Election Countdown: Fallout from Massachusetts stunner | In Delaware, Carper looks to avoid next progressive upset | Dem 2020 primary already in full swing | How a Dem ex-governor hopes to take red-state Tennessee | GOP challengers hit Dems over tax votes

This is Election Countdown, The Hill's weekly newsletter from Lisa Hagen (@LA_Hagen) and Max Greenwood (@KMaxGreenwood) 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 Max at MGreenwood@thehill.com with any questions, comments, criticisms or food recommendations (mostly the latter, please). Click here to sign up.

 

We're 62 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 790 days until the 2020 elections.

 

Voters are hungry for change--and they made that clear in the latest Tuesday Democratic primary that saw a longtime incumbent knocked off.

Democrat Ayanna Pressley unseated longtime Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) in his diverse Boston-area district. Capuano conceded the primary long before the AP called it, saying that "clearly the district wanted a lot of change."

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Pressley's victory is the latest in a series of wins by female and minority candidates looking to change the makeup of the Democratic caucus in Congress.

Pressley, who was the first woman of color elected to Boston City Council, is poised to make history again in November as the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts.

During her victory speech Tuesday night, Pressley declared that "change can't wait."

There's an anti-establishment fervor sweeping the political world this cycle. Incumbents are rarely unseated in Massachusetts and Boston politics because of an unspoken wait-your-turn mentality.

Capuano, who's served in Congress for nearly two decades, is the fourth House incumbent to lose in a primary this year.

 

Looking ahead to a primary on Thursday night, progressives are hoping that same energy hits Delaware, where they are hoping to take out the first Senate incumbent of the cycle.

Kerri Evelyn Harris, an openly gay and black Air Force veteran and community activist, is angling to unseat Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDems slam EPA plan for fighting drinking water contaminants EPA to announce PFAS chemical regulation plans by end of year Overnight Energy: Zinke joins Trump-tied lobbying firm | Senators highlight threat from invasive species | Top Republican calls for Green New Deal vote in House MORE (D-Del.) in the Democratic primary.

Carper is a moderate lawmaker, who's an entrenched incumbent and longtime politician. He's been in the Senate since 2001 and is a former governor and House member.

Harris and progressives are pushing him on what they say is a too friendly embrace of corportions, including pharmaceutical companies.

But Carper's campaign has sought to show his support for more progressive ideals including by backing a $15 minimum wage.

There's been no public polling and Carper has a significant fundraising advantage, but progressives are hoping to yet again overcome the odds like they did in Boston and in New York City with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's primary victory over longtime Democratic Rep. Joe CrowleyJoseph (Joe) CrowleyGOP lawmaker: Amazon would be moving into NY if Ocasio-Cortez wasn't elected Crowley says he 'didn’t underestimate' Ocasio-Cortez in primary challenge Ocasio-Cortez on 2020: ‘I don’t want to be placated as a progressive’ MORE (D).

 

Race for the White House

Democrats eyeing a 2020 White House bid against President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE are wading into the primaries early, The Hill's Amie Parnes reports. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBarack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Biden: 'The America I see does not wish to turn our back on the world' MORE marched in a Labor Day Parade in Pittsburgh; Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCongress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Booker seeks dialogue about race as he kicks off 2020 campaign Capitalism: The known ideal MORE (I-Vt.) headlined an AFL-CIO breakfast in New Hampshire; and Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris, Booker call for judgement on Jussie Smollett case to be withheld until investigation is completed Harris calls idea of Trump trusting Putin over US intel ‘height of irresponsibility and shameful’ Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerHarris, Booker call for judgement on Jussie Smollett case to be withheld until investigation is completed Barack, Michelle Obama expected to refrain from endorsing in 2020 Dem primary: report Jussie Smollett case shows media villainizing Trump and his supporters, without proof — again MORE (D-N.J.) jockeyed for air time during a turbulent confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

It's unusual for potential candidates to so aggressively position themselves for a presidential run ahead of the midterm elections. But it's a strategy that some consultants say could pay off.

 

Don't expect former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryWarren taps longtime aide as 2020 campaign manager In Virginia, due process should count more than blind team support Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents MORE to mount a challenge to Trump in 2020. "I doubt very much I'll be running for office again," the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee told "CBS This Morning" in an interview, which came after he previously declined to rule out a potential White House run.

 

Senate showdown

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) was sworn into the Senate on Wednesday to succeed the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid MORE (R-Ariz.). Kyl, a former senator, was appointed by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Tuesday. Kyl said he'll serve at least through January, but hasn't committed to serving in 2019 or 2020--when McCain's seat will be up. Kyl said he isn't interested in running in 2020.

 

The Hill's Lisa Hagen traveled to Tennessee last week to cover the state's high-profile Senate race between 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.) and former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D). Republicans have an edge in a state that Trump won by 26 points, but Tennessee Republicans told The Hill that they've seen internal numbers with both candidates ahead.

Blackburn is casting herself as a close ally of the president and also leaning heavily on her fight in the state legislature to prevent a state income tax. The conservative congresswoman would be the first woman elected to the Senate--or any statewide office--in Tennessee.

Meanwhile, Bredesen is running to the center on a bipartisan message--a move to assure Republicans they can vote for a Democrat. While he wouldn't say if he'd support Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration MORE (D-N.Y.) for leader, Bredesen called the national Democratic Party brand "terrible" as it moves more to the left. Read more here about where Bredesen needs to win to pull off an upset in Tennessee.

