*NEW* JENNIFER DUFFY: REPUBLICANS’ 2018 PROSPECTS ERODE. Duffy’s succinct take on where things stand for the GOP: “Senate Republicans started the cycle with a good electoral map that gave them some hope that they could gain seats, even in a mid-term election when history strongly suggests that they should lose them. But, a growing schism in the Republican Party is threatening to erode many of the advantages Senate Republicans have, and is beginning to jeopardize their ability to gain seats as they are forced to fight multiple primaries that have the potential to provide Democrats with opportunities that didn’t exist just a month ago.” Read the piece here.   

GOP’S “LOSE-LOSE SITUATION.” That’s how a GOP strategist described the McConnell vs. Bannon dynamics roiling already-nasty primaries, leaving candidates in an “unenviable spot between two competing – and potentially vital – factions in a primary.” More from the National Journal:

  • “Steve Bannon’s rhetorical war on Republicans is injecting an uncomfortable question into the biggest Senate battlegrounds: whether GOP candidates will support Majority Leader Mitch McConnell if they are elected.”
  • “The dynamic, GOP strategists admitted, is forcing Republicans into an unenviable spot between two competing—and potentially vital—factions in a primary… said one national GOP strategist with Senate race experience. ‘It’s sort of a lose-lose situation.’
  • “Top Republicans are also sounding alarms about candidates who tie themselves too closely to President Trump’s former chief strategist, predicting it will hamper them in the general election. ‘My biggest concern is that Republican candidates who wrap themselves around Steve Bannon now will have to answer for his unsavory views and alt-right connections when Democrats put him into their attack ads next fall,’ said Steven Law, president of the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund.”
  • “Complicating the situation is the fact that some candidates on Bannon’s radar have deep ties to the GOP establishment. In Missouri, for example, Josh Hawley was a top recruit of national Republicans, and the current front-runner in Ohio, Josh Mandel, ran with full party support as the nominee in 2012. This week, both dodged when asked whether they would support McConnell.
  • “In some cases, Senate candidates are explicitly running against the current Senate, but it is less clear whether they want to throw out McConnell. In Indiana, Rep. Luke Messer has criticized the Senate’s inaction on issues such as health care, while his primary opponent[‘s …] associates have been in contact with people in Bannon’s orbit.”
  • “In Wisconsin, Republican Kevin Nicholson, a Marine veteran, is publicly posturing himself as an anti-McConnell candidate. His primary opponent, state Sen. Leah Vukmir, is taking a different tact, telling National Journal she will ‘support whomever will help the president drain the swamp.’”

“MCCONNELL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX” TARS OWN CANDIDATES. Few Senate Republican candidates are publicly embracing McConnell and that’s because he’s public enemy No. 1 for much of the base – a big problem if you want to win the primary. That didn’t stop the “McConnell Industrial Complex” from tarring their own recruits with the Majority Leader’s toxic brand. Here are some key points from this must-read Politico report:

  • “For months, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has been media training Rosendale, according to a person close to the campaign. In addition to any help he gets from Bannon, Rosendale is also a client of the consulting firm On Message, Inc., one of the most ‘establishment’ consulting firms in Washington, which is running his media and digital operations.”
  • “It’s all fantasy,’ Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to McConnell, said in an interview.”
  • “It’s not just a question raised in Montana. In Missouri, Bannon is very interested in State Attorney General Josh Hawley, who was recruited by none other than McConnell to run in the first place. ‘He was our number one recruit of the cycle,’ Holmes said. ‘We worked our tail off to recruit Josh Hawley.’”
  • “‘The Republican establishment is so hollow and lacking in ideas that they’re almost forced to try and latch onto our slate of populist-conservatives and call them their own to survive,’ said former White House adviser Andrew Surabian, now a senior adviser to the pro-Trump super PAC Great America Alliance.”
  • “He added: ‘If the McConnell Industrial Complex inside the beltway wants us to believe that these candidates are with Mitch, then they should tell us which of them are publicly aligning themselves under the McConnell flag and supporting him for Majority Leader.”
  • “Surabian, who still works closely with Bannon, called McConnell a ‘toxic substance in a Republican primary’ and noted that ‘candidates are flocking to be aligned with Bannon because they understand that the power in the Republican party now lies in its America First, anti-establishment wing.’”

INTRAPARTY WAR IS “EARLY FLASHPOINT” IN WI SEN. The GOP’s intraparty war has an especially active front in Wisconsin. In the last week:

The “battle” made front-page news in Wisconsin:


THERE’S MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM. It’s not just Wisconsin – the primary divisions within the GOP are playing out across the map:

WEST VIRGINIA: AG Morrisey and Congressman Jenkins spent the week “trading barbs” over abortion, despite advocacy groups not being able to “pinpoint a difference between either candidate on the issue.” A spokesperson for Morrisey called Jenkins’ attacks “desperate flailing” to make up for a slow fundraising quarter. 

