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 CruzCruz slams Jim Carrey's 'vicious, angry' painting of Alabama governor after abortion ban Eye-popping number of Dems: I can beat Trump 'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults 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'RourkeBeto O'RourkeOvernight Energy: Warren wants Dems to hold climate-focused debate | Klobuchar joins candidates rejecting fossil fuel money | 2020 contender Bennet offers climate plan O'Rourke says he would 'absolutely' do Fox News town hall CNN announces four more town halls featuring 2020 Dems 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 McSallyBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law McSally to introduce military sexual assault reform bill MORE (Ariz.), has yet to announce her third-quarter fundraising numbers.

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 (D-Nev.), who's running to unseat 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.), similarly raised about $7.1 million and ended September with $2.6 million on hand.

In other Q3 numbers: Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinThis week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to Trump border wall from Afghan forces, other accounts MORE (D-Wis.) raised $6 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.) 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 CramerBolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran Trump's immigration push faces Capitol Hill buzzsaw Lawmakers introduce legislation to improve cyber workforce funding MORE in North Dakota.


Race for the White House

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Trump faces steep climb to reelection California Democrats face crisis of credibility after lawsuits Fox's Brit Hume fires back at Trump's criticism of the channel 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 ClintonThe Memo: Trump faces steep climb to reelection What the Mueller report tells us about Putin, Russia and Trump's election Steve Bullock puts Citizens United decision at center of presidential push MORE in 2016.


United Nations Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyWill Trump ignore the Constitution and stay in White House beyond his term? Trump taps ex-State spokeswoman Heather Nauert to help oversee White House fellowships Conservatives slam Omar over tweet on Gaza violence 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 KavanaughSupreme Court sides with Native American hunter as Gorsuch joins liberals Clash with Trump marks latest break with GOP leaders for Justin Amash ACLU, Women's March to hold nationwide protests over abortion bans MORE's confirmation, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDem senator: Many Republicans 'privately expressed concerns' about Mueller findings Congress: Support legislation to defend Medicare home health  The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration 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 ObamaFeehery: A whole new season of 'Game of Thrones' Mercury rollback is a direct threat to our children's health Lightfoot takes office as Chicago's first black woman mayor MORE's former national security advisor, has hinted she may be interested in seeking Collins' seat.


On the other hand, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinLabor head warns of 'frightening uptick' in black lung disease among miners Labor leader: Trump has stopped erosion of coal jobs Overnight Energy: States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules | Greens seek hearing over proposed rule on energy efficiency tests | Top Dem asks GAO to investigate climate threat 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 TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE won handily in 2016.


Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyObama honors 'American statesman' Richard Lugar Former GOP senator Richard Lugar dies at 87 Ralph Reed: Biden is a 'formidable and strong candidate' 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 DeSantisTrump officials not sending migrants to Florida after backlash Dem criticizes newest calendars for Trump Interior chief as 'fake' GOP gov pushes back on Trump plan to send migrants to Florida counties 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 NelsonRepublicans amp up attacks on Tlaib's Holocaust comments The muscle for digital payment Rubio says hackers penetrated Florida elections systems 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 PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure 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 Republican ousted in 2018 says he will run to reclaim House seat The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Anxiety grows in first tax season under Trump law MORE (R-Iowa), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamBlue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try Illinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap Illinois New Members 2019 MORE (R-Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderKansas Senate race splits wide open without Pompeo Mike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation Yoder, Messer land on K Street MORE (R-Kan.), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonEx-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform The Hill's Morning Report - Dems debate if Biden's conduct with women disqualifying MORE (R-Texas), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisInvestigation concludes marijuana, medication impaired driver involved in GOP train crash The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MLB donated to GOP lawmaker who made controversial comments about women, minorities 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-LehtinenEx-GOP Rep. Denham heads to lobbying firm K Street boom extends under Trump, House Dems Bottom Line 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.