Skip to content

At the Races: Calling the cops

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call campaign team. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

There was no Robert De Niro, but when former Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and Officer Harry Dunn joined Rep. Dina Titus in Las Vegas on Wednesday, local TV stations and newspapers showed up. 

Gonell and Dunn visited Nevada State Democratic Party offices as part of a Biden-Harris campaign tour of battleground states to highlight former President Donald Trump’s actions (and inactions) during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol. 

“While they were attacking us and while we were trying to get them to leave the Capitol, they told us, ‘Donald Trump sent us; we’re here because Donald Trump sent us.’ So I can say that emphatically without any hesitation because they told us that,” Dunn said in an interview that he and Gonell gave with CQ Roll Call.

Dunn is emerging as a key Biden surrogate after coming up short in a Democratic primary for a Maryland congressional seat.

The two officers visited Reno later Wednesday and were in Arizona on Thursday. Dunn also appeared virtually at an event with Rep. Ann McLane Kuster in New Hampshire that featured red “Stop Trump” signs similar to the ones used in Nevada. 

The Biden campaign said Gonell and Dunn would be among the officers making appearances ahead of the CNN-hosted June 27 debate between the current and former presidents, and they could be popular guests for Democratic candidates seeking to undermine GOP arguments about support for law enforcement.

“Donald Trump calls those people who injured myself and many others at the Capitol hostages, patriots and political prisoners — as if they were the one charged to protect the Capitol, not us the police officers. They like to say ‘law and order,’ ‘the rule of law,’ ‘we back the blue,’ only when those things are applied to their opponents or people that they don’t like,” Gonell said.

If the polls are to be believed, Nevada is among the states where the Biden campaign has both a challenge and an opportunity​. Trump is due to be there to raise money on June 8, with polls showing a potentially wide gap between the president’s support and that of incumbent Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, who will find out her general election challenger after the June 11 primary.

Titus said Nevada has historically been difficult to poll but she expects Biden to do better as voters focus on the contest.

“We’re just going to have to work really hard to put it over the finish line, but I think now that it’s going to be, maybe the trial will be over and it’ll be one-on-one. People can actually see the contrast and the Democrats will come along,” Titus said.

Starting gate

‘Ready for the fight’ in CT05: Republican George Logan is once again running to unseat Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes in Connecticut’s 5th District. Logan lost to Hayes by less than a percentage point in 2022, but this year he faces strong national headwinds with Donald Trump on the ballot. 

Red to Blue: The DCCC added five candidates to its “Red to Blue” program: Shomari Figures in Alabama’s 2nd District, Kristen McDonald Rivet in Michigan’s 8th District, Ashley Ehasz in Pennsylvania’s 1st District, Janelle Stelson in Pennsylvania’s 10th District and Peter Barca in Wisconsin’s 1st District. That brings the total number of candidates included in the program, which offers additional fundraising support and staff resources, to 25. 

Texas Hold ’Em: Rep. Tony Gonzales survived a scare in this week’s Republican runoff in Texas’ 23rd District, narrowly defeating YouTuber Brandon Herrera. In the GOP runoff for an open seat in the 12th District, Rep. Craig Goldman, chairman of the Republican caucus in the Texas House, defeated John O’Shea. And voters in the 28th District chose Navy veteran Jay Furman to run against Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar in November. Cuellar was indicted on bribery and money laundering charges on May 3. 

Top of the ticket: Despite complaining that his trial kept him off the campaign trail, Trump didn’t use the Memorial Day weekend break to hit key swing states, writes John T. Bennett, CQ Roll Call’s White House correspondent. After the holiday, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris had a rally in Philadelphia to launch an outreach program for Black voters

ICYMI

#VA05: Trump endorsed Virginia Sen. John McGuire, who is challenging GOP Rep. Bob Good in Virginia’s 5th District primary next month. Good, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, was among the Republican lawmakers who trekked to the New York City courthouse where Trump is facing trial this month — on the same day McGuire was also there. Good first endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Republican presidential primary and was among the House Republicans who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year.

Ad watch: Rep. Elissa Slotkin released the first ad in her campaign for Michigan’s open Senate seat, touting her work as a CIA officer in Iraq, as well as at the White House under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Messaging wars: House Majority PAC, a super PAC with ties to House Democratic leadership, announced a $100 million effort focusing on reproductive rights. The group plans to spend $85 million on paid messaging, part of the $186 million in ad reservations they announced last month. The other $15 million will be spent on voter mobilization and research. 

Border politics: Curtis Hertel, a Democrat running in Michigan’s open 7th District, sent a letter to Biden calling on him to use executive authority to take steps to address the border crisis, including re-implementing protocols that require asylum-seekers to wait on the Mexican side of the border while their claims are processed. NRCC spokesman Mike Marinella called it “nothing more than a lame and desperate attempt from Curtis Hertel to correct the record on his dangerous open border policies.”

Signature struggle: Nine House and Senate candidates in Michigan are poised to miss out on the ballot after staff for the Secretary of State’s office found they did not submit enough valid signatures. Among the candidates who may not make the ballot are Nasser Beydoun, a Democrat running for Senate, Nikki Snyder, a member of the state Board of Education who’s running for the 8th District and two Democrats running to challenge GOP Rep. John James in the 10th District. The Board of State Canvassers needs to confirm the determinations later this week.

#MI13: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan planned to endorse Mary Waters, a Detroit City Council member who is challenging Rep. Shri Thanedar in the Democratic primary for Michigan’s 13th District in August. His endorsement comes as Adam Hollier, another Democratic candidate, appealed a Wayne County ruling disqualifying him from the ballot. 

