The Hill's Campaign Report: Red-state governors races pose test for Trump

The Hill's Campaign Report: Red-state governors races pose test for Trump
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Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your weekly rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here's what we're watching this week on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY: 

2019 RACES: Happy Friday and happy first day of November! The 2020 general elections may be roughly a year away, but we're looking ahead to next week's gubernatorial elections in Kentucky and Mississippi. While governors races are usually state-level affairs, President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE has worked to nationalize these two elections, running a number of ads backing the candidates and making visits to the states

Trump will travel to Mississippi to stump for Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves on Friday in that state's gubernatorial race before he heads to the commonwealth of Kentucky on Monday to show his support in a rally for Gov. Matt Bevin on Monday. Vice President Pence will also stump for Bevin and other GOP candidates in Kentucky on Friday. 

And it's not only Kentucky and Mississippi that are attracting Trump's attention. Louisiana will hold its runoff election on Nov. 16, and Trump is set to hold a rally in that state on Wednesday for Republican gubernatorial candidate Eddie Rispone. 

So why is Trump focusing so much on these races? He handily won all three of these states in 2016, and will likely want to rally his support in these Republican strongholds ahead of 2020. 

But more interestingly, these states could show the first signs of how impeachment will play ahead of the 2020 elections on the campaign trail. The House voted on Thursday to approve impeachment procedures and to move the inquiry to public hearings, setting the stage for a highly publicized impeachment process. Trump has repeatedly railed against impeachment, saying it's a partisan ploy to remove him from office. His campaign even aired an ad during Wednesday's World Series game, painting the president as a victim of impeachment. 

Trump will likely bring up impeachment at his upcoming rallies in Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana. 

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There's no doubt that these races are taking place in deep-red states, but polling shows that Democrats are running competitive races. We'll be watching for whether Trump's presence in the races tips the scale in favor of Republicans this month. 

 

FROM THE TRAIL:

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRep. Bobby Rush endorses Bloomberg's White House bid Actor Michael Douglas endorses Bloomberg for president Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover-up,' 'national disgrace' MORE (D-Calif.) is preparing to lay off some staffers at her Baltimore headquarters and will redeploy others to Iowa as she seeks to restructure and refocus her struggling presidential campaign, Max reports. Campaign manager Juan Rodriguez outlined the plan in a memo to aides and supporters on Wednesday, writing that in addition to the staffing cuts, some aides in Nevada, New Hampshire and California would be moved to Iowa as well. Rodriguez also said that he would take a pay cut, and that the campaign would "trim and renegotiate contracts" with its consultants.

 

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardGabbard knocks Clinton's jab at Sanders: 'This isn't high school' The data is clear: A woman could win in 2020 'I Like Bernie' hashtag trends after Clinton criticizes Sanders MORE (D-Hawaii) has said repeatedly that she has no plans to mount a third-party bid for the White House, but some Democrats still fear that she could reverse course if she fails to win the party's nomination in 2020, Max reports. The concerns underscore the complicated -- and at times antagonistic -- relationship between Gabbard and the Democratic establishment. Some political operatives and strategists complain that the Hawaii congresswoman has shown a willingness to turn on her own party, and remain skeptical of her promise not to launch an independent campaign. "I don't trust anything she says in that regard," Bakari Sellers, a former South Carolina state lawmaker and Harris ally, said.

 

PERSPECTIVES:

Brad Bannon: No, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE should not run for president in 2020

Albert Hunt: The quadrennial search for a white knight

Liz Peek: It's Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump says impeachment lawyers were 'really good' MORE versus the Trump economy

Stuart Shapiro: For Pelosi, the risk of not impeaching Trump has exceeded the risk of impeaching him

Glenn C. Altschuler: Trump's defenders are running out of options

 

POLICY ROLLOUTS:

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE (D-Mass.) released the details of her highly anticipated "Medicare for All" plan on Friday after receiving pressure from other Democratic presidential contenders, The Hill's Naomi Jagoda reports.

The plan notably does not include a tax hike on the middle class, which is a shift from her progressive rival Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Trump on Clinton's Sanders comments: 'She's the one that people don't like' MORE (I-Vt.), who has said tax hikes are needed to help pay for the program.

Warren said that the plan will be paid for by redirecting some funds from states to help fund Medicare. The senator revealed that the plan would cost an extra $20.5 trillion in new federal spending, which is a lower estimate than the $34 trillion in new spending the Urban Institute had said would be needed.

 

FROM CONGRESS:

It's been almost a year since Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump-aligned group launches ad campaign hitting Doug Jones on impeachment ICE subpoenas Denver law enforcement: report Bottom Line MORE stepped down from his post as attorney general and out of the public eye. But in the strongest indication yet that he's mulling a return to political life, he's been calling his former colleagues in Alabama's congressional delegation to discuss a possible Senate run next year, The Hill's Olivia Beavers and Scott Wong report. Sessions served the Yellowhammer State in the Senate for 20 years, and 2020 may be his best chance to do it again. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who won Sessions's old seat in a special election in 2017, is widely regarded as the most vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection next year. Still, Sessions would face a tough primary before he ever takes on Jones; several high-profile candidates are already seeking the Republican nomination for the seat.

