Iowa GOP Senate nominee Joni Ernst might have been taking cues from Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes's disastrous meeting with the Courier-Journal's editorial board when she canceled her own with the Des Moines Register this week.

Last week, Grimes drew heavy flack from Republicans and pundits for refusing to answer three times whether she voted for President Obama during her editorial board meeting. Her inelegant dodge drew more attention than she likely would've if she had simply acknowledged her vote and distanced herself from the president.

Ernst was trying to avoid a similar situation. Her campaign said a recent editorial critical of the candidate's support for a "personhood" amendment made it "perfectly clear" where the Register stood on the race, and suggested it wasn't worth Ernst's time to speak with them as they finalize their endorsement.

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But the paper's writers took to social media to criticize Ernst, one wondering whether the Republican was "avoiding tough questions." Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell Braley2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster OPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP Ten years later, House Dems reunite and look forward MORE's (D) campaign manager Sarah Benzing accused Ernst of choosing to "run away from the press."

So perhaps Ernst should've taken another lesson from Grimes: A dodge is sometimes the worst thing a candidate can do.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

AK-SEN (BEGICH): A controversial ad from Sen. March Begich (D-Alaska) that linked his opponent to an alleged murderer and sex offender mistakenly appeared on Alaska television Thursday morning after a station inadvertently ran the ad more than a month after the campaign pulled it from the airwaves.

KS-SEN (ROBERTS): The Duggar family, stars of the popular TLC reality show “19 Kids And Counting” and occasional conservative activists, will campaign with Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid Pressure builds on Pompeo as impeachment inquiry charges ahead GOP lawmakers fear Trump becoming too consumed by impeachment fight MORE (R-Kan.).

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): In an Federal Election Commission filing, Republican Scott Brown listed his employer as “Commonwealth of MA” and his occupation as “state senator” on a $244 donation he gave to his own campaign.

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Sen. Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul McConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Former Speaker Boehner's official portrait unveiled MORE (R-Ky.), asked about the news that he’s offering all-expenses-paid trips to volunteers, as first reported in The Hill, said “I’m not sure what to say about that.”

SD-SEN (OPEN): An FBI investigation into South Dakota’s controversial EB-5 visa program, which has contributed to former Gov. Mike Rounds’s (R ) unexpected vulnerability in the Senate race there, is ongoing. And Rounds said he knew nothing about a $650,000 loan to a beef plant that one of his Cabinet secretaries signed off on before leaving to work for the company that managed that loan. 

Rounds is facing further scrutiny over a new report suggesting he and his campaign manager had a financial stake in companies that benefited from government grants they oversaw as members of the state’s Board of Economic Development.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska political mess has legislators divided over meeting place Former GOP chairman Royce joins lobbying shop Lobbying world MORE (D-Alaska) said he voted for President Obama but was dismissive of the question, arguing “The president’s not relevant. He’s gone in two years.”

CO-SEN (UDALL): First lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaHundreds turn out to see Michelle Obama on one-year anniversary of 'Becoming' Michelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award Resistance or unhinged behavior? Partisan hatred reaches Trump's family MORE's foray onto the campaign trail hit another bump Thursday, when she identified Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallDemocrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump Poll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy MORE (D-Colo.) as "a fifth-generation Coloradan." Udall was actually born in Tucson, Ariz.; his opponent, Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Tariffs threaten 1.5M jobs: Study This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry MORE (R-Colo.), has made a point of emphasizing on the campaign trail that his family's Colorado roots extend five generations back. 

GA-SEN (OPEN): President Obama is urging voters to help Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn defeat Republican David Purdue, telling a radio station Thursday that Democratic control of the Senate depends on her victory. Meanwhile, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard Paul Democratic debate at Tyler Perry's could miss the mark with black voters RNC says ex-Trump ambassador nominee's efforts 'to link future contributions to an official action' were 'inappropriate' GOP divided over impeachment trial strategy MORE (R-Ky.) will campaign with Perdue on Friday.

IA-SEN (OPEN): Senate candidate Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has canceled her meeting with the Des Moines Register editorial board Thursday as the paper works to finalize its Senate endorsement.

Republicans are gleeful at the fact they've surpassed Democrats in early and absentee voting in Iowa, something they've never done before. They say it bodes well for their chances in the competitive House and Senate races there.

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

MN-08 (NOLAN): Vice President Biden stumped for Rep. Rick Nolan (D), drawing a crowd of about 600 and praising Nolan’s bipartisanship.

FL-18 (MURPHY): Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Press: Ukraine's not the only outrage The 2 events that reshaped the Democratic primary race MORE will campaign for Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) in Palm Beach, Fla., this Sunday.

NY-18 (MALONEY) Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats ask judge for quick ruling on McGahn subpoena Hillary Clinton: 'Every day Stephen Miller remains in the White House is an emergency' The Memo: Centrists change tone of Democratic race MORE will campaign for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) on Oct. 27 at a Women for Maloney event.

WV-2 (OPEN): The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will purchase $600,000 of airtime to defend the seat held by Senate nominee Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoHillicon Valley: Facebook to remove mentions of potential whistleblower's name | House Dems demand FCC action over leak of location data | Dem presses regulators to secure health care data Senators introduce bill to create 'parity' among broadband programs Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump MORE, while the National Republican Congressional Committee will purchase $250,000 of ad time. 

