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DSCC TAKEAWAYS–COLLINS EXCUSES FALL FLAT–VULNERABLE GOP SENATORS GET DRAGGED BY EDITORIALS–GOP’S TOXIC HEALTH AGENDA BACK IN SPOTLIGHT

COLLINS’ ABSURD CLAIM THAT TRUMP LEARNED A “PRETTY BIG LESSON” BACKFIRES SPECTACULARLY. After voting a dozen times against allowing firsthand witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial, Senator Susan Collins attempted to justify her vote to acquit the president with the inexplicable claim that at least Donald Trump had learned a “pretty big lesson.” Within hours, Trump had doubled down on his argument that he’d in fact done nothing wrong because it was a perfect call, and Senator Collins was left struggling to walk back her comments as the bad stories piled up. Take a look:

  • Washington Post: “In a lunch with news anchors Tuesday, Trump was asked about Collins’s contention that he had learned a lesson during impeachment. The president insisted that he had done nothing wrong: ‘It was a perfect call.’”
  • Washington Post: Susan Collins says Trump will be ‘much more cautious’ after impeachment. The evidence suggests otherwise.
  • Bangor Daily News: It looks unlikely Trump will apologize for his ‘perfect phone call’ as Susan Collins suggested
  • Maine Public Radio: “During an interview with CBS News, Collins said she believes the president has learned from impeachment… Trump has insisted that he has done nothing wrong and that his impeachment was unfair.”
  • Vox: Susan Collins’s rationale for acquitting Trump aged poorly before she could even cast her vote
  • The Week: Trump quickly disagreed with Susan Collins that he learned his lesson from impeachment
  • CNN Analysis: Susan Collins’ beyond-laughable explanation for her impeachment vote
  • Washington Post: “In the case of his interactions with Ukraine, Trump has shown no public contrition at all. In fact, he’s said on 75 separate occasions since questions about his interactions first arose that he did ‘nothing wrong’ at all. Twelve of those occasions came after he had actually been impeached — after he would have learned the lesson that Collins assumes he has learned. You may judge for yourself whether it seems as though Collins’s confidence in Trump is warranted.”
  • HuffPost: “GOP Sen. Susan Collins: It ‘Would Be Helpful’ If Trump Apologized; On hearing of the Maine Republican’s remarks, the president indicated he does not intend to do so.”

VULNERABLE GOP SENATORS GET DRAGGED AFTER PUTTING POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY AHEAD OF UPHOLDING THE RULE OF LAW. Vulnerable Senate Republicans faced bruising criticism for their vote to acquit, after spending weeks blocking firsthand witnesses and key documents from the Senate impeachment trial. From Arizona to Maine, GOP Senators on the ballot this year were panned for refusing to honor their oath to do impartial justice, and for choosing political expediency over their the fair trial their constituents demanded.

AZ – Arizona Republic’s Laurie Roberts: Sen. Martha McSally morphs from ‘no quid pro quo’ to no harm no foul in Trump impeachment

CO – 9News’ Kyle Clark: “The whole impeachment has come and gone without Senator Cory Gardner having the basic courage to directly answer that question” of whether Trump’s conduct was wrong

CO – Denver Post: Editorial: Cory Gardner must think what Trump did was fine. But it’s hard to tell.

IA – Storm Lake Times Editorial Board: “Sen. Joni Ernst discredits the Senate, Iowa and herself through her active participation in President Trump’s attempted cover-up… She looks like a fool… Ernst participated in a cover-up and is spreading lies that already have been shown to be false. She refused to let Iowans hear from important witnesses such as Bolton. Voters want the full story. They expect their senators to seek the truth, and not spread lies. They expect their senators to uphold their Constitutional oversight authority and not to kneel before a bloated monarch. Joni Ernst does not respect or deserve the office. She has proven it in the last week.”

