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Rating Change: Democratic Challenger Puts Utah Seat in Play
Rep. Mia Love facing competitive race with Salt Lake County mayor’s entry

Utah Rep. Mia Love faces a competitive re-election contest next year. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

It’s not hard to see Democratic takeover opportunities in districts where Hillary Clinton prevailed or President Donald Trump won narrowly last fall, but Democrats have expanded the map with at least a couple of recruits who should make Republicans work to defend some deeper red territory next year.

Former Kansas state Rep. Paul Davis, for example, announced his candidacy in August, giving Democrats a credible candidate in the Sunflower State’s 2nd District, which Trump carried by 18 points, according to calculations by Daily Kos Elections. Davis, a former state House minority leader, carried the district in his 2014 gubernatorial bid, and when he entered the congressional race for retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins’ open seat, we changed the rating from Likely Republican to Leans Republican.

Judgment Days for Judicial Nominees
Several factors will affect schedule for Senate confirmation of judges

The Republican president and Senate have a chance to reshape the judicial branch, but several factors will determine how things stack up . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senators face a lengthy list of President Donald Trump’s judicial picks, but consideration of the nominees could be affected by three significant factors: an extensive backlog of vacancies, Republican leaders’ willingness to continue altering chamber traditions, and the Democrats’ lack of motivation to aid GOP efforts to remake the judiciary.

There are 121 vacancies at the U.S. District Court level and an additional 21 vacancies on federal appeals courts, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

In Iowa, Heartland Democrats Ask ‘What About the Economy, Stupid?’
But candidates are divided on how populist their messages need to be

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan talks with Heather Ryan (no relation), a Democratic candidate in Iowa’s 3rd District, during a steak fry in Des Moines on Sept. 30. (Charlie Neibergall/AP File Photo)

DES MOINES, Iowa — Democrats in the Midwest know that the way to win back voters in states like Iowa is to talk about the economy, but they’re debating how exactly to do it.

As a state that can make or break presidential campaignsand one that had regularly sent liberal Democrats to Washington, Iowa now serves as a test of whether Democrats can win back white voters who have swung toward the Republican Party over the last decade.

Why Trump’s Immigration Demands Haven’t Changed the Dynamics on Hill
Prospects for a bipartisan bill were already grim

A sign at an immigration rights protest in from on the White House on Sept. 5 to oppose President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out the DACA program. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s decision to push for his border wall as part of an immigration deal — after previously saying it would be dealt with separately — would, at first glance, seem to lower the probability of a bipartisan accord.

But the prospects were already grim. So Sunday’s release of Trump’s immigration policy priorities caused no major shift in the dynamics on Capitol Hill. 

Opinion: In a Culture War, American Values Lose
Nation’s top leaders have already picked a side

Vice President Mike Pence’s staged walkout at a Colts-49ers NFL game in Indianapolis was a political stunt that disrespected several players’ support of equality, justice and police accountability, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Over the weekend, a group of white nationalists returned to Charlottesville, Virginia, faces proudly uncovered and tiki torches in hand, with a message of division.

White supremacist leader Richard Spencer said to applause, “You are going to have to get used to white identity” — and warned of more to come.

Rating Change: New Hampshire Open Seat Moves to Toss-Up
Shea-Porter was already considered vulnerable in 1st District

New Hampshire Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, right, will not seek a fifth term next year.(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s retirement leaves an already competitive seat more vulnerable for her party as an open one, considering President Donald Trump carried New Hampshire’s 1st District 48 percent to 46 percent last fall.

“I felt the tug of family at our reunion on Independence Day, and I have continued to feel it,” Shea-Porter said in a statement Friday.

McConnell Seeks Exception to Rules for School
Kentucky Republican wants to keep federal funding for home-state college

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s amendment would provide flexibility on default rates to schools in economically depressed regions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is asking the Education Department to skirt its rules and make an exception to provide federal dollars to a college in his home state — even though a high percentage of its graduates defaulted on their students loans for the last three years.

McConnell’s move is part of a larger debate about the criteria to determine whether a college should receive federal funding or be cut off. Currently, the Education Department uses data on what is known as the cohort default rate — or how many of a college’s graduates default on their loans — to decide whether the school is a good investment for taxpayer money.

Court Appears Divided in High-Stakes Gerrymandering Case
Apparent swing vote Anthony Kennedy offers few clues in arguments

Shirley Connuck, right, of Falls Church, Va., holds up a sign representing a district in Texas, as the Supreme Court hears oral arguments Tuesday in a case on partisan gerrymandering. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court appeared deeply divided during oral arguments Tuesday in a case that could determine the fate of partisan gerrymandering across the nation, as one attorney suggested a wrong move by the court could cause the country “to lose faith in democracy, big time.”

Paul Smith, who represents the Wisconsin voters who challenged a Republican-drawn legislative map in the case now before the court, urged the justices to step in and allow federal courts to stop partisan gerrymandering.

Opinion: More Shootings, No Difference
Expect no more from Congress than thoughts, prayers, and wait until it happens again

Concertgoers run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday after a gunman opened fire on the crowd. (David Becker/Getty Images)

The numbers behind Sunday night’s shooting in Las Vegas tell the story: 58 people are dead. More than 500 are injured. The gunman, whom his brother described as a wealthy retiree who routinely sent cookies to his mother, had at least 10 rifles in the hotel room from where he conducted the massacre.

But the chances of Congress addressing mass shootings in America: Zero. There are very few certainties in Washington, but this is one of them.

Poll: Americans Split on NFL Player Protests
President has cast protesting athletes as unpatriotic

Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (67), Maurice Smith (27), Jarvis Landry (14) lock hands with teammates during the playing of the national anthem before an NFL football game against the New York Jets on Sunday. (Seth Wenig/AP)

A new poll shows Americans are almost evenly split on whether it is appropriate for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial discrimination.

Thirty-two percent of respondents to the Economist/YouGov poll, conducted Sept. 24-26, said they strongly supported players’ right to protest on the field, while 33 percent were strongly opposed.