Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race

Election Countdown: Latest on the 2018 Senate money race | Red-state Dems feeling the heat over Kavanaugh | Dem doubts about Warren | Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill | Why Puerto Ricans in Florida could swing Senate race
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Welcome to Election Countdown, The Hill's weekly newsletter from Lisa Hagen (@LA_Hagen) and Ben Kamisar (@BKamisar) bringing 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 118 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 846 days until the 2020 elections.

 

We're nearing the deadline for second-quarter fundraising reports, and so far, there have been three key takeaways in the battle for the Senate--Democrats are continuing to rake in contributions hand-over-fist, Republicans are improving, and holy cow, did Rick Scott raise a lot of money. Scott, who's running against Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms MORE (D-Fla.), set a record this cycle for the biggest quarterly haul: an eye-popping $10.7 million. Scott has loaned his previous campaigns tens of millions before, but that $10.7 million doesn't include any of his own money, making it more jaw dropping.

 

While we're waiting on Nelson's numbers, Senate Democrats in other red states are still padding their coffers with multimillion-dollar hauls. 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-Mo.) continues to set records, with her biggest haul to date: $4.3 million. And now all eyes will be on Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who hopes to take her Senate seat. Hawley's underwhelming fundraising has frustrated Republicans, prompting a shake-up of his finance team he hopes will spark fundraising 

 

Here's a rundown of the others: Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownPollster says current 2020 surveys like picking best picture Oscar before movies come out Shep Smith: Signing funding bill is a 'loss' for Trump no matter how it's packaged Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race MORE (D-Ohio) raised $3.7 million; Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (D-N.D.) raised nearly $2 million; Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyGOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Biden speaking to Dems on Capitol Hill as 2020 speculation mounts: report GOP senators: Trump should not declare border emergency during State of the Union MORE (D-Pa.) raised $2.2 million; Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Kaine asks Shanahan if military families would be hurt by moving .6B for border wall Clinton on GOP promoting Trump 'stronger together' quote: Now copy my policies too MORE (D-Va.) raised more than $2.2 million.

Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE (R-Nev.), the most vulnerable GOP senator, continues to be outpaced by his Democratic rival, Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump administration secretly shipped plutonium to Nevada Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE. She raised more than $3.5 million, compared to Heller's $2.38 million. But he still has a cash advantage of $2 million.

Republican candidates, on the whole, are steadily improving now that most primaries are behind them. West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey raised nearly $1.3 million in his bid against Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick MORE (D-W.Va.) and Montana auditor Matt Rosendale raised over $1 million to challenge 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.). And after self-funding the majority of his last fundraising haul, Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciGOP rep: If Mueller had found collusion, ‘investigation would have wrapped up very quickly’ House Ethics Committee extends probe into Renacci Sherrod Brown says he has 'no real timetable' for deciding on 2020 presidential run MORE (Ohio) raised $2 million, without candidate contributions. He's taking on Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

 

In the House, Democrats are also raking in cash and we'll be keeping count of how many candidates continue to outraise Republican incumbents in the top battlegrounds. National Journal's Ally Mutnick has a helpful running list of Democrats raising more than $1 million.

 

Race for the White House

Senate Democrats are feeling the heat in entirely different ways over President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Vulnerable red-state Dems up for reelection in 2018 are being pressured to back Trump's pick, while those eying 2020 presidential bids are locked in a sprint to outdo each other in their opposition to Kavanaugh.

 

One of those 2020 Democrats, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Poll: Sanders, Biden seen as most popular second choices in Dem primary MORE (D-Mass.), was the subject of a piece by The Hill's Amie Parnes this week about whether she's the right pick to take on Trump.

 

And while Democrats are still nowhere close to figuring out who their standard-bearer will be, The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans are already getting close to inking a deal to put their 2020 convention in Charlotte, N.C.

 

Survey says…

Axios and SurveyMonkey came out with a new poll of registered voters across Senate battleground states. It shows Republicans ahead in four key states (Tennessee, Florida, North Dakota and Indiana), while Democrats lead in 9 states (Nevada, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Montana, Wisconsin and Arizona). Those states where the GOP is leading will be among the toughest for Democrats to hold, but they've got to be happy with the double-digit margins in states like Arizona, West Virginia and Montana.

 

Democrats got some good news in North Carolina's 9th House district, where Dan McCready leads Republican Mark Harris by 7 points in a new Civitas poll. Democrats have grown more bullish on this red-leaning seat since Harris knocked off Rep. Robert PittengerRobert Miller PittengerFight over North Carolina race set to drag on for months NC GOP calls on board to certify House race unless it can prove fraud changed results North Carolina on cusp of House race reset MORE (R) in the primary.

 

And while Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkePoll: Sanders, Biden seen as most popular second choices in Dem primary O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates MORE is running a historically strong challenge to Republican Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again Democrats veer left as Trump cements hold on Republicans O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation MORE, Cruz remains in the driver's seat in a new Gravis poll that has him up 9 points in the Senate race.