ME – Portland Press Herald Editorial Board: Our View: Collins, Republicans vote to enable Trump — “Collins will have to answer for every future act of the president that she has voted to enable”

NC – WRAL Editorial: “Tillis seems to forget that Trump stopped witnesses and documents in the House proceedings. How can anyone conclude that there is a ‘lack of evidence’ when you vote to not hear it? […] Burr and Tillis, jurors who are sworn to ‘do impartial justice,’ voted NOT to hear any witnesses… Burr and Tillis have violated their oaths. This is a trial without evidence.”

NC – Fayetteville Observer Editorial: “It is one reason we have seen our own senator, Thom Tillis, transform from occasional heretic on Trump into lead conductor of the Trump Train. He has groused repeatedly that the impeachment trial is a waste of time and that the Senate needs to get back to its work. (Though he did manage to find time to tweet birthday wishes to Eric Trump, the president’s son, and encouraged others to add their name to Eric’s birthday card.)”

TRUMP’S PANTS-ON-FIRE PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS CLAIM PUTS REPUBLICANS’ TOXIC HEALTH CARE RECORDS BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT. In his State of the Union address this week, President Trump falsely claimed the GOP “will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions” — and in doing so, put vulnerable Republicans back on defense for their record of voting against their constituents’ health care protections. Senate Republicans have spent years trying to tear down the health care law, including its coverage protections for pre-existing conditions, and every Republican Senator voted for the GOP tax giveaway that sparked the toxic lawsuit now threatening to overturn the health care law and end these protections entirely.

  • Axios Vitals: “Pre-existing conditions protections are popular, and both parties are trying to claim credit for them. But only one of the parties has a track record of defending those protections, and it’s not the GOP. Reality check: Republicans’ repeal and replace efforts in 2017 wouldn’t have preserved the same level of protections the Affordable Care Act provides, nor would any of the plans they’ve put forward since.”
  • MSNBC: “congressional Republicans applauded the line last night, as if Trump were telling the truth. But he wasn’t, and reality on this point is unambiguous”
  • Vox: The biggest lie in Trump’s State of the Union speech

PERDUE SKIPPED KEY OVERSIGHT HEARING TO MEET WITH BIG DONORS. A damning new report from WXIA in Atlanta this week reveals that last year, Senator David Perdue skipped a critical oversight hearing on substandard housing conditions on military bases — including Georgia’s Fort Benning — to attend a closed-door event with big money donors. Read for yourself why Senator Perdue’s decision to put ultra-wealthy political donors ahead of Georgia’s military families was “probably not a smart idea”:

11Alive: Sen. Perdue attends donor event, skips hearing on military families

  • This year’s election is expected to the be the most expensive in history. And it spotlights a Georgia candidate – US Senator David Perdue (R-Georgia) – who skipped a Senate subcommittee meeting and attended a donor event instead.
  • Last year, Perdue had a “Boardroom” meeting scheduled with his biggest donors near the US Capitol Feb. 13 – on what turned out to be a busy workday for senators.
  • That afternoon, a Senate Armed Services subcommittee held a sometimes-contentious hearing on a thorny issue over substandard military housing at Georgia’s Ft. Benning and other facilities nationwide.
  • Perdue is a member of the subcommittee, but he missed the three hour meeting, according to a transcript.  Nineteen senators attended the hearing. Perdue was the only subcommittee member absent.
  • “Missing a committee or subcommittee meeting that directly impacts your constituency – for a fundraiser? Probably not a smart idea,” [longtime UGA political science professor Charles Bullock] said, adding that any politician’s opponents would search for such lapses and use them in negative advertising.
  • Scheduling a member of Congress can be a juggling act.  Yet, Dr. Bullock says Perdue probably should have prioritized the military hearing rather than the event with donors.  

