SENATE GOP’S DASHED DREAMS? That’s what the National Journal writes on the Republicans’ midterm outlook as a “poisonous environment” overtakes the GOP. The fallout from their ongoing intraparty war, coupled with a class of second- and third-tier recruits and meager fundraising numbers is leading to a “pessimistic forecast for the GOP.” Take a look:

  • Four developments are leading to such a pessimistic forecast for the GOP: polling, fundraising, recruitment, and the internal divisions within the Republican party.   
  • First, a newly-released batch of Morning Consult polls testing senators’ popularity is showing that three of the most vulnerable Democratic senators — North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, and Montana’s Jon Tester — hold job approval ratings above 50 percent, while the one swing-state GOP senator up for reelection (Nevada’s Dean Heller) has an approval rating among the lowest in the Senate.
  • Second, Democrats hold an imposing fundraising advantage. All 10 red-state Democrats banked over $3 million in their campaign accounts at the end of quarter ending in September– with seven topping the $5 million mark.  Not a single Republican challenger raised $1 million — something of a Mendoza line for Senate fundraising. Heller was outraised by Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen. Even Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Alabama nominee Roy Moore were outraised by long-shot Democratic opponents.  
  • At the national level, the fundraising gap is equally stark. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $4.4 million in September, more than double the $2.1 million reported by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, marking the sixth month in a row that Democrats have held the financial advantage. The DSCC now has more cash-on-hand than its GOP counterpart.
  • Third, the recruiting picture for Republicans is decidedly mixed even with the favorable map… Republicans are still scrambling to land a challenger against Heitkamp, despite North Dakota’s solidly-GOP bent. They’ve struggled to land top candidates in the Rust Belt region that Trump flipped in last year’s election. Competitive primaries in Indiana, West Virginia, and Wisconsin could end up hurting the eventual nominees. Meanwhile, the jury is still out on numerous recruits with decent resumes but unproven track records.
  • Fourth, the animosity between Republican leaders and grassroots activists is worsening. The feud between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and former Trump adviser Steve Bannon has gotten so bad that it threatens to dampen Republican turnout — at a time when the Democrats’ own engagement is supercharged. These divisions hamper the party’s ability to nominate an electable successor to Sen. Jeff Flake, who was forced to retire because he alienated the pro-Trump wing of the GOP. Party leaders also fear that a deeply-flawed candidate could threaten a senator in a primary — and put an otherwise safe seat in play for the Democrat.
  • Senate Republicans have gone from dreaming of a Senate supermajority to merely preventing any losses for 2018. 

GOP UNVEILS TAX PLAN, “RICH AND CORPORATIONS GAIN THE MOST.” Yesterday the Republicans unveiled their secret tax plan and we’re beginning to understand why they’ve kept the details under wraps: it “offer[s] little aid for many in [the] middle class,” while the wealthy and multinational corporations – the same individuals who fuel the Republican Party – “gain the most.” And the voters have noticed:

  • ABC Poll: 50 percent oppose, and 60 percent of Americans think the GOP’s plan will benefit the wealthy. Only 33 percent support it, and just 13 percent think that it will help the middle class.
  • NBC/WSJ: Just 25 percent of voters think this plan is a good idea, and only 19 percent think it will improve the economy.
  • CBS: 58 percent of those surveyed think the Republican Party favors the rich.

SCOTT “BIG WINNER UNDER GOP TAX PLAN.” That’s how the Tampa Bay Times describes Scott’s payout bonanza under the GOP’s tax plan. Reminder: Scott also pushed for ACA repeal, which Politico reported would have given him “a windfall tax cut of anywhere from $250,000 to $500,000.” It’s another reminder that Scott is a self-serving politician: only looking out for himself while others pay the price.

BEDLAM” IN AZ GOP PRIMARY. Senator Flake’s sudden decision to retire further exposed “deep fissures” within the GOP, with the Arizona Republican primary as ground zero. While Congresswoman McSally has “emerg[ed] as the GOP establishment’s favorite,” Bannon and anti-establishment forces have declared her candidacy as a nonstarter, preferring perennial candidate Kelli Ward. Meanwhile, former Governor Brewer has thrown her support behind Jay Heiler – setting up what is sure to be “another scorched-earth primary battle” in the GOP’s civil war. 

Arizona Republic: Senate poll: GOP voters uncertain who they want to replace Jeff Flake.

