After six weeks of August District Work Period, Republicans have gotten more heat than glory.
The DCCC’s ‘August Accountability’ project kept the pressure on Republicans to answer for their records in Washington of failing to address the cost of prescription drugs, making health care more affordable for everyday Americans, and passing a tax handout to the wealthiest Americans, paid for by the rest of us.
Washington may have been reading about Republican retirement, after Republican retirement, after Republican retirement, after Republican retirement, after Republican retirement, after Republican retirement, but voters across the country were reading about confrontational town halls, Republicans’ broken promises, and the pain the Washington Republican health care repeal and tax handout agenda means for working Americans.
Throughout August, the DCCC’s focus on field operations and digital ad campaigns is a preview of what awaits Washington Republicans in the on-year. This constant pressure is a reminder that people at home in their districts know exactly where Republicans are failing them in Washington.
“Washington Republicans have shown time and again that their constituents’ ability to afford their health care, put their kids through school, and save for retirement is simply not a priority.” said DCCC spokesperson Cole Leiter. “This August was about forcing them to answer for their records in Washington.”
Here’s what people are reading:
Deprived of Power, House Republicans Head for the Exits
New York Times | Julie Hirschfeld Davis
Imagine being swept out of power in Congress and relegated to the role of spectator and naysayer as your political opponents dictate the terms of legislative debate. Add in the specter of a painful slog to re-election, sharing the ticket with President Trump and being asked to answer daily for his every tweet and incendiary statement.
Such is the plight of House Republicans contemplating whether to seek re-election in 2020, and the bleak outlook is taking its toll. A half-dozen Republican members of Congress have announced over the past two weeks that they will retire rather than face voters again next year, and more are expected to follow in the coming weeks, dealing an early setback to the party’s uphill battle to win back the House.
More House Republicans Ask: Why Win Re-election When You Can Retire Instead
New York Times | Emily Cochrane and Julie Hirschfield Davis
WASHINGTON — A succession of Republican retirements from Congress, including two announcements this week, is the latest sign of a sour mood in the party about its chances to win back the House in 2020. Party operatives believe even more departures are to come.
Thirteen House Republicans of nearly every stripe — moderates and conservatives, relative newcomers and those with decades of seniority, two of the party’s 13 women and its only African-American lawmaker — have all announced their retirements in the past several weeks.
But former lawmakers and several political strategists said the departures were more likely a consequence of two dawning realities for Republican House members: Being in the minority is no fun, and their chances of ending Democratic rule next year are fading fast.
Power Up: Republican retirements signal pessimism about prospects of retaking House majority
Washington Post | Jacqueline Alemany
THEN THERE WERE 16: Two more Republican congressmen just announced plans to step down at the end of their terms, bringing the total number of GOP House members who have said they won’t be seeking reelection in 2020 to a whopping 16.
Republican retirements raise questions about GOP optimism in 2020
Roll Call | Bridget Bowman
The recent string of House Republican retirements — even those from ruby-red districts — have raised new questions about whether GOP lawmakers are pessimistic about winning back the House in 2020.
“I think it speaks to a broader trend that people don’t feel confident that Republicans are going to take back the House,” said one GOP strategist, who noted more retirements could fuel pessimism among lawmakers about winning the majority.
FL-15 | Democrats Target Ross Spano in Central Florida Congressional Race
Florida Daily | Mike Synan
Democrats are putting the full-court press on freshman U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., who represents Polk, southern Lake and eastern Hillsborough Counties.
Spano won the seat with more ease than expected after surviving a five-way Republican primary but was immediately under fire for loaning his campaign money that he got from friends as a loan. An ethics complaint was filed and is now working its way through the system.
While Democrats wait for the outcome, a local party leader has filed two new ethics complaints over the same campaign financing. The Democrats are also coming up with new ways to try and discredit Spano.
IL-06 | House Democratic House political shop runs ad to boost Republican Jeanne Ives
Chicago Sun Times | Lynn Sweet
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a bid to boost the reelection of vulnerable freshman Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., will start running a digital ad Monday that could help Republican Jeanne Ives in her primary battle against Evelyn Sanguinetti, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
Running that ad suggests that Democrats are betting that Ives will be easier for Casten to beat than Sanguinetti.
The ad, according to the DCCC, is targeting moderate and conservative voters in the 6th District. It’s message, that Ives strongly supports President Donald Trump — damaging in a general election — resonates in a GOP primary.
