Election Countdown: Dems raising millions in fight for House | Trump attacks potential challengers | GOP finalizes 2020 convention plans | Dems see Kavanaugh fight driving women voters to the polls | Bloomberg spending big for Senate Dems

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 and Max at with any questions, comments, criticisms or food recommendations (mostly the latter, please). Click here to sign up.


We’re 34 days until the 2018 midterm elections and 762 days until the 2020 elections.


Democratic House candidates’ staggering fundraising hauls are yet another sign of the widening enthusiasm gap between the two parties weeks out from the midterm elections.

We won’t see all fundraising reports until the Oct. 15 deadline, but here’s a glimpse into the massive hauls Democrats are raising in the third quarter, which runs from July to September:


So far, California Democrat Andrew Janz tops the list with a jaw-dropping $4.3 million raised in the third fundraising quarter of 2018. Janz, a former county prosecutor, is running against Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesSunday shows preview: Protests against George Floyd’s death, police brutality rock the nation for a second week Sunday shows preview: Leaders weigh in as country erupts in protest over George Floyd death The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – George Floyd’s death sparks protests, National Guard activation MORE (R-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee chairman who’s close allies with 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 and represents a GOP stronghold in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Janz’s high-dollar fundraising helps him compete in a tough district for Democrats. But it’s still an uphill battle in California’s 22nd district where Trump won by nearly 10 points and Nunes won reelection by more than 30 points in 2016.


Two Democrats — Amy McGrath in Kentucky and Josh Harder in California — have raised more than $3 million each. McGrath has $1.7 million in the bank, while Harder hasn’t said his cash on hand.

McGrath is running in a hotly contested race against Rep. Andy BarrAndy BarrKentucky Senate candidate: McConnell ‘couldn’t care less if we die’ House GOP to launch China probes beyond COVID-19 Put entrepreneurs, workers and flexibility in next stimulus package MORE (R-Ky.) in a district that Trump easily won by double-digits. And Harder is running against Rep. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamBottom line Bottom line Lobbying world MORE (R-Calif.) in a seat that 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 carried in 2016.


To put this in perspective, these are Senate-level numbers. In the second fundraising quarter of 2018, just seven of the 26 Senate candidates running in competitive races raised more than $3 million.


Here’s a breakdown of other House fundraising numbers that have been trickling out. Democrat Sean Casten, who’s running against Rep. 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.), raised $2.6 million, while Democrat Sharice Davids, who’s challenging Rep. 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.) raised $2.7 million. Both are running in suburban districts that Clinton won.

According to McClatchy, Davids outraised Yoder by $1.6 million. The GOP congressman, who’s running for a fifth term, raised $1.1 million in the third quarter, ending September with $1.3 million on hand.


Other Democrats who have surpassed the million-dollar mark: Dana Balter in New York, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan in Illinois and Aftab Pureval in Ohio.


Race for the White House

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.) will give some thought to a 2020 White House run – just after the midterms are over. Her comments, made at a town hall event on Saturday, were among the firmest yet from a rumored Democratic presidential hopeful.


President Trump went after three potential Democratic challengers at a Monday rally. During a campaign event for Senate hopeful, Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP senators introduce resolution opposing calls to defund the police GOP senators dodge on treatment of White House protesters Five things to know about Trump’s legal power under the Insurrection Act MORE (R-Tenn.), the president launched attacks on Sens. 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 (D-N.J.), Warren and former Vice President 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 – all of whom are seen as prospective presidential candidates in 2020.


Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) isn’t ruling out a 2020 bid, telling Politico that Democrats need a candidate who prioritizes climate change. He said: “I think our country needs a Democratic Party to produce a nominee who’s going to really be committed to climate change and defeating climate change and creating a clean energy economic message and clean energy jobs.”


Booker is slated to headline a fundraiser in Hollywood later this month. The event is expected to raise money for his 2020 reelection bid, but it’s almost certain to fuel speculation that the first-term Democrat could be eyeing a possible White House run.


