Tossup

Opinion: Democrats May Be Too Optimistic About 2018 Gains
Ghosts of racial discord still haunt the South

Congressional districts in North Carolina were too racially driven even for a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives, Mary C. Curtis writes. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Republican-drawn congressional districts in North Carolina turned out to be too racially driven for a Supreme Court dominated by conservatives — with Justice Clarence Thomas siding with the majority.

Who’d have thought it?

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. 

West Virginia Rep. Evan Jenkins Running for Senate
GOP lawmaker will likely face primary to take on Joe Manchin

West Virginia Rep. Evan Jenkins is running for Senate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two-term West Virginia Rep. Evan Jenkins announced on Monday he’s running for Senate against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in 2018. 

The 3rd District Republican will likely face a primary, with Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also expected to join the GOP field soon. 

DCCC Invests Additional $1 Million to Attack Handel in Georgia
TV and digital ads attack Karen Handel as ‘career politician’

The DCCC is going after Karen Handel’s spending record as Georgia Secretary of State. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced $1 million in TV and digital spending Wednesday to attack GOP nominee Karen Handel in Georgia’s 6th District.

The Democratic campaign arm is attacking Handel as “another self-serving politician” in the TV ad, which is running on Atlanta broadcast and cable. The spot alleges that as Georgia secretary of state Handel increased her office’s spending and used taxpayer dollars to pay for a “luxury SUV” and foreign travel. 

Toppling Cruz Will be a Tall Order for O’Rourke
But supporters call him a ‘giant slayer’

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, left, gained national attention when he and Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd livestreamed their road trip from their home state to Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke on Friday became the first Democratic challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz in what will be an uphill fight between the possibility of a primary to toppling a conservative hero in a deep red state.

In announcing his candidacy in his hometown of El Paso, O’Rourke said the incumbent was putting his own interests ahead of his constituents, saying he would be “a senator who is not using this position of responsibility and power to serve his own interest, to run for president, to shut down the government,” and said the state needed “a senator who is working full-time for Texas.”

Mast’s Independence May Be Best Path to Holding Florida Swing Seat
Democrats say it’ll take certain kind of candidate to defeat freshman Republican

Freshman Rep. Brian Mast salutes as he arrives for a town hall meeting in Fort Pierce, Florida, on Feb. 24. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

Florida Rep. Brian Mast would have moved the fish tank into his Rayburn office differently.

“I would have gotten these guys a wheelie cart and sloshed it down the hallway, with whatever fish were still in there,” he said, nodding to a nearby aide.

Texas Isn’t Only State Where Redistricting Could Be Factor in 2018
Redistricting cases are still pending in North Carolina and Maryland

The lines of Texas Rep. Will Hurd’s district could be redrawn as a result of last week’s court decision that ruled it was racially gerrymandered. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With a three-judge panel invalidating the lines of one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country late last week, redistricting is once again in the political spotlight.

The Texas case was a reminder that redistricting litigation, which played out in the lead-up to the 2016 elections, is still ongoing across the country. It could result in Rep. Will Hurd’s district becoming more favorable for Democrats in 2018, 

Year-End Coffers Pad the Two-Year Fundraising Sprint
Some senators started 2018 cycle with millions; others with much less

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown’s campaign committee ended 2016 with $3.2 million in cash on hand, ahead of what is likely to be very competitive re-election for the two-term senator next year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With the 2018 election cycle underway, incumbents gearing up for re-election will begin fundraising in full force this spring.

It helps to have a stockpile of cash already in the bank, but not everyone starts with an equally comfortable cushion. 

Confirmation Hearings Bring Out the Senate Angst
McConnell said to expect votes on Cabinet nominations Friday

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will return on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

By BRIDGET BOWMAN and JASON DICKCQ Roll Call

The Senate eased into inauguration week with a pair of confirmation hearings, with committees taking up the cases for, or against, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke to be Interior secretary and Betsy DeVos to be Education secretary.

House Members Squeezed in Last-Minute Spending on Mail Franking, Advertising Before Elections
Restrictions on pre-election constituent communication meant members spent more in a shorter period of time

Maine Rep. Bruce Poliquin was the biggest spender on a mailing practice known as franking during the third quarter of 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House lawmakers spent millions of dollars on nonpolitical, constituent communications — on the taxpayers’ dime — in the weeks before a “blackout” deadline before November’s elections, according to a Roll Call analysis of receipts recently published by the chamber’s chief administrative officer.

Members of Congress can send this type of mail, a perk known as “franking” that dates back to the Colonial era, by using their signatures instead of stamps. It’s meant to communicate information about a lawmakers’ legislative duties and constituent services, according to the Committee on House Administration.