House Democratic and Republican campaign operations are targeting the suburban 6th District. Casten flipped the seat in 2018, helping Democrats take control of the House.
The DCCC ad, to run on Facebook, Instagram and other digital platforms in the 6th District, is headlined, “Jeanne Ives backs Trump 100 percent of the time, noting “Ives is as far-right as they come and stands with President Trump 100 percent” on opposing gun reform, abortion and LGBTQ rights.
Both Ives and Sanguinetti support Trump’s reelection. Rauner tried to keep his distance from Trump during much of his time as governor. Trump remains popular with Republicans.
MN-01 | Hagedorn responds to criticism town hall
The Globe | Leah Ward
U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn visited Worthington Monday night as part of his 21-county tour of the Minnesota First Congressional District, explaining his job of a member of Congress, outlining his legislative priorities and answering questions from his constituents.
Many of the individuals asking questions opposed Hagedorn’s policies and urged him to vote differently.
MN-01 | D.C. Memo: Telescope in focus
MinnPost | Gabe Schneider
Thursday morning, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee made an online ad buy targeting Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s support of President Trump trade war. The DCCC has indicated that they intend to put resources behind whoever challenges Rep. Hagedorn, who beat Dan Feehan by a little more than 1,300 votes.
Feehan has yet to declare an official challenge (although in July, a state rep in the district said Feehan was running), but he has been making the rounds on Twitter, pushing back at Hagedorn for months. Most recently he took aim at Hagedorn’s silence on the Del Monte plant closure in Sleepy Eye, where around 400 employees lost their jobs, and the “urgency” needed to strengthen union protection, considering the Corn Plus plant in Winnebago closing.
“Our rural communities are as resilient and independent as our policies allow them to be, policies that must and always put people first.”
MN-01 | DFLers take Hagedorn to task on health care record
Rochester Post-Bulletin | Emily Cutts
Members of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party took the congressional recess as an opportunity to take Rep. Jim Hagedorn to task on what they characterize as his “abysmal” record on health care.
“Honestly, if Jim Hagedorn did not touch the issue of health care again, that would be a benefit to our state,” said said Brian Evans, communications director for the MN DFL, “because that would mean one less republican congressman was trying to make prescription drug prices more expensive, one less congressmen was trying to undermine the Affordable Care Act and one less republican congressman was going after folks with pre-existing conditions.”
NY-01| NY-02| NY-11 | D-trip Launches Digital Health Care-focused ads
NY State of Politics | Staff
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week will release digital ads knocking three New York Republicans over the legal fight over the Affordable Care Act.
The ads knocking Reps. Lee Zeldin and Peter King, as well as Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who is running for the Staten Island seat held by Democratic Rep. Max Rose.
“If New York Republicans’ partisan lawsuit is successful, families across New York and the country will lose their insurance and be forced to pay more for the prescriptions and health care they need,” said DCCC spokeswoman Christine Bennett. “Thousands are at risk of immediately losing their health care thanks to Lee Zeldin and Pete King.”
NY-01 | Term Limits Forgotten
East Hampton Star | Staff
Term limits are great talking points during political campaigns, but after getting elected, most officials lose interest in them. National Democratic strategists looking to push Representative Lee Zeldin out of office have seized on his 2014 victory over the incumbent, Tim Bishop, as evidence of just such a flip-flop.
Last we checked, Mr. Zeldin was seeking a fourth term, Zeldin for Congress had more than $800,000 in the bank with more than a year to go before the election, and no sign of his getting out. His recent spending on social media and campaign consultants, as well as his website, makes it clear that he is not planning to give up his seat without a fight. Term limits? What term limits?
NY-02 | D-Trip Ties King To Trade War
NY State of Politics | Staff
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week released a digital ad linking Republican Rep. Peter King to President Donald Trump’s hardline trade policies.
The trade dispute between the United States and China have spurred concerns of a broader economic slowdown in the U.S. and around the globe.
“As kids head back to school their families are paying more for everything, from new shoes to the laptop they’ll do their homework on,” said DCCC spokeswoman Christine Bennett. “These ads will remind voters that it’s King and Washington Republicans who are playing games with our economy, while their recklessness costs hardworking families in Long Island more.”
The ads come as Democrats hope to run competitive race in key swing districts next year in New York House races, including King’s Long Island congressional seat.
