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Trump adds two more candidate endorsements to 2022 list
Former President Donald Trump endorsed two Republican candidates for the 2022 midterm elections on Wednesday — one in the high-profile Pennsylvania Senate race and another who is challenging a Washington Republican congressman who voted for his impeachment.
Trump backed Pennsylvania Republican Sean Parnell in a statement where he praised Parnell's Army service and repeated unfounded claims of widespread election fraud. "He will make Pennsylvania very proud and will fight for Election Integrity, Strong Borders, our Second Amendment, Energy Jobs and so much more," Trump said in a statement from his political action committee, as he remains banned from major social media platforms. " Sean Parnell will always put America First. He has my Complete and Total Endorsement!"
Parnell, an author who co-founded a veterans' group after leaving the military, narrowly lost a bid against Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Penn., in 2020. And if he wins the GOP primary race — which includes former GOP Lt. Gov. nominee Jeff Bartos, political commentator Kathy Barnette and former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands (from Trump's administration — he may get a rematch against Lamb, who is running in his own crowded primary.
Trump also endorsed Joe Kent, a Republican running against Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., who voted to impeach the former president in January. Herrera Beutler said in a statement explaining her impeachment vote that Trump "incited a riot aiming to halt the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next." And in his statement, Trump criticized her for voting "despite the facts, against the Republican Party and for the Democrats' impeachment scam."
Kent has posted the strongest fundraising numbers out of the Republicans looking to challenge the incumbent. He's a retired Green Beret who Trump said he met in 2019 when the then-president traveled to Dover Air Force Base when the body of his deceased wife, who died in an ISIS attack in Syria while serving in the Navy, was brought back to America.
McAuliffe again holds narrow lead in Virginia governor poll
Former Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe leads Republican Glenn Youngkin in the newest poll of the state's governor's race, the latest in a string of recent surveys that show the Democrat on top.
McAuliffe is ahead with 47 percent of registered voters in the new Monmouth University poll, which had Youngkin trailing at 42 percent and 9 percent undecided. The Democrat has the edge with minority voters, college-graduates, women and younger voters, while the Republican leads among independents, men, whites, and those without college degrees.
The down-ballot races for lieutenant governor and attorney general were closer, with margins of 1 percentage point and 2 percentage points respectively in favor of the Democrat.
The favorability and unfavorability ratings for both candidates are extremely similar: 39/35 for McAuliffe and 37/35 for Youngkin.
The plurality of registered voters, 23 percent, believe the pandemic is the most important issue in the election, followed by 18 percent who say education/public schools and 16 percent who say the economy. McAuliffe receives higher marks from registered voters on education and the pandemic, with Youngkin receiving slightly higher trust from voters on the economy.
Fifty-seven percent say that former President Donald Trump, who McAuliffe has repeatedly linked to Youngkin in ads and his public statements, is not a factor in the election, while 41 say he is either a major or minor factor. Fifty-two percent say that President Joe Biden is not a factor, with 46 percent saying he is a factor (either major or minor).
Monmouth polled 802 registered voters from Aug. 24 to Aug. 29 and the poll has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points
As the two sides scramble for position with just months to go before November's election, both campaigns put out new ads in the last day.
Youngkin is up with a new TV ad hitting McAuliffe on crime, with McAuliffe's new ad knocking Youngkin on abortion.
Here’s Youngkin’s new ad, which features a county sheriff speaking directly to camera (there are three different versions with three different sheriffs): “It’s been a tough year, but it helps when elected officials have our back. Terry McAuliffe doesn’t,” this sheriff says. “As governor, McAuliffe’s handpicked parole board had one mission — cut ’em loose, releasing violent criminals early, including a cop-killer.”
The sheriff concludes, “The fact is, Terry McAuliffe won’t be safe with four more years of Terry McAuliffe’s policies.”
Here’s McAuliffe’s ad, which features a doctor speaking directly to camera: “I’ve been a doctor for 37 years and I’m committed to giving my patients the best care possible. So I know what it means to Virginia women when Glenn Youngkin says he wants to ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood.”
NRSC, Demings top recent Facebook political ad spenders
The National Republican Senatorial Committee and Florida Democratic Congresswoman (turned Senate hopeful) Val Demings lead the pack in political Facebook ad spending over the last month, the social media's ad-spending platform shows.
The NRSC spent $887,000 from July 29 through Aug. 27, the 30 most-recent days of spending released by the platform. Many of those ads were aimed at driving people to give their email or other information to the group, and possibly donate, and not about promoting/attacking a specific Senate candidate.
Among the ads that performed the strongest on the platform, according to Facebook, were a smattering of ads about reports that former President Donald Trump was slated to launch his own social media site. Other popular NRSC ads include one raffling off tickets to a Trump rally and one attacking President Joe Biden on immigration.
Demings, who is the Democratic Party's highest-profile candidate in the race against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, spent more over that time period than any other individual candidate for office, $767,000. Many of her top ads were aimed at introducing the electorate to her life story, as well as list-building/fundraising. Two of her most popular ads also leveraged Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's attacks on National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci for more list-building.
Other top political advertisers include the Republican National Committee ($737,000), the committee opposing California Gov. Gavin Newsom's recall ($545,000), Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker ($482,000) and California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Kevin Kiley ($400,000).
There have also been a few companies or interest groups spending big money over that time too, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America ($1.33 million), The Climate Pledge ($1.2 million), Facebook ($1.2 million), and ExxonMobil ($800,000).
Facebook's ad spending figures are self-reported by the company and available online.
McAuliffe leads in new Virginia governor poll
A new poll shows former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Glenn Youngkin by 9 points among likely voters, less than three months before the pivotal general election.
McAuliffe hits 50 percent of the vote in a new poll by Christopher Newport University's Watson Center for Civic Leadership, with Youngkin at 41 percent and 6 percent undecided (3 percent say they're supporting Liberation Party nominee Princess Blanding). The Democratic lead is bolstered by strong support from women, younger voters, Black voters and those in Northern Virginia. Youngkin's largest bases of support include those in the south and southwest of the state, as well as white voters.
Independent voters are backing McAuliffe by a margin of 44 percent to 39 percent.
The poll also found the rest of the Democratic ticket with slightly larger leads — a 10-point Democratic lead in the lieutenant governor race and a 12-point Democratic lead in the attorney general race. And Democrats have a 7 point lead on the generic ballot for the upcoming House of Delegates elections.
“These numbers reflect a state that continues to trend blue in presidential and statewide elections as demographic shifts endure in the Commonwealth,” said Wason Center Research Director Dr. Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo. “While there is still room for movement in the race, Youngkin has a tightrope to walk between Trump supporters and more moderate voters across the suburbs of Virginia.”
CNU polled 800 registered likely Virginia voters on a mix of landlines and cell phones between August 15 and August 23. The margin of error is +/- 3.6 percent.
The poll shows McAuliffe's lead about the same as a recent Roanoke College poll, that found him up 8 points with 13 percent of likely voters undecided. But the Virginia Commonwealth University poll, also released this month, shows McAuliffe only up 3 points with 23 percent of voters undecided or saying they wouldn't vote for either.
