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DSCC FRIDAY TAKEAWAYS –2018 NOT SHAPING UP THE WAY THE GOP HOPED – MCSALLY ENTRANCE IN AZSEN SETS OFF “FRACTIOUS PRIMARY FIGHT” – HELLER “IN DEEP TROUBLE”

“WHERE WILL THEY DRAW THE LINE?” The report on Roy Moore is disturbing, as is the response from Senate Republicans. Two pieces we read that you should too: 

Washington Post: The GOP isn’t calling for Roy Moore to step aside — not really.

  • Senate Republicans’ response to the allegation that Roy Moore initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 have been strikingly similar: If it’s true, he must step aside.
  • It sounds tough, but it means far less — practically speaking — than it seems.
  • The allegations against Moore, after all, involve things that allegedly happened 35 to 40 years ago, when he was in his early 30s… In other words, as with other cases of alleged sexual harassment or assault that are disclosed by the victims decades later, it’s basically impossible that there will be physical evidence that will prove Moore did anything. And even if more accusers were to come forward, it would likely remain Moore’s word against theirs… And it doesn’t seem that Moore is about to confess to anything.
  • The statements from Senate Republicans, then, have the effect of looking tough but also not fully denouncing Moore in case he is their only hope at holding a seat… Republicans’ careful wording here should be noted.

The Daily 202: As Roy Moore Declines to step aside.

  • This is just the latest in a string of character tests that Republicans have faced in the past few years. Many, but not all, have related to Trump. Scores of GOP leaders who bristled after the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged in October 2016 chose just days later to rally behind Trump anyway. Republicans came to Greg Gianforte’s defense after he admitted physically assaulting a reporter this June, and he won a special election to keep Montana’s sole House seat in GOP hands. In 2012, the National Republican Senatorial Committee publicly announced that it was abandoning GOP nominee Todd Akin in the Missouri Senate race after he declared that “legitimate rape” does not lead to unwanted pregnancies (because, he said, the female body has ways of shutting them down). But when polls showed that Akin was within striking distance of beating Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Senate Republican leaders quietly reversed themselves and funneled nearly $1 million to fund a last-minute TV ad blitz on his behalf.
  • In those three cases, Republican leaders in Washington stomached their initial concerns and chose to prioritize politics above principles. With Moore making clear that he will not step aside, now they face another legacy-defining test: Will they follow their moral compasses or their political ones?
  • If not here, where will they draw the line? 

DSCC MEMO: 2018 NOT SHAPING UP THE WAY THE GOP HOPED. One year out from the 2018 midterms, and after Democrats’ resounding victories across the country on Tuesday, the DSCC released a memo detailing how the GOP has not set itself up for victory in 2018. Bottom line: Senate Democrats are winning every key campaign metric – better candidates with strong fundraising, running on unmatched records. While Democrats face a challenging map, we are entering the on-year strongly positioned for victory in key races across the country. Some highlights:

1.Recruitment failures and retirements have given way to nasty primaries where candidates “will have to choose a side rather than make an uncomfortable straddle” in their party’s civil war. Rather than tamping down their primaries, Republicans must brace for even more vicious fights. Here’s how it’s progressing in some key states:

Arizona. Kelli Ward is continuing to scramble the GOP’s primary field and potential establishment candidates like Martha McSally are already facing blowback. Business Insider wrote that McSally “has a history of critical comments aimed at President Donald Trump” and CNN detailed how conservative groups are warning her not to enter the race – setting the stage for what U.S. News & World Report is calling a “scorched-earth primary battle.” Meanwhile, Kyrsten Sinema is being hailed as a strong recruit with a moderate record and a commanding $4.1 million cash-on-hand.

Indiana. Congressmen Messer and Rokita are locked in what Politico called “The GOP’s Nastiest Primary.” Some of the most memorable attacks have highlighted Rokita’s diva-esque chauffeuring demands and Messer’s wife’s questionable legal billing. Meanwhile, State Representative Mike Braun is the first GOP candidate to go up on TV. 

Missouri. In his first press availability as a Senate candidate, The Springfield News-Leader reported that “Hawley seemed flummoxed,” after he was caught lying about Senator McCaskill, and he continues to draw criticism from Missouri conservatives who distrust his ties to the establishment and who describe his campaign as invisible. His primary opponents have kept up a steady barrage of attacks, stating “he’s using Missouri voters as stepping stones to advance his political career.”

Montana. After an epic series of botched recruitments, Montana Republicans are left with a five-way primary of uninspiring, last choice candidates. Each would bring unique vulnerabilities to a general election and they are already sniping at each other.

Nevada. Dean Heller is caught in a vice – facing a vicious primary from Danny Tarkanian, while running in a state that is trending away from his party. CNN and Roll Call have both named him the most vulnerable Senator, writing he’s “struggled with balancing pressure from conservative and liberal forces” and that his “health care gymnastics complicate what already looked like a tough race.” Meanwhile, Jacky Rosen outraised Heller last cycle and is running a strong campaign. 

Ohio. While Mandel faces an ongoing scandal over his taxpayer funded, self-promotional TV ads, his primary opponent Mike Gibbons has begun viciously attacking him – telling The Findlay Courier “I don’t think the guy can win…frankly I don’t the guy’s ready for the U.S. Senate.’”

Tennessee. With a combined 11 terms in the House between them, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and former Congressman Stephen Fincher are “trying to brand the other as out of touch with Tennessee, attacking the few differences in their right-wing records.”