NY-21 | Climate Activist Bill McKibben Arrested Protesting Trump’s Immigration Policies
Rolling Stone | Peter Wade
Bill McKibben is no stranger to getting arrested for protesting. Usually it’s when he’s protesting fossil fuel companies in response climate change, but on Thursday, the climate activist was arrested along with six others who refused to leave Rep. Elise Stefanik’s (R-N.Y.) Glen Falls office in a protest of President Trump’s immigration policies.
Stefanik called the protesters “socialists” in a tweeted statement. McKibben said on Twitter that he was released from jail after “a few hours” and was charged with criminal trespass.
NY-21 | EDITORIAL: Stefanik fails to call out right from wrong
Post-Star | Staff
Rep. Elise Stefanik had a chance to prove herself as a leader this week, and she failed us.
For a brief minute, we held out hope that Rep. Stefanik would do the right thing. She tweeted on Monday that “the President’s tweets were inappropriate, denigrating, and wrong. It is unacceptable to tell legal U.S. citizens to go back to their home country.”
She was absolutely right.
It is exactly what we needed to hear, and exactly what the president needed to hear.
But when the House of Representatives proposed a resolution to condemn President Trump’s remarks, Rep. Stefanik faltered.
NY-24 | Rep. John Katko won’t fight to lower our taxes
Twitter | @emmadspector
The billboard speaks the truth and so will we 💥💥💥#NY24 #MarchForward2020
NY-24 | Democrats think Rep. John Katko will retire, despite 2020 re-election plans
Auburn Pub | Robert Harding
Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, or perhaps it’s based on the inside-the-Beltway rumor mill. But Democrats continue to believe U.S. Rep. John Katko is a prime candidate for retirement before the 2020 election.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats’ political arm, renewed speculation about Katko’s political future by circulating a FiveThirtyEight.com story that mentions the Camillus Republican and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a GOP congressman from Pennsylvania.
Katko and Fitzpatrick are the only two House Republicans who represent districts Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton won New York’s 24th district, which Katko represents, by 3.6 percentage points.
In February, the DCCC added Katko to its “retirement watch list.” At the time, Katko’s campaign said he intended to seek re-election in 2020.
“With his fellow vulnerable Republicans waving their white flags of defeat with a brutal re-election campaign coming up, Congressman Katko knows his chances of holding onto this seat are becoming less likely with each passing day,” said Christine Bennett, a DCCC spokesperson. “John Katko knows November 2020 won’t be pretty.”
Even if Katko doesn’t retire, Democrats hope to defeat him in 2020. He’s one of the DCCC’s top targets and three Democrats — Balter, Francis Conole and Roger Misso — are vying for the party’s nomination to challenge him next fall.
NY-24 | Protesters demand Katko act on guns, hate speech following El Paso, Dayton shootings
WRVO | Tom Magnarelli
Protesters in Syracuse are demanding Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) do something on gun control following the recent shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Protesters also want Katko to call out the racism and xenophobia, they said is coming from President Donald Trump and rising in the U.S.
Immigration activists were also among the 30 protesters who came out. Jim McKeever is leading a group to Tijuana, Mexico in September, to deliver donations to shelters and be observers in immigration court. He said the Trump administration is making it virtually impossible for migrants to seek asylum in the U.S., a legal right, and he wants Katko to speak out against it.
Katko is pushing a red flag bill he introduced last year that would take guns away from someone deemed a threat. He is less concerned with universal background checks, he said, which already passed the House, and currently exists in New York State. When asked if Katko opposes a ban on assault weapons, in a statement, a spokesperson said that, “banning these firearms would make millions of people criminals,” which is why Katko is pursuing policies like the red flag law, which she said would keep all guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
NY-24 | Rep. John Katko is running for re-election, so why is there speculation about his future?
Auburn Pub | Robert Harding
Last week, I wrote a story for The Citizen about the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s latest claim that Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko may not run for re-election. In a radio interview after the story’s publication, Katko called it a “non-story.”
The famous quote goes, “There are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.” On one side, we have Katko’s nothing-to-see-here declaration. On the other, Democrats believe the incumbent Republican could bow out and avoid a tough re-election fight.
A final key point: Democrats have a growing enrollment advantage in the 24th district. When Katko was first elected to Congress in November 2014, there were 141,040 active Democratic voters and 139,028 active Republicans. More than four years later, there are 149,332 active Democrats and 139,283 active GOP voters, according to the state Board of Elections. Most of those new voters live in Onondaga County — a county Katko lost for the first time in 2018.
