This is Election Countdown, The Hill’s weekly 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 28 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 756 days until the 2020 elections.

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House candidates have been announcing jaw-dropping fundraising hauls in the third quarter of the year. And it’s a trend that we’re now seeing in the battle for the Senate.

While most Republicans haven’t released their numbers, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote The Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police MORE (R-Texas) is leading the fundraising pack among Senate candidates and incumbents, with a staggering $12 million raised in the third quarter, which covers fundraising between July and September.

Cruz’s tally is a huge spike from his past numbers and will help him keep pace with his well-funded Democratic opponent, Rep. Beto O’RourkeBeto O’RourkeBiden will help close out Texas Democrats’ virtual convention: report O’Rourke on Texas reopening: ‘Dangerous, dumb and weak’ Parties gear up for battle over Texas state House MORE (D-Texas). While we don’t yet know O’Rourke’s third quarter numbers, expect another monster haul. According to a new federal filing from ActBlue, O’Rourke brought in $9.1 million in August alone.

On the Democratic side, Democrats continue to post strong fundraising hauls that have eclipsed past numbers.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) raked in nearly $7 million in the third quarter, more than doubling what she raised in the last fundraising quarter. Her Republican challenger, Rep. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyGOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police No evidence of unauthorized data transfers by top Chinese drone manufacturer: study Senate Democratic campaign arm launches online hub ahead of November MORE (Ariz.), has yet to announce her third-quarter fundraising numbers.

Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenThe Hill’s Coronavirus Report: Mnuchin sees ‘strong likelihood’ of another relief package; Warner says some businesses ‘may not come back’ at The Hill’s Advancing America’s Economy summit The Hill’s Coronavirus Report: CDC Director Redfield responds to Navarro criticism; Mnuchin and Powell brief Senate panel Hillicon Valley: Experts raise security concerns about online voting | Musk finds supporter in Trump | Officials warn that Chinese hackers targeting COVID-19 research groups MORE (D-Nev.), who’s running to unseat Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.), similarly raised about $7.1 million and ended September with $2.6 million on hand.

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In other Q3 numbers: Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinBiden launches program to turn out LGBTQ vote We need a ‘9-1-1’ for mental health — we need ‘9-8-8’ Democrats introduce bill to rein in Trump’s power under Insurrection Act MORE (D-Wis.) raised $6 million; Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn Heitkamp70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents Susan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA MORE (D-N.D.) brought in more than $3.8 million, ending last month with about $3.2 million in the bank. Baldwin faces Republican Leah Vukmir in Wisconsin, while Heitkamp faces GOP Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerRepublicans prepare to punt on next COVID-19 relief bill GOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police Trump tweets spark fresh headache for Republicans MORE in North Dakota.

 

Race for the White House

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) is set to begin a nine-day campaign swing next week to boost Democrats ahead of Election Day. Among the states that Sanders is set to hit are Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada – states that are crucial in the presidential nominating process. The trip is likely to fuel speculation that the progressive firebrand is weighing another run for the White House after his unsuccessful primary fight against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE in 2016.

 

United Nations Ambassador Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Trump’s public standing sags after Floyd protests The Hill’s Morning Report – Protesters’ defiance met with calls to listen The truth behind Biden’s ‘you ain’t black’ gaffe MORE may be stepping down from her post early next year, but she made it clear Tuesday that she has no plans to challenge Trump in 2020. “No, I am not running in 2020,” she told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with Trump. “I look forward to supporting the president in the next election.”

 

A new political action committee is looking to boost former Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe‘s profile ahead of 2020 in an effort to encourage him to mount a White House bid, the Associated Press reports. The group, Tenaciously Moving for American Change in 2020, will focus its efforts in states with early primaries and caucuses, like Iowa and New Hampshire.

 

Senate showdown

After casting the deciding vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughGOP senators urge Trump to back off Murkowski threat Judd Gregg: A government in free fall The 7 most anticipated Supreme Court decisions MORE‘s confirmation, Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans prepare to punt on next COVID-19 relief bill Trump tweets spark fresh headache for Republicans Trump’s tweet on protester sparks GOP backlash  MORE (R-Maine) has become a top target for Democrats. Already, a Maine Democratic fundraising effort has collected $3.6 million dollars to support Collins’s eventual challenger in 2020. Susan Rice, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHarris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Five ways America would take a hard left under Joe Biden Valerie Jarrett: ‘Democracy depends upon having law enforcement’ MORE‘s former national security advisor, has hinted she may be interested in seeking Collins’ seat.

 

On the other hand, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump administration seeks to use global aid for nuclear projects Shelley Moore Capito wins Senate primary West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice wins GOP gubernatorial primary MORE‘s (D-W.Va.) vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court may have helped him stave off an electoral defeat in November, The New York Times reports. Manchin was the lone Democrat to buck party lines on the Saturday Senate vote. He’s among the Democrats seeking re-election this year in a state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE won handily in 2016.

