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 CruzO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation Senate approves border bill that prevents shutdown For 2020, Democrats are lookin’ for somebody to love 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'RourkeO'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could NBC, CNN to host first two Democratic presidential primary debates O'Rourke, Schumer huddle on possible 2020 bid: report 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 McSallyPoll shows McSally, Kelly tied in Arizona Senate race Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid Overnight Defense: House votes to end US support for Saudis in Yemen | Vote puts Trump in veto bind | Survey finds hazards in military housing | Senators offer new bill on Russia sanctions MORE (Ariz.), has yet to announce her third-quarter fundraising numbers.

Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump administration secretly shipped plutonium to Nevada Oregon Dem top recipient of 2018 marijuana industry money, study finds MORE (D-Nev.), who's running to unseat 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.), similarly raised about $7.1 million and ended September with $2.6 million on hand.

In other Q3 numbers: Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinDems offer smaller step toward ‘Medicare for all' Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Powerful House committee turns to drug pricing | Utah governor defies voters on Medicaid expansion | Dems want answers on controversial new opioid Why does the bankruptcy code discriminate against disabled veterans? MORE (D-Wis.) raised $6 million; Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction 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 CramerSenators highlight threat from invasive species Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs GOP senators think Trump would win vote on emergency declaration MORE in North Dakota.


Race for the White House

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHillicon Valley: New York says goodbye to Amazon's HQ2 | AOC reacts: 'Anything is possible' | FTC pushes for record Facebook fine | Cyber threats to utilities on the rise O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation Amazon to pay Bernie Sanders in federal income taxes: report 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 ClintonO’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Exclusive: Biden almost certain to enter 2020 race MORE in 2016.


United Nations Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyUnited Methodist churches may cut ties with denomination over push to allow LGBT ministers Nikki Haley: ‘I’m too young to stop fighting’ Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? 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 KavanaughDems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland Virginia political scandals show why words, and their delivery, truly matter In Virginia, due process should count more than blind team support MORE's confirmation, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration DOJ warns White House that national emergency will likely be blocked: report On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration 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 ObamaIntelligence for the days after President Trump leaves office Barack Obama sends Valentine's message to Michelle: 'She does get down to Motown' For 2020, Democrats are lookin’ for somebody to love MORE's former national security advisor, has hinted she may be interested in seeking Collins' seat.


On the other hand, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick 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 TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE won handily in 2016.


Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks 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 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 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 Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms 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 PelosiBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' Winners and losers in the border security deal House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency 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 YoderMike Pompeo to speak at Missouri-Kansas Forum amid Senate bid speculation Yoder, Messer land on K Street Bold, bipartisan action on child care will win plenty of friends MORE (R-Kan.), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonDCCC official says Democrats look to make 'big gains' in Texas, Georgia Democrats need a worthy climate plan NASA lost key support to explore Jupiter's moon 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-LehtinenComstock joins K Street firm Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm 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.