Poll: Vaccine mandates unlikely to compel many, especially Republicans
Federal and state governments, businesses and health care experts across America are trying a smattering of ways to convince Covid vaccine holdouts to change their minds. But numbers from the new NBC News poll suggest that only a small portion are open to changing their minds, and Republicans are even less so.
Sixty-nine percent of all adults polled say they are vaccinated, 2 percent said they will get it as soon as they can, 10 percent say they are waiting a while to see if there are problems with the vaccine, 3 percent say they'll only get it if required, and 13 percent say they won't get the vaccine.
Eighty-eight percent of Democrats, 60 percent of independents and 55 percent of Republicans say they are vaccinated.
Thirty-one percent of Republicans who consider themselves primarily Trump supporters say they will not get the Covid vaccine, as do 32 percent of those who don't follow media and 27 percent of those who voted for Trump.
Some have been hopeful that the Food and Drug Administration's full authorization of the Pfizer vaccine would convince some skeptics to get vaccinated, but other health officials have thrown cold water on that idea. Note: the poll was conducted before the full Pfizer authorization.
So as employers, businesses and governments consider vaccine mandates, new polling shows that most of the unvaccinated won't budge.
An employer mandate appears to be the most likely to sway an unvaccinated person to get the Covid vaccine, with 19 percent of unvaccinated adults saying it would convince them. But there's an interesting breakdown on party lines — 29 percent of non-Republican, unvaccinated adults say they'd get vaccinated if their employer mandated it, while just 10 percent of Republican, unvaccinated adults say they would.
A federal government mandate, or a state/local government mandate appears to be less likely to move people. But again, it could have far more success with non-Republicans.
Fourteen percent of unvaccinated adults say a federal government mandate would compel them to get vaccinated (13 percent for state/local government mandates). Only 7 percent of Republicans say a government mandate at any level would compel them to get vaccinated, compared to 22 percent of non-Republicans for a federal mandate and 21 percent for a state/local mandate.
The NBC News poll was conducted Aug. 14-17 among 1,000 adults — 600 of whom are cellphone-only respondents — and the overall margin of error in the poll is plus-minus 3.1 percentage points. Of the 790 registered voters the poll measured, the margin of error is plus-minus 3.5 percentage points.
Conservative non-profit launches new ads hitting Kelly, Hassan on reconciliation
A new conservative non-profit is running television ads that target Sens. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., arguing that the forthcoming Democratic reconciliation package is a "Washington liberal $3.5 trillion power grab."
The new spots are from Common Sense Leadership Fund, a group being helmed by former National Republican Senatorial Executive Director Kevin McLaughlin.
Evoking a number of satirical images of Democrats — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, both of New York, next to a rainbow, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi riding a pink unicorn — the ad's narrator criticizes Democratic proposals and warns the bill will be filled with "pie-in-the-sky special interest kickbacks.
"Who will pay for all the unicorns and rainbows? You will. With a massive tax hike, you'll foot the bill for this liberal pipe dream," the narrator says, before directing viewers to urge the senator to vote against the bill.
Both Hassan and Kelly are expected to face tough battles for re-election. Colin Reed, the group's spokesman, said in a statement that "if Senator Hassan or Senator Kelly want to have any prayer of claiming the mantle of the common sense fiscal values, opposing this $3.5 trillion dollar boondoggle is a good place to start."
The new ads are airing in Boston and Phoenix on broadcast and cable television, and the group expects to target more states soon. Reed told NBC that the group ultimately expects to spend seven figures on the campaign.
More groups have been taking to the airwaves across the country in the race to define both the Democratic reconciliation bill, which includes much of President Joe Biden's top legislative priorities, as well as the bipartisan infrastructure deal that passed the Senate weeks ago. Groups on both sides of the aisle are spending millions battling over the legislation and its impact on House races, with more activity expected on the Senate side too as they begin work on drafting the specifics of the bill.
Progressive group launches ads on infrastructure, reconciliation bills ahead of midterms
House Majority Forward, the nonprofit outside Democratic-leaning group that focuses on the U.S. House of Representatives, this week begins a $2.5 million TV and digital ad campaign in 23 different congressional districts to promote the Democrats' work on Covid relief, infrastructure and climate legislation.
Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., worked "to pass a middle-class tax cut to help struggling Illinois families, helping to get people back to work and getting our economy back on its feet," one TV ad states in Underwood's 14th Congressional District.
The ad continues, "Next up is fighting to fix our aging infrastructure, rebuilding roads and bridges ... while investing in clean energy to give all our kids a better future."
And here's a digital ad in Rep. Tom O'Halleran's, D-Ariz., the state's First Congressional District: "We're getting back on our feet and back to work. And in Congress, Congressman Tom O'Halleran's working to keep it that way."
These ads come as a recent NBC News poll found that just a third of Americans (35 percent) believe the Covid relief legislation passed in March — which provided direct cash payments and jobless benefits — is helping the economy or will do so in the future.
Below are the 23 congressional districts where these ads will air.
Note: The decennial redistricting process will likely change what many of these districts look like next year.
Also note: Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, voted against the Covid relief bill, and so the ad touting his work will be different than the ones for Underwood and O'Halleran.
Ariz. 01 — Rep. Tom O'Halleran, D
Calif. 10 — Rep. Josh Harder, D
Colo. 07 — Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D
Ga. 07 — Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D
Iowa 03 — Rep. Cindy Axne, D
Illi. 14 — Rep. Lauren Underwood, D
Kan. 03 — Rep. Sharice Davids, D
Maine 02 — Rep. Jared Golden D
Mich. 08 — Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D
Mich. 11 — Rep. Haley Stevens, D
N.H. 01 — Rep. Chris Pappas, D
N.J. 03 — Rep. Andy Kim, D
N.J. 07 — Rep. Tom Malinowski, D
Nev. 03 — Rep. Susie Lee, D
N.Y. 19 — Rep. Antonio Delgado, D
Ore. 04 — Rep. Peter DeFazio, D
Pa. 08 — Rep. Matthew Cartright, D
Texas 07 — Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D
Texas 16 — Rep. Veronica Escobar, D
Va. 02 — Rep. Elaine Luria, D
Va. 07 — Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D
Wash. 08 — Rep. Kim Schrier, D
Wis. 04 — Rep. Gwen Moore, D
Arizona group boosts Mark Kelly with $1.5 million ad campaign on child tax credit
Advancing AZ, an Arizona-based progressive non-profit that's been boosting the Democrats' Covid relief plan, is launching a $1.5 million ad campaign aimed at promoting Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., for his support for the plan.
The new campaign, which includes television and radio ads beginning Monday and going through September, features two parents talking about how the new child tax credit, which is a piece of the broader American Rescue Plan signed into law in March with support from only Democrats, has helped their family deal with added expenses during the pandemic. Noting that all three of their children needed braces, they note that the child tax credit will help them pay off their childrens' medical expenses.
"We're relieved that Sen. Mark Kelly took the needs of Americans, working families into consideration," Angela Mesa, one of the parents featured in the ad says.
