Election Countdown: Big fundraising numbers in fight for Senate | Haley resigns in surprise move | Says she will back Trump in 2020 | Sanders hitting midterm trail | Collins becomes top Dem target | Takeaways from Indiana Senate debate

Election Countdown: Big fundraising numbers in fight for Senate | Haley resigns in surprise move | Says she will back Trump in 2020 | Sanders hitting midterm trail | Collins becomes top Dem target | Takeaways from Indiana Senate debate
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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 28 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 756 days until the 2020 elections.


House candidates have been announcing jaw-dropping fundraising hauls in the third quarter of the year. And it's a trend that we're now seeing in the battle for the Senate.

While most Republicans haven't released their numbers, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Biden team discussed 2020 run with O'Rourke as VP: report MORE (R-Texas) is leading the fundraising pack among Senate candidates and incumbents, with a staggering $12 million raised in the third quarter, which covers fundraising between July and September.

Cruz's tally is a huge spike from his past numbers and will help him keep pace with his well-funded Democratic opponent, Rep. Beto O'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll Pollster says likely Dem 2020 nominee has not emerged in national conversation yet O'Rourke doubles support in CNN poll of Dem presidential race MORE (D-Texas). While we don't yet know O'Rourke's third quarter numbers, expect another monster haul. According to a new federal filing from ActBlue, O'Rourke brought in $9.1 million in August alone.

On the Democratic side, Democrats continue to post strong fundraising hauls that have eclipsed past numbers.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) raked in nearly $7 million in the third quarter, more than doubling what she raised in the last fundraising quarter. Her Republican challenger, Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyArizona governor eyes several possible Kyl replacements The Hill's 12:30 Report – Cohen says Trump knew payments were wrong | GOP in turmoil over Trump shutdown threat | Kyl to resign from Senate at year's end Jon Kyl to resign from Senate on Dec. 31 MORE (Ariz.), has yet to announce her third-quarter fundraising numbers.

Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenSchumer walking tightrope with committee assignments 10 things we learned from the midterms Election Countdown: Florida fight ends with Scott, DeSantis wins | Dems see Sunbelt in play for 2020 | Trump to campaign in Mississippi ahead of runoff | GOP wipeout in Orange County | Ortiz Jones concedes in Texas House race MORE (D-Nev.), who's running to unseat Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur Heller How to reform the federal electric vehicle tax credit White House jumps into fight over energy subsidies One last fight for Sen. Orrin Hatch MORE (R-Nev.), similarly raised about $7.1 million and ended September with $2.6 million on hand.

In other Q3 numbers: Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDem senator accuses Wisconsin Republicans of 'power grab' Schumer reelected as Senate Democratic Leader Number of LGBT lawmakers in Congress hits double digits MORE (D-Wis.) raised $6 million; Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches House passes bipartisan bill aimed at reversing rising maternal mortality rates MORE (D-N.D.) brought in more than $3.8 million, ending last month with about $3.2 million in the bank. Baldwin faces Republican Leah Vukmir in Wisconsin, while Heitkamp faces GOP Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerDem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches North Dakota New Members 2019 Rick Scott appears with GOP senators, ignores voter fraud question as recount continues MORE in North Dakota.


Race for the White House

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll Gillibrand says she's worried about top options in Dem 2020 poll being white men Trump will likely win reelection in 2020 MORE (I-Vt.) is set to begin a nine-day campaign swing next week to boost Democrats ahead of Election Day. Among the states that Sanders is set to hit are Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada – states that are crucial in the presidential nominating process. The trip is likely to fuel speculation that the progressive firebrand is weighing another run for the White House after his unsuccessful primary fight against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMemo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report Trump will likely win reelection in 2020 Lanny Davis says Nixon had more respect for the Constitution than Trump MORE in 2016.


United Nations Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyShowdown at the Security Council? North Korea evading US sanctions: report Haley: I used Trump’s ‘unpredictable’ behavior to my advantage at UN MORE may be stepping down from her post early next year, but she made it clear Tuesday that she has no plans to challenge Trump in 2020. "No, I am not running in 2020," she told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with Trump. "I look forward to supporting the president in the next election."


A new political action committee is looking to boost former Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe's profile ahead of 2020 in an effort to encourage him to mount a White House bid, the Associated Press reports. The group, Tenaciously Moving for American Change in 2020, will focus its efforts in states with early primaries and caucuses, like Iowa and New Hampshire.


Senate showdown

After casting the deciding vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughChief justice of California Supreme Court leaves GOP over Kavanaugh confirmation Doug Jones: Carmakers 'scared to death' over Trump tariffs McCaskill: 'Kavanaugh spectacle' made the difference in midterm loss MORE's confirmation, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force House Dems follow Senate action with resolution to overturn IRS donor disclosure guidance Senate votes to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure MORE (R-Maine) has become a top target for Democrats. Already, a Maine Democratic fundraising effort has collected $3.6 million dollars to support Collins's eventual challenger in 2020. Susan Rice, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama urges people to sign up for health insurance after ruling striking down law The 2020 Democratic nomination will run through the heart of black America Gillibrand says she's worried about top options in Dem 2020 poll being white men MORE's former national security advisor, has hinted she may be interested in seeking Collins' seat.


On the other hand, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force Hillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber Manchin puts hold on FCC nomination over wireless internet fund delay MORE's (D-W.Va.) vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court may have helped him stave off an electoral defeat in November, The New York Times reports. Manchin was the lone Democrat to buck party lines on the Saturday Senate vote. He's among the Democrats seeking re-election this year in a state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll The Memo: Cohen fans flames around Trump Memo Comey used to brief Trump on dossier released: report MORE won handily in 2016.


Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyHatch warns Senate 'in crisis' in farewell speech Dem senators Heitkamp, Donnelly urge bipartisanship in farewell speeches Schumer gets ready to go on the offensive MORE (D-Ind.) and Republican businessman Mike Braun squared off in Indiana's first Senate debate on Monday night. The debate ignited some heated exchanges on health care--particularly on pre-existing conditions--and the Supreme Court confirmation fight. Donnelly highlighted where he's willing to align with Trump, while keeping distance from the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Braun continued to cast himself as a political "outsider." Here are five takeaways from the debatefrom The Hill's Lisa Hagen and Jessie Hellmann.


Survey says…

Democrat Andrew Gillum is leading former Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGillum to speak at gathering of top Dem donors: report GOP opens door to new NC election amid fraud claims Gillum reached out to O’Rourke amid 2020 speculation: report MORE (R-Fla.) by a 3-point margin in the latest Florida gubernatorial poll. The survey, by Florida Southern College's Center for Polling and Policy Research, shows Gillum ahead of DeSantis 47 percent to 44 percent. It's only the latest poll to give the progressive Tallahassee mayor a lead over his Trump-allied opponent.


In Florida's Senate race, the poll shows Gov. Rick Scott (R) edging out Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonMcCaskill: 'Too many embarrassing uncles' in the Senate Bill Nelson uses farewell address to remind colleagues ‘no one person is above the law’ Coal supporter Manchin named top Dem on Senate Energy Committee MORE (D-Fla.) 46 percent to 44.5 percent, signaling that the contest remains closer than ever.


A CNN poll out Tuesday shows Democrats with a 13-point lead over GOP candidates on the generic ballot just four weeks out from Election Day. The poll also shows female voters favoring Democrats at 63 percent, while only about 45 percent of male respondents said the same. It's the latest sign of a widening gender gap.


Paper chase

House Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump celebrates judge's decision tossing core tenets of ObamaCare Pelosi gets her swagger on Young girl's death draws new scrutiny over US treatment of migrants MORE (D-Calif.), is rolling out a roughly $20-million media blitz targeting vulnerable Republicans in races spanning California, Florida, Texas, Nevada, New York, New Jersey and Michigan. Here are the districts on the list: California's 10th, 25th, 39th, 45th, 48th, and 49th congressional districts; Florida's 26th district; Michigan's 8th and 11th districts; New Jersey's seventh district; the fourth district in Nevada; and New York-19, as well as Texas's 32nd district.


With Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court, NARAL Pro-Choice America, a pro-abortion rights group, has launched a $1 million campaign against House Republicans in toss-up races. The campaign will release ads targeting Reps. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungIowa New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote Dem Axne beats GOP Rep. Young in Iowa MORE (R-Iowa), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamIllinois New Members 2019 Defeated Republicans mocked by Trump fire back at president House GOP returns to Washington after sobering midterm losses MORE (R-Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderGOP lawmakers call for autopsy on 'historic losses' New House GOP campaign chairman lays out challenges for 2020 Dems play ‘Let’s make a deal’ with Nancy Pelosi MORE (R-Kan.), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonNASA lost key support to explore Jupiter's moon Texas New Members 2019 Republicans must learn from the election mistake on immigration MORE (R-Texas), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisMLB donated to GOP lawmaker who made controversial comments about women, minorities Minnesota New Members 2019 Overnight Health Care — Presented by The Partnership for Safe Medicines — Medicaid expansion gets extra boost from governors' races | Utah's expansion to begin April 1 | GOP lawmaker blames McCain for Dems winning House MORE (R-Minn.), and Dave Brat (R-Va.)


What we're watching for

Senate Debate schedule:

--Friday night debate in Wisconsin

--Sunday night debates in West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan


Trump rally schedule:

--Tuesday rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa at 7:30 p.m. ET

--Wednesday rally in Erie, Pa. at 7 p.m. ET

--Friday rally in Lebanon, Ohio at 7 p.m. ET

--Saturday rally in Richmond, Ky. at 7 p.m. ET


Coming to a TV near you

Emily's List, a pro-abortion rights group that supports female candidates, is launching a Spanish-language ad campaign going after Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.). The seven-figure ad buy by the group's independent expenditure arm, Women Vote!, hits the Senate hopeful over her record on health care, accusing her of voting "to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions."


The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is also on the attack against McSally, launching an ad Tuesday hitting the GOP Senate hopeful on her health care record. The spot accuses her of voting to "essentially end Medicare" and gut protections for pre-existing conditions.


Wave watch

Republicans are seizing on the fight over Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court to cast the Democratic protests as "an angry mob" bent on upending Trump's agenda, The Washington Post reports. "Chasing senators down the hall, running up the stairs at the Capitol – we've been taken aback by how people have reacted to it. And we're responding," Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told the newspaper.


Democrat Donna Shalala may be well known in Miami. But she's found herself in an increasingly difficult bid against Republican Maria Elvira Salazar to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenGOP lawmaker tells party to stop focusing on 'white, male conservative' voters ‘Wake up, dudes’ — gender gap confounds GOP women Florida New Members 2019 MORE (R-Fla.) in Florida's 27th District, McClatchy DC reports. Two recent internal polls showed her either trailing or tied with Salazar, a Cuban-American former broadcast journalist, and there are worries she's not connecting with voters in the Hispanic-majority district.


Also in the Sunshine State, the state Democratic Party is suing to extend the state's Oct. 9 voter registration deadline as Hurricane Michael bears down on the Florida Panhandle. The lawsuit, which names Secretary of State Ken Detzner as the defendant, argues that "voters will face significant hurdles to registration because of" the storm. Detzner previously said that local election offices closed on Tuesday could accept applications the day they reopened.


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