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.

 

In a year of record Democratic fundraising, Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke raises .6 million in second quarter Biden support slips below 30 percent in new poll Biden proposes tax increases for wealthy as part of health care plan 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 RubioLiberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist House passes bills to boost small business cybersecurity MORE (R-Fla.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonEx-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker takes job as president of conservative group, won't seek office soon Democratic Senate hopes hinge on Trump tide GOP senator presses Instagram, Facebook over alleged bias in content recommendations MORE (R-Wis.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Rising number of GOP lawmakers criticize Trump remarks about minority Dems Hillicon Valley: Harris spikes in Google searches after debate clash with Biden | Second US city blocks facial recognition | Apple said to be moving Mac Pro production from US to China | Bipartisan Senate bill takes aim at 'deepfake' videos MORE (R-Ohio) did in the entirety of their 2016 races for re-election. O'Rourke raised more than Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanSecond ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Overnight Health Care: Poll finds most Americans misunderstand scope of 'Medicare for All' | Planned Parenthood chief readies for 2020 | Drugmakers' lawsuit ramps up fight with Trump MORE (D-N.H.) and former Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteKey endorsements: A who's who in early states Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race New Hampshire senator to ask 2020 Dems to back repeal of state residency law 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 CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet Cruz in 2016 said 'something fundamentally wrong' with Christians who back Trump: book Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid 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.

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 TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE's judicial nominees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA —Biden unveils health care plan | Proposal pitches subsidies, public option | Biden vows if you like your health insurance, 'you can keep it' | Sanders protests planned Philadelphia hospital closure 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 ClintonWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm 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 KaineAcosta defends Epstein deal, bucking calls for resignation Republican lawmakers on why they haven't read Mueller report: 'Tedious' and 'what's the point?' Schumer calls on Acosta to step down over Epstein 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

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

 

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 FasoThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads Tax law failed to save GOP majority 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 HorsfordKey endorsements: A who's who in early states T.I., Charlamagne Tha God advocate for opportunity zones on Capitol Hill Dems warn against deporting former Trump golf course workers 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 KihuenMembers spar over sexual harassment training deadline Nevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 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 ObamaBiden jokes he's ready for a push-up competition with Trump Michelle Obama calls on teachers to help students register to vote The Obamas' silence on Joe Biden is deafening  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."