#PASEN: Keystone Renewal, a super PAC supporting Republican David McCormick’s Pennsylvania Senate bid, reserved $30 million in television ads in the state, building on the $82 million both sides have already spent or reserved for ads. 

#NJSEN: New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, who is currently on trial facing 16 federal charges, has collected enough signatures to run for reelection as an independent. The deadline to get on the ballot as an independent candidate is Tuesday, the same day as the party primaries.

What we’re reading 

Make America 11 [years old] Again: The Washington Post broke down data about when Americans think things such as food, music, sports, family life and political divisions were actually great, finding a common theme about memories of the old days.

Tale of two Floridians: When Marco Rubio ran for president in 2016, Trump nicknamed him “Little Marco.” Eight years later, the Florida senator is on Trump’s short list for vice president. The New York Times looks at how the two formed a relationship and how Rubio is positioning himself in the contest to be Trump’s running mate. 

Boosting a long shot in CO03: A Democratic super PAC is spending money on ads supporting an election conspiracy theorist who the group likely believes will be an easier opponent for likely Democratic nominee Adam Frisch. The Colorado Sun reports that Rocky Mountain Values PAC has spent at least $84,000 on a TV ad promoting former state Rep. Ron Hanks, one of six Republicans vying for the seat, which Rep. Lauren Boebert opted not to defend after nearly losing to Frisch in 2022. 

The count: $412 million

That’s how much more airtime Democratic advertisers targeting presidential, Senate and House races reserved for this fall compared with Republican groups, according to a tally released Friday by AdImpact. For Senate races, the biggest tabs so far are in Ohio ($154.6 million), Montana ($104.3 million) and Pennsylvania ($45.3 million).

Nathan’s notes

A few thousand people showing up to support Donald Trump in New York City does not indicate the metropolis is swinging his way, Nathan rather pointedly points out.

Key race: #SC01

Candidates: Rep. Nancy Mace, the first female graduate of the Corps of Cadets at The Citadel, flipped a Democrat-held seat in 2020 and handily won reelection two years later. This year, she faces a challenge from fellow Republican Catherine Templeton, the former director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Marine Corps veteran Bill Young is also running in the June 11 GOP primary. The Republican nominee will battle the winner of the Democratic primary, which features Michael B. Moore, a business executive who holds a degree in political science from Syracuse University, and attorney Mac Deford.

Why it matters: Mace has cultivated a national profile for her mercurial brand of politics and a tendency to overshare. A fiscal conservative who has staked out a more centrist position on some social issues, Mace defeated a Trump-backed opponent in the 2022 Republican primary and has openly feuded with some hard-right members of the House GOP conference. She was also one of eight House Republicans who voted to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. 

Cash dash: Templeton and Mace each raised about $460,000 in the first quarter of 2024. But Mace had nearly $1.3 million on hand on March 31 to Templeton’s $368,000. 

Backers: Mace’s off-and-on association with Trump is back on: She endorsed him over her fellow South Carolinian, Nikki Haley, and Trump returned the favor in March. McCarthy is backing Templeton; his PAC has given her campaign $10,000 so far. Templeton has also been the beneficiary of $3.1 million in outside spending targeting Mace by South Carolina Patriots. The group has not disclosed most of its donors yet, other than a $15,000 contribution from American Prosperity Alliance, a nonprofit that Politico reported was linked to McCarthy.

What they’re saying: Templeton has accused Mace of being a cheerleader for TikTok and has criticized Mace’s attention-grabbing antics, such as the scarlet “A” she donned after voting to remove McCarthy as speaker. “No one needs attention more than Nancy Mace,” said Chet Martin, Templeton’s campaign manager. “She’d rather be on TV than pretty much anything.” Mace has taken aim at Templeton’s record, saying she falsely boasted that she brought Boeing to South Carolina and took credit for an immigration bill that she didn’t write. Mace also questioned Templeton’s Republican credentials after The State newspaper reported in 2017 that she voted for a Democrat for governor in 2010.

Terrain: The district includes a wide swath of coastal South Carolina. It is the most moderate of the state’s congressional districts and is rated Likely Republican by Inside Elections. Trump would have won the district by almost 8 points, according to Inside Elections, had the current boundaries been in place.

Wild card: The district has been the site of a long-running legal battle over its boundaries. Civil rights groups had sued, saying South Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature violated the rights of Black voters when it redrew the district after the 2020 census and deliberately moved 30,000 Black residents from Charleston County out of the district. But last week, a divided Supreme Court ruled that the legislature did nothing wrong and overturned a lower court decision that found South Carolina had discriminated against Black voters. 

Coming up

The weekly parade of primaries continues Tuesday with races for House and Senate nominations in Iowa, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota. 

Photo finish

Democratic Rep. Peter Barca, center, reenacts his oath of office on June 10, 1993, after winning a Wisconsin special election to succeed Les Aspin, right, who had resigned to become secretary of Defense. Barca, who lost reelection in 1994 and got a boost this week for his comeback bid by being named to the DCCC’s Red to Blue list, was joined by, from left, his mother, Joyce Barca; sister Bonnie; and daughter, Abrianna. (Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call)

Subscribe now using this link so you don’t miss out on the best news and analysis from our team.

Recent Stories

Capitol Ink | The Trumpy Handbook

House Republicans shift message on extending 2017 tax cuts

Will the real Donald Trump get the coverage he deserves?

‘Hospital at home’ gains bipartisan support but questions remain

Should doctors in Congress earn money for their side job?

Supreme Court dodges definitive answer on legality of a ‘wealth tax’