Andy Barr

When Fried Pickles Lead to Better Policymaking
Ace program helps lawmakers build personal and working relationships

From right, Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr and California Rep. Jimmy Panetta visit a farm outside Lexington, Ky., during an exchange trip in June with the Bipartisan Policy Center. (Courtesy Bipartisan Policy Center)

OPINION — A California congressman, born in Mexico, introduces a Republican colleague in America’s heartland to traditional Mexican hibiscus water while attending a Cinco de Mayo festival, like the one he started in his home district. Within 24 hours, they receive a classified defense briefing nearby at U.S. Strategic Command headquarters. In ways both lighthearted and serious, that’s how relationships are built under the Bipartisan Policy Center’s American Congressional Exchange program, or ACE.

Relationships are foundational. Just as it is hard to trust someone you don’t know, it’s also difficult to disparage a person with whom you’ve broken bread — or shared hibiscus water, eaten fried pickles or tasted olive oil on ice cream. And experiencing the world through the eyes and perspective of another is frequently illuminating.

A Back-of-the-Envelope Look at How the House Could Flip
Electoral waves, ranging in size, are the norm for midterms going back decades

Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., is running for Senate, leaving behind a House seat that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. It’s a prime takeover target for Democrats this fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Count the House races, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of whether the House will flip in the fall. No, you can’t be entirely certain how an individual toss-up contest is going to turn out in November. But you can arrive at a ballpark assessment of House changes right now by looking at three baskets of districts and how similar ones behaved in previous midterms.

There are 25 Republican House members representing districts carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 (up from 23 before Pennsylvania drew a new congressional map). Almost one-third of those members, eight, are retiring. Given the current political polarization, the normal midterm dynamic (which punishes the president’s party) and the added risk of losing open seats, it’s likely that most of those 25 GOP districts will flip party control.

Chamber Defends GOP House Members in New Round of Ads
Business trade group is launching ads in four more House races

Reps. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, left, and French Hill, R-Ark., were both highlighted in new TV ads from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is hitting the airwaves in four additional House races to defend Republicans in competitive contests.

The television ads, shared first with Roll Call, are part of a slate of positive issue spots boosting GOP incumbents in races from Maine to California. 

Americans for Prosperity Launches Ads in Wisconsin, Missouri and Tennessee
Koch brothers group is spending nearly $5 million

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., faces state Sen. Leah Vukmir in her bid for a second term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The conservative Americans for Prosperity is spending nearly $5 million on ads in three Senate races, including two seats that Republicans are trying to flip and one the GOP is defending.

The Koch brothers-backed group is launching television and digital ads against Democratic Sens. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, who is running for Senate.

Report: Joe Arpaio’s Campaign Is in Free Fall
Arizona Senate rival’s spokesman says Arpaio being manipulated by her former staffers

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio continues to trail his Republican opponents in Arizona's Senate race. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Senate candidate Joe Arpaio’s campaign is in free fall with less than a week before Arizona’s primary, according to a published report. 

Chad Willems, Arpaio’s campaign manager for 20 years, is no longer involved in the regular operation of his Senate run, AZCentral reported.

Paul Ryan Strips Duncan Hunter of Committee Assignments
Speaker calls charges against Hunter ‘deeply serious’ but does not call on him to resign

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has booted an indicted GOP congressman off three House committees. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced Tuesday night that he has removed Rep. Duncan Hunter from the three House committees he serves on after the California Republican was indicted for misuse of campaign funds

Hunter will be at least temporarily stripped of his assignments to the House Armed Services, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Education and the Workforce Committees. 

Giffords Backing New Jersey Republican Lance’s Re-Election Bid
Former Democratic congresswoman and gun control advocate endorses Lance over stance on guns

Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., center, is greeted by, from left, Reps. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at a ceremony in the Capitol in November to name the House Democratic Cloakroom in honor of Giffords and the late Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., who were victims of gun violence. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords is backing Rep. Leonard Lance in his bid for for a sixth term in New Jersey.

It’s a notable endorsement because it crosses party lines: Giffords, one of the nation’s leading gun control advocates and a former Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, vacated her seat in 2012 after she was shot in 2011 in an apparent assassination attempt.

Davis Said He Didn’t Send Staffer to Crash Opponent’s Event
Field director charged with assault after aggressively following challenger around event at bar

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., said he did not direct a campaign staffer to harass his Democratic opponent. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis said he did not send a campaign field director to an event for his Democratic opponent that led to the staffer’s arrest.

Levi Lovell was charged on Wednesday with aggravated assault after crashing a fundraiser for Betsy Dirksen Londrigan and allegedly aggressively questioning the candidate and her husband while shooting video with his phone. 

These GOP Lawmakers Gave Money to California Gas Tax Repeal Push
Party leaders open their campaign committee wallets for an issue that could energize Republican voters

The campaign committee for Mimi Walters and an associated PAC have loaned or contributed $339,000 to Yes on 6. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of Republican House members are among the largest contributors to a campaign to repeal California’s gas tax boost, one that could draw party voters to the polls in competitive congressional districts.

The seven lawmakers include House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and second-term Rep. Mimi Walters of California. They have contributed or loaned more than $1 million of the $2.2 million received by a group called “Yes on 6, Repeal the Gas Tax,” according to second-quarter state election reports filed July 31.

Barr Compares Time in Congress to Fighter Pilot Opponent’s Military Service
Kentucky Democrats say Barr has ‘obviously lost his mind’ in Toss-up House race

Republican Rep. Andy Barr said that both he and Democrat Amy McGrath “both served our country” in equating his time in Congress to his opponent’s military record. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Andy Barr is getting flak for comparing his three terms in Congress to opponent Amy McGrath’s 20 years as a fighter pilot in a hotly contest campaign for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional district. 

"We both served our country,” Barr told the New York Times Thursday. “I’ve served in a position where ideas matter. My opponent has served her country in the military, where execution matters.”