Chris McDaniel Will Run for Cochran Seat in Special Election
McDaniel had already launched a primary challenge to Roger Wicker

Chris McDaniel, Republican candidate for Mississippi Senate, speaks with patrons of Jean’s Restaurant in Meridian, Miss., May 29, 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Wednesday he will switch from challenging GOP Sen. Roger Wicker in a primary to running in the November special election for resigning Sen. Thad Cochran’s seat. 

“By announcing early, we are asking Mississippi Republicans to unite around my candidacy and avoid another contentious contest among GOP members that would only improve the Democrats’ chances of winning the open seat,” McDaniel said in a statement, alluding to Republicans’ loss in an Alabama special election late last year. 

Pennsylvania 18: A Red Flag for the GOP
The margins in a strong GOP district signal November worries for Republicans

Democrat Conor Lamb, left, and Republican Rick Saccone fought to a virtual draw for Pennsylvania’s open 18th District seat. (Courtesy Conor Lamb/Rick Saccone/Facebook)

The results in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District confirm problems for Republicans.

The size of the Democratic general election wave is still unclear, but something is happening. Districts won comfortably by President Donald Trump in 2016 are more competitive now, which suggests that districts won by Hillary Clinton are likely to go Democratic in the midterms.

The Fight for a Disappearing District in Pennsylvania
Both parties look for lessons from 18th District special election

Democrat Conor Lamb faces Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in Tuesday’s special election in the 18th District. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images file photo)

MOON, Pa. — Millions of dollars in outside spending and national media attention have been directed at Tuesday’s special election in southwestern Pennsylvania — all for a district that likely won’t even exist come November.

Democrat Conor Lamb, a former federal prosecutor, is locked in a tight race with Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in a district President Donald Trump carried by nearly 20 points in 2016. Whoever wins the 18th District race will head to Congress, but he will run for a full term in a newly configured district, thanks to the state Supreme Court imposing a new congressional map ahead of the midterm elections.

Opinion: Why the Pennsylvania Special Election Is Not So Special
Such contests are more about storylines than winning

Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone, left, and Democrat Conor Lamb boils down to a fight for national bragging rights, Murphy writes. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

All elections have consequences, but on a scale of zero-to-life-changing, Tuesday’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District between Republican Rick Saccone and Democrat Conor Lamb has fewer real-world consequences than most.

You wouldn’t know it from the screaming national headlines or the colossal amount of cash both parties are putting up to occupy the seat for the next nine months (almost $12 million in ad spending alone), but the reality of special elections this cycle is that they are more about winning a storyline than about winning any House seat.

Trump Says He Needs Rick Saccone Ahead of Pennsylvania Special Election
Thousands of steelworkers live in 18th District, site of Tuesday’s contest

President Donald Trump spoke Saturday night at a rally for Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th District. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a wide-ranging speech Saturday night outside Pittsburgh, President Donald Trump touted his agenda and plugged supporters to vote for Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in next week’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, telling voters he needs more GOP lawmakers in Congress to support his agenda. 

“The other opponent, his opponent, is not voting for us,” Trump said in Moon Township, referring to the Democrat nominee Conor Lamb. “He can say all he wants, there’s no way he’s voting for us ever, ever … Rick is going to vote for us all the time, all the time.”

New Democrats’ PAC Endorses First 16 Candidates for 2018
NewDemPAC will make additional endorsements of candidates on its watch list

NewDemPAC is endorsing Minnesota Democrat Angie Craig, who’s challenging Republican freshman Jason Lewis in the 2nd District. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The political arm of the moderate New Democrat Coalition is endorsing its first 16 candidates Friday. 

The NewDemPAC will give each candidate the maximum contribution ($5,000) for the primary, with more contributions expected for the general election. The 16 endorsed candidates, shared first with Roll Call, are all running in GOP-held or open seats. 

At the Races: Here We Go — 5 Days Until PA-18
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

Former Bush Lawyer and Trump Critic Exploring Minnesota Senate Run
Richard Painter says he’s not sure if he will run as a Democrat, Republican or independent

Richard Painter served in the George W. Bush administration as White House ethics lawyer and teaches law at the University of Minnesota. (Dartmouth College Ethics Institute)

Former Bush administration ethics lawyer Richard Painter is considering a run for Senate in Minnesota against Sen. Tina Smith.

Painter said at a news conference in front of the state Capitol that he was forming an exploratory committee to examine a run, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

Can Unions Push Conor Lamb to an Unlikely Victory in Pennsylvania?
Organized labor has deployed ground operation to boost 18th District Democrat

A campaign sign for Democrat Conor Lamb outside a painters union training center in Carnegie, Pa. The center is one of four union buildings where volunteers gather to campaign for him. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

PITTSBURGH — After a Tuesday rally for Pennsylvania Democrat Conor Lamb at the Carpenters Training Center here, Preston Sparks stood outside, holding a clipboard as he filled out a form.

But he wasn’t signing up with the House candidate’s campaign. Instead he’s volunteering with local unions, who have launched a coordinated ground game to support Lamb ahead of the March 13 special election in the 18th District.

Donna Shalala, Others Hope Name Recognition Helps in Crowded Primaries
Former Clinton Cabinet secretary enters an already crowded primary field for Florida’s 27th District

Former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, seen here with Chelsea Clinton in New York last year, has announced a bid for Florida’s 27th District. (Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for City Harvest file photo)

If there’s been one consistent sign of Democratic optimism this cycle, it’s the unprecedented number of Democrats interested in running for Congress.

Candidates keep announcing, and in many more districts than Democrats have targeted before. But in some of these races, there’s already been a Democratic candidate, or ten, for months.