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DSCC FRIDAY TAKEAWAYS: COOK SHIFTS SENATE BATTLE IN DEMS’ FAVOR AGAIN—IOWA, GEORGIA MOVE TO TOSS-UP—VIDEO: GOP SENATORS PRAISED TRUMP’S COVID RESPONSE

*NEW* COOK POLITICAL REPORT: “DEMOCRATS ARE A SLIGHT FAVORITE TO WIN THE SENATE MAJORITY.” In a new analysis from Jessica Taylor, the Cook Political Report moved five different Senate race ratings in Democrats’ direction, including shifting Iowa and Georgia races to Toss-Up – two seats that Republicans did not anticipate would be competitive at the start of this election cycle. Cook also projected that “Democrats are a slight favorite to win the Senate majority” as of right now and have “multiple plausible paths” to flip the chamber, as even Republicans strategists have grown increasingly pessimistic about their ability to hold the majority. The race rating update comes after Inside Elections also moved eight Senate races in Democrats’ direction this month, and follows a record-breaking fundraising quarter where 13 Democratic candidates outraised Republicans in GOP-held Senate seats.

One eye-popping stat on Senate ad spending and fall reservations from the party committees and other major outside groups in 2020: 97.4% of the Democratic spending is offensive, and 96.6% of the GOP spending is defensive.

Our favorite quotes from Republicans:

  • GOP pollster: “It’s grim. There’s just so many places where Democrats either have the upper hand or are competitive in states that six months ago we wouldn’t have considered at risk.” 
  • Alarmed Republican strategist: “If you’re an incumbent in a bad environment sitting at 44 percent, you should be pretty damn scared. The expanding map has made it really hard, and there’s just a lot of Democratic momentum right now.”
  • National GOP strategist looking at polls across the map: “The bottom fell out for us at the end of May and June,” with worsening numbers continuing into July.
  • Colorado Republican: “Trump is doing Cory no favors. If Trump loses Colorado by 12 or 13 points, it’s hard to see how Cory can withstand that.”
  • Top Republican Senate strategist: “Arizona is just about off the map. I think Kelly has run the best campaign in America.”
  • National GOP strategist: “The environment is even worse there than it was in June. Ernst is underwater, and she needs some work.”

A state-by-state breakdown:

  • CO – “Looking at the numbers, it’s hard to see a path for Gardner historically”
  • AZ – “in talking with multiple GOP strategists this week, it’s becoming clear that many are beginning to give up on McSally”
  • NC – “a race some Republicans are feeling more pessimistic about”
  • IA – “Ernst has had some missteps in the race and isn’t performing as well as Republicans had hoped”
  • GA (Perdue) – “new polling numbers from both Democrats and private Republican polling merits a move” and “Georgia is now the second most expensive race the GOP is putting defensive money down on”
  • GA (Special) – “Rev. Raphael Warnock has raised impressive sums for the race, besting both the self-funding Loeffler and Collins in donations”
  • KS – “one of the most surprising developments on the map, to Republicans’ detriment”
  • TX – “Republicans expect the race will tighten”
  • LA – “That’s a very impressive resume, and Perkins marks another strong Black candidate recruitment effort for Democrats”

Read all the highlights from Cook’s new Senate map overview here.

NEW VIDEO FEATURING SENATE GOP’S PRAISE OF TRUMP’S DISASTROUS CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE. The DSCC released a new video this week calling out vulnerable GOP Senate candidates for failing to hold President Trump accountable for botching the coronavirus response. Republicans on the ballot have openly praised Trump’s response and shown little willingness to hold him accountable — even in the face of growing evidence over the last several months of the White House’s failure to contain the surging outbreak. Senate Republicans are now attempting to distance themselves from Trump’s inadequate response, despite the fact that their failed leadership compounded the crisis and they “have avoided direct confrontation” with a president who exercises “nearly total control over his party.”

“TIGHTENING OSSOFF-PERDUE RACE.” A new report this week from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution highlighted a “series of developments,” including a new internal poll showing Jon Ossoff leading vulnerable incumbent David Perdue, pointing to a “tightening Ossoff-Perdue race.” Republican groups aligned with Mitch McConnell have already been forced to lay down more than $24 million in the race – confirming Senator Perdue’s own warning earlier this year that “Georgia is in play.” Ossoff also outraised Senator Perdue in the last fundraising quarter.

WATCH: Jon Ossoff joins MSNBC’s Chris Jansing to discuss the increasingly competitive Georgia Senate race

MJ HEGAR RAISES $1 MILLION IN A WEEK, FIRST NATIONAL TV INTERVIEW OF GENERAL ELECTION. Decorated combat veteran MJ Hegar raised $1 million in less than a week after officially becoming the Democratic nominee for Senate in Texas, demonstrating the exploding grassroots excitement surrounding her campaign to flip this seat. MJ also talked with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell for her first national TV interview of the general election to discuss why she’s running and how she has the winning message and operation needed to take down vulnerable Senator John Cornyn.

