The Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war

The Hill's Campaign Report: Even the Post Office is political now | Primary action tonight | Super PACS at war
© Thinkstock

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: Even the Post Office is political now

ADVERTISEMENT

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act MORE and Democrats alike are worried about the U.S. Postal Service, a financially strapped part of the government that may have to handle a mountain of mail-in ballots this fall because of the coronavirus crisis. 

If your head is spinning from developments over the past 24 hours, here’s a brief recap:

 

  • President Trump, who has relentlessly railed against mail voting, came out in favor of mail-in voting in Florida. Florida is controlled by Republicans and has a long history of handling mail balloting. But Trump’s endorsement was a surprise, as he has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that mail voting is rife with fraud and that it would lead to counting delays that will leave the election in question for weeks beyond Nov. 3.

  • A federal judge ordered the New York Elections Board to count more than one thousand disqualified absentee ballots in the primary race between House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyPelosi, Democrats unveil bills to rein in alleged White House abuses of power Government watchdog recommends creation of White House cyber director position Top Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence MORE (D-N.Y.) and challenger Suraj Patel. Maloney has a narrow lead and the ruling will not likely affect that. But the ruling is important because it highlighted the election failures of the Postal Service, which has at times struggled to handle the surge in mail voting. The New York primary was more than six weeks ago, and two House primary races have still not been called.

  • Maloney has summoned Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a top GOP donor, to testify before the Oversight Committee about reports he has cut back on overtime allowances and implemented policies that would slow mail delivery ahead of the November election. Democrats are accusing Trump of trying to hobble the Postal Service in an effort to make mail voting more difficult.

  • Trump is threatening legal action in Nevada, where the Democratic legislature recently moved to send every voter a ballot with a prepaid return envelope. There has been some confusion at the USPS about postmarking prepaid ballots.

Those troubles are piled on top of the Postal Service’s struggles to deal with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and financial pressures from years of running in the red.

The nightmare scenario for everyone is an election that is not settled on Nov. 3 due to mail vote counting delays. Many are worried that ballots that are late, missing or disqualified for small irregularities will lead to lawsuits and questions about the integrity of the elections. — Jonathan Easley

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Speaking of elections…

Voters are headed to the polls for primaries in Arizona, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri and Washington tonight. 

Republicans are desperate to see Rep. Robert Marshall defeat former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in the GOP Senate primary. They fear the conservative firebrand Kobach could fumble away a seat the GOP should win.

In Michigan, prominent “Squad” member Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibTrump attacks Omar for criticizing US: 'How did you do where you came from?' George Conway: 'Trump is like a practical joke that got out of hand' Pelosi endorses Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate primary challenge MORE (D-Minn.) faces a strong challenge from former Rep. Brenda Jones (D-Mich.), who nearly defeated her in 2016. And Rep. William Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayFive things we learned from this year's primaries Progressives aim for big night in Massachusetts Progressives look to unseat top Democrat in Massachusetts primary MORE (D-Mo.) has his work cut out for him in beating back a challenge from a progressive backed by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersTrump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Sanders tells Maher 'there will be a number of plans' to remove Trump if he loses Sirota reacts to report of harassment, doxing by Harris supporters MORE (I-Vt.).

Max Greenwood and Julia Manchester have your primer. Check back at The Hill all night for updates.

Got a question on timing? Here's when the polls close: 

  • Arizona (10 p.m. EDT)
  • Michigan (8 p.m. EDT)
  • Missouri (8 p.m. EDT)
  • Kansas (8 p.m. EDT)
  • Washington State (Ballots due by 11 p.m. EDT

SUPER PAC WARS:

Outside groups are flooding the airwaves in the battleground states with 91 days to go before Election Day. Here’s what swing state voters will watch on tv this week:

American Bridge 21st Century, a top Democratic super PAC, is going on the air in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin with an ad featuring a special education teacher who says she voted for Trump in 2016.

“Trump has made going back to school a political issue rather than a health issue,” the woman says in the ad. “The president needs to understand this country is not about him.”

That ad is part of a $25 million ad campaign by American Bridge aimed at giving a “permission structure” to former Trump voters to cross the aisle and support presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Joe Biden should enact critical government reforms if he wins MORE.

America First Action PAC, the largest outside group supporting Trump’s reelection, is going negative against Biden in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina.

In Pennsylvania, an ad features a union man accusing Biden of supporting fracking and “crap trade deals.”

“I’m a proud union man, I’m a Democrat and I do not support Joe Biden,” the man says. “I’m sick and tired of being taken for granted.”

In Wisconsin and North Carolina, the ads using Biden's words warn he will raise taxes.