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President Trump has taken a particular interest in the Alabama Senate race. At a recent fundraiser for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Mark Mellman: A failure of GOP leadership MORE's (R-Calif.) joint fundraising committee, the president asked attendees who they thought would win the six-way GOP primary in the state next year, to which Rep. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersHillicon Valley: FBI to now notify state officials of cyber breaches | Pelosi rips 'shameful' Facebook | 5G group beefs up lobby team | Spotify unveils playlists for pets 5G group beefs up lobby team House Homeland Security rip DHS's 'unacceptable' failure to comply with subpoena MORE (R-Ala.) replied "Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneGOP lawmaker offers resolution to censure Pelosi for holding articles of impeachment GOP rep releases campaign ad ripping Kaepernick, 'The Squad' GOP rep rails against Democrats for rejecting Republican impeachment amendment MORE," the Alabama congressman currently in the race, Scott reports.

 

George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosDOJ releases new tranche of Mueller witness documents Trump rails against Fox News for planning interviews with Schiff, Comey How to shut down fake Republican outrage over 'spying' on Trump MORE, the former Trump campaign aide who spent 12 days in prison for lying to federal investigators during former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSchiff: Trump acquittal in Senate trial would not signal a 'failure' Jeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay MORE's probe, wants to serve in Congress. He announced his campaign to represent California's 25th District on Tuesday, making him the latest Republican to enter the race to replace Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillCenk Uygur updates on Congressional campaign, how I will call out corporate politicians in Washington GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi announces Porter, Haaland will sit on Oversight panel MORE (D-Calif.), who will resign after she admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a campaign staffer before taking office, The Hill's Tal Axelrod reports.

 

MONEY WATCH:

A longtime ally and former aide to Joe Biden is forming a super PAC to support the former vice president's 2020 White House bid, Julia reports. Larry Rasky, a veteran Biden aide who worked on his 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns, filed paperwork this week with the Federal Election Commission after Biden's campaign expressed openness to accepting super PAC help. Federal regulations prohibit campaigns from coordinating with super PACs, but the group could be a valuable resource for Biden, who reported having less than $9 million in the bank at the end of the third quarter. It's also likely to be a point of attack for rival candidates, several of whom have spoken out against super PACs in campaign politics.

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Former tech executive Andrew YangAndrew YangSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll Sanders holds four-point lead on Biden in new California poll Yang highlights outsider status in Iowa ad ahead of caucuses MORE is launching a six-figure digital ad buy in the early primary and caucus states, Tal reports. The ad -- set to run in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina -- discusses his and his wife Evelyn's experience with their son, who is on the autism spectrum, to pitch the need for expanded access to health care. It comes as Yang seeks to break out of the Democratic primary field's middle tier in the months before the crucial first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.

 

POLL WATCH:

NEW YORK TIMES/SIENA COLLEGE: Warren holds a slight lead over the rest of the pack in Iowa, registering at 22 percent support. Sanders takes the No. 2 spot with 19 percent support, while South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders joins Biden atop 2020 Democratic field: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Hillary Clinton tears open wound with her attack on Sanders MORE comes in third with 18 percent. Most notably, perhaps, is Biden's standing. He finished in fourth place with 17 percent support. While that's well within the poll's margin of error, it's evidence of what a handful of other recent surveys have shown: Biden, the longtime front-runner in the nominating contest, may be slipping.

 

USA TODAY/SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY: Biden leads the field with 26 percent, followed by Warren and Sanders at 17 percent and 13 percent, respectively. Buttigieg takes the No. 4 spot with 10 percent. No other candidate registered double-digit support.

 

MORNING CONSULT/POLITICO: Biden still tops Trump in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up by 11 points, but that's down from the 20-point lead he held in a similar poll conducted last month. Sanders leads Trump by only 2 points, down from 8 points in June, while Warren trails the president by 1 point.

 

CNN/UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE: Sanders holds the lead in New Hampshire with 21 percent support in the first-in-the-nation primary state. He's' trailed by Warren at 18 percent, Biden at 15 percent and Buttigieg at 10 percent. The survey signals that, even as Sanders has fallen behind Warren elsewhere, his support remains strong in New Hampshire, a state he won in the 2016 Democratic nominating contest.

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

There are 94 days until the Iowa caucuses, 102 days until the New Hampshire primary, 113 days until the Nevada caucuses, 120 days until the South Carolina primary and 123 days until Super Tuesday. 

 

ONE FUN THING

HALLOWEEN RECAP: The presidential campaign didn't stop the 2020 campaigns from celebrating Halloween this year! 

Both Julián Castro and Andrew Yang posted pics of their families hitting the 2019 trick-or-treat trail. 

 

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren's beloved golden retriever Bailey got into the Halloween spirit, dressing up as a shiny penny! 

 

But the candidates were also the subject of clever Halloween costumes as well! 

One Kamala Harris staffer dressed up as Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerPatrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Booker ahead of Trump impeachment trial: 'History has its eyes on us' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE

 

And this youngster dressed up as Julián Castro: 

 

Some pets even got in on it! This pup donned his Mayor Pete costume: 

 

We hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween. We'll see you all next week for the latest campaign news.