The Hill's Campaign Report: Key races take shape in Alabama, Texas, Maine

The Hill's Campaign Report: Key races take shape in Alabama, Texas, Maine
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Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily 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 today on the campaign trail. 

LEADING THE DAY: 5 key races to watch tonight

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Tonight we’re keeping an eye on a number of Senate and House races that could have major implications on the makeup of Congress in 2021. Here’s a rundown of the key races we’re watching tonight. 

Democrats prepare to take on Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTop Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Bill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE in November

Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon is the favorite to win tonight’s Democratic primary in Maine where she faces challenges from progressives Betsy Sweet and Bre Kidman.

The winner of the primary will go on to face Collins, a major Democratic target in November. Democrats argue that Collins no longer functions as an independent voice in the Senate, pointing to her vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughOn The Money: Biden asks Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration | Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter Biden calls on Congress to extend eviction ban with days until expiration An obscure Supreme Court ruling is a cautionary tale of federal power MORE in 2018 as he faced sexual assault allegations. 

Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Democrat stalls Biden's border nominee Garland strikes down Trump-era immigration court rule, empowering judges to pause cases MORE faces the biggest fight of his political life 

The former attorney general is fighting to win back his former Senate seat but faces a formidable challenger in former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville. 

A number of polls show Tuberville leading Sessions, and the former coach has the support of President TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE, who holds his highest state approval rating in Alabama. 

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Meanwhile, Sessions has faced a series of attacks from Trump since 2017 when he recused himself from special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s Russia investigation. 

Sessions has not lost an election in his entire political career. 

Senate Democratic candidates face off in Texas 

Former Air Force helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar is facing Texas state Sen. Royce West (D) in a contentious runoff after she failed to grasp the 50 percent support threshold needed to win the Democratic primary last March. 

There has not been that much polling in the race, but a survey from the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler conducted in April showed Hegar leading West 32 percent to 16 percent. Additionally, Hegar leads in fundraising. 

The winner will go on to face incumbent Texas Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate votes to take up infrastructure deal Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Eight Republicans join Democrats to confirm head of DOJ environmental division MORE in November. Democrats are optimistic, citing former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D) narrow loss to Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade GOP, Democrats battle over masks in House, Senate Human rights can't be a sacrificial lamb for climate action MORE (R)  in 2018, but the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates the race as “likely Republican.” 

Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney Ex-Trump aide Pierson planning run for Congress READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE seeks comeback in Texas’s 17th District 

Former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) lost his seat in 2018 to Democratic Rep. Colin Allred (Texas). He then moved to the state’s 17th congressional district where he now hopes to score a comeback to Congress. 

Sessions is facing businesswoman Renee Swan, who has the endorsement of the seat’s current occupant, retiring Rep. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Calls mount to start transition as Biden readies Cabinet picks Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it MORE, in the Republican primary. 

Trump-supported candidate faces off against Cruz-backed candidate 

In Texas’s 23rd district, Trump has endorsed Tony Gonzales, while Cruz threw his support behind Raul Reyes in the race to replace retiring Rep. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdFirst Democrat jumps into key Texas House race to challenge Gonzales Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel MORE (R-Texas). Republicans at the national level say Gonzalez has the best chance of winning in November, arguing that Reyes is too conservative. 

Democrats nominated Gina Ortiz Jones in March. Jones ran against Hurd in 2018, and lost by half a point. The Cook Political Report rates the race as “lean Democrat."

— Julia Manchester 

READ MORE:

Five key races to watch on Tuesday, by Max Greenwood.

Democrats grow more bullish on Texas, by Niall Stanage.

Trump makes late push for two Texas Republicans, by Marina Pitofsky.

Sessions fights for political life in Alabama runoff, by Julia Manchester.

FROM THE TRAIL:

Rep. Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyLobbying world Lobbying world Liz Cheney says McConnell, McCarthy are heads of GOP MORE (R-Penn.) says that polls showing President Trump trailing in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania do not accurately reflect the state of the race on the ground. Kelly said the polls are not taking into account Trump’s support from those who turned out to vote for the first time ever in 2016. Jonathan Easley reports.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenCDC chief clarifies vaccine comments: 'There will be no nationwide mandate' Overnight Defense: First group of Afghan evacuees arrives in Virginia | Biden signs Capitol security funding bill, reimbursing Guard | Pentagon raises health protection level weeks after lowering it Biden urges local governments to stave off evictions MORE on Tuesday released a $2 trillion plan to address climate change with an emphasis on correcting racial economic disparities. Jonathan reports.

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Biden has also opened the door to nixing the 60-vote legislative filibuster in the Senate, but indicated that his decision would depend on whether Republicans would be willing to cut deals or would try to block Democratic proposals. The Hill’s Jordain Carney reports.

Biden rolled out his first general election TV ad in Texas on Tuesday, a sign that the former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee intends to make serious play for the Lonestar State in November. The ad spot focuses on the coronavirus pandemic, urging Texans to stay resilient in the face of the outbreak. "This virus is tough, but Texas is tougher,” Biden says in the ad. Marina reports

FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES: 

A total of 574 women have filed to run in primaries for House seats and another 58 have filed for Senate primaries, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The surge in women candidates breaks a record previously set during the 2018 midterm elections when 476 women ran for House seats and another 53 ran for Senate seats. The Hill’s Zack Budryk reports.

Brady PAC, the sister organization of the nation’s oldest anti-gun violence advocacy group, is formally launching a joint fundraising committee called Senate Spurs to support the Senate campaigns of three Democrats: former Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperManchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas moratorium It's time for US to get serious about cleaning up space junk Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor MORE in Colorado, Afghan war vet MJ Hegar in Texas, and former state senator and vet Cal Cunningham in North Carolina. The group plans to raise close to $500,000 to support their campaigns. It endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden in March and its budget is upwards of $5 million overall for the 2020 cycle. From The Hill’s Alex Gangitano.

MONEY WATCH:

Former astronaut Mark Kelly’s campaign announced his bid for Senate raked in nearly $13 million in the second quarter of this year. The staggering fundraising numbers come months before he takes on incumbent Arizona Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallySchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up GOP group launches million ad campaign pressing Kelly on filibuster Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (R-Ariz.). Max reports. A new poll of Arizona finds Kelly leading McSally by 9 points.

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PERSPECTIVES:

Deborah Chen and Eun Sook Lee: Asian Americans and all people of color need the right to mail voting

Madison Gesiotto: Democratic task force is miles behind Donald Trump

John Kenneth White: Larry Hogan's hopes

  

POLL WATCH:

OH PREDICTIVE INSIGHTS – ARIZONA SENATE 

Kelly: 52%

McSally: 43%

GRAVIS – FLORIDA PRESIDENTIAL

Biden: 53%

Trump: 43%

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

    

July 14:

Alabama primary runoffs

Texas primary runoffs

Maine primaries

 

Aug. 4:

Arizona primaries

Kansas primaries

Michigan primaries

Missouri primaries

Washington primaries

 

Aug. 11:

Connecticut primaries

Minnesota primaries

Vermont primaries

Wisconsin primaries

Georgia primary runoffs

 

Aug. 18:

Alaska primaries

Florida primaries

Wyoming primaries

 

Aug. 17-20:

Democratic National Convention

 

Aug. 24-27:

Republican National Convention

 

Sept. 1:

Massachusetts primaries

 

Sept. 8:

New Hampshire primaries

Rhode Island primaries

 

Sept. 15:

Delaware primaries

 

Sept. 29:

First presidential debate

 

Oct. 7:

Vice presidential debate

 

Oct. 15:

Second presidential debate

 

Oct. 22:

Third presidential debate