NY-24 | Democrats using billboard, digital ads to slam Rep. Katko for 2017 tax law vote
The Citizen | Robert Harding
With more than a year until the 2020 election, national Democrats are targeting Republican U.S. Rep. John Katko with an ad campaign focused on his vote for the 2017 tax law.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee paid for a mobile billboard in downtown Syracuse and digital ads that 24th Congressional District voters will see online. The cost of the ad campaign wasn’t disclosed.
Christine Bennett, a DCCC spokesperson, said the mobile billboard will pass through heavily trafficked areas in the city during rush hour.
The billboard features a purported tweet by President Donald Trump. The ad reads, “People are fleeing New York state because of high taxes … [Rep. John Katko] didn’t even put up a fight against SALT — could have won.”
Speaking for the DCCC, Bennett said Katko put corporations ahead of middle-class families.
“The GOP Tax Scam put millionaires ahead of the middle class and partisanship ahead of solutions,” Bennett said. “Now John Katko will no longer be able to hide from his terrible vote.”
NY-27 | Chris Collins’ top lawyer challenges revised indictment in insider trading case
Buffalo News | Jerry Zremski
Rep. Chris Collins’ top lawyer is continuing to bank on a constitutional clause as the linchpin of the lawmaker’s defense against criminal insider trading charges, even after prosecutors narrowed the scope of the case earlier this month in hopes of skirting any constitutional concerns.
Coming nearly a year after Collins’ arrest, the new indictment dropped three of the securities charges that the Republican lawmaker from Clarence had been facing, while renewing five others. The new indictment also dropped two of the original eight securities fraud charges against the congressman’s son, Cameron Collins, while leaving the remaining charges in place.
PA-10 | Unable to get into Rep. Scott Perry’s town hall, group protests outside of it
Penn Live | Alyssa Biederman
Protestors gathered outside U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s town hall on Tuesday.
About 50 people peacefully stood outside Hummelstown Fire Department, site of the town hall, complaining that Perry hasn’t held one in two years and that they were unable to get a ticket to this one.
“Scott has not been serving all of the people of Pennsylvania,” said Deena Weaver, of Dillsburg. “He has forgotten about us. I believe in the 10th District we need someone who is representing all of us and not just the straight white men.”
They stood outside for about two hours before the start of the town hall, holding signs decorated with questions and topics they would have brought up if they had been able to get in. Some said they wanted to ask him about the national immigration debate, while others were interested in his stance on abortion and the minimum wage, among other issues.
PA-10 | Perry, local activists wage war of words over empty town hall seats
Pennsylvania Capital-Star | Stephen Caruso
The town hall, Perry’s first in his new judicially-drawn district centered on Harrisburg, was protested by about 35 local members of Indivisible chapters, a grassroots progressive organizing group. The meeting was also Perry’s first in-person town hall since 2017.
Perry called it the “empty street strategy.” When the town hall was announced, Perry required attendees to register in advance for free tickets and also provide an address. Additional ID would be required at the door.
Indivisible groups had, before the town hall, complained about the need to register, and called for the town hall to be held in a bigger venue. The event was scheduled and held at the Hummelstown fire department building, where 100 chairs were set up.
“Congressman Perry is evidently trying to cover up what was obviously a deliberate,successful attempt to limit attendance at the town hall by hurling false accusations at our all-volunteer civic-engagement organizations,” the letter reads. “He can offer no proof for his accusations, since there is none. Therefore we demand a public apology.”
TX-ALL | 2020 forecast for GOP: Cloudy with a chance of free fall
American-Statesman | Jonathan Tilove
…She [Rachel Bitecofer] is predicting that, if the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the D-trip, as she and others commonly call it — applies resources generously and wisely, it could flip nine Texas House seats in 2020, half again as many as the six seats the DCCC is now targeting.
In addition to what will be open seats now held by Republicans in the 23rd Congressional District, where Will Hurd is not seeking reelection; the 22nd, where Pete Olson is retiring; and the 24th, where Kenny Marchant joined the Texodus; the DCCC is also setting its sights on the 21st, held by freshman Rep. Chip Roy; the 31st, held by veteran John Carter; and the 10th, which now belongs to Austin’s Michael McCaul.