 

Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEx-Sen. Joe Donnelly endorses Biden Lobbying world 70 former senators propose bipartisan caucus for incumbents MORE (D-Ind.) and Republican businessman Mike Braun squared off in Indiana’s first Senate debate on Monday night. The debate ignited some heated exchanges on health care–particularly on pre-existing conditions–and the Supreme Court confirmation fight. Donnelly highlighted where he’s willing to align with Trump, while keeping distance from the Democratic Party. Meanwhile, Braun continued to cast himself as a political “outsider.” Here are five takeaways from the debatefrom The Hill’s Lisa Hagen and Jessie Hellmann.

 

Survey says…

Democrat Andrew Gillum is leading former Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantisGOP tentatively decides on Jacksonville for site of convention DeSantis pushing to host Republican National Convention in Florida Florida bars and theaters to reopen starting Friday, DeSantis says MORE (R-Fla.) by a 3-point margin in the latest Florida gubernatorial poll. The survey, by Florida Southern College’s Center for Polling and Policy Research, shows Gillum ahead of DeSantis 47 percent to 44 percent. It’s only the latest poll to give the progressive Tallahassee mayor a lead over his Trump-allied opponent.

 

In Florida’s Senate race, the poll shows Gov. Rick Scott (R) edging out Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonNASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon Lobbying world The most expensive congressional races of the last decade MORE (D-Fla.) 46 percent to 44.5 percent, signaling that the contest remains closer than ever.

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A CNN poll out Tuesday shows Democrats with a 13-point lead over GOP candidates on the generic ballot just four weeks out from Election Day. The poll also shows female voters favoring Democrats at 63 percent, while only about 45 percent of male respondents said the same. It’s the latest sign of a widening gender gap.

 

Paper chase

House Majority PAC, the super PAC aligned with House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Pelosi: Georgia primary ‘disgrace’ could preview an election debacle in November MORE (D-Calif.), is rolling out a roughly $20-million media blitz targeting vulnerable Republicans in races spanning California, Florida, Texas, Nevada, New York, New Jersey and Michigan. Here are the districts on the list: California’s 10th, 25th, 39th, 45th, 48th, and 49th congressional districts; Florida’s 26th district; Michigan’s 8th and 11th districts; New Jersey’s seventh district; the fourth district in Nevada; and New York-19, as well as Texas’s 32nd district.

 

With Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, NARAL Pro-Choice America, a pro-abortion rights group, has launched a $1 million campaign against House Republicans in toss-up races. The campaign will release ads targeting Reps. David YoungDavid Edmund YoungFormer Rep. David Young wins GOP primary in bid for old House seat Trump lends support to swing district Republicans Former ‘Apprentice’ contestant ranks Trump next to Mother Teresa on women’s issues MORE (R-Iowa), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamLobbying world House votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs MORE (R-Ill.), Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderSharice Davids to vote for Trump impeachment articles: ‘The facts are uncontested’ Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs K Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers MORE (R-Kan.), Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), John CulbersonJohn Abney CulbersonBottom line Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm Bottom line MORE (R-Texas), Jason LewisJason Mark LewisTwo swing-district Democrats raise impeachment calls after whistleblower reports GOP Senate candidate said Republicans have ‘dual loyalties’ to Israel The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (R-Minn.), and Dave Brat (R-Va.)

 

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What we’re watching for

Senate Debate schedule:

–Friday night debate in Wisconsin

–Sunday night debates in West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan

 

Trump rally schedule:

–Tuesday rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa at 7:30 p.m. ET

–Wednesday rally in Erie, Pa. at 7 p.m. ET

–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

Emily’s List, a pro-abortion rights group that supports female candidates, is launching a Spanish-language ad campaign going after Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.). The seven-figure ad buy by the group’s independent expenditure arm, Women Vote!, hits the Senate hopeful over her record on health care, accusing her of voting “to eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions.”

 

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is also on the attack against McSally, launching an ad Tuesday hitting the GOP Senate hopeful on her health care record. The spot accuses her of voting to “essentially end Medicare” and gut protections for pre-existing conditions.

 

Wave watch

Republicans are seizing on the fight over Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court to cast the Democratic protests as “an angry mob” bent on upending Trump’s agenda, The Washington Post reports. “Chasing senators down the hall, running up the stairs at the Capitol – we’ve been taken aback by how people have reacted to it. And we’re responding,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told the newspaper.

 

Democrat Donna Shalala may be well known in Miami. But she’s found herself in an increasingly difficult bid against Republican Maria Elvira Salazar to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenTechNet hires Hispanic communications director Bottom line Women are refusing to take the backseat in politics, especially Latinas MORE (R-Fla.) in Florida’s 27th District, McClatchy DC reports. Two recent internal polls showed her either trailing or tied with Salazar, a Cuban-American former broadcast journalist, and there are worries she’s not connecting with voters in the Hispanic-majority district.

 

Also in the Sunshine State, the state Democratic Party is suing to extend the state’s Oct. 9 voter registration deadline as Hurricane Michael bears down on the Florida Panhandle. The lawsuit, which names Secretary of State Ken Detzner as the defendant, argues that “voters will face significant hurdles to registration because of” the storm. Detzner previously said that local election offices closed on Tuesday could accept applications the day they reopened.

 

Election Countdown was written by Lisa Hagen, Max Greenwood, Rachel Cohen, Kenna Sturgeon and James Wellemeyer.