"It means a lot that Sen. Kelly is standing up to the big guy to help families like us," Angela's husband, Brian Mesa, adds.
"Senator Kelly is delivering for Arizona families and they need him to keep getting these kinds of results if we’re going to get Arizona fully past the pandemic and make sure working families can get by," said Niles Harris, the executive director of Advancing AZ, in a statement to NBC News announcing the ad campaign.
The American Rescue Plan both expanded the maximum child tax credit from $2,000 per child to $3,600. And instead of families having to wait for the credit as an annual tax refund, the bill changed the procedure to distribute the credit monthly.
It's not the only piece of the plan that Advancing AZ has been touting in recent weeks. Along with its affiliated Honest Arizona campaign, the group has boosted Kelly, Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Ariz., and President Biden in the state, touting the American Rescue Plan with billboards and a traveling ice cream truck aimed at raising awareness for the bill.
Kelly just won his Senate seat in 2020, but is on the ballot in 2022 because last year's election was only to fill out the final two years of the seat held by the late-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Now, his upcoming election is expected to be one of the highest-profile in the nation. Biden narrowly won the state by 0.3 percentage points last year, with Kelly winning by 2.4 percentage points.
Given the slim margins, Kelly's Senate race has already drawn more than $10 million in spending, per AdImpact ($6 million by Democrats and $4.3 million by Republicans).
Republicans have been attacking Kelly on a variety of fronts, including criticizing Democrats for plans on prescription drugs and pressuring Kelly about progressive calls to abolish the filibuster.
New Youngkin ad encourages Virginians to get vaccinated
After Democrat Terry McAuliffe this week called for a vaccine mandate for state educators in Virginia's gubernatorial race, Republican Glenn Youngkin is up with a new statewide digital ad saying that he's been vaccinated — and encouraging others to do the same.
"I’m a business guy who loves numbers. And the numbers show Covid vaccines save lives," Youngkin says to camera in the ad. "That’s why I chose to get the vaccine."
Youngkin continues, "It’s your right to make your own choice, and I respect that. I do hope you’ll choose to join me in getting the vaccine. We can protect lives and livelihoods here in Virginia, and together we can keep our communities, our schools, and our businesses open."
Another fault line in this competitive race: McAuliffe is mandating vaccines for state educators while Youngkin is instead encouraging them.
GOP nominee hits the airwaves in N.J. governor's race with polls showing him far behind
New Jersey Republican gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli trails New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy by 16 points, according to a new Monmouth University poll of registered voters released Wednesday. The poll comes as Ciattarelli is hitting the airwaves in an attempt to close the gap.
Murphy secured support from 52 percent of registered voters, compared to Ciattarelli's 36 percent, per the Monmouth poll released Wednesday. Forty-eight percent of voters view Murphy favorably with 33 percent viewing him unfavorably. While Ciattarelli's favorability of 26 percent is significantly higher than his 12 percent unfavorability, 61 percent say they don't have an opinion on him yet.
The poll also found that a plurality of voters believe Covid is the top issue facing the state (41 percent), with taxes as a broader issue eclipsing that when combining property taxes (32 percent), income taxes (9 percent), sales tax (7 percent) and other taxes (4 percent).
The points about Ciattarelli lacking name ID in the state and taxes being a top issue in the state come as the Republican hops onto the airwaves this week with new general election ads. His first ad is centered right on the issue of taxes, quoting Murphy saying "if you're a one-issue voter and tax rate is your issue, we're probably not your state."
"Not your state? Who says that? Phil Murphy just doesn't get it, but I do," Ciattarelli says in the ad. "Taxes are an issue for a lot of New Jersey families. But Phil Murphy saying if you don't like it, you should leave, is an even bigger one."
On the economy, Murphy's campaign and his allies have argued that his stewardship has kept New Jersey in a solid financial situation despite the pandemic.
Rising stars tapped to chair Democratic training organization
The nation’s largest Democratic training organization announced Thursday that its first honorary co-chairs will be Reps. Katie Porter, D-Calif., Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., and Nikema Williams, D-Ga., signaling a commitment to training an ideologically, geographically, and demographically diverse pipeline of candidates up and down the ballot ahead of the 2022 midterms.
“The future of our party is about competing everywhere and lowering the barriers of intrigue for anyone who wants to make a difference,” Kelly Dietrich, who leads the National Democratic Training Committee, told NBC News, calling the co-chairs “pioneering women.” Both Porter and Underwood flipped their districts red to blue with their elections, while Williams is on the frontlines of Democratic efforts to keep Georgia blue from her seat, once held by the late Rep. John Lewis.
The NDTC will use the congresswomen to amplify their free training programs for Democrats across the country hoping to run for office themselves, or looking to work on campaigns.
Underwood herself actually participated in NDTC trainings before running and winning one of 2018’s tightest races. Her advice for could-be candidates and the politically-inclined, she told NBC, is “don’t be shy about what you don’t know.”
The NDTC has seen more than 130,000 people sign up for trainings since the summer of 2016, fueled in part by a backlash to the election of former President Donald Trump. But since Trump’s departure, interest has remained high, to the tune of 32,000-plus so far this year according to the committee. Overall, more than half — 53 percent — of trainees have been women. And geographically, rural and suburban areas not typically falling for Dems are seeing high degree of interest.
To Underwood, the numbers tell a larger story about who’s engaging and why — and what it could mean for a candidate pipeline that, only until recently, had been filled by a majority of white male contenders.
“We’re seeing the activations of these social networks that might have been built from PTAs, or church groups, or neighborhood associations,” Underwood said. “These women who now understand that our democracy won’t be fixed passively. We have to get in there and work for it and the ladies are bringing the same skills, dedication, and mindset that we do to everything else in our lives to our politics. And we’re not afraid to ask for help.”
Progressive group gives air cover to moderate Democrats on Biden's $3.5 trillion budget
The liberal group Future Forward USA Action is launching an ad campaign to protect moderate Democrats who are under fire from conservatives over President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion economic package.
The group said it will spend $1.4 million next week in seven key districts represented by Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Ga., Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., and Rep. Susie Lee, D-Nev.
The ad buy, first reported here by NBC News, comes as a response to the conservative group American Action Network's TV ad campaign launched last week, which targets a similar group of House Democrats over the budget with the goal of turning Democratic lawmakers against it.
It is an attempt to bolster the prospects of passing the so-called reconciliation bill, which is a centerpiece of Biden's economic agenda, and will require the vote of nearly every House Democrat to pass. It would be a major expansion of the social safety net, paid for with tax hikes on corporations and Americans who earn over $400,000.
The AAN ad campaign torches the package of a "socialist agenda" that will exacerbate inflation and hurt the middle class. The Future Forward response says the package will close corporate tax loopholes and tax the rich to lower costs on health care, utility bills and child care for most Americans.
"President Biden and Democrats in Congress are working to lower everyday costs for working families Right on cue, the special interests are going to pour in money to try to stop it from happening but we won't let their lies go unanswered," said Chauncey McLean, the president of Future Forward USA Action.
McAuliffe responds to Youngkin’s crime ad
Well, that didn’t take long.
