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 RyanUnscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration 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) CrowleyCrowley says he 'didn’t underestimate' Ocasio-Cortez in primary challenge Ocasio-Cortez on 2020: ‘I don’t want to be placated as a progressive’ Ocasio-Cortez holds call with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn 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 GillibrandGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Sanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Newsom endorses Kamala Harris for president 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 WarrenDNC punts on measure to reduce role of corporate PAC money Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 Newsom endorses Kamala Harris for president MORE (D-Mass.) have followed suit. But others are trying to walk the line -- Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisKamala Harris shopping trip stirs Twitter campaign trail debate Sanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 MORE (D-Calif.) said ICE should be "critically re-examined," while Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 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 TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job 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 SchumerNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Mandatory E-Verify: The other border 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win Congress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks MORE (D-Calif.). Don't forget: Sinema in 2016 also voted against Pelosi.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein says she thinks Biden will run after meeting with him Trump judicial nominee Neomi Rao seeks to clarify past remarks on date rape Bottom Line 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) TesterHow the border deal came together GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration Border talks stall as another shutdown looms 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 McConnellDems ready aggressive response to Trump emergency order, as GOP splinters Green New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire 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 McCaskillMcCaskill: Lindsey Graham 'has lost his mind' Trey Gowdy joins Fox News as a contributor The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government 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 PenceKamala Harris shopping trip stirs Twitter campaign trail debate Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Bill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' MORE will hold a fundraiser for Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTrump’s new Syria timetable raises concern among key anti-ISIS allies Dem lawmaker invites Parkland survivor to attend State of the Union Bipartisan senators press Trump for strategy to protect Syrian Kurds 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 McSallyArmy calls base housing hazards 'unconscionable,' details steps to protect families Poll shows McSally, Kelly tied in Arizona Senate race Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid 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 FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger 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 BuddHouse Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 Republican Ted Budd holds off challenger to win reelection in North Carolina Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide 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 PolisKey Colorado House committee passes bill to decide presidential elections by popular vote, not Electoral college Gardner gets latest Democratic challenge from former state senator Gardner, Portman endorse Trump for 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 SanfordEndorsing Trump isn’t the easiest decision for some Republicans Mark Sanford warns US could see ‘Hitler-like character’ in the future House passes year-end tax package 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 JordanRod Rosenstein’s final insult to Congress: Farewell time for reporters but not testimony House conservatives blast border deal, push Trump to use executive power Cohen to testify before three congressional panels before going to prison 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.