West VirginiaRoll Call reported “The sparring is out in the open in West Virginia,” between Congressman Evan Jenkins and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. In recent days they’ve accused each other of being pro-abortion, supporting tax increases, and for ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Wisconsin. Leah Vukmir is facing off against former Democrat Kevin Nicholson in a primary that keeps getting nastier. Most recently, Nicholson alienated Wisconsin Republicans by attacking Paul Ryan and touting his support from Steve Bannon. Both Vukmir and Nicholson are backed by competing billionaires, while investor Eric Hovde continues to eye the race. Bonus #WISEN: The Badger State Brawl Timeline.

2. The centerpiece of the GOP’s legislative efforts – their toxic health care agenda – is wildly unpopular with voters of every political persuasion. It will be a defining issue of 2018, just as it was in Tuesday’s elections. Besides their failed efforts to spike health care costs and strip coverage for millions of Americans, the GOP has nothing to run on.

3. Another sign of Democrats’ momentum and strong grassroots support is fundraising: Democrats in key Senate races are “crushing” Republicans in fundraising, with “nine of the 10 Democratic senators from states President Trump won rais[ing] more than $1 million in the last fundraising quarter, easily outpacing most of their rivals.” And for six months in a row, the DSCC has outraised the NRSC.

SENATE GOP’S TAX PLAN: KEEP DONORS’ WALLETS OPEN. Yesterday, Senate Republicans unveiled their tax plan and the results would be awful for the middle class. The plan double taxes middle class families now, and blows up the deficit for their kids to pay off later – all to fund big kickbacks to the multinational corporations and billionaire donors that fuel McConnell’s Republican Party. But don’t take it from us: Senate Republicans have openlyrepeatedly, admitted that the motivation behind both this vote and their failed Obamacare repeal efforts is to get the cash flowing to their campaign accounts.

This seems relevant: “Things are looking rough right now” for the NRSC’s fundraising, “driven by what many donors see as the party’s stymied agenda in Congress.”

DANGEROUS CONSPIRACY THEORISTS CITE MANDEL AS THE “PERFECT CANDIDATE.” Remember the super PAC founded by the dangerous conspiracy theorists who do not believe in rape that was supporting Mandel’s Senate ambitions? It’s shutting down, but the PACs two founders have promised to continue standing by Mandel, describing him as the “perfect candidate.” Mandel never disavowed the group’s support, despite calls to do so, and we doubt he will now. It’s further proof that for Mandel, “no gutter is too deep.”

MCSALLY’S “AWKWARD” ENTRANCE SETS OFF “FRACTIOUS PRIMARY FIGHT.” Like the rest of Arizona, the Arizona Daily Star is not impressed with Martha McSally’s campaign roll-out, calling it “awkward” and pointing to an excruciating exchange with Neil Cavuto.

Cavuto: “She is running, by the way, to replace Sen. Jeff Flake who is retiring.”
McSally quickly corrected him: “That’s not announced, yet, so I just want to clarify that.”’ 

When she finally announces, newspapers across the state and nationally will observe on the inevitable “scorched earth-primary battle” that will set up “a costly… nasty August primary” in the state.

CHUCK TODD: HELLER “IN DEEP, DEEP, DEEP, DEEP TROUBLE.” That’s what Chuck Todd had to say about the state of the Nevada Senate race following the 2017 election results: “Yes, Nevada – Heller’s probably in deep, deep, deep trouble. More vulnerable today than I thought he was yesterday, and I thought he was vulnerable yesterday.”

DOWNING DECLARES “WITCH HUNT” IN #MTSEN. Following new details in the investigation into Montana Senate candidate Troy Downing’s hunting violations and residency issues, Downing accused the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks of being part of the “deep state” that was “conduct[ing] a witch hunt against him.” Okay.

SELF-SERVING SCOTT STRIKES AGAIN. A host of stories this week highlight how Governor Rick Scott continues to put his own interests ahead of Floridians. From “sidestepping state laws that require him to fully disclose the extent of his vast personal wealth” to employing his former son-in-law as a board observer in his blind trust, it’s clear Scott is only looking out for himself.
CBS Miami: Exclusive: Nursing Home Sought Help From Lobbyist Friend Of Governor.
Sun Sentinel: Rick Scott former son-in-law employed as board observer at company in governor’s blind trust.
AP: Lawsuit contends Florida governor is flouting disclosure law. 

IN THE STATES.
IN – WBIW: Donnelly’s And Hatch’s Bipartisan Suicide Prevention Bill Passes In The Senate
MI – WNDU: Legislators honored for bipartisan work
MO – West Plains Daily Quill: Senator McCaskill targets opioid smuggling
MT – Montana Standard: Tester introduces bipartisan bill to help secure Butte veterans home
(MORE) MT – Montana Post: Jon Tester has passed more bills this year than he can count on his 7 fingers
NM – CBS News: Jeff Flake, Martin Heinrich introduce bill to close domestic violence loophole in military
NY – Harpers Bazaar: THE TIME FOR CRYING IS OVER—SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND WANTS YOU TO RUN FOR OFFICE INSTEAD
OH – Youngstown Vindicator: Sen. Sherrod Brown plans to introduce a bill he says will secure retirees’ pensions
WV – Metro News: Manchin to serve as No Labels honorary co-chair 

TWEET OF THE WEEK.

Happy Veterans Day!

Lauren Passalacqua
@laurenvpass 

Ben Ray
@BenRay 

David Bergstein
@DavidABergstein 

Courtney Rice
@Court_Rice 

Justin Lavoie
@je_lavoie

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