One day after Virginia Republican gubernatorial Glenn Youngkin’s campaign released a new TV ad hitting Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe on crime and linking him to Dem groups have called to “defund the police,” McAuliffe’s camp is out with this response ad.
The Democratic nominee's spot features testimonials from current and former Virginia law enforcement officials: “Our job is to keep Virginia safe,” says one law enforcement official to camera. “We know the truth about Terry McAuliffe’s record,” says another. “When McAuliffe was governor, Virginia was the fourth-safest state in America,” says a third.
And it goes on to try to turn Youngkin's argument around on the Republican, arguing that his comments on gun laws makes him a "threat to our safety."
As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported last month, while Youngkin has spoken about protecting Second Amendment rights, he did not get an endorsement from the National Rifle Associaton.
Youngkin plays the 'defund the police' card against McAuliffe in Virginia governor race
In Virginia’s gubernatorial contest, Republican Glenn Youngkin is out with a new TV ad linking Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe to “defund the police” advocates in his party.
The ad claims that "crime in Virginia is skyrocketing" and that "the murder rate is at a 20-year high."
“Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe is running again, but how can he keep us safe? His record as governor — murder jumped 43 percent, and now he refuses to even meet with Virginia police officers. Instead, he's touting endorsements by extreme left-wing groups that want to defund the police, abolish ICE and close prisons," the ad's narrator says, pointing to calls within the Democratic Party for a smattering of police reform running the gamut from slashing police funding to diverting it reform how police interact with people.
It's a tactic the Youngkin campaign has been more vocal with in recent weeks, including in digital videos that echo similar points.
McAuliffe's team pushed back on the ad with a statement touting McAuliffe's record: "We know Glenn struggles with it, so here's the truth: As governor, Terry McAuliffe made Virginia the fourth safest state in the nation. He put in place one of the toughest laws in the country to combat domestic violence, and he has released a detailed plan to keep Virginians safe, including keeping guns out of dangerous hands. Glenn Youngkin's right-wing agenda would only make Virginia less safe — he's bragged about opposing any common-sense gun safety measures, and the Washington Post says his Trumpian economic plan would defund the police."
Former GOP Attorney General Laxalt is running for Senate in Nevada
Former Nevada Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt announced Tuesday he's running for Senate, giving Republicans their most formidable challenge to Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.
Laxalt revealed his decision on Tuesday morning in a social-media video, which leans heavily on the conservative culture war and argues that "right now, it seems like the wrong side is winning."
"The radical left, rich elites, woke corporations, academia, Hollywood and the media, they are taking over America. That’s your empire, right there, telling lie after lie; making excuses for chaos and violence; censoring truth that doesn’t fit their agenda; amplifying anger and envy, they demand control; ruthlessly enforcing conformity, canceling any who stand in their way," Laxalt says in the video.
"We must stand in their way because it's not just about us — we owe it to our kids and generations to come."
The video goes on to mention his Navy service, which he says was inspired by the attacks on 9/11, and his time as attorney general.
Laxalt is instantly the favorite in the GOP primary, and Republicans believe that a strong midterm environment could give them fertile ground in a battle for Senate control. With the Senate currently evenly divided, and Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaking vote, the dynamics in every competitive race could help decide control of the Senate in 2022.
However, Democrats have had a string of recent successes in Nevada statewide elections — they've won every presidential election since 2004, flipped both Senate seats in 2016 and 2018, and flipped the governor's mansion in 2018 by defeating Laxalt, who was the GOP nominee.
And Democrats have pointed to Laxalt's unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial bid, as well as his repeated attempts to cast doubt on the 2020 election results in the state, to message against his candidacy.
"Failed politician Adam Laxalt has a history of corruption and consistently uses his public position to work against Nevadans. As Attorney General, he used his office to benefit his special interest donors, and he became Donald Trump’s main lackey in Nevada by orchestrating bogus lawsuits to prop up the Big Lie and overturn the 2020 election," Nevada Democratic Victory spokesman Andy Orellana said in a statement. "While Senator Cortez Masto is putting Nevadans first, Laxalt is only ever looking out for himself.”
Voters begin to get ballots as California gubernatorial recall heats up
Mail ballots are beginning to go out in California's recall election, and we've seen a flurry of activity in the race in recent days.
The stakes are high for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. A new online poll from CBS/YouGov found that 52 percent of likely voters plan to vote "no" and keep Newsom in office, compared to 48 percent who want to recall Newsom.
The Democrat's approval rating among adults is 57 percent and 60 percent view his handling of the coronavirus outbreak as "very good" or "somewhat good." But the story has been the same for months — the question comes down to turnout, and polling has shown Republicans are more enthusiastic about voting to recall Newsom than Democrats are about saving him.
More Republican voters in the poll (78 percent) say they definitely will vote, when compared to Democrats (73 percent), and 72 percent of Republicans say they are very motivated to vote, when compared to 61 percent of Democrats.
It's against that backdrop that we've seen a smattering of ad spending as of late. Since July 1, Democrats have outspent Republicans $11 million to $1.7 million, according to the ad-tracking firm AdImpact.
The Democratic efforts' ads include appeals by key spokespeople, including Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (who frames the recall as a costly attack by "Trump Republicans" on the results of the last gubernatorial election) and California Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla (who delivers a similar Spanish-language message).
The attacks on Elder come as he's gained traction recently. While 45 percent of voters said they were not sure who they'd vote for or would not vote for a candidate if Newsom was recalled, 23 percent said they'd support Elder, far-and-away the highest of any candidate on that question (Democratic YouTuber Kevin Paffrath scored 13 percent, while no other Republican eclipsed 3 percent. Republican Caitlyn Jenner captured just 2 percent).
He's spent about $966,000 on TV and digital ads since the start of July, significantly more than any other Republican candidate. His recent ads have attacked Newsom on a handful of different topics — school choice, his state's Covid restrictions and his record broadly.
Kevin Faulconer, the former mayor of San Diego, is also up with a spot that highlights his record on crime, him standing up to a "defund police mob," and on balancing budgets.
All voters in California are going to be mailed ballots, which they must get postmarked by the day of the recall, Sept. 14. However, those ballots have until Sept. 21 to make it to county elections offices.
MTP Daily: What do the Census numbers mean for redistricting?
Thursday's Census data release revealed some major population trends that have shaped the American population growth over the last decade — America is becoming less white and more multi-cultural, with more and more people fleeing rural areas and moving to the cities and suburbs.
How these macro-level trends have played out in communities across the country will have a profound impact on how congressional lines are drawn during the forthcoming redistricting cycle, the unofficial start of which began Thursday with the release of this Census data.
Dave Wasserman — the House editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report with Amy Walter, and an NBC News contributor — joined Friday's MTP Daily to run down some of the biggest questions facing Republicans and Democrats ahead of redistricting. He also takes a look at how the GOP-controlled Texas, the Democratic-controlled New York, and Colorado, which uses an independent commission to draw congressional maps, may fare.
Cuomo joins list of scandal-plagued N.Y. resignations
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., officially exits office on Aug. 24, he will join a lengthy list of recent, high-ranking New York politicians who resigned thanks to scandal.
