Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive $38M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms

Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive $38M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms
© Greg Nash

This is Election Countdown, The Hill's 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 25 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 753 days until the 2020 elections.

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In a year of record Democratic fundraising, Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeJimmy Carter says his son smoked pot with Willie Nelson on White House roof O'Rourke endorses Kennedy for Senate: 'A champion for the values we're most proud of' 2020 Democrats do convention Zoom call MORE (D-Texas) stands out. His campaign raised $38.1 million in the third quarter, he said Friday, a staggering amount that compares to top-tier presidential campaigns.

Let's put O'Rourke's mammoth haul in context: $38.1 million in a quarter is $12.7 million per month, $3.17 million a week, and an average of $423,000 raised for every day of the third quarter. O'Rourke's campaign hauled in $17,638 every hour, or $293 per minute.

The O'Rourke campaign raised more in the last three months than Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Democrats step up hardball tactics as Supreme Court fight heats up Press: Notorious RBG vs Notorious GOP MORE (R-Fla.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyAppeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy MORE (R-Pa.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold Johnson CIA found Putin 'probably directing' campaign against Biden: report This week: Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg's seat upends Congress's agenda GOP set to release controversial Biden report MORE (R-Wis.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Romney undecided on authorizing subpoenas for GOP Obama-era probes Congress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery MORE (R-Ohio) did in the entirety of their 2016 races for re-election. O'Rourke raised more than Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanDemocrats step up hardball tactics as Supreme Court fight heats up Congress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery Senate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic MORE (D-N.H.) and former Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom Line MORE (R-N.H.) did in their epic showdown two years ago -- combined. He raised more in one quarter than former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) raised during his entire 2016 presidential campaign (not including Bush's super PAC).

All that for a candidate who has never led a public poll against his rival, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzTrump argues full Supreme Court needed to settle potential election disputes Press: Notorious RBG vs Notorious GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Washington on edge amid SCOTUS vacancy MORE (R).

Siena College pegs Cruz's lead at eight points, in a survey taken this week for the New York Times. Quinnipiac has Cruz up nine. Emerson College, the poll that shows Cruz's edge the narrowest, has the Republican ahead by five points.

Democratic donors have poured money into both Senate and House candidates across the country in the last three months. Ahead of Monday's Federal Election Commission filing deadline, Democratic candidates running for Senate seats in Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada have all reported raising at least $6 million.

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But there's one more impressive haul to consider. The candidate who pulled in more money than anyone except O'Rourke: Rafael Edward Cruz.

--Reid Wilson

 

Senate showdown

Vulnerable Senate Democrats facing reelection this year will get some valuable campaign time, The Washington Post reports. But it comes at a price: confirming 15 of President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE's judicial nominees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Senate GOP aims to confirm Trump court pick by Oct. 29: report Trump argues full Supreme Court needed to settle potential election disputes MORE (R-Ky.) had previously threatened to hold the Senate in session until Election Day unless they agreed to vote on the judges.

 

Natural disasters typically yield calls for bipartisanship and political ceasefires. But in Florida's closely watched Senate and gubernatorial races, Hurricane Michael has given way to politicking. Some political groups ignored long-standing precedent and continued airing attack ads against candidates as the storm bore down on Florida Wednesday. And candidates are also seizing on the hurricane to prove their leadership chops ahead of election day.

 

Survey says…

The race for Florida's 27th District is heating up, with Republican Maria Elvira Salazar leading Democratic Candidate Donna Shalala by two percentage points, according to the latest Mason Dixon-Telemundo 51 poll. A well-known figure in the community thanks to her time working for Spanish-language Telemundo, Salazar is a formidable Republican challenger in a district that Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Senate GOP sees early Supreme Court vote as political booster shot Poll: 51 percent of voters want to abolish the electoral college MORE won by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016.

 

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) trails Democrat challenger Tony Evers by 10 points in his reelection bid, according to the latest NBC/Marist poll. President Trump's net-negative approval rating in the state may prove to be Walker's downfall thanks to the president's early endorsement of his campaign back in August.

 

Republican Brian Kemp leads Democrat Stacey Abrams by less than one point in Georgia's gubernatorial race, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 News poll. The poll provides a margin of error of 2.8 points, giving Abrams and Kemp a statistical tie with less than a month left before Election Day.

 

Paper chase

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson recently added tens of millions of dollars to GOP super PACs Senate Leadership Fund (SLF) and Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), Politico reports. Adelson has already given $55 million to the two groups in the lead-up to midterms. With his latest contributions, he will be the largest GOP donor in the 2018 election cycle.

