowa.

Loebsack backed Obama over Clinton in 2007, but unsure about 2020 field
Retiring seven-term Democrat questions whether his backing would make a difference

DES MOINES, Iowa — Back in late 2007, Rep. Dave Loebsack’s endorsement provided a boost to Barack Obama’s battle to deny the Democratic presidential nomination to fellow senator Hillary Clinton.

But with 13 current or former House and Senate colleagues vying for president in a crowded 2020 field of two dozen candidates — including Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden — the Iowa Democrat is questioning whether he should wade in at all.

The GOP senator who hasn’t raised any campaign money so far
Some expect Shelby to not run for reelection in 2022

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby has raised no money at all from individuals or PACs for his personal campaign account since he won his last election in 2016, which could fuel speculation that the 85-year-old is serving his last term.

Shelby’s campaign account still holds the nearly $10 million that was left unspent after he won his sixth term by nearly 30 points.

Rep. Kenny Marchant joins parade of Texas House retirements, opening up competitive Dallas-area seat
Marchant, who won reelection last fall by 3 points, follows Hurd, Conaway and Olson

Updated 11:45 a.m. Monday | Rep. Kenny Marchant is the latest Texas Republican to decide to retire rather than seek another term in 2020, opening up a competitive seat in the Dallas area.

“I am looking forward to finishing out my term and then returning to Texas to start a new chapter,” Marchant said in a Monday morning statement that thanked his constituents, staff and family. He said he was going to spend more time with his seven grandchildren and “working cattle on my ranch.”

Will Hurd’s exit highlights a Texas-size challenge for Republicans in 2020
Democrats are going on offense, targeting multiple House seats in the Lone Star State

Texas Rep. Will Hurd’s decision to retire was a gut punch for Republicans, who consider him one of their strongest incumbents in one of the most competitive districts in the country. His exit means the GOP will have to work even harder to hold on to his seat with Democrats going on offense in the Lone Star State. 

Hurd is the third Texas Republican in a week to announce his retirement, and the second to do so in a contested seat after Rep. Pete Olson, who is relinquishing his Houston-area 22nd District. Rep. K. Michael Conaway is the third retiring lawmaker, although his seat, which extends from the outskirts of Forth Worth to the New Mexico border, is not considered competitive.

Texas Rep. Will Hurd announces retirement
Three-term congressman is third Texas Republican to opt against reelection this cycle

Texas Rep. Will Hurd, the only African American Republican in the House, announced Thursday evening that he will not run for reelection next year. The news is a blow to House Republicans looking to win back the majority, since Hurd is in one of the most competitive districts in the country and withstood the Democratic wave in 2018. 

The three-term congressman, whose 23rd District stretches from El Paso to San Antonio along the U.S.-Mexico border, said he made the decision “in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.” 

3 ways Democrats couldn’t escape Congress in Wednesday’s debate
Seven of the 10 candidates on stage have congressional experience

The 10 Democrats on Wednesday’s debate stage were vying for the White House, but with seven of them having congressional experience, much of the evening came back to the legislative branch.

Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Michael Bennet all currently serve in the Senate. Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a four-term member of the House, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee previously served eight nonconsecutive terms in the House. Former Vice President Joe Biden spent 36 years in the Senate — plenty of time to accumulate a record that was the source of frequent attacks Wednesday night.

4 ways the Democratic debate was actually about 2018
Echoes of the midterm elections permeated the first night of the Democratic presidential debate

If you paid attention to the 2018 midterm elections, Tuesday night’s Democratic debate might have brought back some memories.

Ten presidential candidates faced off in the first night of the second series of debates, which aired on CNN. And many of them cited Democrats’ 2018 victories as proof that that candidate had the right stuff to win back the White House next fall.

Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby not running for reelection
One of just 13 House Republican women, Roby criticized Trump in 2016

Republican Rep. Martha Roby, who criticized Donald Trump in 2016 and faced a primary challenge because of it in 2018, announced Friday that she will not seek a sixth term in her southeast Alabama district. The move means she will not be on the ballot with Trump next year. 

Roby is one of just 13 Republican women in the House and the second to announce her retirement, following Indiana’s Susan W. Brooks. Three other Republicans announced this year that they will not run for reelection.

Texas Rep. Pete Olson not running for reelection in 2020
Democrats are targeting Houston-area 22nd District

Texas Rep. Pete Olson will not seek a seventh term in 2020, opening up a Republican-held seat that Democrats have made a top target this cycle.

Olson cited family reasons for his decision, saying in a statement that his wife has “carried the lion’s share” of parenting their two children, and that her mother has health issues “that require more care and attention.” 

Mueller sounds alarm on Russian meddling. So what has Congress done about it?
Russian interference is ‘among the most serious’ challenges to American democracy, ex-special counsel says

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

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.

GOP campaign chairman: There's ‘no place’ for ‘send her back’ chant
Tom Emmer slams ‘the squad’ as socialists, but says ‘send her back’ chant at Trump rally went too far

The National Republican Congressional Committee chairman said it was not acceptable that the crowd at President Donald Trump’s rally Wednesday chanted “send her back” about a Muslim congresswoman who was born in Somalia.

But Rep. Tom Emmer declined on Thursday to say whether Trump’s rhetoric could damage GOP efforts to win back the House next year. He also said Republicans were unprepared for health care attacks last year, but next year will be focus on the impact of Democrats’ calls to expand Medicare to cover more people.

Targeted House members boost fundraising, as Democrats’ dominance continues
On average, targeted Democrats raised $100,000 more than targeted GOP members

Targeted House members in both parties generally improved their second-quarter fundraising compared to the same period two years ago, but Democrats continued to outpace their Republican counterparts as they worked to protect their majority.

The fundraising reports, which cover the three-month period of April through June and were filed on Monday, will likely quiet questions about whether the wave of cash that bolstered Team Blue in the midterms would return for Democratic lawmakers facing tough reelections in 2020. 

When Kamala Harris lost on election night, but won three weeks later
Her nail-biting 2010 victory for California attorney general raised her national profile

This is the fourth installment in “Battle Tested,” a series analyzing early campaigns of some Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination. Earlier pieces focused on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Cory Booker and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In November 2008, Kamala Harris was sprinting through Burbank airport with her campaign adviser, Ace Smith.

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

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.

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 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.

6 ‘food fights’ in Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate
Candidates take shots at Trump, Congress and each other in second Miami debate

Democratic presidential candidates were on attack mode in the second night of their first Democratic debate, with the 10 contenders onstage taking aim at President Donald Trump and each other.

Trump’s name came up more often during Thursday’s debate than during Wednesday’s, which featured 10 other candidates. Thursday’s contenders also directly challenged one another, with the two leading the polls, former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, facing the most criticism.