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 NelsonRepublicans amp up attacks on Tlaib's Holocaust comments The muscle for digital payment Rubio says hackers penetrated Florida elections systems 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 McCaskillCongress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Lobbying world Big Dem names show little interest in Senate 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 BrownOn The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by 'Obama-appointed judge' | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls Lawmakers grapple with the future of America's workforce The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate MORE (D-Ohio) raised $3.7 million; Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOn The Money: Stocks sink on Trump tariff threat | GOP caught off guard by new trade turmoil | Federal deficit grew 38 percent this fiscal year | Banks avoid taking position in Trump, Dem subpoena fight Fight over Trump's new NAFTA hits key stretch Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes MORE (D-N.D.) raised nearly $2 million; Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyBiden under pressure from environmentalists on climate plan 2020 Democrats put spotlight on disabilities issues Why Congress needs to bring back tax deduction for worker expenses MORE (D-Pa.) raised $2.2 million; Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Dem senator plans amendment to restrict military action against Iran Overnight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info MORE (D-Va.) raised more than $2.2 million.

Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R-Nev.), the most vulnerable GOP senator, continues to be outpaced by his Democratic rival, Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenLawmakers introduce legislation to improve cyber workforce funding Dem lawmakers accuse DHS, HHS of giving them misleading information on family separations This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report 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 Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats MORE (D-W.Va.) and Montana auditor Matt Rosendale raised over $1 million to challenge Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterSenate Democrats to House: Tamp down the impeachment talk Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Overnight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds 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 TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address 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 WarrenTrump defense pick expected to face tense confirmation 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign 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 PittengerNorth 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 Obama political arm to merge with Holder-run group MORE (R) in the primary.

 

And while Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke: Trump 'provoking' war with Iran by sending troops to Middle East Buttiegieg backs NFL players' right to protest during anthem: I 'put my life on the line to defend' that Overnight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan MORE is running a historically strong challenge to Republican Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Conservative blocks House passage of disaster relief bill The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan 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 RobyThe Go-Go's rock the stage at annual 'We Write the Songs' DC concert The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill 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) CrowleyK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Pelosi, Clinton among attendees at memorial reception for Ellen Tauscher Dems walk Trump trade tightrope 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 DonnellyK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Obama honors 'American statesman' Richard Lugar Former GOP senator Richard Lugar dies at 87 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 YoderK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Kansas Senate race splits wide open without Pompeo Mike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation 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 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads Tax law failed to save GOP majority 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 SandersJames Carville: Biden represents 'stability' not 'generational change' Ocasio-Cortez, progressives trash 'antisemitic' Politico illustration of Bernie Sanders 2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding MORE' fundraising machine in 2016.