Election Countdown: Dems raising millions in fight for House | Trump attacks potential challengers | GOP finalizes 2020 convention plans | Dems see Kavanaugh fight driving women voters to the polls | Bloomberg spending big for Senate Dems

Election Countdown: Dems raising millions in fight for House | Trump attacks potential challengers | GOP finalizes 2020 convention plans | Dems see Kavanaugh fight driving women voters to the polls | Bloomberg spending big for Senate Dems
© Greg Nash

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 34 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 762 days until the 2020 elections.


Democratic House candidates' staggering fundraising hauls are yet another sign of the widening enthusiasm gap between the two parties weeks out from the midterm elections.

We won't see all fundraising reports until the Oct. 15 deadline, but here's a glimpse into the massive hauls Democrats are raising in the third quarter, which runs from July to September:


So far, California Democrat Andrew Janz tops the list with a jaw-dropping $4.3 million raised in the third fundraising quarter of 2018. Janz, a former county prosecutor, is running against Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesCalifornia newspaper says it was excluded from event with Nunes, Bernhardt The Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine Trump to attend California fundraiser with Oracle chairman MORE (R-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman who's close allies with President TrumpDonald John TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants MORE and represents a GOP stronghold in California's San Joaquin Valley.

Janz's high-dollar fundraising helps him compete in a tough district for Democrats. But it's still an uphill battle in California's 22nd district where Trump won by nearly 10 points and Nunes won reelection by more than 30 points in 2016.


Two Democrats -- Amy McGrath in Kentucky and Josh Harder in California -- have raised more than $3 million each. McGrath has $1.7 million in the bank, while Harder hasn't said his cash on hand.

McGrath is running in a hotly contested race against Rep. Andy BarrAndy Hale BarrOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Democrats seek to preempt Trump message on health care | E-cigarette executives set for grilling | Dems urge emergency funding for coronavirus Democrats slam GOP on drug prices in bilingual digital ads On the Trail: Forget the pundits, more electoral votes could be in play in 2020 MORE (R-Ky.) in a district that Trump easily won by double-digits. And Harder is running against Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamLobbying world Bottom line Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR MORE (R-Calif.) in a seat that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton asked if she'd be Bloomberg's vice president: 'Oh no' Trump launches three-day campaign rally blitz Free Roger Stone MORE carried in 2016.


To put this in perspective, these are Senate-level numbers. In the second fundraising quarter of 2018, just seven of the 26 Senate candidates running in competitive races raised more than $3 million.


Here's a breakdown of other House fundraising numbers that have been trickling out. Democrat Sean Casten, who's running against Rep. Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamHouse votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Ill.), raised $2.6 million, while Democrat Sharice Davids, who's challenging 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 (R-Kan.) raised $2.7 million. Both are running in suburban districts that Clinton won.

According to McClatchy, Davids outraised Yoder by $1.6 million. The GOP congressman, who's running for a fifth term, raised $1.1 million in the third quarter, ending September with $1.3 million on hand.


Other Democrats who have surpassed the million-dollar mark: Dana Balter in New York, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan in Illinois and Aftab Pureval in Ohio.


Race for the White House

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll 2020 Democratic candidates support Las Vegas casino workers on debate day Sanders takes lead in new Hill/HarrisX poll MORE (D-Mass.) will give some thought to a 2020 White House run – just after the midterms are over. Her comments, made at a town hall event on Saturday, were among the firmest yet from a rumored Democratic presidential hopeful.


President Trump went after three potential Democratic challengers at a Monday rally. During a campaign event for Senate hopeful, Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTikTok introduces new parental controls Abortion wars flare up in Congress Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars MORE (R-Tenn.), the president launched attacks on Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe CNN signs Andrew Yang as contributor Bloomberg qualifies for South Carolina primary debate MORE (D-N.J.), Warren and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads Sanders by single digits in South Carolina: poll Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Biden will go after Bloomberg, Sanders at Las Vegas debate, aides say MORE – all of whom are seen as prospective presidential candidates in 2020.


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) isn't ruling out a 2020 bid, telling Politico that Democrats need a candidate who prioritizes climate change. He said: "I think our country needs a Democratic Party to produce a nominee who's going to really be committed to climate change and defeating climate change and creating a clean energy economic message and clean energy jobs."


Booker is slated to headline a fundraiser in Hollywood later this month. The event is expected to raise money for his 2020 reelection bid, but it's almost certain to fuel speculation that the first-term Democrat could be eyeing a possible White House run.


