FEATURED:

Election Countdown: Calls to abolish ICE test Dem candidates | First round of House GOP 'Young Guns' | How Tester is handling Trump's Montana visit | Dem candidate won't back Schumer as leader | Super PACs ramp up Missouri ad buys

Election Countdown: Calls to abolish ICE test Dem candidates | First round of House GOP 'Young Guns' | How Tester is handling Trump's Montana visit | Dem candidate won't back Schumer as leader | Super PACs ramp up Missouri ad buys
© Getty Images

This is Election Countdown, The Hill's new newsletter from Lisa Hagen (@LA_Hagen) and Ben Kamisar (@BKamisar) that brings you the biggest stories on the campaign trail.  We'd love to hear from you, so feel free to reach out to Lisa at LHagen@thehill.com and Ben at BKamisar@thehill.com with any questions, comments, criticisms or food recommendations (mostly the latter, please).

 

Click here to sign up for the newsletter.

 

We're 124 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 852 days until the 2020 elections.

 

The movement to "Abolish ICE" is gaining steam on the left as progressives fight back against the Trump administration's controversial border policies.

The challenge to Immigration and Customs Enforcement isn't entirely new--activists have been hammering at the agency, including on social media, for months.

ADVERTISEMENT

Some candidates, such as Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce, who is running to replace retiring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection hacking will come to a ‘breaking point,’ says Dem strategist Webb: GOP must play prevent defense The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — George H.W. Bush lies in state | NRCC suffers major hack | Crunch-time for Congress MORE (R-Wis.), jumped on board early, with calls to get rid of the agency.

But the debate has gained new prominence with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the insurgent progressive who toppled Rep. Joe CrowleyJoseph (Joe) CrowleyNancy Pelosi's incredible comeback Ocasio-Cortez on why young people need to run for Congress Dems rally for Green New Deal MORE (D-N.Y.) in a shocking primary victory.

Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most vocal proponents of abolishing ICE and her rise in the party is giving the proposal new momentum on the left.

2020 maneuvering: Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandNRA's Loesch: Gillibrand’s 'future Is female’ tweet 'is pretty sexist' Would-be 2020 Dem candidates head for the exits Rubio mocks Gillibrand tweet saying the future is ‘female’ and ‘intersectional’ MORE (D-N.Y.) became the first senator to call for eliminating ICE less than two days after Ocasio-Cortez's victory. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats wise to proceed cautiously on immigration Strategist behind Warren's political rise to meet with O'Rourke: report Warren fell for ‘Trump trap’ with DNA test, says progressive MORE (D-Mass.) have followed suit. But others are trying to walk the line -- Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWarren fell for ‘Trump trap’ with DNA test, says progressive Swalwell: Open to Swalwell-Biden or Biden-Swalwell ticket Boston Globe pans Warren as ‘divisive figure’ ahead of potential 2020 run MORE (D-Calif.) said ICE should be "critically re-examined," while Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersChildren's singer Raffi on criticizing Trump: 'You have to fight fascism with everything you’ve got' Sanders to Colbert: 'You will be my vice presidential candidate!' Sanders: Trump said midterms were about him, and he lost MORE (I-Vt.) said the agency should be restructured.

The polling: While the push may be gaining steam in some progressive circles, it's not a broadly popular policy. Data released this month through The Hill's partnership with the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll found that just 31 percent of registered voters back the push to disband ICE. The proposal is more popular on the left, with 41 percent of Democrats supporting it, but just 27 percent of independents and 22 percent of Republicans.

Republicans see an edge: Those polling numbers are why Republicans across the country have seized on the issue in the hopes of framing Democrats as out of touch with the American public on immigration. That includes President TrumpDonald John TrumpJoaquín Castro: Trump would be 'in court right now' if he weren't the president or 'privileged' Trump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference Comey reveals new details on Russia probe during House testimony MORE who has tweeted about it.

Messaging wars: Republicans are convinced the calls to abolish ICE will hurt Democrats in the midterms. Democrats, though, say they aren't sacrificing border security. Ocasio-Cortez has said that the Justice Department, not Homeland Security, should have oversight over many of those responsibilities and that the focus is on reining in an agency that's gone too far. Regardless of who wins the messaging fight, the debate is sure to put pressure on many Dems.