And as Democrats contemplate challenging Trump in 2020, Republicans have finalized plans for their national convention. The RNC announced Monday that the Republican National Convention (RNC) is set to take place in late August in Charlotte, N.C., from Aug. 24 to 27, 2020.


Senate showdown

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Missouri GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley says he does not regret signing onto a lawsuit that would invalidate ObamaCare’s pre-existing conditions protections as the state’s attorney general. Majority Forward, a liberal super PAC, has released multiple ads attacking Hawley for his position on coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.


In that same conference call with reporters, Hawley called for a special counsel to investigate Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHillicon 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 Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos GOP votes to give Graham broad subpoena power in Obama-era probe MORE (D-Calif.) and her staff’s handling of the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Hawley called on his opponent, Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties Senate faces protracted floor fight over judges amid pandemic safety concerns Amash on eyeing presidential bid: ‘Millions of Americans’ want someone other than Trump, Biden MORE (D-Mo.), to back his call for a probe, but she decried it as a partisan tactic.


Democrats are betting that the confirmation fight over Kavanaugh will boost their support among women voters in November and through 2020, The Hill’s Amie Parnes reports. “If there’s anything to be gained… it will be massive turnout by women in the midterm election that could add seats to a Democratic House majority and even flip the Senate,” said former Rep. Steve IsraelSteven (Steve) J. IsraelThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Bad polling data is piling up for Trump Biden faces new hurdle: Winning as front-runner The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden on the cusp of formally grasping the Democratic nomination MORE (D-N.Y.), who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.


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.), facing one of the toughest re-election bids of his Senate career, is expected to get a boost from Andrew Gillum, his party’s progressive, African-American nominee for Florida governor, The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports. Gillum rode a wave of support from African-American voters and progressive whites in his August primary. That could help turn more voters out for Nelson in November.


Survey says…

Five weeks out, we’re seeing a deluge of polls. Here’s a roundup of Senate race polls:


–In North Dakota: 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 (R-N.D.) leads 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.) by 10 points in a new Gray TV poll, 51 to 41 percent. Eight percent are undecided.

–In West Virginia: 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 (D-W.Va.) is polling ahead of West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) in a Gray TV poll, leading him 46 to 38 percent.

–In Missouri: McCaskill has a small lead over Hawley, within the CNN poll’s margin of error, 47 to 44 percent.


In Colorado’s sixth congressional district, Democrats and Republicans are releasing internal polling that shows very different races. From Democratic group End Citizens United, Rep. Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (R-Colo.) is trailing Democratic opponent Jason Crow by 11 points in a recent poll. Meanwhile, a poll conducted for Coffman’s campaign has the race in a dead heat, with Crow leading by 1 point.


Republican candidates still lead among voters in Southern states, according to an NBC News/SurveyMonkey online poll out this week. Overall, 48 percent of respondents in the South said they planned to back GOP candidates compared to 43 percent who said they would vote for Democrats. One exception, however, is Georgia, where 47 percent said they would choose Democratic candidates and 43 percent would vote for Republicans.


Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezGOP’s Obama-era probes fuel Senate angst Government watchdog: ‘No evidence’ Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips No time to be selling arms to the Philippines MORE (D-N.J.) is leading his GOP opponent Bob Hugin by a narrow 2-point margin, according to a Stockton University poll released Monday. That’s well within the survey’s 4-point margin of error. The poll is the latest sign that the Senate race in New Jersey is tightening in a state that Trump lost handily in 2016. Still, most recent polls show the incumbent Democrat leading by wider margins. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday gives Menendez an 11-point lead over Hugin.


Paper chase

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is planning to donate $20 million to Senate Majority PAC (SMP), the top super PAC supporting Democratic Senate candidates, The Washington Post reports. The contribution comes after Bloomberg already pledged to spend $80 million to boost Democratic candidates in the midterms. Most of that has gone to helping the party in its efforts to retake control of the House.


Bloomberg also announced this week that he would double his commitment to LCV Victory Fund, the League of Conservation Voters‘ PAC, to $5 million. He’ll also give an additional $1 million to support a clean energy ballot measure in Washington state.


The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), the Republican super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBush, Romney won’t support Trump reelection: NYT Twitter joins Democrats to boost mail-in voting — here’s why Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.), has raked in $132 million in fundraising so far this cycle, including $40 million since the beginning of July. That’s the largest haul ever for the super PAC. By comparison, CLF raised $51 million in the entire 2016 election cycle.


What we’re watching for

Debate schedule:

Oct. 5: North Dakota Senate debate in Fargo

Oct. 8: Indiana Senate debate at Purdue University in Westville; Wisconsin Senate debate

Oct. 12: Wisconsin Senate debate


Trump rally schedule:

Oct. 4: Rochester, Minn. at 7:30 p.m. ET

Oct. 6: Topeka, Kan. at 7:30 p.m. ET

Oct. 9: Council Bluffs, Iowa at 7:30 p.m.


Coming to a TV near you

But first, a few things that won’t be coming to a TV near you. Republicans have begun pulling ad reservations from a handful of GOP-held districts, a sign that the party is doubting its chances of holding onto some seats in a year in which Democrats are widely thought to have an edge.

The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports that the National Republican Congressional Committee has cancelled more than $1 million in planned advertising boosting Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) in Kansas’s 3rd District. He’s facing a tough challenge from Democrat Sharice Davids, a first-time candidate who stands to become the first Native American woman in Congress if she wins.

Yoder isn’t the only one to see outside ad spending cut. Either the NRCC or the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) have pulled the plug on planned advertising in the districts of Reps. Keith RothfusKeith James RothfusLobbying world Conor Lamb gets 2020 challenger touted by Trump The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority MORE (R-Pa.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) and several others.


Michigan Senate candidate and veteran John James (R) launched his first TV ad of the general election that blames both parties for problems surrounding education, veterans issues and health care. He ends the ad, which doesn’t mention his opponent Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSheldon Whitehouse leads Democrats into battle against Trump judiciary Bill aims to help farmers sell carbon credits Senate Democrats pump brakes on new stimulus checks MORE (D-Mich.), saying: “I’m John James and I hate politics, but I approve this message because I love this country and I’m ready to serve.”


Majority Forward, the 501(c)(4) affiliated with SMP, is rolling out a new ad in North Dakota’s Senate race hitting Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) over Trump’s ongoing trade war with China. Democrats in the state have seized on the trade war as they seek to hold onto Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).


Wave watch

Rep. Pete SessionsPeter Anderson SessionsTexas kicks off critical battle for House control The Hill’s review of John Solomon’s columns on Ukraine Tenth Congressional Black Caucus member backs Biden MORE (R-Texas), who’s considered among the most vulnerable House Republicans this cycle, introduced a resolution this week calling to protect people with pre-existing medical conditions. While the resolution is nonbinding, it’s a sign of the lengths some Republicans are going to fend off attacks from Democrats, who have seized on failed GOP efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).


Democrats are surging in races across the Midwest as they seek to rebuild the so-called “blue wall” that came crashing down in 2016 when Trump stunned Democrats with wins in states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, The Hill’s Reid Wilson reports. Now, voters in those states largely appear poised to hand a series of victories to Democrats, driven largely by dissatisfaction with the way Trump has handled in his job.


Roughly two months after he jumped into the midterms by backing 81 Democrats in races across the country, former 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 handed endorsements to 260 more hopefuls nationwide. Among them: Florida gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum, Nelson, and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), who’s running to succeed Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (R-Ariz.).


Some prominent Democrats did not make the list, like 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), who’s challenging 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) for his Texas Senate seat. A spokesperson for Obama hinted, however, that it was a strategic decision. “President Obama is keenly aware that Republicans want nothing more than to invent a foil,” the spokesperson told The Hill Monday.


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

This story was updated at 10:09 a.m. on Oct. 4.

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