GARY PETERS LAUNCHES FIRST TV AD IN MICHIGAN. Senator Gary Peters launched his first TV ad of the cycle in Michigan, highlighting his own military service and his work on legislation to aid veterans struggling with PTSD. Senator Peters’ bipartisan leadership, and his commitment to putting service before himself, have have helped him become one of the most effective members of the Senate. The ad will debut Saturday during the Michigan State University and University of Michigan men’s basketball game. Read more about Senator Peters’ new ad here and watch the ad below:

2019 FUNDRAISING HIGHLIGHTS

As the books close on 2019 fundraising numbers, take a look at Democrats’ historic fundraising strength heading into 2020, outpacing Republicans and breaking fundraising records:

  • POLITICO Pro: DSCC raised $7.3M in December, record $63M in 2019
    • Senate Democrats’ campaign committee raised a record amount of money in 2019 as the party gears up to challenge for the Senate majority, according to details shared with POLITICO.
  • CNN: “Senate tossups — Democratic candidates in some of the nation’s most competitive contests… outpaced the Republican incumbents they are trying to oust.”
  • National Journal: “Despite bringing in millions, Sens. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both underperformed their DSCC-endorsed challengers.”
  • The Hill: “Democratic candidates running in the most competitive Senate contests around the country raised a combined $5 million more than their Republican counterparts…”

Here are more highlights from the states on Democrats’ record-breaking Q4 fundraising:

  • ARIZONA – Retired astronaut and combat veteran Mark Kelly raised a record $6.3 million last quarter, outraising unelected Senator Martha McSally for the fourth straight quarter. He now holds a $6 million cash-on-hand advantage.
  • COLORADO – Former governor John Hickenlooper outraised Senator Cory Gardner, and reported contributions from each of the state’s 64 counties.
  • IOWA – Theresa Greenfield posted record-breaking off-year fundraising for a Senate challenger, outraising Senator Joni Ernst for the second half of the year, and in Q4 alone she tripled Ernst’s entire off-year fundraising haul from 2013.
  • KANSAS – State Senator Dr. Barbara Bollier raised more than $1 million in her first quarter in the U.S. Senate race, and outraised a Republican field stuck in a messy and crowded primary.
  • MAINE – House Speaker Sara Gideon outraised Senator Susan Collins by more than $1 million for the second quarter in a row, outpacing her own “record haul” from last quarter to bring in more than $3.5 million in Q4.
  • NORTH CAROLINA – Decorated Army veteran Cal Cunningham closed out 2019 with a “big fundraising quarter,” raising $1.6 million in Q4 and $3.1 million for the cycle — the most ever for a Democratic challenger at this point in a North Carolina Senate race.
  • SOUTH CAROLINA – Former educator and South Carolina Democratic Party chair Jaime Harrison’s “small-donor army” powered him to another record-breaking fundraising quarter. He raised more than $3.5 million in the fourth quarter from more than 67,000 supporters, including contributions from each of South Carolina’s 46 counties.
  • TEXAS – Decorated veteran MJ Hegar raised over $1 million for the third quarter in a row with an average online contribution of just $22 — the latest sign of her grassroots momentum in this race.

Democratic incumbents also continued to show fundraising strength heading into 2020:

  • ALABAMA – Senator Doug Jones again outraised the entire Republican field, bringing in more than $1.9 million and reporting more than $5 million in cash on hand.
  • MICHIGAN – Senator Gary Peters had his best quarter yet, raising more than $2.5 million in Q4 and reporting a record-breaking $8 million cash on hand.
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE – Senator Jeanne Shaheen raised nearly $2 million in the fourth quarter and set an off-year record for her $7.7 million haul in 2019.

IN THE STATES

AZ – Tucson.com: Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly has raised about $8M more than Sen. Martha McSally, so far

IA – Greenfield for Iowa: New Numbers: Big Pharma Corporate PACs Give Even More to Senator Ernst While She Refused to Support Plan to Cap Drug Prices 

ME – Portland Press Herald: Gideon campaign first to turn in voter signatures in Maine’s 2020 U.S. Senate race

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Lauren Passalacqua

@laurenvpass

Stewart Boss

@stew_boss

Helen Kalla

@helen_kalla

Izzi Levy

@chevytothe_levy

Regina Anderson

@reginasopinion

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