And as Democrats contemplate challenging Trump in 2020, Republicans have finalized plans for their national convention. The RNC announced Monday that the Republican National Convention (RNC) is set to take place in late August in Charlotte, N.C., from Aug. 24 to 27, 2020.


Senate showdown

Missouri GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley says he does not regret signing onto a lawsuit that would invalidate ObamaCare's pre-existing conditions protections as the state's attorney general. Majority Forward, a liberal super PAC, has released multiple ads attacking Hawley for his position on coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.


In that same conference call with reporters, Hawley called for a special counsel to investigate Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe House passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum Democrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year' MORE (D-Calif.) and her staff's handling of the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Hawley called on his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocrats criticize Medal of Freedom for Limbaugh as 'slap in the face' Kansas City, Kan., responds to Trump tweet: We root for the Chiefs, too Trump mocked for Super Bowl tweet confusing Missouri for Kansas MORE (D-Mo.), to back his call for a probe, but she decried it as a partisan tactic.


Democrats are betting that the confirmation fight over Kavanaugh will boost their support among women voters in November and through 2020, The Hill's Amie Parnes reports. "If there's anything to be gained... it will be massive turnout by women in the midterm election that could add seats to a Democratic House majority and even flip the Senate," said former Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelWhat to watch in the debate tonight The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders surge triggers Dem angst The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic primary fight shifts to South Carolina, Nevada MORE (D-N.Y.), who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lobbying world Bottom Line MORE (D-Fla.), facing one of the toughest re-election bids of his Senate career, is expected to get a boost from Andrew Gillum, his party's progressive, African-American nominee for Florida governor, The Hill's Max Greenwood reports. Gillum rode a wave of support from African-American voters and progressive whites in his August primary. That could help turn more voters out for Nelson in November.


Survey says…

Five weeks out, we're seeing a deluge of polls. Here's a roundup of Senate race polls:


--In North Dakota: Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerTrump Fed nominee stirs controversy ahead of hearing Senators, bruised by impeachment, hunt for deals Plan to probe Bidens sparks GOP divisions MORE (R-N.D.) leads Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSusan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (D-N.D.) by 10 points in a new Gray TV poll, 51 to 41 percent. Eight percent are undecided.

--In West Virginia: Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinLawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall Overnight Health Care: Appeals court strikes down Medicaid work requirements | Pelosi's staff huddles with aides on surprise billing | Senate Dems pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit Senate Democrats pressure Trump to drop ObamaCare lawsuit MORE (D-W.Va.) is polling ahead of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) in a Gray TV poll, leading him 46 to 38 percent.

--In Missouri: McCaskill has a small lead over Hawley, within the CNN poll's margin of error, 47 to 44 percent.


In Colorado's sixth congressional district, Democrats and Republicans are releasing internal polling that shows very different races. From Democratic group End Citizens United, Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (R-Colo.) is trailing Democratic opponent Jason Crow by 11 points in a recent poll. Meanwhile, a poll conducted for Coffman's campaign has the race in a dead heat, with Crow leading by 1 point.


Republican candidates still lead among voters in Southern states, according to an NBC News/SurveyMonkey online poll out this week. Overall, 48 percent of respondents in the South said they planned to back GOP candidates compared to 43 percent who said they would vote for Democrats. One exception, however, is Georgia, where 47 percent said they would choose Democratic candidates and 43 percent would vote for Republicans.


Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMenendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (D-N.J.) is leading his GOP opponent Bob Hugin by a narrow 2-point margin, according to a Stockton University poll released Monday. That's well within the survey's 4-point margin of error. The poll is the latest sign that the Senate race in New Jersey is tightening in a state that Trump lost handily in 2016. Still, most recent polls show the incumbent Democrat leading by wider margins. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday gives Menendez an 11-point lead over Hugin.


Paper chase

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to donate $20 million to Senate Majority PAC (SMP), the top super PAC supporting Democratic Senate candidates, The Washington Post reports. The contribution comes after Bloomberg already pledged to spend $80 million to boost Democratic candidates in the midterms. Most of that has gone to helping the party in its efforts to retake control of the House.


Bloomberg also announced this week that he would double his commitment to LCV Victory Fund, the League of Conservation Voters' PAC, to $5 million. He'll also give an additional $1 million to support a clean energy ballot measure in Washington state.