WV-3 (RAHALL): Endangered Rep. Nick RahallNick Joe RahallWe shouldn't allow politics to impede disaster relief Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Clinton mulls role in 2018 midterms MORE is running as fast as he can from President Obama, but there’s one fellow Democrat he’s happy to embrace: Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPolitical purity tests are for losers Former coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda MORE, The Hill’s Scott Wong writes from the Mountaineer State. 

 

AD WATCH

IA-SEN (OPEN): The Chamber of Commerce released a bizarre “Chicken Dance” ad against Rep. Bruce Braley (D), bringing back up his farmer gaffe and other missteps. 

LA-SEN (LANDRIEU): Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Dems wrestle over how to vote on ‘Green New Deal’ Lobbying world MORE’s (D-La.) latest ad features P.K. Scheerle, a registered nurse and CEO of Gifted Healthcare, hitting Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) on the Violence Against Women Act.

AK-SEN (BEGICH): Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) features a clip of his father, a popular former congressman in the state, in his latest ad, and says “when things seem impossible, I try to do what he would’ve done.”

KS-SEN (ROBERTS): Freedom Partners Action Fund launched a seven-figure advertising campaign targeting independent Greg Orman, calling him the “deciding vote for more of Obama’s unchecked agenda” in one ad, and suggesting he hasn’t offered his positions on key issues in another. Meanwhile, Orman launched two new ads

GA-SEN (OPEN): Former Sen. Sam Nunn (D) stars in an ad for his daughter, Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn, touting her accomplishments and joking that he’s a “little biased” in the race. 

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Country music star Randy Owen appears in an ad from the Chamber of Commerce endorsing Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

SD-SEN (OPEN): Former staffers of independent Larry Pressler launched a super-PAC and a new ad supporting their old boss and pushing back on negative attacks against him.

Republican Mike Rounds’s latest ad focuses on the state’s Ellsworth Air Force base and the jobs it provides, calling it “concerning” that Democrat Rick Weiland has been endorsed by the Council for a Livable World, which the ad says “wants to eliminate the B1 and Ellsworth’s critical missions.”

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): Small-business owners tout Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenProgressive group to spend as much as M to turn out young voters On The Money: US paid record .1B in tariffs in September | Dems ramp up oversight of 'opportunity zones' | Judge hints at letting House lawsuit over Trump tax returns proceed Overnight Energy: EPA watchdog slams agency chief after deputy fails to cooperate in probe | Justices wrestle with reach of Clean Water Act | Bipartisan Senate climate caucus grows MORE’s (D-N.H.) work cutting taxes and securing grants for New Hampshire businesses, while charging Republican Scott Brown “is for Scott Brown and big money.”

AR-04 (OPEN): Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt (D) touts his bipartisan credentials in a new ad

MN-08 (NOLAN): House Majority PAC hits Republican Stewart Mills for his support from “New York billionaire Koch brothers,” saying “millionaire Stewart Mills and his billionaire friends don’t care about you.”

NY-18 (GIBSON): Rep. Chris Gibson’s new ad contrasts his military service with Democratic challenger Sean Eldridge, hitting him for moving to the district to run. 

TX-23 (GALLEGO): House Majority PAC’s new ad hits Republican challenger Will Hurd for being “supported by those’ who want to cut Social Security benefits. 

 

POLL POSITION

MI-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Gary Peters (D) holds a hefty lead over former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land in a new Public Policy Polling survey conducted for the pro-Peters League of Conservation Voters, taking 53 percent to Land’s 29 percent support among likely voters.

SD-SEN (OPEN): An internal poll shows that Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) leads the field with 48 percent support among likely voters, with 24 percent backing Democrat Rick Weiland and 16 percent backing independent Larry Pressler.

NH-SEN (SHAHEEN): A new CNN/ORC poll gives Sen. Jeanne Shaheen 49 percent support to Republican Scott Brown’s 47 percent support among likely voters. An American Research Group poll showed nearly the same outcome, giving Shaheen 49 percent support to Brown’s 48 percent support.

 

CO-SEN (UDALL): A Reuters-Ipsos poll gives Rep. Cory Gardner (R) 47 percent support to Sen. Mark Udall’s (D) 45 percent support among likely voters.

IA-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Bruce Braley (D) is closing in on state Sen. Joni Ernst in a new Quinnipiac poll, taking 46 percent support to Ernst’s 48 percent support among likely voters.

 

2016 RUMBLINGS

BUSH: Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) stumped with Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) for her reelection in the critical early primary state. Asked about a possible White House bid, Bush said it was a “big decision” and he’d make a decision by the end of the year. “The next presidential race has to be about the future," said Bush. "It has to be about fixing some big problems we have ... so I have to be comfortable that I can do that."

PAUL: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will make a decision about a 2016 presidential bid in the spring, he told BuzzFeed. But National Journal reports he’s gathering his top political advisers in Washington for a strategy session just eight days after the midterms. 

CUOMO: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) appeared at a rally with Hillary Clinton on Thursday and indicated he hopes the former secretary of State runs for president in 2016 — despite speculation he could make his own bid.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY 

"When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn't have the suicide problem."

—Rep. Don YoungDonald (Don) Edwin YoungThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Dems release first transcripts from impeachment probe witnesses GOP lawmaker head-butts MoveOn camera Hundreds turn out for London's first transgender equality march MORE (R-Alaska), suggesting "government largesse" has contributed to the suicide rate in his state