Gonzales

Election analysis from Nathan L. Gonzales

Mama Bear’s Unlikely Run (and Win) for Mayor
Campaign lessons from a famous family in children’s literature

“The Berenstain Bears and Mama for Mayor!” offers some political wisdom for political candidates. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As an elections analyst, it can be hard to stop thinking about politics even when I get home for the day. Sometimes, I see political themes in my kids’ books even when they aren’t political books. And a few nights ago at bedtime, one of my sons brought me “Mama for Mayor” from the famous Berenstain Bears series, and I critiqued her campaign page by page.

The book (and journey) begins with an innocent car ride through Bear Country, but the family’s life is drastically changed when they hit a hole and a bump in the road.

Fight for the House Centers on Five States
More than one-third of targeted districts reside in a handful of states

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján is tasked with leading House Democrats back to the majority, including picking up handfuls of seats in a few key states. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Both parties haven’t wasted any time unveiling their House target lists for next year’s midterm elections, and a few states have emerged as early battlegrounds. 

At the end of January, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released an ambitious list of 59 Republican-held districts, followed by the National Republican Congressional Committee’s ambitious list of 36 Democratic-held districts just more than a week later.

Jason Kander May Have Made a Big Mistake
Missouri Democrat hits national stage with potential long-term consequences

Jason Kander’s recent association with national Democratic super PAC could complicate his chances in future elections in Missouri, Gonzales writes. (Courtesy Jason Kander Facebook page)

Missouri Democrat Jason Kander came close to getting elected to the Senate after he burst onto the scene last year with a memorable campaign ad and a strong challenge to GOP incumbent Roy Blunt. Now Kander is widely viewed as a rising star in the Democratic Party, but his postelection choices may complicate future bids for higher office.

Last year, Kander gained national attention for his ad, “Background Checks,” in which he reassembled a rifle blindfolded. It was one of the most memorable ads of the cycle, if not recent campaign history.

At DGA, Pearson Quietly Pulling Democrats Back to Prominence
Executive Director is a leading strategist in party’s redistricting effort

Elisabeth Pearson, Executive Director, Democratic Governors Association (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democratic lawmakers probably wouldn’t recognize Elisabeth Pearson if she walked into their Capitol Hill office, but they might be owing her their jobs before too long. 

As executive director of the Democratic Governors Association and a leading strategist in the party’s redistricting efforts, Pearson’s success will determine how long members stay in Washington.

The Senate Revolution in North Dakota Will Not Be Televised
Radio rises in importance in top-tier Senate race

North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer is the first name mentioned among Republicans who could challenge Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in 2018. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer’s commitment to radio town halls should keep him connected to his constituents, but it could also help lay the groundwork to challenge a Democratic senator in a top-tier race.

The North Dakota congressman held the most town halls (164) among members of Congress in 2016, and 412 since August 2013, when LegiStorm started tracking them. But as Alex Gangitano explained in Roll Call, Cramer’s methods are a little unconventional because he conducts most of his town halls over the radio.

Congressional Republicans Should Be Afraid of Steve Bannon
Senior White House adviser has no love for the GOP

Steve Bannon, right, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, could pose a threat to some GOP lawmakers, Nathan L. Gonzales writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s no secret that Steve Bannon wants to oversee the demise of the mainstream media, but President Donald Trump’s senior adviser probably wouldn’t mind incapacitating the Republican Party in order to remake it into his own image as well. 

Bannon (and Trump, for that matter) recently referred to the media, as “the opposition party.” That’s a cause congressional Republicans could get behind, but a series of emails last year could foreshadow a big problem for GOP incumbents, particularly those who disagree with the president or his administration.

Three Trump Campaign Aides Who Could Get Elected to Congress
Candidates trying to leverage presidential connection to upset victories

Mike Pompeo’s departure from Congress for a new job as CIA director gives Alan Cobb, a Trump campaign official, a shot at the 4th District seat in Kansas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

During the campaign, there probably weren’t enough full-throated Donald Trump supporters on Capitol Hill to fill a minivan. But two Trump campaign aides could get elected in House special elections later this year, while another adviser may challenge a Republican senator in a primary next year.

Their candidacies will test the popularity and allure of Trump at the local level (since each of them would start their races as underdogs against establishment candidates) and indicate how interested the new president is in interjecting himself into local fights.