  • Polls showed Ward with big leads over the unpopular Flake, but now that he’s withdrawn from the race, Republicans and GOP-leaning independents appear receptive to an alternative to Ward, who failed in her 2016 primary challenge to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
  • Heiler, a well-known figure at the State Capitol for years as the former chief of staff to former Gov. Fife Symington and a longtime lobbyist, has formed an exploratory committee for the Senate race. It is chaired by former Gov. Jan Brewer.
  • The fiscally conservative Club for Growth PAC, which is influential in Republican primaries, on Friday made it clear that it prefers Salmon over McSally. The same day, the Club PAC and other national ‘tea-party’-aligned groups such as the Senate Conservatives Fund, FreedomWorks and Eagle Forum put out a joint statement in opposition to the more moderate McSally, who the groups said ‘masquerades as a conservative on the campaign trail but time and time again … has abandoned conservative principles.’

New York Times: ‘Bedlam Out Here in Arizona’ After Jeff Flake Departs Senate Race.
U.S. News: Razing Arizona: McSally Eyeing GOP Senate Battle.
Business Insider: The GOP establishment is rallying around a new frontrunner to replace Jeff Flake — but she’s been repeatedly critical of Trump. 

OPEN ENROLLMENT BEGINS AMIDST GOP’S “HOSTILE TAKEOVER.” That’s how a health policy expert from the American Enterprise Institute described efforts undertaken by Republicans and the Trump administration to sabotage health care markets at the start of open enrollment, which began this week. One year out from the midterms, with higher premiums and less options, voters will remember who is to blame and will hold the GOP accountable for their broken promises and harmful agenda.

HELLER NEXT IN GOP CIVIL WAR.” Nevada is emerging as “the next key battleground between the GOP establishment and party insurgents” as Bannon-backed candidate Danny Tarkanian challenges Senator Heller. Heller “faces a tough climb” in the primary – a result of his early disagreements with Trump – and in the general election – a result of his efforts to sabotage the health care markets and implement a plan that even his state’s Republican Governor has opposed.

GOP PRIMARY CLASHES CONTINUE. Nevada isn’t the only race where establishment and insurgent candidates are clashing:

WISCONSIN: Bannon-backed candidate Kevin Nicholson “walk[ed] a political tightrope” this week when questioned about his support for Speaker Paul Ryan. State Senator Leah Vukmir, whose ties to conservatives in-state are strong, has called on Nicholson to apologize. Meanwhile, conservative talk radio in the state remains hesitant about Nicholson’s conservative bonafides and his millionaire out-of-state backers. 

WEST VIRGINIA: Congressman Evan Jenkins and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey are sparring for space in the outside lane, with Jenkins accusing Morrisey of being a “former pain pill lobbyist” and Morrisey accusing Jenkins of being hypocritical.

MANDEL’S TV AD SCANDAL AN ISSUE IN OTHER OH RACES. Josh Mandel’s shady use of taxpayer funds is now infiltrating the current Ohio State Treasurer race, with one candidate saying Mandel’s claim of not having any records of his decision to spend $2 million in taxpayer money is “not believable.”

#GOP4JONES. Turned off by his divisive views, the “Republicans for Doug Jones’ movement is gaining ground around the state as some voters urge their fellow conservatives to cross over to the Democratic side in order to keep Moore out of the Senate.”

Meanwhile, Roy Moore Retreats:’s Kyle Whitmire blasts Moore for becoming “more scarce than a Trump cabinet nominee ducking a Mueller subpoena.”

SAY WHAT?! #TNSEN EDITION. Talking Points Memo reports that Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn invited “an avowed neo-Confederate secessionist,” Rev. David O. Jones, to deliver the opening prayer to the House in 2004. Jones has also donated to Blackburn. When pressed about her friendship with the Reverend, Blackburn refused to comment.  

**Bonus read: A quick Q&A with Nevada Senate candidate, Rep. Jacky Rosen**

Washington Post: The Daily 202: Red state Democrats are proposing lots of ideas to cut taxes and work with Trump
IN – WBIW: Donnelly To Senate Leadership: We Need Robust Funding To Address The Opioid Crisis
MN-Brainerd Dispatch: Klobuchar aims to raise awareness for carbon monoxide poisoning
MT – Glasgow Courier: Tester’s Talks Security, Vet Benefits
ND – AG Week: Heitkamp bill would fine tune farm safety net program
PA/MI – Augusta Free Press: Warner, Casey, Stabenow introduce job training tax credit proposal
VA – Augusta Free Press: Kaine, colleagues urge Trump to rescind proposed national park fee increase
WV – Metro News: Manchin conducts town hall meeting in Berkeley Springs
(MORE) WV – AP: Manchin Website Lists Job Openings for West Virginians
WI – WEAU: Sen. Baldwin introduces sexual harassment protection legislation 


Lauren Passalacqua

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David Bergstein

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