For Cuomo, the resignation follows the release of a devastating report by State Attorney General Letitia James, which found that he had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women.
But Cuomo is hardly the first N.Y. politician who left their position early amid scandal. Here are some of the other most prominent Empire State politicians to resign in disgrace over the last 15 years (not including those who simply chose not to run for re-election):
Gov. Eliot Spitzer — Resigned March 2008
The once-popular Democrat won the 2006 gubernatorial race with more than 65 percent of the vote and was widely viewed as a rising star in the party. But Spitzer departed the governor’s mansion just over one year into his first term after being implicated in a prostitution ring. The scandal became a global story as the one-time “Sheriff of Wall Street,” a nickname given to Spitzer during his tenure as the state’s attorney general, saw his political career come to a rapid end thanks to his own admitted lawbreaking.
Rep. Chris Lee — Resigned February 2011
Lee, a Republican, was first elected to Congress in 2008 to represent New York’s 26th Congressional District, which includes portions of both Erie and Niagara County. Shortly after winning reelection in 2010, the blog site Gawker revealed that the married Lee responded to a woman's dating ad on Craigslist by sending her a shirtless photo of himself. He resigned right after the article was released and was later replaced in a special election by none other than future New York Lt. Gov. (and soon to be governor) Kathy Hochul.
Rep. Anthony Weiner — Resigned June 2011
Perhaps more infamous for his scandals since resigning, Weiner, a Democrat, first ran for Congress in 1998 to fill the 9th Congressional District seat vacated by a Senate-bound Chuck Schumer.
Winning seven-consecutive elections in the district, Weiner served until the discovery that he’d used his public Twitter account to send a woman a link to a sexually explicit photo of himself. After initial denials, he soon admitted to exchanging sexually explicit photos with several women in the years prior and resigned. Weiner attempted to return to politics but was caught having more lewd conversations with women, despite being married. And Weiner eventually pleaded guilty after being charged with sending an explicit message to a teenager. He eventually served 15 months in prison and is now a convicted sex offender.
Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver — Resigned February 2015
Silver, a Democrat, was a central power broker in New York politics for nearly 40 years. First elected to the New York State Assembly in 1977, he was elected speaker in 1994 and served in that role until he was arrested on federal corruption charges in 2015 related to bribery accusations and forced to resign. After a series of appeals in court, he was sentenced to over six years in prison last July.
Former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — Resigned May 2018
The one-time Democratic state senator was first elected as New York’s attorney general in 2010 and reelected in 2014. Following reporting in the New Yorker at the height of the Me Too movement in 2018, where at least four women accused Schneiderman of physical abuse between 2013 and 2016, Schneiderman resigned. Soon after, Governor Cuomo assigned Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas to look into criminal charges against him. Ultimately, Schneiderman was not prosecuted by Singas, who said “legal impediments” and statutes of limitations stood in the way.
Rep. Chris Collins — Resigned October 2019
Collins, a Republican, was first elected to the House in 2013 following the ousting of one-term incumbent Kathy Hochul. After serving for several years, he was arrested by the FBI in August 2018 along with his son for insider trading and lying to the bureau. After narrowly winning reelection later that year, he eventually resigned from Congress and changed his plea to guilty on conspiracy to commit securities fraud and making false statements. Sentenced to 26 months in prison in January 2020, Collins, an ardent Trump supporter and a one-time member of his transition team in 2015, received a pardon from Trump in December of last year.
Republicans who voted against Electoral College certification see smaller fundraising gains
Six months after about 140 House Republicans voted against the 2020 Electoral College certification after the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, members who voted that way have seen smaller increases in their fundraising, on average, than their GOP colleagues who voted to certify the results.
That’s according to an analysis by NBC News, which examined the fundraising totals of 151 House Republican lawmakers through this June, versus their totals at this same point in 2019.
While Republicans as a whole are seeing promising fundraising signs in the race for the House majority on the whole, there appears to be a clear divide between the performance of those who objected to the Electoral College count and those who did not. Note: The period of time covered in the analysis coincides with pledges from many companies to re-evaluate and their political contributions in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, although some have since gone back to business as usual.
The 96 Republicans included in the analysis who voted against certification have seen their fundraising totals increase by an average of almost 6 percent from the previous cycle.
By contrast, the 55 Republicans who did not object have witnessed their fundraising increase by an average of about 30 percent.
Among all those who objected, Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., has seen the largest drop in fundraising, raking in just over $23,000 so far this year, compared with more than $230,000 Guest had raised in the same time period in 2019.
Reps. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., Jim Baird, R-Ind., and Jodey Arrington, R-Texas were among the other objectors who saw their fundraising totals decrease by more than 70 percent versus 2019.
But Republicans are proving, as a whole, to be strong fundraisers as they push to flip both the House and Senate. The 151 Republicans analyzed have increased their fundraising numbers overall cycle-to-cycle by an average of more than 14 percent. By comparison, the 196 Democrats analyzed have seen their numbers increase by an average of just 2 percent.
The fundraising analysis did not include any lawmaker who took office after 2019 for which there is no previous fundraising cycle to compare, including prolific fundraisers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. And it does not include retiring lawmakers, or those running for higher or state-level office.
Two of the highest-profile Republicans who didn’t object to the Electoral College and who have positioned themselves against former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims the election was stolen, Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wy., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., have seen among the largest fundraising increases.
But prominent objectors have seen big fundraising gains too — Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., are among the lawmakers who have at least doubled their fundraising from this point last cycle.
The objective was to compare incumbents’ fundraising before and after Electoral College certification of the 2020 presidential election. And certainly the debate over the certification of the election is not the only variable that could contribute to a change in fundraising.
Still, this analysis — coming in an atmosphere where there is increased attention on contributors after the Jan. 6 attack — suggests that GOP objectors have seen a decline in their fundraising even as some of those same companies who once swore off donating to objectors, including UPS and American Airlines, have since returned to that practice in the months since January 6.
Democratic group launches ad campaign to tout Biden agenda in key states
A nonprofit aligned with President Joe Biden is launching a new million-dollar ad campaign that aims to do double duty: promoting the president’s agenda, and backing some of the key lawmakers he hopes to keep in office beyond the 2022 midterm elections.
New ads from Building Back Together share a similar script touting Democrats’ Covid relief law and plans to spend trillions more on infrastructure, education, manufacturing and caregiving. But each is tailored to voters in the key states and congressional districts.
Spots airing in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and New Hampshire, for example, say Biden and their Democratic senators’ “pulled our economy back from the brink. And now they’re fighting to create millions of good paying jobs and lower the costs of healthcare, child care and prescription drugs.”
All four states have a pair of Democratic senators. But only one in each — Arizona’s Mark Kelly, Nevada’s Catherine Cortez-Masto, Georgia’s Rafael Warnock, and New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan — will face voters next November in contests critical to the party’s hopes of maintaining or growing a bare-minimum Senate majority.