The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), the Republican super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Paul Ryan says Biden likely won't get Democratic nomination Judd Gregg: Honey, I Shrunk The Party MORE (R-Wis.), has raked in $132 million in fundraising so far this cycle, including $40 million since the beginning of July. That's the largest haul ever for the super PAC. By comparison, CLF raised $51 million in the entire 2016 election cycle.


What we're watching for

Debate schedule:

--Oct. 5: North Dakota Senate debate in Fargo

--Oct. 8: Indiana Senate debate at Purdue University in Westville; Wisconsin Senate debate

--Oct. 12: Wisconsin Senate debate


Trump rally schedule:

--Oct. 4: Rochester, Minn. at 7:30 p.m. ET

--Oct. 6: Topeka, Kan. at 7:30 p.m. ET

--Oct. 9: Council Bluffs, Iowa at 7:30 p.m.


Coming to a TV near you

But first, a few things that won't be coming to a TV near you. Republicans have begun pulling ad reservations from a handful of GOP-held districts, a sign that the party is doubting its chances of holding onto some seats in a year in which Democrats are widely thought to have an edge.

The Hill's Reid Wilson reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee has cancelled more than $1 million in planned advertising boosting Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) in Kansas's 3rd District. He's facing a tough challenge from Democrat Sharice Davids, a first-time candidate who stands to become the first Native American woman in Congress if she wins.

Yoder isn't the only one to see outside ad spending cut. Either the NRCC or the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) have pulled the plug on planned advertising in the districts of Reps. Keith RothfusKeith James RothfusConor Lamb gets 2020 challenger touted by Trump The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Trump's most memorable insults and nicknames of 2018 MORE (R-Pa.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) and several others.


Michigan Senate candidate and veteran John James (R) launched his first TV ad of the general election that blames both parties for problems surrounding education, veterans issues and health care. He ends the ad, which doesn't mention his opponent Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowOn The Money: GAO to investigate Trump aid for farmers | Bloomberg calls for bolstering Dodd-Frank | Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes GAO launches investigation into Trump aid for farmers Democrats worried about Trump's growing strength MORE (D-Mich.), saying: "I'm John James and I hate politics, but I approve this message because I love this country and I'm ready to serve."


Majority Forward, the 501(c)(4) affiliated with SMP, is rolling out a new ad in North Dakota's Senate race hitting Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) over Trump's ongoing trade war with China. Democrats in the state have seized on the trade war as they seek to hold onto Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).


Wave watch

Rep. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsThe Hill's review of John Solomon's columns on Ukraine Tenth Congressional Black Caucus member backs Biden Giuliani held phone call with Maduro amid Venezuela crisis MORE (R-Texas), who's considered among the most vulnerable House Republicans this cycle, introduced a resolution this week calling to protect people with pre-existing medical conditions. While the resolution is nonbinding, it's a sign of the lengths some Republicans are going to fend off attacks from Democrats, who have seized on failed GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Democrats are surging in races across the Midwest as they seek to rebuild the so-called "blue wall" that came crashing down in 2016 when Trump stunned Democrats with wins in states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, The Hill's Reid Wilson reports. Now, voters in those states largely appear poised to hand a series of victories to Democrats, driven largely by dissatisfaction with the way Trump has handled in his job.


Roughly two months after he jumped into the midterms by backing 81 Democrats in races across the country, former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Meghan McCain rips Blagojevich pardon: He is 'like the swampiest swamp creature in the world' Ex-Obama aides say Bloomberg-Obama relationship more 'complicated' than his ads portray MORE handed endorsements to 260 more hopefuls nationwide. Among them: Florida gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum, Nelson, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who's running to succeed Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally ties Democratic rival Kelly to Sanders in new ad McSally launches 2020 campaign Sinema will vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Ariz.).


Some prominent Democrats did not make the list, like Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeCNN signs Andrew Yang as contributor Krystal Ball: Voters are coming to their own judgements about who is electable Warren campaign to host series of events in Texas MORE (D-Texas), who's challenging Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTed Cruz takes aim at Alabama vasectomy bill: 'Yikes' 'Medicare for All' will turn into health care for none Cruz 'impresses' his daughter with Chris Evans meeting MORE (R-Texas) for his Texas Senate seat. A spokesperson for Obama hinted, however, that it was a strategic decision. "President Obama is keenly aware that Republicans want nothing more than to invent a foil," the spokesperson told The Hill Monday.


Election Countdown was written by Lisa Hagen, Max Greenwood, James Wellemeyer and Kenna Sturgeon.

This story was updated at 10:09 a.m. on Oct. 4.