At the Races: Wabash College, Swamp Critters and More

Decisions made and delayed in Nevada

Rep. Luke Messer, seen here in a family photo on the East Front of the Capitol, is running for the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rep. Luke Messer, seen here in a family photo on the East Front of the Capitol, is running for the Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted July 27, 2017 at 5:03am

As the August recess nears, candidates and maybe-candidates are making decisions that set the stage for both upcoming special elections and the 2018 midterms.

The Battle of Indiana

Indiana Rep. Luke Messer announced on Wednesday he’s running for Senate.

In declaring his bid to challenge vulnerable Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly, the third-term Republican congressman tweeted, “We’re in!!” with a link to his new campaign site just before noon.

Messer, who represents the 6th District, had been widely expected to run for Senate for months. Until he wasn’t.

In recent weeks, rumors have been flying about Messer, a member of House GOP leadership, getting cold feet. Much of that chatter first originated from allies of fellow Hoosier Rep. Todd Rokita of the 4th District, who’s also expected to run for the GOP nod.

A primary between these two Wabash College alumni has been among the worst kept campaign secrets in Washington this year, with both maintaining congressional re-election organizations that have been openly gearing up for Senate bids.

Other Republicans still considering entering the race include Attorney General Curtis Hill, state Rep. Mike Braun and state Sen. Mike Delph.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a Toss-up.

— Simone Pathé

Story: Indiana Rep. Luke Messer Running for Senate

Kentucky ‘swamp critter’ in ’Bama 

Republican Rep. Mo Brooks attacked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, saying he would vote to change how the chamber works if he wins the Senate special election in Alabama.

McConnell “is a swamp critter,” Brooks told reporters at an event organized by the Heritage Foundation. Instead of “draining the swamp” as President Donald Trump has promised, McConnell is enabling old ways of doing business in Washington, the congressman said.

If elected to the Senate, Brooks said, he would not only vote to replace McConnell as the party’s leader but he would also approve of far-reaching changes in the way the Senate works, including getting rid of the legislative filibuster. 

Brooks is among nine Republicans vying in the Aug. 15 GOP primary for the solid red seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became attorney general.

Sen. Luther Strange, the appointed incumbent, has the backing of McConnell and the Republican Party establishment. A runoff will be held Sept. 26 if no one clears 50 percent of the vote, with the general election on Dec. 12.

— Gopal Ratnam

Story: Brooks: ‘Swamp Critter’ McConnell Should Be Replaced

It hardy matters now

Former Rep. Cresent Hardy has announced that he will not seek elected office in 2018.

The Nevada Republican said in a statement Tuesday that he would “continue to spend some much-needed time with my wife, children and grandchildren,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“After having prayed over this issue, and discussed it with my family, I have made the decision that I will not be a candidate for office in 2018,” he said.

Hardy represented Nevada’s 4th District for a single term before losing to Democrat Ruben Kihuen last fall.

Hardy had been considering a comeback in the Silver State’s 3rd District where freshman Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen is vacating her seat to run for Senate.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the 3rd District race Tilts Democratic.

— Eric Garcia

Story: Former Rep. Cresent Hardy Passes on 2018 Run

A Titus margin

A new internal poll shows Nevada Rep. Dina Titus in a tight race against Sen. Dean Heller if she decides to challenge him in 2018.

The 1st District Democratic congresswoman is mulling a run against the vulnerable Republican, but would have to first face off against Rep. Jacky Rosen of the 3rd District in a primary.

Heller led Titus 47 percent to 45 percent, within the poll’s 4-point margin of error, the Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported. Titus’ campaign paid Anzalone Liszt Grove Research to conduct the survey of 600 likely voters in June. 

Rosen, who formally announced her challenge to Heller earlier this month, is backed by former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid. 

Titus said she would make a decision “after spending time in the district during the month of August.”