WATCH: MJ on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell

JOBLESS CLAIMS RISE, BUT GOP SENATE REFUSES TO EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF. The federal emergency unemployment relief that has helped millions of Americans feed their families, pay the rent or mortgage and provide a bridge through this crisis expires tomorrow. Instead of working to avert this mess, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans took a two-week recess in the middle of July, “wasted a week at the worst possible time,” and just left Washington again for the weekend without a plan to extend the expanded unemployment benefits. The Republican infighting has been an “embarrassing setback” for their party, and the GOP caucus is closer to “revolt” than an actual plan for renewing this desperately needed aid. The result is a “now unavoidable” fiscal cliff for millions of families who are hurting.

“DESPERATE” SENATOR COLLINS’S EXCUSE ON TRUMP DODGES “DOESN’T ADD UP.” Vulnerable Senator Susan Collins is facing growing scrutiny for avoiding questions about her support for Trump’s re-election campaign. While Senator Collins may try to claim that she is staying out of the presidential race because “she doesn’t campaign against her Senate colleagues” and is focused on her own race, the reality is that Collins campaigned for Republican presidential tickets and against fellow senators in 2000, again in 2004, and then again 2008. When Senator Collins was up for re-election herself in 2008, she served as co-chairwoman for the McCain campaign in Maine, arguing that it’s “typical for the leading officeholders to chair the campaign of whichever member of your party is running for President.” Collins’ deflections are “desperate” and her excuse for refusing to take a position on Trump’s re-election “doesn’t add up.” 

GARDNER FAILED TO CONDEMN “HORRIFYING” AD FOR DAYS, NRSC REFUSED TO TAKE IT DOWN. After Erin Martinez, a survivor of the 2017 Firestone explosion, who lost loved ones in the blast, demanded the NRSC this week take down their “horrifying” ad attacking John Hickenlooper, Gardner refused to comment for nearly a week. Senator Gardner finally did, claiming that he “hope[s] the ad comes down,” but Martinez said Gardner wasn’t doing enough to stop the ad that “disgraces” her family’s trauma. Meanwhile, the NRSC stood by their misleading ad, which they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on and refused to take down. Gardner owes Martinez and Coloradans answers on why it took him so long to return Martinez’s call and why he waited to call for the ad to be taken down until after hundreds of thousands of dollars had already been spent to air it. Read more questions for Gardner from the Colorado Democratic Party here.

“JONI ERNST IS *REALLY* BAD AT THIS.” A scathing column from Iowa Starting Line’s Pat Rynard eviscerates Senator Joni Ernst’s “wildly hypocritical,” “poorly…explained,” and “extremely vagueinterview with Iowa Press in which she revealed herself to be “utterly unprepared to defend her record or lay out a vision for her second term.” Key questions Ernst struggled to answer in the cringe-worthy interview included: her hypocrisy on filling an election-year Supreme Court vacancy even if Republicans lose the White House and Senate, and the lack of a plan to protect people with pre-existing conditions if the GOP lawsuit to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act succeeds.

JOHN JAMES: BIPARTISAN = BUZZWORD THAT “MAKES ME WANT TO THROW UP.” MLive reported this week that failed politician John James “scoffed” at bipartisanship at a recent event, “telling supporters the term is a buzzword that ‘makes me want to throw up.’” James recently proclaimed his continued support for the president, confirming once again that his rigid ideology on issues is not right for Michigan. Read more from the Michigan Democratic Party on James’ rebuke of bipartisanship here.

VULNERABLE SENATORS *STILL* REFUSE TO OPPOSE ANTI-CONSERVATION ZEALOT PENDLEY. Vulnerable incumbent Senators Steve Daines and Cory Gardner have spent the last few months trying to greenwash their “terrible” conservation records in a desperate “election year ploy” to try and save their struggling re-election campaigns. The reality is both vulnerable incumbents have long records of voting to gut clean air and water protections and undermine our public lands. Now, despite their hedging, Senator Daines and Senator Gardner are twisting themselves into pretzels to explain their refusal to oppose Trump’s controversial nominee for the Bureau of Land Management, William Perry Pendley, an extremist with “anti-environmental views and a long history of advocating for the sale of federal lands.”

COURT UPHOLDS SENATE REPUBLICAN-BACKED “JUNK” INSURANCE. A federal court recently backed the expansion of short-term junk health insurance plans supported by Senate Republicans, allowing them to plow forward with their toxic health care agenda even in the middle of a public health crisis. Vulnerable incumbent Senators Martha McSally, Cory Gardner, Steve Daines, David Perdue, Joni Ernst, Mitch McConnell, Thom Tillis, Lindsey Graham, and John Cornyn have all voted to defend these junk plans, which are “so skimpy that they offer no meaningful coverage” and can leave patients saddled with “catastrophic costs.” The junk plans aren’t required to cover treatment for COVID-19, but that hasn’t stopped the White House from promoting them as an option for people who have lost their health insurance during the pandemic.