 

Senate showdown

Trouble for leadership?: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) told Politico in an interview that she won't vote for Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerPush to pay congressional interns an hour gains traction with progressives House approves two-week spending measure to avert shutdown Manchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives MORE (D-N.Y.) if she wins the Arizona Senate election. She's the first candidate to buck Senate Dem leadership; House candidates have been much more willing to cross House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDisputed North Carolina race raises prospect of congressional probe The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — The political currents that will drive the shutdown showdown Kobach ‘very concerned’ voter fraud may have happened in North Carolina MORE (D-Calif.). Don't forget: Sinema in 2016 also voted against Pelosi.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe Mattis: Investigation into killing of Khashoggi is ongoing Senators introduce resolution saying Saudi crown prince 'complicit' in Khashoggi slaying MORE (D-Calif.) is telling the state party to stay out of her general election fight, according to the Los Angeles Times. State Senate Leader Kevin de León (D) came close to clinching the state party's primary endorsement in February, but Feinstein finished leagues ahead of de Leon in the June "top two primary."

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSchumer gets ready to go on the offensive Criminal justice reform splits 2020 Democrats Farmers sticking with Trump, says GOP senator MORE (D-Mont.) called talk of impeaching Trump "inappropriate" and "premature" in an interview with HBO's "Vice News Tonight." And to coincide with Trump's visit to Montana, Tester took out full-page ads to thank the president for signing legislation the senator backed. Tester is seen as one of the most vulnerable Dems... more on that below.

 

The paper chase

Allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference Sunday shows preview: Trade talks, Cohen sentencing memo take center stage Trump tells McConnell to let Senate vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Ky.) are continuing to signal their biggest priorities of the cycle. In its second round, Senate Leadership Fund reserved $16 million in fall TV ads in Indiana, Tennessee and West Virginia. That brings its current spending to $40 million.

Two major Democratic super PACs, Priorities USA and Senate Majority PAC, teamed up to launch a six-figure ad buy that takes aim at Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley's record as Missouri's attorney general. Hawley is expected to face Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri GOP Secretary of State launches investigation into Hawley’s time as AG The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Congress to act soon to avoid shutdown Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive MORE (D) in the fall. Meanwhile, the Missouri GOP voted to allow the RNC to spend money to boost Hawley ahead of the August primary, according to the Kansas City Star.

Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePresident Trump’s fight for a better trade deal with China Live coverage: Washington honors George HW Bush with state funeral Populism comes to Mexico as old symbols are laid to waste MORE will hold a fundraiser for Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnCorker: Saudi Crown Prince is ‘out of control’ Corker: Trump governs by using ‘anger’ and ‘hate’ Tennessee New Members 2019 MORE (R-Tenn.) on July 21 in Chattanooga. Tennessee's Senate race is quickly becoming a battleground that outside groups are prioritizing.

A new super PAC in Arizona -- DefendArizona -- is going all-in for establishment favorite GOP Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyMaine’s 2nd District outcome proves value of ranked choice voting Arizona airport says Trump campaign owes K from October rally The 5 most competitive Senate races of 2020 MORE. The group is reserving $5 millionin general election TV ads to boost McSally in her Senate campaign.

Speaking of tons of money... Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) released his financial disclosure, which showed he has a net worth of more than $232 million. That's $83 million more than last year.

 

What we're watching for

Trump is headed to Montana tonight for a rally where we can expect more fireworks about Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who faces a tough reelection race in a state Trump won by 20 points.

FEC reports for the second fundraising quarter (money raised and spent between April and June) are due on July 15. House reports will be up at midnight, but the Senate is notoriously slower since candidates don't have to file electronically.

There are no July primaries, but we'll finally get results in two primary runoffs. In Alabama, Rep. Martha RobyMartha Dubina RobyOcasio-Cortez: 'I was stopped because it was assumed I was an intern' Insurgency shakes up Democratic establishment Dem House candidate claims Russians tried to hack campaign website MORE (R) is defending her seat on July 17. And in Georgia's gubernatorial GOP runoff, secretary of State Brian Kemp and Lt. Gov. Casey Kagle will square off on July 24.

