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
© Getty Images

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. 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 HarrisWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary 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 GabbardThe Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Krystal Ball: Tulsi Gabbard surges, is she the most electable? 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 Clinton2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Manafort sought to hurt Clinton 2016 campaign efforts in key states: NYT MORE should not run for president in 2020

Albert Hunt: The quadrennial search for a white knight

Liz Peek: It's Joe BidenJoe BidenGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides 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 WarrenWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides 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 Sanders2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary 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 SessionsSanford: 'It carries real weight' to speak against Trump 'while in office' Medill dean 'deeply troubled by the vicious bullying and badgering' of student journalists Trump has considered firing official who reported whistleblower complaint to Congress: report 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

 

President Trump has taken a particular interest in the Alabama Senate race. At a recent fundraiser for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse Republicans call impeachment hearing 'boring,' dismiss Taylor testimony as hearsay The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine House Republicans prepare for public impeachment proceedings with mock hearing 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 RogersThe Hill's Campaign Report: Red-state governors races pose test for Trump Trump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race Overnight Defense: House approves Turkey sanctions in rebuke of Trump | Trump attacks on Army officer testifying spark backlash | Dems want answers from Esper over Ukraine aid MORE (R-Ala.) replied "Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneTrump attends football game with Jeff Sessions' Alabama Senate race opponent Bradley Byrne The Hill's Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race Trump: 'We'll have to see' on endorsing Sessions's Senate bid MORE," the Alabama congressman currently in the race, Scott reports.

 

George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosThe Hill's Campaign Report: Red-state governors races pose test for Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems unveil impeachment measure; Vindman splits GOP George Papadopoulos launches campaign to run for Katie Hill's congressional seat 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 MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' 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 HillThe Young Turks founder Cenk Uygur files to run for Katie Hill's House seat Rep. Veronica Escobar elected to represent freshman class in House leadership Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

 

Former tech executive Andrew YangAndrew YangWilliamson announces poverty plan with support for universal basic income, minimum wage The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates 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 Buttigieg2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary 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 BookerGOP senator blasts Dem bills on 'opportunity zones' Booker on Erdoğan: We should not be 'rolling out the red carpet for a ruthless authoritarian' The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine 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.