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At the Races: You Only Raised $1 Million?

Our weekly newsletter on the latest in congressional campaigns


Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter by subscribing here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé, Bridget Bowman and Stephanie Akin


Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson is running for re-election in a district Trump carried by 30 points, and this year he’s gearing up for a race. (Chris Maddoloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Rep. Collin C. Peterson had an unexpected scare in 2016, only defeating an underfunded GOP challenger by 5 points. This year, his own polling — which his campaign didn’t even do in 2016 — shows him ahead by double digits. (Chris Maddoloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Starting Gate

Democratic Dough: House Democrats have been raking in the campaign cash, with some candidates announcing totals that would make Senate contenders jealous. But with only a few weeks left before Election Day (and lots of television airtime already reserved), how are they going to spend all that money? Stephanie digs into their next steps.

*Bookmark* We are less than one month before Election Day, so keep tabs on all of our campaign stories by bookmarking Roll Call’s At the Races page.

From Protests to the Polls: Grass-roots Democratic groups, energized by Trump’s election, popped up all over the country, beginning in 2016, and they’ve been working to influence the midterms. Bridget checked in on two groups that have held weekly protests in upstate New York (even in the snow). These groups have long been laying the groundwork for contacting voters ahead of the midterms, and they’re also starting to figure out what to do after November.

Two Bobs: There was a standoff of sorts at New Jersey’s 43rd annual Hispanic State Parade on Sunday. GOP Senate nominee Bob Hugin and his team came up to the starting line, where Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez was to lead the 50-block march from North Bergen to Union City, where both men grew up. Hugin is spending millions of dollars of his own money to try to make this race competitive, which has forced national Democrats to invest money they otherwise wouldn’t in a blue state. Voters may not love their Democratic senator, but it’s not clear they’re ready to ditch him yet. One voter in typically Republican Morris County summed it up this way: “What Menendez did was wrong. I’m not even going to try to defend him. But he has done good things for working people and the environment.” 

Huh? If you’re confused after watching health care ads with ~very~ different stories about the effects of the GOP health care bill, you are not alone. So we brought in an expert to help us sort through the confusion about coverage for pre-existing conditions, what the “age tax” means, and what exactly is single-payer health care. CQ health care reporter Mary Ellen McIntire joined Bridget in this week’s At the Races video to break down some common refrains from health care ads.

A Fish Out of Water? At first glance, a Democratic congressman sitting in a district President Donald Trump carried by 30 points would seem about as out of place as Pacific white shrimp in the rural Midwest. But it turns out neither Collin Peterson nor those shrimp are as lost as you’d think. (You’ll have to click to see Tom Williams’ photos of the 14-term congressman and the crustaceans bonding.) But Peterson had an unexpectedly close race in 2016. Simone spent a recent rainy afternoon driving around Minnesota’s 7th District with him to find out why he’s not about to switch parties, and why Republicans out there still like him. 

The Count: 9

Democrats are in a New York state of mind this year, targeting all nine GOP-held seats in the Empire State. It wasn’t that long ago that the number of House Republicans from New York dwindled to two, so could they be facing another wipeout this year?

Nathan’s Notes

Stu Rothenberg is pinch-hitting for Nathan this week with a reality check for everyone asking, BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE MIDTERMS? after Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court. Stu breaks down why the punditry and prognostication a month until Election Day may be fruitless.

Candidate Confessions

As one of the most conservative Democrats in the House, it’s no surprise when Peterson bucks his party. But in 2016, that extended to not even voting for the Democratic presidential nominee. Peterson had endorsed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the primary. When the general election rolled around, the congressman couldn’t stomach either of the major-party choices, so he didn’t vote in the presidential election for the first time in his life.

Reader’s Race

Pennsylvania’s 10th District is one of a slew of new opportunities for Democrats, thanks to a new congressional map in the Keystone State. GOP Rep. Scott Perry currently represents about 60 percent of the new district, which would have backed Trump by 9 points in 2016. Some Democrats believe Perry, first elected in 2012 and a member of the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus, is too far to the right for the newly drawn seat.

The Iraq veteran and brigadier general in the Pennsylvania National Guard faces Democrat George Scott next month. Scott, a former U.S. Army intelligence officer and Lutheran pastor, has been endorsed by the political arm of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition. Scott was also recently named to the DCCC’s Red to Blue list for strong challengers. He outraised Perry in the year’s second fundraising quarter that ended June 30, but Perry still had a cash-on-hand advantage. Neither candidate has announced their third quarter totals yet.

There has been some outside spending in the district, which is entirely in the Harrisburg media market. According to ProPublica, the top spenders include the DCCC, which has spent nearly $232,000, and the conservative Heritage Action for America, which has spent nearly $119,000. A recent survey from the Democrat-leaning Public Policy Polling showed the contest virtually tied. Inside Elections rates the race Leans Republican.

For next week, email us at and let us know which race you want to know more about: the Ohio Senate race or Washington’s 5th District.

Photo Finish

Menendez may be facing a tougher-than-expected re-election campaign, but he was still dancing at a recent parade. (Simone Pathé/CQ Roll Call)

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Photos of the week ending June 14, 2024