11 Things I Think I Think After the Special Elections
Lessons from the Georgia and South Carolina races

Jon Ossoff supporters at the Georgia Democrat’s election night watch party are stunned as CNN calls the state’s 6th District race for Republican Karen Handel on Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One of the best parts about covering elections is that there is a final result. What seems like an endless stream of campaigning and ads and analysis finally comes to an end every time with vote tallies to digest until the next round.

President Donald Trump and the Republicans continue to play with electoral fire, but the GOP pulled off two more special election victories; this time in Georgia’s 6th District and South Carolina’s 5th District. As with the previous results in Kansas and Montana, there are enough tidbits in each result to formulate whatever conclusion helps you sleep better at night.

Rating Change: Montana Special Creeps Closer to Tossup
Voters to decide Thursday who will replace Interior Secretary Zinke

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who won last year’s Democratic presidential primary in Montana, campaigned over the weekend with Democratic House candidate Rob Quist. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The special election for Montana’s at-large House seat hasn’t received as much as attention as the race in Georgia, but it’s a similar storyline: Democrats are doing better than expected and an upset is within the realm of possibility.

Less than a week before the Thursday, May 25, election, wealthy former software executive Greg Gianforte has a narrow advantage over his Democratic opponent, musician Rob Quist. But Quist recently crossed the $5 million fundraising threshold, giving him ample resources to deliver his message in the final days in a relatively cheap state for advertising. 

More Duncan Hunter Expenses: Vegas Hotel and Cigar Bar
California Republican already under criminal investigation for questionable spending

New expense reports show California Rep. Duncan Hunter spent campaign cash at a Las Vegas hotel and bar. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s spending habits are once again under scrutiny in light of reports he used campaign money on a Las Vegas trip.

The California Republican’s campaign spent $1,042 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and $896 at the hotel’s bar called the Chandelier, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. He also spent $353 on “food/beverages” at Alpine Tobacco Company smoking lounge.

Crowdpac Helps Candidates Test the Waters
Company helped would-be challenger raise more than Chaffetz

A company that specializes in political fundraising helped a virtually unknown candidate bring in more money than House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Before Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced last month that he would not run for re-election, a virtually unknown challenger had already raised three times as much money as the Utah Republican. 

Democrat Kathryn Allen, a suburban Salt Lake City physician who’d never run for office before, relied heavily on a company that specializes in political fundraising to rake in the cash.

Opinion: An Opening for Reform
What do Democrats have to lose?

Democrats have ceded a lot of political turf to President Donald Trump and the Republican Party, Jonathan Allen writes.  (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Since Donald Trump shocked the world by winning the presidency in November, Democrats have had a tendency to bury their heads in the sand.

They want very badly to attribute their defeat to external factors, but the truth is they ceded a lot of basic political turf to Trump and his Republican Party in the last election. Their campaigns, up and down the ballot, had the feel of a party satisfied with communicating only to parts of the electorate that already agreed with them.

Rising Stars 2017: Advocates
On the front lines in a new era

Seven advocates made the CQ Roll Call’s list of Rising Stars of 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

All this week, CQ Roll Call has been looking at 17 Rising Stars of 2017 — people who will now wield power and influence in a Washington that has been turned upside down by the presidency of Donald Trump.

Some of the names are familiar, others have recently burst on the scene. They include members of Congress, congressional and administration staffers, and advocates.

Chaffetz Challenger Outraises Him By More Than 3-1
Democrat Kathryn Allen raised $561,000 since getting into the race in last month

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, conducts the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee meeting to organize for the 115th Congress on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s Democratic challenger outraised him by a more than 3-1 margin in the first quarter of the year.

Kathryn Allen, a physician who announced in March she would challenge Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, raised $561,000 compared with Chaffetz’s $171,000, The Associated Press reported.

Tom Reed Turns Town Hall Turmoil Into Record Haul
Upstate New York congressman appeals to ‘silent majority’ after protesters disrupt meetings

Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., posted his best fundraising haul last quarter. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Republican Rep. Tom Reed raised $585,282 after facing angry protesters at town hall meetings when other upstate Republicans were avoiding them.

Reed's quarterly fundraising haul was a personal high and doubled the amount raised by any other member from upstate New York, New York Upstate reported.

Lujan Grisham Raises Nearly $900K for Governor’s Race
Outraises rivals, prospective rivals in New Mexico

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., reported $741,229 in cash on hand. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she outraised her potential rivals for her New Mexico gubernatorial bid.

Grisham raised $892,744 in a six-month period, compared to $211,569 for potential Democratic rivals state Attorney General Hector Balderas, who has not announced if he’ll run, and state Sen. Joe Cervantes, who reported loaning himself $197,000. 

Stockman Says He Can’t Afford a Lawyer
Ex-Texas congressman accused of using charitable donations illegally

Former Rep. Steve Stockman said he can’t work because his job requires international travel and he surrendered his passport to authorities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman, accused of helping to steal $800,000 in charitable contributions, told a federal magistrate Wednesday that he can no longer afford his boutique lawyers because he has only $17 in his bank account.

Stockman, 60, who vacated his House seat in 2014 after an unsuccessful bid to knock off Sen. John Cornyn in the Texas Republican primary, owns a home, a rental property and two vans, according to the newspaper’s account of court testimony. His wife earns $6,000 a month. But he told U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson that he had exhausted his assets during the lengthy investigation and had to dismiss the lawyers from an elite Texas law firm who had been representing him, the Houston Chronicle reported.