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 CarperTrump Jr. to Dem Senator: 'You admitted to hitting your wife so hard it gave her a black eye!' Melania Trump's spokeswoman gets Hatch Act warning for #MAGA tweet EPA to abandon restrictions against chemical linked to climate change 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) CrowleyFor Capuano in Massachusetts, demography was destiny Carper fends off progressive challenger in Delaware primary 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 MORE (D).

 

Race for the White House

Democrats eyeing a 2020 White House bid against President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE are wading into the primaries early, The Hill's Amie Parnes reports. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenSaving the transatlantic partnership Biden to campaign for Stacey Abrams next week Dems with political experience could have edge in 2020 primary, says pollster MORE marched in a Labor Day Parade in Pittsburgh; Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCarbon tax could give liberals vast power to grow federal government Poll: Gillum leads DeSantis by 4 points in Florida Judd Gregg: Two ideas whose time has not come MORE (I-Vt.) headlined an AFL-CIO breakfast in New Hampshire; and Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisCelebrities, lawmakers wear black to support Kavanaugh’s accuser Dems fight to protect Mueller amid Rosenstein rumors Kamala Harris calls for Senate to protect Mueller probe as Rosenstein faces potential dismissal MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerEx-White House official revises statement to Mueller after Flynn guilty plea: report CNN editor: Booker's 'groping incident' 'different' from Kavanaugh allegation Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 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 KerryRubio wants DOJ to find out if Kerry broke law by meeting with Iranians Time for sunshine on Trump-Russia investigation Pompeo doubles down on criticism of Kerry: The Iran deal failed, 'let it go' 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 McCainCongress must use bipartisan oversight as the gold standard The Hill's Morning Report — Ford, Kavanaugh to testify Thursday as another accuser comes forward Trump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote 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 BlackburnThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh, accuser say they’re prepared to testify The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh and his accuser will testify publicly 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 SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation 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 McCaskillDisclosures suggest rebates and insurers responsible for rising out-of-pocket drug costs Midterm polling data favors Democrats — in moderation Nelson campaign to donate K from Al Franken group to charity 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 DeSantisPoll: Gillum leads DeSantis by 4 points in Florida Trump's baby blimp arrives in Florida for Mar-a-Lago protest Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states 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 HellerOvernight Health Care: GOP plays defense over pre-existing conditions | Groups furious over new Trump immigration proposal | Public health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children GOP plays defense on ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions Heller embraces Trump in risky attempt to survive in November 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 RosenGOP plays defense on ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions Heller embraces Trump in risky attempt to survive in November Trump boosts Heller, hammers 'Wacky Jacky' opponent in 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 StiversHouse Dem campaign chief presses GOP on banning use of hacked materials Trump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security Hillicon Valley: Ex-Trump campaign adviser gets 14 days in jail | Tesla stocks fall after Elon Musk smokes weed on video | Dem, GOP talks over hacked info break down | Russian extradited over massive financial hack | Whole Foods workers trying to unionize MORE (R-Ohio) said the committee will continue to support embattled Rep. Duncan HunterDuncan Duane HunterIndicted lawmaker angers GOP with decision to run for reelection Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency Indicted GOP lawmaker to stay on ballot in New York this fall: report 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 ObamaJudge denies bid to move lawsuit over Trump national monument rollbacks to Utah Tomi Lahren to former first lady: 'Sit down, Michelle' The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's account | Accuser may testify Thursday | Midterm blame game begins 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 CordraySherrod Brown says he's 'not actively considering' running for president Trump: 'Good news' that Obama is campaigning again Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls MORE in Ohio's governor's race in addition to the Democrats running in the seven GOP-held California seats where Trump lost.