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
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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).

 

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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.

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Some candidates, such as Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce, who is running to replace retiring Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDemocrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate Krystal Ball touts Sanders odds in Texas 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) CrowleyOcasio-Cortez endorses challenger to Democrat Lipinski in Illinois race Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Ocasio-Cortez chief of staff to leave her office 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 GillibrandTwo years after Maria, Puerto Rico awaits disaster funds Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Democrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' 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 WarrenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Buttigieg calls Warren 'evasive' on Medicare for all Sanders hits 1 million donors MORE (D-Mass.) have followed suit. But others are trying to walk the line -- Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisTwo former Congressional Black Caucus chairmen back Biden Strippers, 'Hustlers' and the Democratic debates 2020 Dems honor Emily Clyburn MORE (D-Calif.) said ICE should be "critically re-examined," while Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Krystal Ball calls on Sanders to follow Yang's lead on war on drugs Buttigieg calls Warren 'evasive' on Medicare for all 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 TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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 SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall 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 PelosiPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan MORE (D-Calif.). Don't forget: Sinema in 2016 also voted against Pelosi.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGOP's Kennedy sends warning shot to Trump nominee Menashi Democratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals Grassley: Kavanaugh classmate didn't contact Senate panel 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) TesterDemocratic senators quietly hope Biden wins over rivals GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson to resign at end of year Native American advocates question 2020 Democrats' commitment 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 McConnellPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes On The Money: House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November | Judge blocks California law requiring Trump tax returns | Senate panel approves three spending bills 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 McCaskillEx-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity Ocasio-Cortez blasts NYT editor for suggesting Tlaib, Omar aren't representative of Midwest Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand 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 PencePence taps former DHS spokeswoman as his new press secretary GOP group hits Pence over Trump alleged business conflicts Billionaire to host top-dollar fundraiser in New York City for President Trump MORE will hold a fundraiser for Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTaylor Swift 'obsessed' with politics, says she's cautious about celebrity support backfiring for Democrats The evolution of Taylor Swift's political activism Kellyanne Conway responds to Taylor Swift criticism by invoking pop star's lyrics 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 McSallyArizona Democrats push Sinema censure vote off until January Pence taps former DHS spokeswoman as his new press secretary Arizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema 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 RobyHere are the lawmakers who aren't seeking reelection in 2020 Pelosi: GOP retirements indicate they'll be in the minority, with Democrat in the White House The Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers 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 FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  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 BuddGirls Little League softball champions get invitation to White House House conservatives call for ethics probe into Joaquin Castro tweet Conservatives call on Pelosi to cancel August recess 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 PolisDemocrats grill BLM chief over plans to move officials out of DC Colorado governor pokes fun at FaceApp Number of openly LGBTQ elected officials rose nearly 25 percent since 2018: report 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 Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution The Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' Poll: Bill Weld leads among Trump GOP challengers with 5 percent support 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 JordanDemocrat accuses GOP of opposing DC statehood because of 'race and partisanship' The Hill Interview: Sanford says Trump GOP doing 'serious brand destruction' Trump slams Democrats as 'shameful' after Lewandowski hearing 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.