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'RourkeRobert (Beto) Francis O'RourkeNew Hampshire is ‘must-win’ state for Warren, says veteran political reporter Democratic dark horses could ride high in 2020 Julián Castro announces 2020 White House bid, swipes at Trump 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: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Rubio slams NY Times for 'absurd criticism' of Bolton over Iran MORE (R-Fla.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight 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 Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTSA absences raise stakes in shutdown fight The Hill's Morning Report — Washington searches for answers as shutdown hits 24 days GOP senator: 'I would hate to see' Trump declare national emergency over border MORE (R-Wis.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks MORE (R-Ohio) did in the entirety of their 2016 races for re-election. O'Rourke raised more than Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanNew Hampshire's secretary of state narrowly holds seat New Hampshire Dem icon at risk after work with Trump Dem senators call on DeVos to rescind new campus sexual assault policies MORE (D-N.H.) and former Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteFive possible successors to Mattis Mattis resigns, says views aren't in line with Trump's Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M 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 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 Cruz5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony Republicans seek to temper fallout from latest Russia bombshells Cruz says Americans outside Beltway unconcerned with Mueller investigation 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 TrumpVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration Pence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ MORE's judicial nominees. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Shutdown Day 25 | Dems reject White House invite for talks | Leaders nix recess with no deal | McConnell blocks second House Dem funding bill | IRS workers called back for tax-filing season | Senate bucks Trump on Russia sanctions Mellman: Why does the GOP persist? Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight 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 ClintonGillibrand announces exploratory committee to run for president on Colbert Former PepsiCo CEO being considered for World Bank chief post: report Live coverage: Trump AG pick grilled on Mueller probe at confirmation hearing 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 KaineMcConnell: Senate will not recess if government still shutdown Kaine threatens to object to Senate leaving for recess Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks 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 FasoTax law failed to save GOP majority New York New Members 2019 McCarthy defeats Jordan for minority leader in 159-to-43 vote 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 HorsfordTen Dem lawmakers added to House Ways and Means Committee Nevada Democrat calls Trump’s focus on border wall ‘unfortunate and unnecessary’ The Hill's Morning Report — Pelosi to reclaim Speakership amid shutdown 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 KihuenNevada Dem sanctioned for sexual misconduct announces city council bid Dem gains put Sunbelt in play for 2020 Pence aide defends Meadows after ethics panel reprimand: He ‘had my back’ 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 ObamaMan who killed teenager who performed at Obama inauguration sentenced to 84 years in prison December sales cement best-seller status for Michelle Obama's book: report De Niro: Democrats 'have to be more aggressive' 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."