The Hill's Campaign Report: Red-state governors races pose test for Trump
August 29, 2020
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.
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 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 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.
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 HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump 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 drops defamation lawsuit against Clinton It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 125 lawmakers urge Trump administration to support National Guard troops amid pandemic 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.
Brad Bannon: No, 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 should not run for president in 2020
Albert Hunt: The quadrennial search for a white knight
Liz Peek: It’s Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook 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
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names 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 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.), 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.
It’s been almost a year since Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants 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.
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 hopeful about bipartisan path forward on police reform legislation Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names McConnell: States should make decision on Confederate statues 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 Morning Report – Capitol Hill weighs action on racial justice as protests carry on Bottom line Officials warn Chinese hackers targeting groups developing coronavirus treatments MORE (R-Ala.) replied “Bradley ByrneBradley Roberts ByrneOvernight Defense: Pentagon chief says he opposes invoking Insurrection Act for protests | White House dodges on Trump’s confidence in Esper | ‘Angry and appalled’ Mattis scorches Trump Republicans stand by Esper after public break with Trump Democrats press OSHA official on issuing an Emergency Temporary Standard MORE,” the Alabama congressman currently in the race, Scott reports.
George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosNew FBI document confirms the Trump campaign was investigated without justification Republicans plow ahead with Russia origins probe AG Barr just signaled that things are about to get ugly for the Russia collusion team MORE, the former Trump campaign aide who spent 12 days in prison for lying to federal investigators during former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN’s Toobin warns McCabe is in ‘perilous condition’ with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill’s 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout 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 Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by The American Investment Council – Trump takes his ‘ready to reopen’ mantra on the road The Hill’s Campaign Report: Democrat concedes in California House race Republican flips House seat in California special election 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.
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.
Former tech executive Andrew YangAndrew YangGeorge Floyd protests show corporations must support racial and economic equality Andrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis 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.
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 ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process 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.
A beautiful witch, a zombie ballerina, Johnny from Cobra Kai and enough candy to keep Spider-man climbing the walls.
Happy Halloween from our family to yours! pic.twitter.com/qn6EgTAi4g
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) November 1, 2019
Happy Halloween!! I am definitely the least compelling of this crew. Someone asked if I was Daddy Shark. pic.twitter.com/P4kfELB9J3
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) October 31, 2019
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Warren’s beloved golden retriever Bailey got into the Halloween spirit, dressing up as a shiny penny!
Bailey is ready for Halloween! pic.twitter.com/RY0ahHKBDx
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 1, 2019
But the candidates were also the subject of clever Halloween costumes as well!
One Kamala Harris staffer dressed up as Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE
Check out this Cory Booker costume … from a Kamala Harris staffer https://t.co/vChxoiJBpY pic.twitter.com/o27nP0bFb2
— NJ.com (@njdotcom) November 1, 2019
And this youngster dressed up as Julián Castro:
10/10 costume of the year pic.twitter.com/EqnxgGWzrJ
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) October 31, 2019
Some pets even got in on it! This pup donned his Mayor Pete costume: