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— Democrats have aggressively moved to try to bolster their chances to win back the Senate — but the one thing they can’t control is the Democratic presidential primary.
— Vanessa Cárdenas, a senior adviser to Joe Biden’s campaign in charge of outreach to Latino, African-American and women’s groups, quit her post, POLITICO reported.
— Democrats won’t field a challenger to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) after the party’s only declared candidate dropped out after the filing deadline, and Democrats determined he couldn’t be replaced on the ballot.
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Days until the POLITICO/PBS NewsHour Democratic primary debate: 23
Days until the Iowa caucuses: 69
Days until the New Hampshire primary: 77 (Secretary of State Bill Gardner made the date official on Monday, per WMUR’s John DiStaso).
Days until the 2020 election: 343
A LONG SHADOW — The 2020 Democratic presidential primary could have an outsized influence over which party maintains control of the Senate.“It’s probably the single biggest variable outside of my control,” Cal Cunningham, the DSCC-endorsed candidate in North Carolina, told POLITICO’s Burgess Everett and James Arkin.
“Cunningham said he would ‘assume’ he’ll support the party’s presidential nominee,” they wrote. “But as he preps for a fight against first-term GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, he’s also already moving to separate himself from some of the policies of leading contenders like Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders,” like Medicare for All.
Cunningham is not the only candidate pushing back, with Maine’s Sara Gideon and Colorado’s John Hickenlooper trying to distinguish themselves from potential party standard-bearers’ ideas. “But no matter how much distance individual Senate candidates put between themselves and the 2020 primary, running away from the party’s presidential nominee rarely works and may not be much of an option. That’s why different Democratic factions are already arguing that their candidate is more likely to notch the seats needed to make Chuck Schumer majority leader.”
The conventional wisdom among both parties on who would be the strongest top-of-ticket for Senate Democrats? Their former colleague Joe Biden. “Republicans are eager to portray Democrats as wild-eyed socialists, an argument most privately admit doesn’t really work against Biden’s incremental progressivism,” Burgess and James reported. “Far better, they say, for Democrats to nominate someone firmly on the left whose policies create constant tension with more centrist congressional candidates.”
— Some grassroots activists are angry about the DSCC’s heavy-handedness in endorsing their preferred candidates early this cycle, Time’s Lissandra Villa wrote.
OUT — Cárdenas, who served as national coalitions director for the Biden campaign, quit her job, “telling two allies she was frustrated over her lack of input and with the presidential candidate’s immigration rhetoric,” POLITICO’s Marc Caputo reported. “The resignation of Cárdenas, an activist who has never worked on a political campaign before, does not leave Biden without a Latino outreach team. Cristóbal Alex, former president of the influential Latino Victory Fund, remains Biden’s senior-most adviser for issues involving Hispanic voters. And, though Cárdenas worked with coalition groups, Biden has a Latinx outreach director, Laura Jiménez.” Cárdenas did not return a call or text message from Marc.
THE DEBATE STAGE — Michael Bloomberg won’t be on the December debate stage, because he said he won’t accept any contributions (and his participation wasn’t a gimmie, either). But he doesn’t care. “It is up to the DNC. They can set the rules,” Bloomberg said on Monday, I wrote. “If they set the rules where I qualify, I would certainly debate. If they set the rules where I don’t qualify, then I won’t.” Read my full story on why Bloomberg is unperturbed that he’s missing the debate stage, and check out POLITICO’s Maya King for more on his maiden campaign stop in Virginia.
— Bloomberg could also be haunted by the skeletons of his Republican past, both as a candidate and benefactor for other GOP politicians. “As he pursues the Democratic nomination, he’ll have to explain away the millions he’s spent putting Republicans into office,” POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein wrote.
GETTING OFF THE GROUND? — Deval Patrick’s campaign is less than a shoestring operation. “Attend a Patrick event and there’s not a bumper sticker or pin to be found, let alone organizers with clipboards collecting names of would-be voters,” POLITICO’s Trent Spiner, Stephanie Murray and Maggie Severns reported. “His ground game looks to be nonexistent: The entire campaign appears to consist of a handful of volunteers” and just two staffers have been publicly named: campaign manager Abe Rakov and LaJoia Broughton, who will serve as South Carolina state director.
— Patrick and Bloomberg both made the Florida primary ballot (along with 16 other Democrats), per POLITICO Florida’s Gary Fineout.
THE AD WARS — Bloomberg’s massive ad buy actually has two different creatives: The one we featured in Score on Monday and a positive spot that focuses a bit more on his biography. The second spot focuses on his business record and tenure as mayor, saying he was “elected mayor of a shaken city” after Sept. 11, and that “he rebuilds.”
POLLS POLLS POLLS — A new poll in New Hampshire has a pileup at the top. In a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll, Sanders is at 16 percent, Warren is at 14 percent, Pete Buttigieg is at 13 percent and Biden is at 12 percent. Tulsi Gabbard is at 6 percent and Andrew Yang is at 4 percent, the last candidate at or above that mark. Twenty-one percent of voters were undecided (500 likely Democratic primary voters; Nov. 21-24; +/- 4.4 percentage point MOE). This is not a debate-qualifying poll.
ENDORSEMENT CORNER — Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) endorsed Biden on Monday. She’s the first member of Congress from any of the four early states to back a presidential bid, per our endorsement tracker. Buttigieg also picked up his second endorsement from a member of Congress after Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) endorsed him.
THE SENATE MAP — Cotton will go uncontested in Arkansas, after his original Democratic challenger Josh Mahony dropped out hours after the filing deadline, citing a family health concern, and the state Democratic party determined it couldn’t legally replace him. “Absent any further facts provided to us that look like they would survive a legal challenge, we’re not going to be able to put a candidate on the ballot,” state Chairman Michael John Gray said in an interview with James for Pros. More: “I have sympathy and my prayers are with Josh’s family with a health concern of any nature that would make him make this decision,” Gray said. “But as a voter in Arkansas, not just chairman of the party, I am frustrated by the sequence of events.”
— Club for Growth Action is going up with an ad attacking Rep. Bradley Byrne, who is running in the Alabama Republican Senate primary, James writes in. In the ad, a narrator attacks Byrne for supporting the Export-Import Bank, accusing him of “working for the special interests, not your interests.” The ad will run Saturday during the Iron Bowl, the annual college football rivalry matchup between the University of Alabama and Auburn University. The ad is running in the Mobile market, which is part of Byrne’s congressional district, during the game and will subsequently run on Fox News.
— Former Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) is hosting a fundraiser in early December for Al Gross, the independent candidate challenging GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan. Gross, who outraised Sullivan last quarter, is running as an independent but has the endorsement of the state Democratic Party.
THE FILINGS — The Chamber of Commerce took in $168 million in 2018, according to new tax documents obtained by POLITICO’s Maggie Severns. The total indicates the organization — the biggest lobbying spender in Washington and a major force on campaign spending in recent years — is slightly smaller than it was at this point during the last midterm election cycle, when the group brought in $206 million in revenue, according to filings.
The Chamber of Commerce’s biggest contractor was ad maker Something Else Strategies, which took in $5.3 million in 2018. Tom Donahue, who announced plans this year to step down from his post as president and CEO in 2022 after reporting by The Wall Street Journal about the Chamber’s declining influence in Trump’s Washington, earned $6.9 million from the Chamber of Commerce in 2018, including bonuses.
THE MAP LINES — A U.S. District Court judge turned aside a Republican request to throw out Michigan’s new redistricting commission for its legislative district lines and said a GOP-led suit was unlikely to succeed, The Detroit News’ Craig Mauger reported.
THE HOUSE MAP — Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison is mulling a primary challenge to freshman Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew in NJ-02, POLITICO New Jersey’s Matt Friedman reported for Pros. “I have been asked to run by people whose opinions I value, and it’s something I have to think about,” Harrison told Matt.
— Adam Schleifer, a former assistant U.S. attorney, announced he’d run in the Democratic primary in the open seat race in NY-17, per the Rockland/Westchester Journal News’ Mark Lungariello.
— Freshman GOP Rep. Ross Spano could draw a primary challenger in FL-15 as he’s under investigation for his campaign spending (he has denied any wrongdoing), The Lakeland Ledger’s Gary White reported. “Neil Combee, a Lakeland resident and former state legislator who lost to Spano in the 2018 primary, said he has heard of a few Republicans considering a run against Spano in next year’s primary,” White reported. Combee said he hasn’t considered running, and declined to name a potential challenger.
— Republican George Papadopoulos (yes, THAT George Papadopoulos) officially kicked off his campaign for the special election in CA-25 with an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” per Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer.
— Mark Gonsalves, a “little-known” Republican candidate in GA-07, is airing a half-hour infomercial on some stations in the early morning hours on Saturday, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jim Galloway, Greg Bluestein and Tia Mitchell. Here’s the infomercial.
— Focus groups conducted by House Majority Forward, the Democratic dark-money group, of white voters in NJ-02 and NJ-03 in mid-October found that “no single problem came across as a dominant concern” among voters, but that most respondents “said they side with Trump” on immigration. NJ.com’s Jonathan Salant has more on the focus group report.
AD WARS — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican, is launching his first television buy of the cycle. Justice bought about $56,000 worth of air time starting today and running through Dec. 8, according to Advertising Analytics. He’s been swamped in advertising by his primary opponent Woody Thrasher, who has spent around $879,000 thus far.
THE GOVERNATORS — It could be return of the Mack in Virginia. Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is staffing up his political action committee, hiring “Chris Bolling, executive director of the state Democratic Party, to lead Common Good VA PAC,” The Washington Post’s Laura Vozzella reported.
— The two Democrats who won gubernatorial elections in red states earlier this month — Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards and Kentucky’s Andy Beshear — wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on how Democrats “can win, everywhere”: “To win, we had to reach out to people across the political spectrum, including people who voted for President Trump,” they wrote. “Our opponents attempted to nationalize our races, making them about the politics of Washington. The president came to each of our states to campaign for our opponents. This was not likely to change the outcome because the people we met on the campaign trail do not believe the politics of Washington are working for them.”
IN THE STATES — Minor parties in New York are unhappy after a state commission recommended raising the threshold they need to hit to automatically stay on the ballot and have state-funded primaries, POLITICO New York’s Bill Mahoney reported. Minor parties in New York (the greatest state in the nation) have much greater influence than in other states because of “fusion voting” — where candidates can run on multiple lines.
— A document from the Texas Republican Party containing information for how the party planned on targeting statehouse Democrats was inadvertently obtained by some Democratic officials, The Dallas Morning News’ James Barragan reported. More: “The plan also addresses a nagging concern for the Texas GOP: Trump’s unpopularity with some Republicans in the state.”
FIRST IN SCORE — ENDORSEMENT CORNER — 314 Action, a science and STEM-focused Democratic outside group, announced it was backing Pritesh Gandhi in the TX-10 Democratic primary. Gandhi, a doctor by training, is facing a competitive primary to face GOP Rep. Michael McCaul, with Shannon Hutcheson and Mike Siegel both running for the Democratic nod.
STAFFING UP — The Progressive Turnout Project named Johnny Acevedo as the group’s national Latinx outreach director.
— The Democratic Attorneys General Association announced that Massachusetts state Attorney General Maura Healey will join Oregon state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum as co-chair.
— The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee added Maryland state House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Washington state Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon to its board.
CODA — QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It makes us Iowans look like nobodies,” a woman at a Buttigieg rally on Bloomberg skipping the state, per NBC News.