2020 elections
July 8, 2020

Amy Kennedy, a former school teacher, won New Jersey's hard-fought 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary Tuesday, setting up a contest against Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.), a first-term congressman who left the Democratic Party after the House impeached President Trump, offering Trump his "undying support." The state's primary election, held almost entirely by mail, had originally been scheduled for June 3.

"My message to Jeff Van Drew tonight is we have had enough and we demand better," Kennedy said. "We have had enough division and hate and selfishness. We have had enough of being abandoned and mistreated and forgotten. We have had enough of you and Donald Trump."

Kennedy, the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and daughter-in-law of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), defeated Brigid Callahan Harrison, a college professor and political commentator backed by South New Jersey Democratic party boss George Norcross, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D), Sens. Cory Booker (D) and Bob Menendez (D), and six of the district's eight counties. Gov. Phil Murphy (D), progressive groups, and the district's Atlantic City Democrats supported Kennedy.

"State officials had said they could not recall Norcross' operatives losing a primary in this part of New Jersey," The Washington Post reports. "Candidates backed by Norcross and Sweeney don't typically suffer losses on their South Jersey turf," Politico confirms. Harrison and Norcross both quickly offered their support for Kennedy against Van Drew, a former Norcross protégé.

The race is expected to be highly competitive. Before the 2018 elections, New Jersey's congressional delegation was split evenly between six Democrats and six Republicans; after the election, only one Republican was left standing, until Van Drew switched parties. Peter Weber

July 1, 2020

Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) conceded defeat to his GOP primary challenger, Lauren Boebert, on Tuesday night, sealing an upset victory in Colorado's 3rd Congressional District by the far-right electoral newcomer. President Trump, who had endorsed Tipton on Monday, quickly congratulated Boebert on "a really great win!" Tipton is a five-term incumbent who beat Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush by 8 percentage points in 2018. Mitsch Bush won the Democratic primary and will face Boebert in the general election.

Boebert, who owns a gun-themed bar, ran as a more Trump-aligned conservative and said in one interview that she is "very familiar with" the QAnon conspiracy theory, thinks "it could be really great for our country," and hopes it is true. "She worked conservative talk radio pretty effectively in the district and across the state," Dick Wadhams, a former chairman of the Colorado GOP, told The Colorado Sun. "The 3rd has never been a rock-hard Republican district," so Boebert is "going to have to figure out how to adjust her campaign to be competitive." Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball election tracking organization changed the district from "likely Republican" to "leans Republican" after Tipton's loss.

Cheri Bustos, chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, suggested late Tuesday that "Washington Republicans should immediately disavow Lauren Boebert and her extremist, dangerous conspiracy theories," but they declined. Boebert told a Denver Post reporter she has already gotten congratulatory calls from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Ken Buck, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party. Peter Weber

June 16, 2020

Nebraska Democratic Party officials have demanded the state's Democratic Senate nominee, Chris Janicek, bow out of the race after reviewing sexually inappropriate comments he made about a staffer in a group text among the campaign.

In a Tuesday statement, the NDP said party officials called for Janicek to decline the nomination during a meeting last week and would require him to fill out a form allowing his name to be removed from the ballot in November's general election. Janicek informed the party he wouldn't exit the race on Monday, the deadline the party set for him, so, on Monday evening, the NDP's State Executive Committee voted unanimously to "withdraw all party resources" from the campaign. "Our Democratic Party has no tolerance for sexual harassment," said NDP Chair Jane Kleeb.

The staff member who filed the complaint against Janicek has since quit. Tim O'Donnell

June 11, 2020

Jon Ossoff, the 33-year-old media executive who narrowly lost a 2017 special U.S. House race in suburban Atlanta, will face Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) in November after winning Tuesday's Democratic primary outright, The Associate Press reports. As of Wednesday night, Ossoff had about 50.7 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff election. Georgia's voting problems Tuesday and a surge in absentee ballots delayed the election results.

Ossoff said in his live-streamed victory speech Wednesday night that Perdue was "too busy adjusting his stock portfolio to warn us of the gravest public health emergency in a century," the coronavirus pandemic. "This is not a moment to let up — this is a moment to double down," he added. "The president of the United States and his allies in Congress are leading this country down a dark path and we can go down this path no longer. We can no longer go down a path of authoritarianism, of racism, of corruption. We are better than this and Georgia is better than this."

Ossoff, whose company produces investigative reports on crime and corruption, is trying to lash Perdue to President Trump. Perdue campaign manager Ben Fry hit back on Wednesday night, saying Ossoff's "only notable achievement is spending millions of dollars on his failed congressional bid." Peter Weber

June 3, 2020

Nine-term Republican Rep. Steve King (Iowa), stripped of his committee assignments in 2018 after questioning why white nationalism is bad, lost his Republican primary on Tuesday night to state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R). King, a hardline conservative, has a long history of making controversial and incendiary remarks about immigrants, Muslims, and other issues, but his former supporters in Iowa's 4th Congressional District jumped ship after he was booted off the House Agriculture Committee, and to a lesser extent the Judiciary Committee.