If she is right, 2020 is not about changing voters’ minds, or Democrats peeling off some moderate Republican voters. It’s about turning out a whole different set of college-educated Democratic and independent voters who will be drawn to the polls by their animus toward Trump, which he has stoked virtually every waking hour since he was elected. Yes, Trump being Trump drives up Republican turnout, but Republicans are already more dependable voters. It’s Democratic turnout that has the most room to grow.
It’s all about the data, said Bitecofer, who changed the way I’m looking at 2020 in Texas.
TX-22 | Texas GOP Rep. Pete Olson announces retirement
The Hill | Tal Axelrod
Texas Rep. Pete Olson (R) announced Thursday afternoon that he will not seek reelection in 2020, teeing up a competitive race in his Houston-area district to replace him.
Olson, who was first elected to the House in 2008, sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and was a vocal supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline. During his tenure, he also set his focus on NASA’s Johnson Space Center and advocating for hurricane relief after his district was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.
The Texas Republican narrowly won reelection in 2018, defeating Democrat Sri Kulkarni in the 22nd District by a 51 percent to 46 percent margin. Kulkarni launched a second bid for the seat in April.
TX-23 | Hurd retirement leaves GOP gloomy on 2020
The Hill | Juliegrace Brufke and Julia Manchester
Republicans are growing more pessimistic about their odds of taking back the House majority after the surprise news Thursday that Rep. Will Hurd (Texas), the only African American GOP lawmaker in the House, is retiring.
Hurd is the sixth House Republican and the third from the critical state of Texas to announce his departure, dampening GOP hopes for 2020.
Now they will also have to hold on to Hurd’s district, which The Cook Political Report quickly moved from “Toss Up” to “Lean Democratic.”
It’s likely to be an uphill climb and at a minimum will mean spending more money to win an open seat.
Hurd is the third Republican from Texas to announce his retirement, following fellow Reps. Mike Conaway and Pete Olson.
“These retirements are costing Republicans real money next fall,” said one GOP strategist, explaining the party will have to shift money to the district to save it.
TX-24 | Rep. Kenny Marchant calls it quits, becomes 12th House Republican to retire
Washington Post | Mike DeBonis
Republican Rep. Kenny Marchant said Monday he will not seek reelection to represent his Dallas-area district, leaving open a third Texas House seat heavily targeted by Democrats in 2020.
Marchant’s announcement comes days after Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.) announced he would not seek reelection in a sprawling border district and less than a month after Rep. Pete Olson (R-Tex.) declined to seek reelection in the Houston suburbs.
All three men won reelection in 2018 by five percentage points or less — in Hurd’s case, by only a few hundred votes.
Marchant’s retirement, first reported by the New York Times, is the latest blow to GOP hopes of retaking the House in 2020. The GOP retirements — which also include lawmakers in solidly Republican districts such as Reps. K. Michael Conaway (Tex.), Rob Bishop (Utah) and Martha Roby (Ala.) — send a signal that incumbents are not optimistic about returning soon to the majority.
CA-21: A California Republican wants a comeback in 2020. Democrats hit him with blue wave playbook
Fresno Bee | KATE IRBY
The campaign arm for House Democrats is launching two ads on Facebook starting Tuesday against Cox’s most probable challenger, former Republican Rep. David Valadao of Hanford.
The Democratic ads align Valadao with President Donald Trump — who is deeply unpopular in the district. Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, won the district by 16 points over Trump. The ads also bring up Valadao’s voting for the American Health Care Act, or AHCA, the Republican replacement bill for Obamacare.
Both of those issues were winners for California Democrats in 2018, when Democrats flipped seven California districts from Republicans. All of the contested races prominently focused on health care.
WA-03 | Democrats turn up the heat against Herrera Beutler
Chinook Observer | Rose Lundy
A national Democratic committee has planned a slew of local events during the August congressional recess when Battle Ground Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler will be back in Southwest Washington, signaling the start of a more aggressive challenge from the left in the 2020 election.
The events — organized by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which works to get Democrats elected to the U.S. House of Representatives — include rallies, letters to the editor writing campaigns and weekly visits to Herrera Beutler’s Vancouver and Chehalis offices.
That is exactly why Democrats have placed WA-03 as a top priority to flip the district blue since January of this year and will continue to stay focused on delivering for the voters of Washington’s 3rd District,” DCCC spokesperson Andy Orellana said Aug. 1 in a prepared statement.