REPORT: THE RICH “COULD GRAB UP TO $40 BILLION IN TAX BREAKS” IF REPUBLICANS OVERTURN THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. According to a new CNBC report this week, the GOP lawsuit enabled by Senate Republicans would give a massive windfall of “up to $40 billion in tax breaks” to the wealthiest households if the Supreme Court rules in favor of dismantling the entire health care law that protects people with pre-existing conditions and expanded Medicaid coverage. While millions of Americans would lose their health coverage, “higher-income households would reap significant tax benefits” and could save between $35 billion to $40 billion annually. Not a single incumbent GOP senator has taken real action to oppose their party’s lawsuit to strike down the entire health care law, and every Senate Republican voted for or supports the 2017 tax bill that “sparked” this dangerous lawsuit.

DAINES, GOP “POSING AS CHINA HAWKS AFTER COZYING UP TO THE COUNTRY.” A HuffPost report this week called out vulnerable Senators Steve Daines, Cory Gardner, and Thom Tillis for “posing” as China hawks despite having histories of “cozying up to the country.” Republicans have once again been exposed as hypocrites for trying to sell themselves as tough on China when the reality is that, despite their recent positions, all three have had “careers spent encouraging, and sometimes profiting from, investments by U.S. corporations in the country.” The desperate attempt to save their struggling re-election campaigns is just the latest example of “politically endangered” Senate Republicans using the NRSC playbook to “attack China” in an attempt to try and shift blame from Trump’s bungled coronavirus response.

DSCC ENDORSES MAYOR ADRIAN PERKINS IN LOUISIANA, FORMER STATE REP PAULETTE JORDAN IN IDAHO. On Thursday, the DSCC endorsed Shreveport Mayor and decorated Army veteran Adrian Perkins in the Louisiana U.S. Senate race and former State Representative Paulette Jordan in the Idaho U.S. Senate race.

  • Adrian Perkins is a Louisiana native whose grandfather was a sharecropper and whose mother worked multiple jobs to help their family make ends meet. Adrian served three tours overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, rising to the rank of Captain and earning the Bronze Star. After leaving the military, Adrian attended Harvard Law School and returned home. As the Mayor of Shreveport, Adrian balanced the city’s budget for the first time in nearly a decade, reduced crime, and led efforts to grow and revitalize the local economy in his community. Watch his inspiring launch video here.
  • Paulette Jordan grew up on her north Idaho family farmlands and is a proud member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. She was the youngest person elected to the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Council and then unseated an incumbent Republican in 2014 in a tough race for the Idaho House of Representatives. As the first ever female Native American nominee for governor in the country, Paulette received more votes in Idaho in 2018 than any Democratic statewide candidate in recent history.

IN THE STATES

AL — Alabama Political Reporter: Jones bill aimed at bringing jobs back from China included in Senate NDAA

CO — Colorado Times Recorder: Gardner Condemns China for ‘Obscuring’ Virus Data But Is Silent on Similar Trump Actions

IA — Iowa State Daily: Theresa Greenfield visits Ames to discuss her support for small businesses

IA — KMA Radio: Greenfield calls for extension of expanded unemployment benefits during pandemic

KS — Kansas City Star: As COVID-19 rages, Barbara Bollier melds politics and medicine in campaign for Senate

KY — ABC News: Amy McGrath pitches ‘public service’ in bid to unseat Mitch McConnell

KY — Lexington Herald-Leader: ‘We need help.’ McGrath criticizes McConnell for federal COVID-19 response.

MA — Boston Globe: Ed Markey launches first TV ad

ME — News Center Maine: Gideon tours Portland Recovery Community Center, holds discussion with advocates and individuals in recovery

MI — Huron Daily Tribune: Sen. Gary Peters supports child care funding

MT — Missoulian: Bullock sues to block Pendley from BLM job

NC — WRAL: Editorial: Burr and Tillis need to help N.C. more than appease Trump

NC — Hendersonville Times-News: Cunningham, other Democratic candidates, host virtual town hall

NH — Washington Post Fact Checker: GOP Senate hopeful says he’s an ‘Army Ranger,’ but Army says he’s ‘Ranger-qualified’

SC — WCDB: Jaime Harrison discusses reopening schools, wearing masks amid surging virus numbers

TX — WFAA: Inside Texas Politics: Senate hopeful MJ Hegar says her Republican opponent is helping her campaign

TX — Dallas Morning News: New poll shows MJ Hegar within single digits of John Cornyn, and Biden a nose ahead of Trump

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Lauren Passalacqua

@laurenvpass

Stewart Boss

@stew_boss

Helen Kalla

@helen_kalla

Shea Necheles

@sheanecheles

Regina Anderson

@reginasopinion

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