 

What we're watching for

We've got a brief respite from the break-neck primary calendar, but there are still two major races on the horizon. Alabama's primary runoff is July 17, when 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 faces off against former Rep. Bobby Bright for the GOP nomination. And on July 24, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and secretary of State Brian Kemp square off in the GOP gubernatorial runoff.

 

Next week marks Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's first visit to Capitol Hill. Expect large swarms of reporters surrounding the Democratic socialist who defeated the No. 4 Democrat, 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.). The Hill's Melanie Zanona previewed the visit, which is certain to rattle the Democratic establishment in D.C.

 

Senate showdown

The "Abolish ICE" push may be gaining steam on the left--and sweeping up some of the Democratic Party's 2020 hopefuls--but the issue appears to be a non-starter for Senate Democratic candidates who need to keep moderates on board.

 

Puerto Ricans -- and Trump's response to Hurricane Maria -- are expected to play a big role in Florida's Senate race. Puerto Ricans are now the largest Hispanic group in Florida and the Democratic-leaning voter bloc is still frustrated by Trump's recovery efforts. Still, Scott has shown surprising strength among Puerto Ricans in the race against Nelson.

 

Rep. Lou BarlettaLouis (Lou) James BarlettaTrump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 GOP trading fancy offices, nice views for life in minority Casey secures third Senate term over Trump-backed Barletta MORE (R-Pa.) will get a hand from Vice President Pence as he looks to gain traction in his race against Sen. Bob Casey (D).

 

Coming to a TV near you

The Supreme Court fight over Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh is taking over the airwaves. Judicial Crisis Network, a big player in Justice Neil Gorsuch's confirmation fight, is gearing up for another pressure campaign. JCN launched a $1.4 million ad campaign targeting Democratic swing votes in four red states: West Virginia, North Dakota, Indiana and Alabama. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heiktamp (N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (Ind.) are all up for reelection this year (and voted for Gorsuch), and Sen. Doug Jones (Ala.) is up in 2020.

 

The Supreme Court confirmation fight will have major implications in a few other Senate races and Missouri Republican Josh Hawley is taking note. He's out with new TV and digital ads this week that questions if Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill will vote with Trump or stick with Senate Democrats and her base.

 

Aside from the confirmation fight, outsourcing attacks are popping up in dueling ads in Indiana. Donnelly's team launched a TV ad attacking Republican Mike Braun's business for relying on importing foreign goods. Meanwhile, Braun's campaign hit back with its own TV ad that criticizes Donnelly for his brother's company running a factory in Mexico.

 

Wave watch

The RNC is using its massive war chest to help the party shore up its defenses. NBC News reports that the party has made reached 20 million voters with door knocks or phone calls, and 487 million voter contacts in total as it looks to model and persuade the midterm electorate.

 

It may not be on the front pages, but there's another House special election in Ohio next month. Democrat Danny O'Connor is making a direct play for "Kasich Republicans," hopeful that the GOP civil war in his state has put more moderate Republicans into play. O'Connor is running for the House seat left vacant by Rep. Pat TiberiPatrick (Pat) Joseph TiberiOhio New Members 2019 Many authors of GOP tax law will not be returning to Congress GOP Rep. Balderson holds onto seat in Ohio MORE's (R) retirement. Republicans are hopeful they'll be able to hold the seat thanks to the strength of their candidate, Troy Balderson. But they've all but given up in another GOP-held seat in New Jersey, where the NRCC has officially withdrawn support from its candidate, Seth Grossman, after a deluge of racist and anti-Muslim comments he made were uncovered over the past few months.

 

Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderMike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation Yoder, Messer land on K Street Bold, bipartisan action on child care will win plenty of friends MORE's (R-Kan.) race is starting to heat up--Pence campaigned with him on Wednesday, and The Washington Post did a deep dive into whether the progressive Democrat running in the primary can really turn the tide.

 

In unexpected headlines, Rep. John FasoJohn James FasoGOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads Tax law failed to save GOP majority New York New Members 2019 MORE (R-N.Y.) is taking aim at his Democratic opponent Anthony Delgado's rap career, criticizing him for using profane language.  

 

In case you missed it

Some high-profile Democratic House candidates have been raking in the cash thanks in part to viral videos that have turned their campaigns national. Politico Magazine caught up with the ad firm behind some of the most memorable ads of the cycle.

 

The Reno Gazette Journal is out with an investigation into Rep. Jacky Rosen's (D-Nev.) business career, something she touts regularly on the stump, raising questions about her work as a consultant. Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) immediately seized on the report with a new ad.

 

And Buzzfeed has a deep dive into what it calls a "crisis" over at Revolution Messaging, the Democratic digital firm that played a major role in Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration Poll: Sanders, Biden seen as most popular second choices in Dem primary MORE' fundraising machine in 2016.