The organization says the 30-second TV spots will air in each of the state’s biggest TV markets on broadcast and cable. Additional digital ads will run in more than 20 targeted House districts in 12 states. The seven-figure campaign is part of an effort by Biden’s outside political allies to sustain support for his agenda, aware of how Republicans and conservative groups began turning the tide against then-President Obama’s agenda in August 2009.
“Democratic Members of Congress have worked hand in glove with President Biden to bring our economy and our families back from the brink of crisis, and now they’re going to help the President deliver on the Build Back Better Agenda so that working families can finally get ahead,” Danielle Melfi, executive director of Building Back Together, said in a statement.
CORRECTION (Aug. 5, 2021, 11:40 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated Building Back Together's company status. It is a nonprofit advocacy organization, not a super PAC.
Pelosi PAC urges donors to prevent the 'steal' of House majority in 2022
A fundraising pitch from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is urging her donors to prevent the “steal” of Democratic control of the House.
“They just outspent us by $14 MILLION to steal our Majorities,” warns an email under Pelosi's name to donors sent from her political action committee. The message claims that polling shows Republicans leading Democrats by one percentage point. “If we don’t regain the lead — NOW — Republicans will steal the House and decimate our Democratic Majority.”
It’s a strange turn for Pelosi, who has set up a select House Committee to investigate the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, when loyalists to then-President Donald Trump tried to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election. They acted on the premise that, as Trump falsely asserted, the election had been stolen from him.
Pelosi aides did not immediately reply to a request for comment about whether she is less concerned now than she has been about the perils of undermining the credibility of the electoral system.
High-profile special House primaries have made for busy airwaves in Ohio
Voters are voting in two special House primaries that are serving as great microcosms for the battles that both parties are fighting these days.
And those high-profile clashes have made for busy airwaves outside of Cleveland and Columbus.
In the Democrats’ 11th District contest, former state Rep. Nina Turner and Cuyahoga County Council Rep. Brown (plus their outside backers) have gone virtually punch-for-punch in the ad war. Turner has spent $2.3 million on TV, radio and digital advertising through Tuesday, per AdImpact, with her aligned Democratic Action PAC adding another $250,000. That’s matched by the Brown campaign’s $1.3 million on ads, plus an additional $1.1 million chipped in by the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC.
That race has gotten nasty, particularly on the airwaves. Brown and her allies are accusing Turner of stoking division and hitting her for criticizing President Joe Biden, while Turner's orbit is trying to frame Brown as corrupt.
Things are even more crowded among the Republicans in the 15th District contest. The top spenders are businessman Tom Hwang, a self-funder running as an outsider, and the Protect Freedom PAC, which is backing Ron Hood, the state representative backed by Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul. Both have spent just over $480,000 on advertisements.
Former Rep. Steve Stivers, who has endorsed Jeff LaRe, has actually spent more on ads than any other candidate besides Hwang, with $344,000 aimed at boosting LaRe.
State Sen. Bob Peterson has spent $265,000, the anti-Carey Conservative Outsider PAC has spent another $241,000, LaRe’s campaign has spent $180,000, and former Columbus NAACP President Ruth Edmonds has spent $107,000.
Majority of adults approve of Biden on Covid, but think health agencies have sent mixed messages
The majority of American adults still approve of President Joe Biden's approach to the coronavirus pandemic, even as those numbers have slipped in recent months.
Fifty-five percent of adults in Monmouth University's new poll say Biden has done a good job on the pandemic, compared to 38 percent who say he's done a bad job with it. Just 4 percent hold mixed opinions.
The vast majority of Democrats, 92 percent, think Biden is doing a good job. Independents are split, with 45 percent saying he's done a good job and 46 percent saying he's done a bad job. And 26 percent of Republicans believe Biden is doing a good job on handling the pandemic, compared to 68 percent who think he's doing a bad job.
Federal government health agencies also get strong marks in dealing with the pandemic, with 55 percent of adults saying they did a good job and 37 percent say they did a bad job.
But at the same time, 59 percent say that those federal health agencies, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically named, have been "giving mixed messages about Covid risks," including clear majorities of Republicans and Democrats. Thirty-nine percent say the agencies have been largely consistent, including a majority of Democrats.
The poll comes amid rising caseloads and hospitalizations attributed to the more virulent, delta, strain, which is spreading across the country. The country hit 35 million cases this week, with Florida hitting records in new, daily cases as well as what the Florida Hospital Association called a new record of Covid hospitalizations.
But while vaccination rates have slowed from their spring highs, the CDC reports that almost 50 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated against the virus. That includes 80 percent of those at least 65 years old, a group that has been particularly vulnerable to serious illness or death from the virus.
Fifty-three percent of adults say they are either very concerned or somewhat concerned that someone in their family could become seriously ill from the virus, up from 42 percent a month ago but well below the levels of concern seen before widespread vaccinations began.
Forty-eight percent are at least somewhat concerned about catching a new Covid variant, with those who have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine more likely to feel that way than someone who is not vaccinated, according to Monmouth.
With the CDC issuing new guidance that recommends more people wear masks, and some states issuing either new masking guidance or mandates themselves, 52 percent of American adults say they support either "instituting or reinstituting face mask and social distancing guidelines in their states," a sentiment that falls deeply on partisan lines.
Monmouth polled 804 adults in the United States from July 21 to July 26. The poll has an error margin of +/- 3.5 percentage points.
Trump political operation banks more than $100 million in first six months of 2021
Former President Donald Trump amassed a war chest of more than $100 million over the first six months of 2022 across his four affiliated political committees as he repeatedly fundraised off of his false claims the election was stolen from him, and spent little from his political enterprise.
New fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Committee show that Trump has raised $62 million directly into his Save America leadership PAC, his primary fundraising vehicle for his post-presidential political life. That total includes money that may have been raised in 2020 by other affiliated committees but was transferred over to Trump's PAC this year — Save America closed June with $90 million in cash on hand, with his affiliated committees banking millions more.
As he publicly floats another bid for president, Trump can't use money raised to Save America for any presidential campaign. But he has broad leeway to spend the money he raises on other political activities (individual donors can donate a maximum of $5,000 a cycle to the group).
But over the first six months of 2021, Trump only spent $3.2 million, $1 million as a contribution to help fund the America First Policy Institute, a pro-Trump non-profit.
Other notable expenses include: hundreds of thousands of dollars on consulting (including $40,000 to the company run by his former campaign manager, Brad Parscale), $68,000 to the "Trump Hotel Collection," and $66,550 to his pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, whose polling Trump pointed to in April to rebut arguments that his power within the party was waning.
As the Washington Post reported last month, none of the money appears to have gone to directly fund any of the so-called "election audits" that pro-Trump politicians and political forces have pushed for in states like Arizona.
More than 100 state legislators to join Texas Democrats in D.C. to push for voting bill
Democratic state legislators from around the country will travel to Washington, D.C., this week to join Texas Democrats in a push for federal voting legislation, multiple participating state legislators told NBC News.
At least 104 legislator from 29 states and Puerto Rico are attending in person, a source familiar with the plans told NBC News.
They hope to secure meetings with senators, who are still in town to wrap work on a bipartisan infrastructure package ahead of a scheduled August recess, and are planning a march and rally for Tuesday, Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani said.