 

Coming to a TV near you

Arizona GOP Senate candidate Kelli Ward's latest ad is another opportunity to tie herself close to Trump. She faces a competitive three-way primary on Aug. 28 for retiring GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTim Scott: Stop giving court picks with 'questionable track records on race' a Senate vote Flake stands firm on sending a ‘message to the White House’ on Mueller CNN to partner with The Des Moines Register on polling ahead of 2020 Iowa caucuses MORE's seat. The latest ad touts her support for Trump's border policies.

Ohio Democrat Danny O'Connor, who is running in next month's special House election, is up with a new spot that talks up his crossover appeal.

 

Wave watch

Another Dem who won't back Pelosi: Democrat Kathy Manning, a top recruit running against Rep. Ted BuddTheodore (Ted) Paul BuddRepublican Ted Budd holds off challenger to win reelection in North Carolina Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide Jockeying already stepping up in House leadership fights MORE (R-N.C.), wrote that she won't supportPelosi for speaker, adding to the growing list of Dem congressional candidates who won't back her in leadership.

The NRCC unveiled its first round of the campaign committee's "Young Guns" program, signaling what races will be priorities for House Republicans this fall. The initial list includes 11 races where Republicans are on offense or defending an open-seat currently held by the GOP: Here are the districts and the candidates: CA-39: Young Kim; CA-49: Diane Harkey; MN-08: Pete Stauber; NC-09: Mark Harris; NJ-11: Jay Webber; NV-03: Danny Tarkanian; NV-04: Cresent Hardy; OH-16: Anthony Gonzalez; PA-07: Marty Nothstein; PA-08: John Chrin; WA-08: Dino Rossi

Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence announces more endorsements --Jason Crow in CO-06 and Antonio Delgado in NY-19. It is also backing Democratic nominee Rep. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisAdvocates see state legislatures as next frontier for pot legalization Gardner gets first Dem challenger for 2020 Senate race The 5 most competitive Senate races of 2020 MORE in the Colorado governor's race.

Former President Obama showered praise on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), saying at a DCCC fundraiser in northern California that she'll "once again be one of the greatest Speakers we ever have after we get through this cycle."

Can it be competitive? The DCCC has sent a Washington, D.C. operative back to South Carolina's 1st District in the wake of GOP Rep. Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Bush memorial service in Houston | House passes two-week spending measure | Markets drop after Chinese executive's arrest Incoming Dem lawmaker mocks Trump for referring to himself as 'President T' South Carolina New Members 2019 MORE's primary defeat, reports McClatchy's Emma Dumain. It would be a longshot, but Democrats are apparently taking a second look at Democrat Joe Cunningham. Cunningham is running against Republican Katie Arrington. Arrington defeated Sanfofd but she is now recovering from serious injuries suffered in a car crash.

The DNC is launching two new initiatives on Thursday--a talent bank meant to find staff for both the 2018 and future cycles, and five new volunteer training sessions across the country.

 

In case you missed it

The Huffington Post's Daniel Marans and Kevin Robillard report on how Ocasio-Cortez has quickly become a kingmaker within the Democratic Party. She's so far endorsed nine congressional candidates and has fundraised for Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.). Khanna was on the only House Dem to endorse her bid against Joe Crowley.

The Hill's Sylvan Lane dives into how Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who ruffled feathers by encouraging the public to confront Trump officials over their policies, is done with "nice guy politics."

NBC News dropped a bombshell report on Tuesday about accusations that Rep. Jim JordanJames (Jim) Daniel JordanComey’s confession: dossier not verified before, or after, FISA warrant Republicans missed best shot on keeping promise to cut spending Three Republicans battle to succeed Meadows at House Freedom Caucus MORE (R-Ohio), the House Freedom Caucus founder exploring a bid for Speaker, ignored the sexual abuse of wrestlers he coached at the Ohio State University years ago. Three wrestlers claimed Jordan knew about the abuse, but the congressman has denied the allegation.

The Hill's Scott Wong and Juliegrace Brufke look at how the controversy could complicate Jordan's possible bid for speaker.