 

Meanwhile, Republican Senate candidates are using the 2017 tax law as a cudgel against vulnerable Senate Democrats who didn't support the GOP plan. That includes GOP candidates hitting Democratic incumbents in states like North Dakota, West Virginia and Indiana--all Senate races where Trump overwhelmingly won in 2016.

 

Survey says…

The latest generic ballot polls paint a promising picture for Democrats in the battle for the House. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Tuesday finds Democrats retaking a wide, 14-point lead over Republicans, 52 to 38 percent. Another Tuesday poll from USA Today/Suffolk University poll also finds Democrats holding a double-digit lead, 50 to 39 percent.

 

Meanwhile, in one of the hottest Senate races this year, 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.) and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) are tied in the battle for the Missouri Senate seat. McCaskill is one of five Senate Democrats defending a seat in a state that Trump won by double-digits in 2016.

 

And in Florida's high-profile governor's race, a new Quinnipiac University poll finds Democrat Andrew Gillum leading Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisFlorida secretary of state who resigned apologizes for blackface photos The Hill's Morning Report — Trump complicates border wall negotiations Parkland parents ask Pulitzer panel to honor local paper for school shooting coverage MORE (R-Fla.) by 3 points.

 

What we're watching for

Thursday is Delaware's primary where Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is looking to fend off his first serious primary challenge since he took office in 2001.

 

Here's the primary calendar for the rest of September: New Hampshire on Sept. 11, Rhode Island on Sept. 12 and New York's local and statewide elections on Sept. 13.

 

Coming to a TV near you

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.), widely considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans up for reelection, is striking back after his Democratic challenger, Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump administration secretly shipped plutonium to Nevada MORE (D-Nev.), launched an ad last month hitting him on his health-care record. "Jacky Rosen's idea of fixing health care? A campaign commercial," Heller says in an ad spot out Tuesday. "The truth is, in her two years in Congress, Jacky Rosen has done nothing to fix health care. Nothing. Zero."

 

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is out with a new ad attacking Democratic Senate hopeful Kyrsten Sinema as "too extreme" for Arizona. The spot goes after Sinema for "defending murderers" as a lawyer, as well as for being a "left-wing fringe protester."

 

West Virginia Attorney General and Senate hopeful Patrick Morrissey is launching the first ad of his general election campaign. The 30-second spot touts the GOP contender as a fighter, who "beat Obama at the Supreme Court" in a case that sought to block new rules on carbon emissions. The ad also channels Trump--a heavyweight move in the deep-red state. "He's going to fight for you like nobody's ever fought for the people of West Virginia," Trumps says in the clip.

 

In Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum is out with his first TV ad since his remarkable upset win in the Democratic gubernatorial primary last month. The spot highlights the longshot nature of Gillum's campaign against a field of wealthy opponents. "The American way still lives and if the state of Florida has to show the rest of the world, then let it begin right here," Gillum says in the ad.

 

Wave watch

Democrats appear increasingly poised for a wave election in November. The Hill's Reid Wilson reports that Democrats have led Republicans by at least 11 points on five of the six most recent generic ballot polls, and many of the party's candidates have a fundraising advantage over their GOP opponents. But Republicans aren't giving up hope yet. Matt Gorman, a National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman, said that the committee was ready to "run every day as if we're down 10 points."

 

While the Democrats appear poised for a so-called "blue wave" in the House, control of the Senate remains a more elusive target for the party. Democrats are defending more than two-dozen seats this year, and Republicans are bullish about their chances of increasing their majority in the chamber.

 

Meanwhile, the NRCC says Republicans are "well-positioned" to keep control of the House in November. "In spite of history and conventional wisdom inside the Beltway, as it stands today, Republicans are well-positioned to maintain control of the House," the memo reads. The committee cites fundraising and advertising as reasons why the NRCC will defy history. The party in the White House typically loses seat in the president's first midterm election.

 

NRCC Chairman Steve StiversSteven (Steve) Ernst StiversRep. Steve King pushes GOP to reinstate his committee assignments GOP lawmakers offer several locations for Trump address House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King MORE (R-Ohio) said the committee will continue to support embattled Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterHouse Dems release 2020 GOP 'retirements to watch' for House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 What a year it’s been: A month-by-month look back at 2018's biggest stories MORE (R-Calif.), despite his recent indictment that he allegedly misused campaign funds. Hunter, who has pleaded not guilty, faces a tough reelection race against Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar even though his San Diego-area district is deep red.

 

In Democratic efforts to take back the House, former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaGovernment's misguided holiday to celebrate itself Virginia can be better than this Democrats have a chance of beating Trump with Julian Castro on the 2020 ticket MORE will make his first foray on the campaign trail this year to stump for Democratic candidates in Ohio and California. Obama will campaign alongside Richard CordrayRichard Adams CordrayOn The Money: Consumer bureau proposes scrapping borrower safeguards from payday loan rule | Negotiators running out of time to avert shutdown | Trump nominates World Bank critic as its next chief Consumer bureau proposes scrapping borrower safeguards from payday loan rule Supreme Court should do what Congress won’t: Rein in the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection MORE in Ohio's governor's race in addition to the Democrats running in the seven GOP-held California seats where Trump lost.