Speakers at the rally are expected to include Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Jeff Merkeley of Oregon, Ben Casey of Pennsylvania, and Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, according to Eskamani. The large delegation of state legislators will include Democrats from Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan, where Republicans have advanced or enacted sweeping voting restrictions.
An announcement of the plans is expected later Monday. The campaign comes after a group of Democratic senators began work on a slimmed-down bill they hope can garner more support.
Washington advocacy groups are footing the bill for lawmakers' travel and lodging, with funding coming from groups including Center for American Progress Action, End Citizens United, and Black Voters Matter Fund, the source familiar with the plans said. Eskamani said she is paying for her own flight, however.
The Orlando Democrat said she hoped the state legislators would be able to share the everyday reality of how the election changes affects voters and state legislatures.
“When you’re a U.S. senator you’re representing an entire state, you’re not thinking about the districts or specific polling sites,” she said. “But we are, we see it every day.”
Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives fled to D.C. last month to block passage of GOP-backed voting restrictions by denying the legislative chamber the quorum needed to conduct state business. Those state legislators have been lobbying for federal voting legislation with lobbying meetings and a steady stream of media events for weeks.
Still, there no clear path for federal voting legislation in the current Congress. At least two Democrats are unwilling to abolish or modify filibuster rules that require 60 votes — at least 10 Republicans in this Congress — to advance legislation. Republicans have largely remained opposed to any federal voting legislation.
Biden accepts posthumous Kosovo honor for late son's work
President Joe Biden is accepting one of Kosovo’s highest honors on behalf of his late son, saying the fledgling Balkan nation “is in the hearts of the entire Biden family.”
At a ceremony this weekend, Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani will present a posthumous Presidential Medal on the Rule of Law to Beau Biden, who traveled to Kosovo in 2001 to help establish the country’s judicial institutions and the rule of law as it was establishing its independence from Yugoslavia.
“Beau’s work in Kosovo was heartfelt. He fell in love with the country,” Biden said in a video message that will air during the presentation Sunday. “At the time, Kosovo still bore the fresh wounds of war and a justice system hollowed out by decades of totalitarian rule. But Beau could see what you could do, Beau could see even then the future that was possible for your proud country.”
It’s the second time Kosovo has offered a major tribute to Beau Biden, who served as Delaware’s attorney general and was readying a campaign for governor when he lost his battle with brain cancer in 2015. A year later, during his last year as vice president, Biden visited the country with members of his family for the dedication of a roadway near Camp Bondsteel in Beau Biden’s name.
The president’s brand of diplomacy has always been grounded in personal connections. And because Kosovo’s independence is not universally recognized, it has worked to maintain its close ties with Washington. Kosovo’s capital city also includes major routes named for former Presidents Bush and Clinton.
In his remarks, Biden said his son was “just one of many” people dedicated to Kosovo’s independence, and said he accepted the honor on behalf of all who helped build its institutions over the past two decades. He also said he was pleased to ensure that Kosovo would be receiving American doses of Pfizer’s Covid vaccine “within weeks.”
The U.S. ambassador to Kosovo will receive the medal at Sunday’s ceremony, which also includes a popular Kosovo singer performing songs from one of Beau Biden’s favorite bands, Coldplay
Teachers' union leader Weingarten backs new masking guidance
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten is throwing her support behind masking students in schools, saying Wednesday that while vaccines are the “number-one, gold standard” when it comes to keeping schools open, masking can fill an important role, too.
During an interview on MTP Daily, Weingarten framed masking in schools as a necessary strategy right now, even if it’s not a convenient one.
“I hate wearing a mask. Every time I wear a mask, I have a hard time breathing because I'm an asthmatic. But we figured out how to do it, and we figured out how to teach kids with it, and we figured out how to open schools with it,” Weingarten said.
“The bottom line is: If we want kids to be in school, and we want everybody to be safe, and we want to keep schools open, this is what the scientists, this is what the pediatricians are telling us we need to do because of Delta. And let's just all try to put the politics to the side and try to do this to keep, to get schools open.”
Her comments come one day after CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced new guidance recommending that all children wear masks in classrooms as concerns rise about the transmissibility of the new Delta Covid variant. But debates over mask mandates have already been raging ahead of this coming year, with some states like Texas outlawing mask mandates in schools.
Some cities and states are requiring that employees, including public-school teachers, get vaccinated or be subjected to regular testing.
When asked about vaccine mandates for staff, Weingarten explained that while over 90 percent of the union’s members are vaccinated, members are split on whether they want a vaccine mandate for themselves or kids.
“You need to negotiate any kind of vaccine mandate,” Weingarten says. She added that she’s a “big proponent of vaccines,” but the issue is developing trust around public health guidelines because of the politicization of vaccines.
McConnell to launch radio ads calling for people to 'take advantage of this miracle and get vaccinated'
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will soon run radio ads in Kentucky to promote vaccination efforts, a source familiar with his plans confirmed to NBC News.
The new ads, paid for by McConnell's campaign account (he won reelection last year and doesn't face voters again until 2026), will connect McConnell's childhood polio diagnosis to the new fight against Covid, calling on Americans to "take advantage of this miracle and get vaccinated."
"As a young boy, I faced a different disease. I contracted polio. Back then, it took decades for us to develop a vaccine. This time, thanks to American investment and ingenuity — and especially thanks to the tireless work of our scientists, doctors and health care heroes— it took less than a year for us to develop three highly effective Covid vaccines," McConnell says in the to-be-released ad.
"This is not complicated. Ninety-seven percent of people hospitalized for Covid are not vaccinated. If you haven’t been vaccinated, do the right thing for you — for your family — and get vaccinated right now," he adds, directing listeners to the government vaccination website "Vaccines.gov."
The push from McConnell comes as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads across the United States. Spikes in cases and hospitalization, as well as new developments in understanding the variant's effects, have led to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that all people wear masks in areas with low vaccination rates, and that school children should too, regardless of vaccination status.
The spikes are particularly acute in states with low vaccination rates, many of which are in America's South. Covid-related hospitalizations in Louisiana increased by 169 between Monday and Tuesday, an increase the state's Department of Health called the largest since March 2020.
Many prominent Republicans have criticized vaccine mandates and some have questioned the vaccines themselves.
But as the virus rages, particularly in his home state, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy told NBC News that he's planning to release another public statement endorsing vaccines, and that he is listening to the recommendations of health care professionals when it comes to things like masking and vaccinations.
"When a booster is available, I’m gonna take it. My wife’s taking it, my son’s taking it. And frankly, I’m so confident in it that [if] they told me, 'Kennedy, with the booster, you gotta take a shot in your eyeball,' I’d probably do it,” he said.
"It scares the hell out of me, it’ll kill you dead as a doornail, I’ve seen it. And we’ve got a way to stop it. You don’t have to take it if you don’t want to — this is America — but it scares me to death."
