Now that the calendar has changed, we can begin our midterm-election obsession in earnest. The year is chock-full of great, big-ticket races: Mitch McConnell‘s reelect in Kentucky, 4 red-state Democratic senators up for reelection, Scott-vs.-Crist in Florida. But today we’re highlighting the under-the-radar candidates who we think could be vying for their own headlines later this year.
— Democrats landed a couple of marquee female recruits in Kentucky (Alison Lundergan Grimes) and Georgia (Michelle Nunn). But Republicans have one of their own in Michigan, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. Land surprised some when she raised $1 million in the third quarter (in addition to $1 million in self-funding). Watch her fourth-quarter numbers (coming by month’s end) to see if she can sustain that momentum. Oregon’s Monica Wehby (R) is in a bluer state, but her profile as a pediatric neurosurgeon could boost her chances against Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) if health care continues to be a Democratic liability.
— Republicans are strongly favored to retain control of the House, but Democrats are excited about some of their challengers, including Amanda Renteria, a former Capitol Hill aide challenging Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) in a D+2 seat, and Ann Callis, running against Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) in an even-PVI district. Republicans, meanwhile, are touting Arizona challengers Andy Tobin and Martha McSally, in addition to Minnesota’s Torrey Westrom, who they think has a shot to unseat longtime Rep. Collin Peterson (D) this November.
— Unlike the battle for the Senate, Republicans are largely on defense on the gubernatorial map, looking to protect their 2010 gains. But Democrats are excited about their chances in Pennsylvania, where GOP Gov. Tom Corbett‘s approval ratings are in the tank. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) might be the nominal frontrunner in a crowded primary, but watch former state environmental secretary Katie McGinty, who has emerged as a top-tier candidate, despite lower initial name ID. One state in which Republicans have a chance at a pickup is Illinois — Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is well underwater in the Land of Lincoln — but their prospects could hinge on the outcome of the March primary. Wealthy self-funder Bruce Rauner (R) debuted yet another new TV ad over the holidays in his bid to secure the nod.
That’s just a sampling of the candidates we’re watching as the year begins. We’re happy and grateful to have you along for the ride.
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."