With Zach Montellaro and Kevin Robillard
The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro’s Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races — and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day’s most important campaign news — sign up for Campaign Pro today. (http://ift.tt/1rYrnXl)
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TO THE LEFT — “Odds grow that Feinstein faces 2018 primary challenge from the left,” by POLITICO’s Carla Marinucci in San Francisco: “Dianne Feinstein has dominated California politics for more than a quarter of a century. But facing blistering criticism that she’s out of touch with the progressive left, Feinstein — the oldest member of the Senate — is facing fresh criticism from liberals for her centrist politics.”
“Buzz in state political circles increasingly centers on one prospective Democratic challenger, Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, the first Latino to hold the powerful position of state Senate pro tem in more than 120 years. … De Leon won national notice last week when he took public umbrage after Feinstein’s seemingly conciliatory remarks about Trump. His public rebuff — the toughest from any prominent state Democrat — was pointed: ‘This president has not shown any capacity to learn and proven he is not fit for office. It is the responsibility of Congress to hold him accountable — especially Democrats — not be complicit in his reckless behavior.’” Full story here.
THE BIG QUESTION — POLITICO’s Josh Dawsey and Burgess Everett ask, “Does President Donald Trump want to wallop or woo Democrats?”: “Trump’s aides have teamed up with the National Republican Senatorial Committee to target vulnerable Democrats and plan presidential travel to help the GOP maintain its congressional majorities during the elections that are 14 months away. … But, as shown Wednesday, Trump is a wild card — and seems increasingly inclined to work with Democrats. Trump took a soft touch during a tax reform event with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who is among the most at-risk Democrats in a state that Trump carried by 36 points in November.” Full story here.
HAPPENING TODAY — Trump Jr. to meet with Senate: Donald Trump Jr. is slated to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee today to discuss the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials. POLITICO’s Darren Samuelsohn reports: “The closed-door session involving aides and senators has long been in the works, though the exact details of when the meeting would occur have remained under wraps until now. Trump Jr. was called to publicly testify before the Senate committee in July, but the president’s oldest son instead offered to conduct both a private interview and hand over documents for committee investigators. Alan Futerfas, Trump Jr.’s attorney, confirmed in an email to POLITICO the interview would take place on Thursday.” Full story here.
— Darren also reports: “Facebook says Russian-linked accounts bought election ads”: “Facebook accounts with apparent Russian ties purchased about $150,000 in political ads aimed at American voters during key periods of the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a new analysis released Wednesday by the social networking company. The internal Facebook findings — which it said in a blog post it had already turned over to U.S. authorities — comes as the Silicon Valley giant faces intense scrutiny from special counsel Robert Mueller and congressional committees concerned about how both real internet trolls and fake news bots preyed on U.S. voters during last year’s election.” Full story here.
— Good government groups immediately looked at the FEC: The Facebook report indicates the agency should be more aggressive on Russian election interference, they argue. “The Commission’s intransigence on the issue of curbing the threat of foreign influence in our elections must stop now as this is likely only the tip of the iceberg,” Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn said in a statement.
Days until the 2017 election: 61.
Days until the 2018 election: 425.
RETIREMENT SIREN — “Reichert to retire from House after this term,” by Campaign Pro’s Elena Schneider: “Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) announced he would not run for another term on Wednesday, opening a key pickup opportunity for Democrats for a seat that hasn’t backed a Republican presidential candidate in years. … Reichert, who was first elected in 2004, has frustrated Democrats for more than a decade by holding on to the central Washington seat, even as Democratic presidential candidates continued to win the district.” Full story here.
— Of note: The Cook Political Report swiftly moved Reichert’s district all the way from “likely Republican” to “toss up” after the announcement.
FIRST IN SCORE — NRSC targets Casey in digital ad: The NRSC is running a digital ad attacking Democratic Sen. Bob Casey as a flip-flopper. “The 2006 Bob Casey is gone,” a male narrator says. “The new Bob Casey is just another Washington liberal.” The ad notes Casey’s 100 percent rating from NARAL and support for Manchin-Toomey. Watch the ad here.
OUCH — “Biss Drops Ramirez-Rosa From Ticket in Bid for Illinois Governor,” by NBC5’s Mary Ann Ahern and Shelby Bremer: “Biss announced the change to his ticket less than a week after revealing Ramirez-Rosa as his choice for lieutenant governor, and after backlash — including a lost endorsement — over Ramirez-Rosa’s past comments on Israel. Congressman Brad Schneider withdrew his support for Biss’ campaign Sunday, citing concerns about Ramirez-Rosa’s ‘past comments about the United States support of our ally Israel, and his affiliation with a group that is an outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.’ The group Schneider was referring to is the Democratic Socialists of America, a political activism organization that is, according to its website, the largest socialist organization in the country.” Full story.
ADS ADS ADS — SLF runs first digital ad against McCaskill: The Senate Leadership Fund launched its first digital ad against Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill on Wednesday. The ad, backed by a $5,000 buy, focuses on last spring’s flap over McCaskill’s contact with Russian officials and dubs her “comrade Claire.” Read more in The Hill.
— Not One Penny, a liberal group fighting tax reform, pressured Heitkamp with a five-figure television ad buy ahead of Trump’s visit. Watch it here.
YOUR DAILY ROLL TIDE — Endorsements edition: “U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorses Strange,” by POLITICO’s Daniel Strauss: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is endorsing Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican runoff for the Alabama special Senate race, a top Republican with knowledge of the move confirmed to POLITICO. The endorsement comes just 20 days before the runoff between Strange and former state Chief Justice Roy Moore. The move marks another major establishment-aligned Republican group backing Strange and bucking Moore.” Full story here.
— Meadows endorses Moore, Strauss reports: House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows endorsed former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for the Senate on Wednesday, delivering another conservative boost to Moore in the hotly contested primary. Full story here.
IN THE COURTS — Lawmakers file brief opposing gerrymandering: “Arnold Schwarzenegger’s push for nonpartisan redistricting gained significant Republican support on Tuesday, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich signing on to his amicus brief at the Supreme Court and Arizona Sen. John McCain filing a separate friend-of-the-court brief,” POLITICO’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reports. “The court is scheduled to hear a case in October, Gill v. Whitford, that could abolish partisan gerrymandering. Schwarzenegger, the former California governor, has made gathering support for it a priority. He spent last week calling members of Congress and governors directly, urging them to sign on.”
YOUNG GUNS — Heller and Flake are much younger than previous GOP senators facing primaries, SmartPolitics notes: University of Minnesota professor Eric Ostermeier notes Nevada Sen. Dean Heller and Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake are different than previous GOP senators who faced serious primary challenges in two major ways: They’re much younger, and have spent much less time in the Senate. “The average age of the aforementioned 10 Republicans at the time of their primary challenge was 74.6 years,” Ostermeier writes. “By contrast, Heller will be 58 and Flake 55 at the time of their 2018 primaries.” Most challengers were a decade younger than senators they ran against. Previous senators facing tough primaries had served an average of 25 years in the upper chamber, much longer than Heller and Flake. Full story.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “You listening, Heidi? She’s listening. She heard that. We’re not going to put her on the spot. I’m not doing it.” — President Donald Trump, while speaking about tax reform in North Dakota on Wednesday with Heitkamp in attendance.
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