ARIZONA: Perennial candidate Kelli Ward received the official backing of Great America PAC and Steve Bannon, setting up an expensive primary battle with Senator Flake who has earned the ire of Trump and conservative grassroots.  

INDIANA:The GOP’s nastiest primary” has continued to delve further into a “personal and biting” contest between Congressmen Messer and Rokita, with Messer saying he wouldn’t expect the race to be any different because he “know[s] how [Rokita] behaves.”

REPUBLICANS OWN DAMAGE TO HEALTH MARKETS. Republicans own the problems that have come from their intentional sabotage of the health care system, and Trump’s decision to stop funding CSRs and to throw cold water over a bipartisan deal from the Alexander-Murray talks have all but guaranteed that voters will blame Republicans and the administration for their spiked costs and stripped coverage. Every Republican Senate candidate should already be speaking out against their party’s effort to wreck this deal — but if they don’t it will give voters even more reason to hold them accountable for their skyrocketing health care costs in 2018. Quick reminder of what voters read this week:
USA Today: Trump sells out your health insurance [Editorial]
MI – Detroit News: “Nearly 156,300 Michigan consumers received health plans with cost-sharing reduction subsidies.”
MT – KTVQ: Trump undercuts “Obamacare” market in Montana; one insurer may consider exit
ND – News Tribune: Trump’s health care decision could cost North Dakotans
NV – Nevada Independent: Sandoval: Trump decision to end health-care subsidies for low-income Americans is ‘devastating’
OH – Columbus Dispatch: Trump’s twin moves undercut Obamacare
PA – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Trump’s end to health-care subsidies could mean double-digit rate hike in Pa
WV – Register Herald: Trump, Jenkins putting your health care at risk 

SINEMA, ROSEN POST BIG NUMBERS IN Q3. Kyrsten Sinema and Jacky Rosen reported impressive Q3s:
Sinema raised more than $1 million and has more than $4.1 million cash-on-hand, $700,000 more than Senator Flake.
Rosen outraised Senator Heller this quarter with $1.2 million and has more than $1.2 million cash-on-hand, with her contributions coming from more than 20,000 individuals. 

MANDEL’S TAXPAYER-FUNDED TV AD SCANDAL GROWS. The Columbus Dispatch reported this week that Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel alleges he and his staff do not have any written communication about their spending $2 million in taxpayer funds on self-promotional TV ads. “That’s the opposite of transparency, several observers said Monday.” A quick refresher on this never-ending scandal (and don’t miss this timeline from the Ohio Dems):

This is just another example of how Mandel pushes his own interests at the expense of Ohioans. The reason he doesn’t practice the same kind of transparency he pays lip-service to is because it would expose that he’s spending tax dollars to advance his own political agenda. The truth about Josh is very simple: he’s only ever looking out for himself.

“PLEASE CLAP,” MONTANA EDITION. Over the weekend, Judge Russell Fagg formally announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate – after raising ethical questions by simultaneously hearing cases from the bench and campaigning. While long expected, it was less than stellar: a mere 8 people attended an event with the candidate, after which, he cornered a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and begged him to sidestep the fact that not many people came to the event. Sad.

WATCH: Who Are These Guys? The Montana Democratic Party is out with a new video profiling the growing list of Republican primary candidates. Watch here.

SCOTT’S NURSING HOME WOES. Governor Scott’s nursing home woes continued to escalate this week as the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans requested that the Leon County State Attorney open an investigation into Scott’s deletion of four voicemails from the Hollywood Hills nursing home requesting help after Hurricane Irma.

FL – Tampa Bay Times: Bill Nelson writes Agriculture Sec. Purdue to ask for SNAP help
(MORE) FL – Tampa Bay Times: Bill Nelson accuses Trump of holding up money for Florida’s citrus growers
IN – Indiana Public Media: Donnelly Co-sponsors Bipartisan Bills Targeting Opioid Crisis
IN/WI – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Senators call for industrial barrel investigation to expand in a letter to EPA, OSHA
MI – The Peninsula: Sen. Stabenow introduces land, water conservation protections into new farm bill
MO – Northwest Missourian: Missouri senator addresses local concerns
MT – Missoulian: University of Montana students share successes of Upward Bound program with Tester
OH – AP: UAW Backs Sen. Brown After Some Unions Left Dems in 2016
WV – CBS: Senator introduces repeal of 2016 law after “60 Minutes”/Washington Post opioid epidemic report
WI – WKOW: Sens. Baldwin, McCain band together to take on drug costs 


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