Rank #1: Beto O’Rourke: Not Just Another Bassist From El Paso
Rep. Beto O’Rourke has gained rock star status as an insurgent liberal candidate running against the established Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, but, but, but, says Nathan L. Gonzales, Roll Call’s elections analyst and the publisher of Inside Elections, O’Rourke’s rise to national prominence did not happen overnight or come out of nowhere.
Rank #2: Midterm Takeaways From the Duel in the Desert
Republican Debbie Lesko won a close House race in an Arizona district that is usually very friendly to her party. As the midterm election season continues to heat up, Political Theater looks at the takeaways from this duel in the desert with Roll Call Elections Analyst Nathan Gonzales and Senior Political Reporter Bridget Bowman.
Rank #3: A Looming Warning From 'The Looming Tower'
HULU’s new mini-series “The Looming Tower” traces the rising threat of Al Qaeda in the runup to the 9/11 attacks and is adapted from Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize winning book. For today’s audience, the series shows eerie parallels to conflicts within our government that are dominating our politics today. Actor Jeff Daniels portrays plays FBI Special Agent in Charge John O'Neill, a counterterrorism specialist who sounds the alarm about the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and who was killed at the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attacks. “‘Looming Tower’ screams that we should be doing everything we can to be working together in a bipartisan effort to protect the people of this country,” he said.
Rank #4: The Political Football That is Washington Redskins Football
There might be no better example of “political football” than what the Washington Redskins are doing by working with Congress, the White House and the D.C. City Council to secure a new stadium in the capital. And that’s just one of the political issues facing professional football, says Brandon Wetherbee, managing editor of the culture website Brightest Young Things and host of the podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody.
Rank #5: Will Mueller matter in 2020?
CQ Roll Call senior political reporters Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé explain the political ramifications, if any, on the conclusion of the Russia election interference report of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Rank #6: Does Michael Cohen Testimony Change Political Strategies?
Sure, as one cable news talking head says, Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony on Wednesday is “very, very explosive” and spread out over “several, several hours” but does it change the political parties’ 2020 strategy? Roll Call political reporters Simone Pathe and Bridget Bowman discuss.
Rank #7: Democrats Cashing In on 2018 Midterms
Midterm elections typically have lower voter turnout than presidential ones. If that turns out to be the case in 2018, it won't be because of a lack of cash or candidates. In short, the midterm cycle is awash in campaign money. Breaking down some of the gobsmacking amounts and what it means for the control of Congress are Roll Call political correspondents Simone Pathé and Bridget Bowman on the latest Political Theater podcast.
Rank #8: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Unlikely Pop Icon
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a bona fide pop icon, perhaps strange territory for an 85-year-old, diminutive, reserved constitutional scholar. In the latest Political Theater podcast, filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen speak about their documentary, “RBG,” including what it was like to be in the same theater when Ginsburg saw their movie at the Sundance Film Festival. The documentary opens in theaters on May 4.
Rank #9: The State of Lobbying is, Well, Pretty Darn Good
Last year, Julian Ha of Heidrick & Struggles said the swamp was “constipated,” as the lobbying world continued adjusting to the Trump administration and Congress. And now? Things are starting to flow again. Ha and CQ Roll Call lobbying reporter Kate Ackley discuss the state of lobbying, 2019 edition.
Rank #10: Paul Ryan Departure Leaves GOP Spinning
Speaker Paul D. Ryan's announcement that he will not seek re-election once he finishes out his term has set off a scramble on several fronts including who will bring in the boatloads of cash that he raised for the GOP. CQ lobbying reporter Kate Ackley and Inside Elections' Nathan Gonzales explain.
Rank #11: Democrats Roar Over Conor Lamb
The special election result in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District has rocked the political world on its heels, with Democrat Conor Lamb’s success in the heavily Republican region setting off a fresh round of speculation about the 2018 midterms. Roll Call Senior Political Reporter Bridget Bowman, who reported from the area recently, was at the Capitol gauging reaction from members of Congress after the latest round of political jousting.