 

Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineButtigieg stands in as Pence for Harris's debate practice Trump meets with potential Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett at White House Names to watch as Trump picks Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court MORE (D-Va.) reported raising more than $2.4 million between July and August, bringing his total cash on hand to a little more than $5 million. So far, he's raised more than $20 million in the 2018 cycle, his campaign said. He's facing a challenge from Republican Corey Stewart and is expected to easily coast to a second term in the Senate in November.

 

What we're watching for

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Senate Debate schedule:

--Friday night debate in Wisconsin

--Sunday night debates in Ohio and Michigan

Trump rally schedule:

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

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

 

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Coming to a TV near you

VoteVets, a progressive veterans advocacy group, is dropping $4 million on a new ad accusing Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) of "defrauding the military's health care program" during his tenure as the CEO of health care conglomerate Columbia/HCA. The ad also goes after Scott for frequently wearing a Navy hat. "Governor, this hat represents what the Navy stands for: Honor, integrity," a man, identified as Navy veteran Alan Madison, says in the spot. "My question for you, sir? Where's yours?"

 

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is launching new ads in three competitive districts in New York, Minnesota and Nevada.

In New York's 19th District, the group is attacking Democrat Antonio Delgado, accusing him of supporting massive tax hikes and a "radical government takeover of health care." Delgado is locked in a tight race with incumbent Rep. John FasoJohn James FasoDemocrats go big on diversity with new House recruits Kyle Van De Water wins New York GOP primary to challenge Rep. Antonio Delgado The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (R-N.Y.).

 

The NRCC is airing another spot in Minnesota's 1st District going after Democrat Dan Feehan for supporting former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to kneel during the National Anthem. "Tell Dan Feehan, real patriots stand together," a narrator says in the ad. Feehan is a former captain in the Army who served two combat tours in Iraq.

 

And in Nevada's 4th District, the NRCC is accusing former Rep. Steven HorsfordSteven Alexander HorsfordThe robbing of a wildlife refuge in Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford wins Democratic House primary in Nevada Overnight Defense: Army now willing to rename bases named after Confederates | Dems demand answers on 'unfathomable' nuke testing discussions | Pentagon confirms death of north African al Qaeda leader MORE (D-Nev.) of pay-to-play politics. "Steven Horsford makes government work for himself," a narrator says in the spot. Horsford is vying to replace retiring Rep. Ruben KihuenRuben Jesus KihuenRep. Steven Horsford wins Democratic House primary in Nevada Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Nevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid MORE (D-Nev.) and faces a challenge from former Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Nev.).

 

Wave watch

Republican groups are withdrawing funding from some underperforming and vulnerable incumbents, The New York Times reports. They're looking to concentrate their resources in fewer districts where they believe they can stave off Democratic advances. The goal, the newspaper reports, is to try to limit Democratic gains to 20 seats – three short of the 23 the party need to retake control of the House.

 

March for Our Lives, the gun safety group founded by survivors of the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., is launching a 12-day tour ahead of Election Day. The tour will take the group to 12 cities across seven states, and will focus on voter registration and engagement efforts, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

 

Race for the White House

The midterms may be the center of attention. But outside groups are already spending millions to boost Trump's reelection bid. McClatchy DC reports that at least six groups have already spent more than $9 million on television, mail, phone and online efforts to promote the president's 2020 campaign.

 

Former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama: 'Don't listen to people who will say that somehow voting is rigged' Michelle Obama and Jennifer Lopez exchange Ginsburg memories Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day MORE is a rock star among Democrats. Even after moving out of the White House, she remains incredibly popular and she's set to expand her profile even more with an upcoming book tour. But don't expect her to launch a bid for the White House, The Hill's Amie Parnes and Judy Kurtz report. "She has always said 'hell no,' and she means 'hell no,' " one former Obama White House aide said.

 

In case you missed it

In Georgia's hotly contested governor's race, the Abrams campaign is calling on Kemp to resign from his post as Georgia secretary of State. That comes after a report from The Associated Press that more than 53,000 voter registration applications -- 70 percent of them from black voters -- are on hold after failing to meet the state's "exact match" law. That law marks applications as "pending" if their personal information on voter registration forms doesn't match information on federal databases.

Abrams and Democrats argue that the policy suppresses minority votes. Her campaign called on Kemp's office to stop using the "exact match" law and resign from his position.

But Kemp and his campaign are pushing back, saying that Democrats are playing politics. They say that everyone marked as "pending" will be able to vote and can resolve those issues at polling locations or at least cast a provisional ballot.

"This is not complicated. Every person on the 'pending' list - if they are real and qualified - can vote at their polling precinct early or on Election Day," Ryan Mahoney, Kemp's spokesman, said in a statement to The Hill. "Stacey Abrams is either intentionally misleading Georgia voters or simply does not understand how voting works in our state. Clearly, she is unfit to be governor."