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 NelsonNASA names DC headquarters after agency's first Black female engineer Mary W. Jackson NASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon Lobbying world 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 McCaskillTrump mocked for low attendance at rally Missouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties Senate faces protracted floor fight over judges amid pandemic safety concerns 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 BrownSenate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers On The Money: Mnuchin, Powell differ over how soon economy will recover | Millions fear eviction without more aid from Congress | IRS chief pledges to work on tax code's role in racial wealth disparities IRS chief pledges to work with Congress on examining tax code's role in racial wealth disparities MORE (D-Ohio) raised $3.7 million; Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (D-N.D.) raised nearly $2 million; Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: DC's Bowser says protesters and nation were 'assaulted' in front of Lafayette Square last month; Brazil's Bolsonaro, noted virus skeptic, tests positive for COVID-19 Biden hires top aides for Pennsylvania The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Cure Violence Global founder Gary Slutkin says violence and epidemics follow same patterns; Global death toll surpasses half a million MORE (D-Pa.) raised $2.2 million; Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineFinger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Russian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (D-Va.) raised more than $2.2 million.

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Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.), the most vulnerable GOP senator, continues to be outpaced by his Democratic rival, Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenUS lawmakers call on EU to label entire Hezbollah a terrorist organization The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees 'strong likelihood' of another relief package; Warner says some businesses 'may not come back' at The Hill's Advancing America's Economy summit The Hill's Coronavirus Report: CDC Director Redfield responds to Navarro criticism; Mnuchin and Powell brief Senate panel 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) ManchinKoch-backed group urges Senate to oppose 'bailouts' of states in new ads George Floyd and the upcoming Texas Democratic Senate runoff Energy companies cancel Atlantic Coast Pipeline MORE (D-W.Va.) and Montana auditor Matt Rosendale raised over $1 million to challenge Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterInternal poll shows tight battle in Montana House race Bipartisan Senate group offers bill to strengthen watchdog law after Trump firings Senate confirms Trump's watchdog for coronavirus funds MORE (D-Mont.). And after self-funding the majority of his last fundraising haul, Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciOhio is suddenly a 2020 battleground Democrats fear Ohio slipping further away in 2020 Medicare for All won't deliver what Democrats promise 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 TrumpWayfair refutes QAnon-like conspiracy theory that it's trafficking children Stone rails against US justice system in first TV interview since Trump commuted his sentence Federal appeals court rules Trump admin can't withhold federal grants from California sanctuary cities 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 WarrenIn politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Trump defends Roger Stone move: He was target of 'Witch Hunt' Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' 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 PittengerBottom Line North Carolina reporter says there could be 'new crop' of GOP candidates in 9th Congressional District race North Carolina board calls for new election in contested House race MORE (R) in the primary.

 

And while Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBellwether counties show trouble for Trump Colorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset Clinton, Buttigieg among Democrats set to hold virtual events for Biden MORE is running a historically strong challenge to Republican Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Campaign Report: Runoff elections in Texas, Alabama set for Tuesday American Airlines reviewing photographs of Sen. Cruz on flight without a mask 4 Texas GOP congressional primary runoffs to watch 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

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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 RobyThe 14 other key races to watch on Super Tuesday Collins Senate bid sets off game of musical chairs for GOP Global health is the last bastion of bipartisan foreign policy 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) CrowleyBowman declares victory over Engel in New York primary as votes still counted Progressives riding high as votes tabulated in NY, Kentucky The Hill's Campaign Report: Primary night in Kentucky and New York 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.

 

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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 BarlettaBottom Line Ex-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs Head of Pennsylvania GOP resigns over alleged explicit texts 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 DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents 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 YoderSharice Davids to vote for Trump impeachment articles: 'The facts are uncontested' Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers 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 FasoThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads 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 SandersBernie SandersOVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA declines to tighten smog standards amid pressure from green groups | Democrats split on Trump plan to use development funds for nuclear projects| Russian mining giant reports another fuel spill in Arctic Biden lets Trump be Trump Democrats split on Trump plan to use development funds for nuclear projects MORE' fundraising machine in 2016.