Rank #12: All the President's Potential Opponents
Take one congresswoman from Hawaii, one tech entrepreneur and one South Bend mayor, add in 7 percent of the U.S. Senate and you still don’t have even half of the potential Democratic field of presidential candidates. Why is everyone running for president? And what kind of effect will that have on down-ballot races for Congress, state houses, and governor’s mansions, not to mention the legislative agenda on Capitol Hill? Inside Elections Reporter/Analyst Leah Askarinam helps us sort through the expanding field on the latest Political Theater Podcast.
Rank #13: When Political ‘Dark Money’ Rode to Town
Filmmaker Kimberly Reed grew up in Montana with little anticipation her home state would be ground zero for a massive fight over money in politics. But her new documentary, “Dark Money,” tells a tale worthy of any Western, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle fight for their own prerogatives in the face of out-of-state interests gunning for them. With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the high court’s role as the ultimate referee over money’s role in politics is back in focus. Reed and Campaign Legal Center founder Trevor Potter and CQ Roll Call campaign finance reporter Kate Ackley discuss the film, money in politics and the campaign landscape on this week’s Political Theater Podcast.
Rank #14: High Court, High Political Drama — Probably for Years to Come
In the middle of a singularly rough Supreme Court nomination fight, the business of the high court goes on. The fate of Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second nominee to the court, is still up in the air. But the direction of the court, regardless of what happens with Kavanaugh, seems to be moving inexorably negative, at least politically, say CQ legal affairs writer Todd Ruger and senior writer Kate Ackley.
Rank #15: Kavanaugh Drama Provides Stage for Democrats
Senate Democrats are trying to make the most of the Supreme Court nomination hearing of Brett Kavanaugh looking to bolster support for the midterms and the 2020 presidential election. Leah Askarinam of Inside Elections tells us which Democrats are likely to gain from the strategy and whether it will affect Republican turnout.
Rank #16: Joe Manchin and the Mountain State Midterm Melee
West Virginia Republicans lined up for the right to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, and after a knock-down, drag-out fight, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey emerged as the victor. Roll Call Senior Political Reporter Simone Pathe talks about her recent trip to the Mountain State and what it told her about the midterm fight ahead.
Rank #17: Why everyone wants to talk about HR 1
Democrats love it. Republicans hate it. K Street really hates it. The White House wants to veto it. Everyone’s talking about HR 1, House Democrats' overhaul of campaign finance, election and lobbying laws. CQ Roll Call’s Kate Ackley says Democrats “ran on this messaging” in 2018 and are arguing it deserves to be a top priority “so that we can unrig the system.” Republicans across the board have rallied against it. What's going on? We break it down on the latest Political Theater Podcast.
Rank #18: Congress for Newbies: Practical Advice From a Pro
“Decide what kind of member of Congress you want to be,” says Tom Davis, the former congressman from Virginia. “Voters see through phoniness pretty quickly.” Davis, who chaired the Republican campaign committee and House Oversight panel and currently plies his trade at Holland & Knight, has a reputation as one of most principled and savvy politicians around. He has a few pointers for new members of Congress. After all, there are rookie mistakes, and there are rookie mistakes on the national stage, with consequences for constituents — and maybe your next election.
Rank #19: Tending to the Congressional Mind, Body and Spirit
Members of Congress are the players we see on stage, but the production that is politics would go nowhere without the backstage people making up the staff — the chaplains, sergeants-at-arms, chiefs of staff and more who make sure the show goes on. Ed Pesce, the editor of CQ Senate and a former congressional staffer himself, talks about those dynamics.
Rank #20: ‘The River and the Wall,’ a journey down the wall’s path
When Ben Masters began the 1,200-mile journey along the Rio Grande to film his new documentary “The River and the Wall,” he had no idea the border wall would dominate politics the way it does today. Nor did he think, as he spoke with such locals as Beto O’Rourke and Will Hurd, that their voices would resonate so far beyond the border. Now the movie, making festival rounds and set for a May 3 release, profiles the debate deftly and shows off the unparalleled beauty of the region as Masters and four friends traverse the border on bike, foot, horseback and canoe.