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At the Races: The Wave Is Still Coming
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

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Welcome to At the Races! We want to hear what you think. Email us at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé, Bridget Bowman and Stephanie Akin

Maine’s Bruce Poliquin Loses in Ranked-Choice Voting
Democrat Jared Golden claimed lead after third-party candidates eliminated

Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin has lost to Democrat Jared Golden. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrat Jared Golden has defeated Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the nation’s first use of ranked-choice voting for a congressional race, according to state election officials.

The Democrat won just over 50 percent of the vote in the ranked-choice tabulation, meaning he’ll be the next congressman from the 2nd District unless Poliquin’s legal challenges to the voting system prevail. 

The Cabinet Secretary Who Should Have Known Better
Nielsen’s loyalty, harsh immigration policies were apparently not enough for Trump

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will be mostly remembered as the smiling public face of the heartless family-separation policy at the border, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — As a result of the natural tumult of politics along the corridors of power, Washington has always been filled with ambitious men and women plotting their next career move. This is Cinderella City where a few adroit steps can propel an anonymous staffer to the Cabinet in a golden coach.

At first glance, that is the story of 46-year-old Kirstjen Nielsen, who is nearing her first anniversary as secretary of Homeland Security. Championed by Donald Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly — for whom she had worked at DHS and in the White House — Nielsen was put in charge in late 2017 of a sprawling Cabinet department with nearly a quarter of a million employees.

Orientation Disorientation: The Maybe Members Have a Strange Status
Democrat Nate McMurray says he was barred, but organizers say he is welcome

Democrat Nate McMurray says he was barred from new member orientation, but organizers say he’s invited. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Indicted Republican Rep. Chris Collins’ Democratic challenger Nate McMurray says House Republicans barred him from attending new member orientation Wednesday, but organizers say he is welcome to attend. Such is the plight of the so-called maybe members. 

Traditionally, candidates in races that are too close to call days after Election Day are invited to attend the freshman orientation. Earlier this week, Democratic staff for the House Administration Committee said that was the case again this year.

What Really Happens During Congress’ Freshman Orientation
Political Theater, Episode 45

Members-elect from left, Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., take a selfie after the freshman class photo on the East Front of the Capitol on November 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

 

What’s my Representational Allowance? Why can’t I take pictures on the House floor? Where are the bathrooms? Newly elected lawmakers are participating in freshman orientation this week, and while it has a first day of school vibe, they should pay attention. It could save them some embarrassment, and maybe even avoid getting into hot water with the Ethics Committee or even federal authorities. Roll Call Staff Writer Katherine Tully-McManus runs down what the members-to-be are doing during freshman orientation, and why it matters.

How House Majority PAC Helped Deliver a Democratic Majority
Super PAC led coordination efforts among Democratic IE groups

Charlie Kelly, the executive director of House Majority PAC, oversaw coordination among outside Democratic groups spending on House races this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the dog days of summer, before many Americans were tuning into the midterm elections, the leading Democratic super PAC dedicated to winning the House convened a giant meeting with dozens of outside groups.

That laid the foundation for an unprecedented coordination effort among Democratic independent expenditure groups that spent over $200 million in more than 70 House races, overwhelming Republicans and helping deliver a Democratic majority.

Time Running Out on Hill Sexual Harassment Reforms, Former Staffers Warn
One year after #metoo movement spurred Congress to action, House and Senate bills could expire

Senate staffers and visitors pass by the plexiglass-enclosed displays of the various U.S. Capitol building design models in the Hart Senate Office Building on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress will forfeit a passed bill from each chamber aimed at curbing sexual harassment unless lawmakers can come together before year’s end.

“Time is running out,” said Kristin Nicholson, co-founder of Congress Too, a group of former Hill staffers that has sought to reform the way Congress approaches staff training and response to sexual harassment allegations. “We really want all that progress not to go to waste, and for that to happen, we need something to be passed this year.”

Trump Predicts ‘Deal-Making,’ Many Fights Ahead With Democrats
First up, both sides face border funding test in lame-duck session

President Donald Trump talks to reporters Wednesday, the day after the midterm elections. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump appears ready to make some deals — except when he’s threatening Democrats with “warlike” tactics.

Despite losing the House and several governorships in states that could be key for Trump’s 2020 re-election prospects, the president used a press conference last week to send widely divergent messages to lawmakers about just how much he wants to get done in the lame-duck remainder of the 115th Congress and after the 116th is seated in early January.

Steaks and Scotch Can Restore Sanity, According to One Hill Staffer
An invitation to the Bipartisan Dinner Group is mysterious and vague

The late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., right, is the inspiration behind the Bipartisan Dinner Group for staffers. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Michael Hardaway was in an elevator with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy when he was just a young Senate staffer. He seized the opportunity to ask the liberal giant for advice on navigating D.C.

“Sen. Kennedy told me that members in the old days were able to pass bills and get things done because of friendships formed after hours, when members often gathered for steaks and scotch,” said Hardaway, now communications director for New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

Former Arizona Rep. Ron Barber Returns to District Director Roots
Democrat accepted position with Rep.-elect Ann Kirkpatrick

Former Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., will return to his district director role, this time for Rep.-elect Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona’s 2nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Ron Barber will return to service as district director for the seat he once represented in Congress, starting in January, according to an announcement from 2nd District Rep.-elect Ann Kirkpatrick

“I asked Ron if he would serve as District Director because no one knows Southern Arizona better than him,” the incoming congresswoman said in a statement. “There’s no one who loves Tucson and Cochise County more than Ron. He is one of my top advisors, and I’m thrilled that he and Nancy are willing to step back into the arena to serve the people of Southern Arizona.”