"I personally feel very let down about some of the things that have happened because we need someone who is strong in agriculture from this area," state Sen. Annette Sweeney, who shifted support from King to Feenstra, told The Associated Press. King claimed House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had pledged to support reinstating his committee assignments after the election, but McCarthy dismissed the claim. Feenstra's campaign was bankrolled by an array of conservative groups, including National Right to Life and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Republicans had warned that King might lose.

Iowa Democrats selected Des Moines businesswoman Theresa Greenfield as their nominee to take on Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in what could end up being a competitive race. Greenfield, 55, raised $7 million, much more than her three Democratic opponents. Peter Weber

May 22, 2020

We might have declared "the Year of the Women" a little prematurely. While the 2018 midterm elections saw a historic number of women run for Congress, 2020 has already broken that record, Andrea González-Ramírez reports for Gen.

In 2018, 529 women filed to run for the House or the Senate, according to Vox, with 117 ultimately elected or appointed. This year, some 538 female congressional candidates have already filed their paperwork.

Among them are 490 women vying for House seats, according to data from Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), up from 476 in 2018. "And with candidate filing deadlines still weeks away in 14 states," Gen writes, "we can expect even more women to step forward." So far, 48 women have filed to run for Senate in 2020, just behind 2018's record of 53.

Additionally, Gen notes that 195 of the women running for the House this year are on the Republican ticket, "far more than the previous high of 133 in the 2010 midterms." You can read more about the nine women to watch this cycle over at Gen. Jeva Lange

May 13, 2020

Wisconsin state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R) won a U.S. House seat Tuesday in a special election to fill a vacancy left by former Rep. Sean Duffy (R). Tiffany beat Democrat Tricia Zunker by 14 percentage points in a district President Trump won by 20 points and Duffy took by 22 points in 2018. Tiffany's victory was widely expected, but the special election in California's 25 Congressional District was watched closely by both parties, and the Republican, former Navy pilot Mike Garcia, took a sizable early lead over Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith.

Democrat Katie Hill won the suburban Los Angeles seat by 9 points in 2018, flipping it from GOP control for the first time in 25 years, before resigning after acknowledging an inappropriate sexual relationship with a staff member. With 142,000 votes counted early Wednesday, Garcia leads Smith by 12 points, 56 percent to 44 percent. The election was conducted mostly by mail, but Republicans appeared to have both turned in more ballots and showed up in greater numbers to the seven polling places, Jennifer Medina reports at The New York Times.

Votes postmarked Tuesday will be accepted until Friday, and it's not clear how many of the roughly 425,000 mail-in ballots were returned. Garcia said Tuesday night that the race is "looking extremely good," but he wouldn't "give a victory speech tonight." Smith said every vote should be counted.

If Garcia wins, as he looks likely to do. it will be the first time California's embattled Republican Party took a seat away from the Democrats since 1998. Democrats, bracing for the loss, said they expect Smith to win in November, when the electorate is more favorable to the party. For example, tracking data cited by the Times shows that 56 percent of voters 65 and older returned mail-in ballots versus 19 percent of voters younger than 35, while 40 percent of white voters and only 21 percent of Latino voters mailed back their ballots. Peter Weber

April 28, 2020

President Trump has not gotten the steep polling bump other Western leaders and proactive U.S. governors have seen as they fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and in fact, more Americans disapprove than approve of Trump's coronavirus response, probably feeding a drop in his overall approval rating and electoral standing. But any Republican candidates who fail to defend Trump's coronavirus handling will pay a price, the Trump campaign told the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Monday, Politico reports.

Last week, Politico and The Washington Post reported that a 57-page memo prepared by GOP strategist Brett O'Donnell's consulting firm advised Senate candidates that when asked about the pandemic, "don't defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China." When pressed, the candidates should respond: "I wish that everyone acted earlier — that includes our elected officials, the World Health Organization, and the CDC." The NRSC distributed the memo to Republican campaigns.

The Trump campaign was furious, and top officials — including campaign manager Brad Parscale, communications director Tim Murtaugh, and political advisers Justin Clark, Bill Stepien, and Chris Carr — expressed their displeasure to the NRSC, Politico reports. "Candidates will listen to the bad advice in this memo at their own peril," Clark said in a statement. "President Trump enjoys unprecedented support among Republican voters," and GOP candidates "who want to win will be running with the president."

Underscoring his point, NRSC executive director Kevin McLaughlin insisted Monday "there is no daylight between the NRSC and President Trump" and GOP Senate candidates aren't being advised to not defend Trump's response. O'Donnell issued a similar statement: "I never advise candidates not to defend the president, and the media shouldn't take one line out of context." Democrats would have to pick up four seats to win a majority in the Senate, and that no longer seems implausible. Peter Weber

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