 

FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES: 

Democrats ramp up downballot spending: House Democrats’ campaign arm has reserved nearly $1.5 million in TV air time as they look to go on the offensive in three Midwestern House Districts currently represented by Republicans. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The ad reservations by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will take aim at Reps. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisHouse passes legislation to boost election security research House Republicans investigating California secretary of state's contract with Biden-linked firm House Democrats' campaign arm releases ads hitting 10 Republicans on health care MORE (R-Ill.), Ann WagnerAnn Louise WagnerHouse Suburban Caucus advances congressional pandemic response DCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to 'Red to Blue' program Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses slate of non-Hispanic candidates MORE (R-Mo.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.), all of whom barely survived their reelection bids two years ago despite representing districts that Trump carried in 2016. 

The DCCC is also dropping money on air time to defend one of its most vulnerable incumbents, Rep. Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornKate Schroder in Ohio among Democratic challengers squelching GOP hopes for the House GOP women's group rolls out six-figure campaign for Ernst Trump asked Chamber of Commerce to reconsider Democratic endorsements: report MORE (D-Okla.), an first-term representative from Oklahoma, who won a stunning upset victory in 2018 but faces an uphill battle for a second term this year.

 

Why it matters:

 

  • Democrats are largely playing defense this year after flipping 40 House seats in the 2018 midterm elections and are expected to spend most of their money on protecting the freshmen lawmakers who helped them win a House majority in the first place.
  • With Trump’s polling numbers sagging and Republican control of the Senate at risk, the new spending suggests that Democrats see an opportunity to expand their House majority. 

The Hill’s Reid Wilson has more on the new DCCC spending here.

ADVERTISEMENT

Meanwhile, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) announced a new seven-figure investment in the Texas Senate race between M.J. Hegar and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSupreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Lawmakers introduce legislation to boost cybersecurity of local governments, small businesses MORE (R-Texas). The new investment includes spending on TV ads, polling, field organizing and data support, and marks the group’s first significant financial commitment in the general election fight for the Lone Star State.

The DSCC didn’t provide an exact figure for the investment. But it comes on the heels of an internal poll showing Cornyn and Hegar running neck-and-neck — 43 percent to 42 percent. Texas hasn’t become as competitive as states like Arizona, Colorado or Maine. But the state is still at the top of Democrats’ wish list, and the new round of spending suggests that they’re willing to put some skin in the game.

The Hill’s Max Greenwood gets into it here.

 

Markey apologizes to family of unarmed, Black teen amid criticism: Massachusetts Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyA game theorist's advice to President Trump on filling the Supreme Court seat Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing MORE (D) offered an apology to the family of D.J. Henry on Monday after he faced criticism from Henry’s father, Danroy, over his response to his son’s death 10 years ago. 

The apology came after Danroy Henry accused Markey in a widely circulated video on Twitter of dismissing the family as they sought justice for their son’s death. D.J. Henry died 10 years ago after he was shot by a police officer. 

Why it matters:  

Julia Manchester has more.

POLLS:

Biden leads Trump by a wide margin in California: A new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll showed Biden leading Trump 67 percent to 28 percent in the Golden State. California is one of the bluest states in the country, but this lead could boost Biden in November. Remember, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump furor stokes fears of unrest Bloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close MORE won 61.7 percent of the state’s popular vote in 2016, contributing to her national popular vote win. 

Graham leads by one point in South Carolina Senate race: Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamHarris slams Trump's Supreme Court pick as an attempt to 'destroy the Affordable Care Act' Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Confirmation hearing for Trump's Supreme Court pick to start Oct. 12 MORE (R ) leads his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison 44 percent to 43 percent, according to a new Morning Consult surveyThe poll comes as Democrats see the once tall order of winning back the Senate as more doable three months out from Election Day. 

And in the House, a new NRCC poll: Incumbent Rep. Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathThis week: House returns for pre-election sprint House Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts Black Lives Matter movement to play elevated role at convention MORE (D) leads former Rep. Karen HandelKaren Christine HandelHouse Democrats' campaign arm reserves .6M in ads in competitive districts Black Lives Matter movement to play elevated role at convention QAnon backer Marjorie Taylor Greene wins Georgia GOP runoff MORE (R) 48-46 percent, according to the survey. The internal poll could set off alarm bells for Republicans hoping to win back the district that Handel held just two years ago. The state’s sixth District is one of 30 that went for Trump in 2016, but were flipped in the 2018 midterm elections. 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

We’re 13 days away from the beginning of the Democratic National Convention, 20 days from the beginning of the Republican National Convention, 56 days from the first presidential debate and 91 days out from Election Day. 

 

It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me: Rock icon Neil Young filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Trump’s reelection campaign on Tuesday for playing his songs at rallies without proper licensing. The suit alleges that the campaign didn’t have the proper licensing to play “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk” at the June 20 rally in Tulsa, Okla. 

You can read the full lawsuit on Young’s website.

The suit comes after a cohort of music legends including Mick Jagger, Lionel Richie and Elton John signed onto an open letter calling on politicians to stop playing their music at campaign or political events without their permission. 

Trump’s campaign has come under particular scrutiny for playing a number of classic rock songs, including the Rolling Stone’s classic hit “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”