How President Trump Can Avoid President Obama’s Biggest Mistake
Punting health care legislation to Congress defined Obama’s time in office

Donald Trump greets President Barack Obama moments before his swearing-in as the 45th president of the United States on Jan. 20. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump’s critics believe the new president is clueless (or worse), but he might be on track to avoid repeating former President Barack Obama’s biggest political mistake. 

Trump’s pre-inaugural press conference was widely panned, but his comments on the future of health care legislation were instructive.

Initial 2018 Senate Ratings Map Filled With GOP Opportunities
Democrats defending 25 seats next year, compared to just 8 for Republicans

While Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, left, is heavily favored for re-election, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana are facing toss-up contests, according to the first 2018 race ratings by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ready or not, here come the 2018 midterm elections. Resistance is futile.

Even if you don’t want to acknowledge them, aspiring candidates are posturing for statewide bids and vulnerable incumbents are casting votes with re-election in mind.

House Republicans Entrust Majority to Rogers at NRCC
New York native begins fourth cycle at committee, but first as executive director

John Rogers was part of the National Republican Congressional Committee team that limited the party’s losses in the House to a net of just six seats in last year’s election. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Midterm elections are supposed to be trouble for the president’s party, but House Republicans are confident that if they have a problem, John Rogers can solve it.

Rogers was born in Amsterdam, New York, a small-town about a half-hour west of Albany, but Republican friends know him best for once identifying an unlikely takeover opportunity three hours south in New York City.

The Certainty of Death, Taxes, and White Evangelicals
Faithful made up one-quarter of the electorate (again) and voted big for Trump

President-elect Donald Trump, seen here at the Republican National Convention in July, won white evangelical voters by the largest margin in recent memory. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the electorate evolves with each election cycle because of changing demographics, there is one constant: white evangelicals. Once again, they made up one-quarter of the electorate and voted heavily for the Republican presidential nominee.

White voters, as a share of the electorate, have been on a steady descent from 88 percent in 1980 to 70 percent in the most recent election, according to exit polling. Yet the share of white evangelical voters has remained remarkably static.

Reid Boasts About Not Going Back to Nevada
Residency issues plagued colleagues, but not former Democratic leader

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid acknowledges that he didn’t get back to his home state on a regular basis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Residency issues knocked out a handful of Harry Reid’s colleagues over the years, but the outgoing Senate Democratic leader didn’t even pretend that he got back to his home state of Nevada on a regular basis. 

“It’s amazing what I have not done,” said Reid in the recent cover story for GW Magazine. “I don’t go home every week. I never have, even when I was in the House. I don’t like banquets, parades.” 

How Tomi Lahren Could Get Elected to Congress
Open-seat opportunity in home state of the right’s emerging media star

With South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem leaving the House in 2018, conservative activist Tomi Lahren, center, could run to replace her. (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons file photo CC BY-SA 2.0)

With millions of video views and hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, young Tomi Lahren is leaving her mark on the political world from her new media perch on the right. Could Congress be next?

Lahren is no stranger to Republicans, conservatives, and Donald Trump supporters. Her “Final Thoughts” segment chastising San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for protesting racial injustice by sitting during the national anthem has been viewed more than 66 million times on Facebook. 

Will Applegate’s Rematch With Issa Be Successful?
Mixed record for California challengers on their second chance

California Rep. Darrell Issa will face another challenge from Doug Applegate, a retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel, in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No one paid much attention to Doug Applegate’s challenge to California Rep. Darrell Issa until there were only five months left in the campaign, and the Democrat came within 2 points of knocking off the Republican incumbent.

Applegate didn’t waste any time and has already announced his 2018 candidacy, but will more time be enough to put him over the top? 

Pelosi Remains But ‘Winter is Coming’ for Democrats
After watching Republicans, Democrats are headed for their own civil war

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan speaks with the media on Capitol Hill after losing the race for Democratic leader to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Nancy Pelosi survived her leadership election and will continue to lead House Democrats in the next Congress. But the fact that she received a credible challenge, who was supported by one-third of her members, is yet another sign that the times have changed for the Democratic Party.

For the last eight years, Democrats have enjoyed watching the greatest show on Earth: the Republican Civil War. Democrats could grab a bowl of popcorn, sit back, and watch the Republicans eat themselves alive in primaries.