At the Races: 2018 Starts in PA-18

Our weekly newsletter on the latest in House and Senate races

Posted January 18, 2018 at 2:02pm

Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter. Subscribe here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at at with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé and Bridget BowmanThis week … Trump is wading into another special election, Democrats went after one of their own and Tim Pawlenty said “no thanks” to a Senate run.


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A year ago, more than 1 million people gathered for women’s marches in Washington and across the world. Female lawmakers at the D.C. march said the crowds gave them a boost to resist President Donald Trump. A record number of women are running for Congress, according to the Center for American Women and Politics. This cycle 390 women are running for the House, and 49 are running for Senate, including incumbents. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Starting Gate 

Will March Come in Like a Lamb? The first special election of 2018 will take place on March 13 in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. President Donald Trump is traveling on Thursday to the district he carried by 20 points, where he’ll be joined by state Rep. Rick Saccone, the GOP nominee. On paper it’s a red district, but former Marine and prosecutor Conor Lamb is giving Democrats some hope. Where does the race stand as Trump heads to Pennsylvania? Catch up here.

*Bookmark* Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates PA-18 as Likely Republican. What about the other races? Keep track with our Election Guide.Family Feud: Democrats are optimistic about kicking out GOP incumbents in 2018, but first, a few sitting Democrats want to kick out one of their own. Illinois Reps. Luis V. Gutiérrez and Jan Schakowsky on Wednesday endorsed Marie Newman, who’s challenging seven-term Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski in the March 20 primary in the 3rd District. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand had already backed Newman. Who’s not on board yet? EMILY’s List, which is exclusively dedicated to electing pro-abortion rights female Democrats.

Catch up on two other campaign stories you might have missed this week in our three-minute video.

Some (Deep) Dish on Primaries: The 3rd District isn’t the only interesting primary in the Prairie State. With early voting starting in less than a month, Democrats are hoping the primaries will yield nominees who can get through the general election. Last cycle, Democrats failed to recruit candidates in a couple of districts that were drawn to benefit their party.

Taking Back Tucson: Rep. Martha McSally’s decision to jump in the Arizona Senate race opens up her Tucson-based competitive House seat. Democrats are even more optimistic about flipping the seat now that it’s open. Put another way, former Rep. Ron Barber said the road to the Democratic majority runs through districts like this one. Republicans are confident in their candidate, while Democrats still have a crowded primary ahead (featuring former 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick).

Hardly Pawlenty of Time: Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty said no this week to challenging newly appointed Sen. Tina Smith in November’s special election. The CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable cited the difficulty of running a 10-month campaign. That leaves state Sen. Karin Housley — the wife of the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres — as the only Republican in the race. “State Senator Karin Housley is, as they say in racing, in the pole position,” former Sen. Norm Coleman said this week.

The Count: 22

There are now a record 22 women in the Senate, in a year that has seen a surge in female candidates. In light of the women’s marches this weekend, where do women stand in Congress? Data reporter Ryan Kelly crunches the numbers.

Nathan’s Notes

With Trump traveling to PA-18 this week, here’s a refresher on why Nathan changed the rating here from Solid to Likely Republican for the special election.

Candidate Confessions

Democrat Matt Heinz, who lost to McSally in 2016, is looking for a comeback in 2018 in Arizona’s 2nd District. But he first has to make it through the primary, where he faces Kirkpatrick, who previously represented the neighboring 1st District. Heinz, a physician, is still working at the Tucson Medical Center during the campaign.

In a recent interview with one of your Roll Call politics reporters, he referenced the surge in patients with the flu and gave some advice to the reporter, who was battling a cold herself: Plenty of fluids and ibuprofen to lessen the symptoms. Liquid Advil is preferable, since it dissolves easier and is less inclined to cause ulcers. Stay healthy out there, folks.

Reader’s Race

This week we take a look at Kansas’ 3rd District. It’s one of the 23 districts represented by a Republican that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder was first elected to the House in 2010. He won re-election to a fourth term in 2016 by nearly 11 points, though Clinton took his district by just over a point. The 3rd District, which includes Kansas City and its surrounding suburbs, was listed among the DCCC’s original 59 targets announced in January 2017. Nathan rates the race Leans Republican.

A crowd of Democrats will face off in the Aug. 7 primary, but the field narrowed late last year. Andrea Ramsey, who was endorsed by EMILY’s List and was a top candidate, dropped out of the race after facing allegations of sexual harassment. Ramsey denied the allegations but said she could not move forward since the DCCC said it would not support her campaign.

Ramsey endorsed labor lawyer Brent Welder when she left the race. Welder was also a grass-roots organizer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign, and the Vermont independent nominated him to the DNC platform committee. Welder was second to high school teacher Tom Niermann in cash on hand at the end of the third quarter. Niermann had nearly $125,000 in the bank, compared to Welder’s $108,000. Businessman Jay Sidie, the 2016 nominee, is also running again. He had about $66,000 on hand at the end of the third quarter. Three other Democrats have announced they are running, but they have not raised significant money.

For next week, let us know which race you want to know more about: NE-02 or SC-05.

We’d like to hear from you!

Talk to us. It’s easy. Email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. As always, send us any race you think we should pay more attention to and we’ll look into it.

Photo Finish

One of these members is not like the others. Lipinski, center, is one of only three Democrats in the House who still consistently vote against abortion rights. He’s speaking at the March for Life in Washington on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)