McSally internal poll shows tie with Ward

With Kevin Robillard, Scott Bland and Daniel Strauss

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EARLY POLLING DATA — FIRST IN SCORE — McSally internal poll shows tie with Ward: An internal polling memo from Arizona Rep. Martha McSally‘s campaign, obtained by Morning Score, has the congresswoman essentially tied with former State Sen. Kelli Ward in the state’s GOP Senate primary. The survey has McSally earning 38 percent of the vote to Ward’s 36 percent, with 26 percent undecided. Public polling in the race, mostly IVR surveys, has shown Ward with a significant lead over McSally, who has yet to officially launch her campaign. “Contrary to what some public polls suggest, Kelli Ward does not hold a strong position in the Primary race for United States Senate in Arizona. The limitations of these poorly-conducted surveys have created a misleading dialogue about the state of the nomination contest,” WPA Intelligence pollsters Chris Wilson and Alex Muir write. Read the full memo here.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT FALLOUT — “Conyers allegations put Pelosi in tight spot,” by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney and Heather Caygle: “Rep. John Conyers said Sunday he was stepping down from his post as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee amid accusations of sexual harassment that have put his party’s leaders in a bind. The decision by the Michigan lawmaker — who has held his seat since 1965 and who denies the harassment allegations — followed several days of internal deliberation and pressure from Democratic colleagues, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who wanted Conyers to leave the high-profile post but didn’t want to be seen as forcing him out. Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) and assistant Democratic leader Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) reached out to some CBC members over the Thanksgiving recess to take the temperature of the caucus, according to multiple sources. The group is arguably the most powerful bloc within the House Democratic Caucus and is fiercely protective of its members, particularly Conyers, who was a founding member.”

— “In an interview Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Pelosi seemed to underscore the cautious approach by taking pains to praise Conyers’ record and call for ‘due process,’ even as she said she believed ‘he will do the right thing.’ She also referred to Conyers as an ‘icon’ for his lengthy service and work ‘to protect women.’ … After criticism on social media of her use of the word ‘icon,’ Pelosi quickly endorsed Conyers’ decision to step aside from the committee post. ‘No matter how great an individual’s legacy, it is not a license for harassment,’ she said in a statement.” Full story.

— Primary politics note: Conyers has faced contested primaries in each of the last three elections, getting less than 61 percent of the Democratic vote twice. If Conyers does decide to run for reelection, don’t sleep on the prospect of him losing this time around despite his “safe” district.

AIR WARS — FIRST IN SCORE — Not One Penny targets Murkowski, Capito in new ads: Not One Penny, a coalition of Democratic groups fighting the GOP plan for tax reform, is out with new television ads pressuring Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to vote against the plan. The ad aimed at Capito notes the plan “cuts access to affordable health care, including coverage for opioid addiction treatment,” while the ad encouraging voters to call Murkowski says the “congressional Republican tax plan delivers tax breaks to billionaires, millionaires and wealthy corporations.” The ads are part of a seven-figure national ad buy, which also includes spots aimed at Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller. Watch the ads here and here. Full story here.

—American Chemistry Council backs Heitkamp, Barrasso with TV ads: The American Chemistry Council, which began airing ads backing Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow and the GOP’s Heller last week, also plans to air ads supporting North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, according to FEC disclosures. Heitkamp faces a tough fight for reelection, while Barrasso may face a GOP primary challenge. The group is spending $571,000 on ads supporting Stabenow, $590,000 on ads supporting Heller, $153,000 on ads supporting Heitkamp and $133,000 on ads backing Barrasso. The 30-second spot ad boosting Heitkamp says “she fights to provide a strong safety net for our agriculture industry while working to lessen regulations for our farmers and small businesses.” Watch the ad here.

CASH CRISIS — NRSC raises $2.1M, spends $2.7M in October: The NRSC spent $2.7 million and raised just $2.1 million in October, according to FEC records, the fourth month in a row the group spent more than it brought in. The committee has about $14.3 million on hand, but still has $10.3 million in debt. Its counterpart, the DSCC, raised $4.1 million, spent $2.4 million and has $17.5 million on hand. The DSCC has about $8 million in debt, which includes the mortgage on its Capitol Hill offices. Full report here.

Days until the 2018 election: 344.

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UH OH — “The time to hack-proof the 2018 election is expiring — and Congress is way behind,” by POLITICO’s Martin Matishak: “Lawmakers are scrambling to push something — anything — through Congress that would help secure the nation’s voting systems ahead of the 2018 elections. But it might already be too late for some critical targets. By this point during the 2016 election cycle, Russian hackers had already been in the Democratic National Committee’s networks for at least three months. … Voters in Texas and Illinois will take to the polls in the country’s first primaries in just over three months — a narrow timeline for implementing software patches, let alone finding the funds to overhaul creaky IT systems, swap out aging voting machines or implement state-of-the-art digital audits.” Full story here.

ICYMI — “Moore communications director resigns”: “Embattled Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore has lost his campaign communications director with only three weeks to go before the Dec. 12 special election, Moore’s campaign announced. … The statement did not include a reason for Rogers’ departure.” Full story here.

— “Pro-Jones super PAC touts Democrat’s Christian values and support for gun rights,” by POLITICO’s Daniel Strauss: “A new ad by the pro-Doug Jones super PAC Highway 31 argues that the Democratic Senate nominee in Alabama would be led by his Christian convictions and is a strong defender of gun rights. ‘He’s the tough prosecutor who brought the [1996 Atlanta] Olympics bomber, Eric Rudolph, to justice,’ the narrator in the ad says.” Full story here.

— Trump weighed in on Jones over the weekend: “The last thing we need in Alabama and the U.S. Senate is a Schumer/Pelosi puppet who is WEAK on Crime, WEAK on the Border, Bad for our Military and our great Vets, Bad for our 2nd Amendment, AND WANTS TO RAISES TAXES TO THE SKY. Jones would be a disaster!” Trump wrote on Twitter. More from POLITICO’s Matthew Nussbaum here.

FLIPPING 24 SEATS — March On’s Fight Back PAC announced a new fundraising campaign for 2018 called $24 for 24. Per a press release, “the campaign is centered around impeachment and the concern that the Republican Congress would not initiate impeachment proceedings no matter what Special Counsel Robert Mueller reports. The only way we can be sure any potential allegations against Donald Trump and his cronies are handled correctly is to flip the 24 Congressional seats needed to take back the majority in Congress. … Andi Pringle, Executive Director of March On’s Fight Back PAC, said, ‘Flipping Congress is no easy task. Whether you’re a committed activist or not, $24 for 24 is a way everyone can participate in the vitally important work of reclaiming our country from the extreme Right. That is the only way we’ll be able to turn the tide on issues of importance to our community, whether that’s women’s reproductive health, climate change protections or impeachment.’”

FLORIDA MAN — “John Morgan: I’m leaving Democratic party, Nelson should run for governor,” BY POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: “John Morgan tossed a bomb Friday into the 2018 political landscape, saying in a post-Thanksgiving message he is leaving the Democratic Party, and that Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson should not run for re-election, but rather seek the governor’s mansion so he can leave a ‘legacy.’ … Morgan did not close the door on the idea of running for governor himself — a notion supported by many in his party — but said in his message, if he did, he would do so as an independent.” Full story here. Read Morgan’s Facebook post here.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m not aware of a single senator of either party who was elected for supporting leadership, and I know there hasn’t been a candidate elected by opposing Mitch McConnell,” said GOP strategist Josh Holmes, a former McConnell chief of staff, downplaying the notion that candidates stand to gain by avoiding McConnell this year in POLITICO.

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