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At the Races: 19 Days Left

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

This week: Candidates handed in their fundraising reports, wealthy Republicans opened their wallets, and NewDems tried to make their mark.


Who could be next to lead the GOP team? Campaign team, that is. Reps. Rodney Davis, left, and Roger Williams were both mentioned as potential contenders to head the National Republican Congressional Committee next cycle. Check out Simone’s story below for the other names being floated. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo) (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Who could be next to lead the GOP team? Campaign team, that is. Reps. Rodney Davis, left, and Roger Williams were both mentioned as potential contenders to head the National Republican Congressional Committee next cycle. Check out Simone’s story below for the other names being floated. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Staring Gate

Who’s It Going to Take? If Republicans lose the House next month, it’s unlikely Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers will remain in the top job at the NRCC. So who could take his place? Some GOP strategists would like to see a battle-tested member — aka someone who knows what it’s like to run in a competitive district. First, though, those members have to win re-election next month.

*BOOKMARK* The House map is big this cycle, and you can get a sense of the competitive races by browsing Roll Call’s Election Guide, which features race ratings from Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Help! I Need Somebody: In the most recent fundraising quarter that ended Sept. 30, more than 100 GOP candidates were outraised by their Democratic opponents. That’s … a lot. And some Republicans have been struggling to keep pace in previous quarters too. As outside groups move money around in the final weeks of the election, does a candidate’s own fundraising factor into those decisions? (Spoiler alert: yes, it does).

Doing Their Part: For months, Republican strategists have been wringing their hands waiting for some wealthy candidates in competitive races to pour more of their own money into their campaigns. So who delivered in the third quarter — and who’s still relying on actually raising their money?

A New Dem in America: The political arm of the New Democrat Coalition has endorsed 38 candidates so far this cycle, and with Democrats needing a net gain of 23 seats, the coalition is hoping to play a big role in the party winning the House. Seventeen recruits backed by the NewDemPAC are running in GOP-held seats that Inside Elections rates either a Toss-up or favorable to Democrats.

Getting Heated in Arizona: Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and GOP Rep. Martha McSally met Monday for their first and only debate in the Arizona Senate race. It got pretty intense. The pair diverged over a slew of issues, and the night ended with McSally accusing Sinema of treason. Find out why with this debate recap.

The Count: $8 million 

That’s how much outside groups spent on the special election in Ohio’s 12th District. Now outside groups have (mostly) moved on, but Democrat Danny O’Connor hasn’t slowed down in his race against GOP Rep. Troy Balderson. Stephanie dives into the rematch and takes a look at whether the race is still in play.

Nathan’s Notes

Nathan’s Inside Elections colleague Leah Askarinam is taking over the Nathan’s Notes section this week. She crunched the numbers on whether the number of women in the House could significantly increase in what’s being dubbed the new “Year of the Woman.” She came up with a likely range of women who could head to the House, and it’s not as many as you might think.

Candidate Confessions 

OK, we know Sen. Cory Gardner ~technically~ is not a candidate this cycle. The Colorado Republican will be up for re-election in 2020. But he is the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, overseeing the party’s effort to hold on to the Senate, and he dished to Heard on the Hill this week. So which Star Wars character does he identify with? And what happened that time he talked to Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch about marijuana? HOH reporter Alex Gangitano has the scoop.

Reader’s Race

Democrats have long believed they have a candidate in Washington’s 5th District who can take down Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the only woman in House Republican leadership. Lisa Brown, a former Washington State University Spokane chancellor, launched her campaign against McMorris Rodgers last August, and she has proved to be a prolific fundraiser. Brown is also the former leader of the state Senate and is known in the district. Republicans have attempted to paint her as too liberal for the Spokane-based seat, which Trump carried by 13 points in 2016.

While the GOP super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund has a field office in the district, outside groups haven’t been spending a lot of money here. Winning for Women, a group backing Republican women, did launch a six-figure television ad buy Wednesday to boost the incumbent. A recent poll from the Brown campaign showed a tight race, with McMorris Rodgers ahead, 49 percent to 46 percent. Brown has been able to compete financially, raising $4.6 million compared to McMorris Rodgers’ $5.1 million. The congresswoman ended Sept. 30 with $780,000 in the bank, while Brown finished with $744,000. Inside Elections rates the race Leans Republican.

For next week, let us know which race you want to know more about: the Michigan Senate race or Illinois’ 6th Districts.

We want to hear from you! 

Talk to us. It’s easy. Reply to this 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

Virginia Democrat Abigail Spanberger faced GOP Rep. Dave Brat in a debate this week and got some attention for a fiery closing statement. Read more about their debate in Griffin Connolly’s recap. (Photo by Bill Clark)Brat Spanberger Debate

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