Virginia governor ad watch: 'Election integrity' and puppies
It's a busy day on the airwaves in the Virginia gubernatorial race, with both candidates launching new ads in the race to define Republican Glenn Youngkin as the political newcomer seeks to upset former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
The new spot from the McAuliffe campaign plays into a strategy they've centered on in recent days — using Youngkin's comments during the primary to connect him to former President Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election, notably as the issue finds its way back into the headlines amid Congress' investigation into the attack on the Capitol.
The ad quotes Youngkin talking about the "election integrity" task force he launched "on week one" of his campaign in the GOP primary.
"Glenn, enough is enough. Stop embarrassing Virginia and stop promoting Trump’s dangerous lies. Withdraw from this event," McAullife said.
The Youngkin camp responded in a statement, criticizing McAuliffe for opposing "requiring a photo ID to vote, which undermines the integrity of our elections and makes it easier to cheat."
And as the hits keep coming from the McAuliffe camp and its allies, Youngkin is out with a new TV ad of his own that aims to make light of the attacks and soften his image.
In an ad reminiscent to the one Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock launched during his 2020 bid, the narrator castigates the Republican for a slew of tongue-in-cheek "crimes" like leaving dirty dishes in the sink before Youngkin says he's not focused on the negative campaigning.
"Here come the negative attack ads. Terry McAuliffe is going to try to scare you with lies about me, because he doesn't want to talk about his own extreme views. What's next? I hate dogs?" Youngkin says in the ad.
What the NBC/WSJ poll got wrong in 2020 — and what we are doing to fix it
Political polls of all stripes swung and missed in the 2020 presidential election.
In fact, according to a recent American Association for Public Opinion Research report, the cumulative error was the largest in 40 years.
That includes the performance of our national NBC News/Wall Street Journal, which showed Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 10 points in the final survey before the election, when Biden’s eventual popular-vote victory over Donald Trump was 4.5 points, 51.3percent to 46.8 percent.
In the months after the election, the bipartisan team of pollsters who conduct the national NBC News poll — the Wall Street Journal is no longer a partner — evaluated the poll and its 10,000 interviews in all of 2020 compared with actual voters from states’ voter files.
Some of the findings from the analysis:
- The actual electorate was whiter and older than our poll showed: In our October merged surveys, 18 percent of voters were 65+ (when actual senior voters were 26 percent, per the modeled voter file), and 72 percent were white-non Hispanic (when they were actually 74 percent).
- The poll overstated Biden’s support among seniors: One reason why is because of the percentage of Black seniors (versus white seniors) was higher than it turned out to be.
- The poll overstated Biden’s support in urban areas (and also slightly in rural areas) compared with the actual results: "Our analysis of county-based data shows our over-estimation of Biden's margin over Trump was primarily concentrated in urban areas across geographies," the pollsters said.
- The poll was slightly too Dem-leaning: The modeled party score from our voter file (D+9) and our October surveys (D+8) was more Democratic than the actual 2020 voters turned out to be (D+5).
The NBC pollsters found other complicating factors, including declining poll participation rates, the coronavirus pandemic (blue-collar voters made up 19 percent of registered voters for the poll in 2019 and 20 percent in the Jan. 2020 survey, but they were 17 percent for the rest of 2020), and Trump’s unique role (Biden was +10 on the ballot, but it was D+5 in congressional preference).
Going forward, here are the changes the pollsters are making:
- They are adjusting samples to be slightly older and keep white non-Hispanics above 70 percent of registered voters.
- They are incorporating additional quotas by age and ethnicity, and will use a geography-based sampling frame based on size and county type.
- They will ask undecided voters again for a final preference between the Republican or Democratic candidate if forced to make a decision today.
- And they will closely track the percentage of blue-collar workers in our surveys.
Tuesday marks election day in Texas House special election
Texans in the state's Sixth Congressional District will choose a new member of Congress Tuesday between two Republicans, Susan Wright and state Rep. Jake Ellzey.
Democrats have no candidate on the ballot after Wright and Ellzey finished in the top slots of the first round of voting in May. Now, both Republicans are running for the right to replace the late former GOP Rep. Ron Wright, Susan Wright's husband.
One major dynamic at play here has been the endorsement battle.
Wright has the backing of former President Trump (and a slew of other GOP voices like the Club for Growth, Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas, and Reps. Elise Stefanik, N.Y., Kay Granger, Texas, and Chip Roy, Texas.
And Ellzey is supported by former Energy Secretary and Texas GOP Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas.
While fundraising data from the race lags by a few weeks because of federal campaign finance deadlines, through July 7, Ellzey had a significant fundraising lead. He had raised $1.74 million up to that point, spending $1.25 million with $490,000 in cash on hand. By comparison, Wright had raised $740,000, spending $577,000 with $164,000 in cash on hand.
But Wright has had the advertising edge, thanks to air-cover from the Club for Growth, which has spent $420,000 on ads benefitting Wright, according to AdImpact (that's more than any other individual entity in the race).
Trump has repeatedly reiterated his endorsement over the race's final weeks, and recorded a robocall for the Wright campaign down the stretch. A pro-Trump super PAC reportedly linked to Trump's 2016 campaign manager, Cory Lewandowski, dropped $100,000 on last-minute TV-ads to boost Wright.
Progressive group buys $2 million in ads to push tax hikes on wealthy
The advocacy group Tax March is giving air cover to President Joe Biden’s push for higher taxes on wealthy Americans, buying $2 million worth of ads over the next three weeks in swing states and districts calling on upper earners to pay more.
“If you can afford to launch yourself in space, you can pay your fair share in taxes,” a narrator in the ad says, featuring footage of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, who have dabbled in space exploration.
The ads will run on TV and digital platforms in Washington, D.C., NBC News has learned, as well as in Wisconsin (targeting Republican Sen. Ron Johnson), New York’s 24th district (targeting GOP Rep. John Katko) and Iowa’s 1st district (targeting GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson), said Maura Quint, the executive director of Tax March.
The ads will begin Tuesday and last until Aug. 15, she said. They come as Democrats prepare to advance a $3.5 trillion budget measure that will serve as the vehicle for Biden’s proposed economic safety net expansions and tax hikes on corporations and those making above $400,000.
“Increasing taxes on the wealthy is a beneficial thing across the board,” Quint said in an interview, describing it as a means to bridge income inequality, pay for Biden’s economic spending proposals and prevent billionaires from attempting to buy politics.
Quint cited the popularity of tax hikes on high earners in surveys and said it “will be very disappointing” if Democrats cannot achieve that while they control the White House and Congress. “We’re going to be fighting very, very hard to push these policies.”
The group also said it's planning to buy a billboard to promote the cause in Times Square, the home of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.
Trump records robocall for Texas' Wright ahead of special election runoff
Former President Donald Trump has recorded a robocall for Republican Susan Wright ahead of her face-off against GOP state Rep. Jake Ellzey in Tuesday's runoff election.
Wright tweeted audio of the robocall this past weekend, with Trump reiterating his endorsement of Wright and calling on supporters to vote for her.
"I'm asking you to go out and vote for a great Republican, a great woman, Susan Wright," Trump says in the robocall.
"She's outstanding. Like me, she's strong on immigration, she's tough on crime, and she's going to cut your taxes."
Wright and Ellzey are running in the Texas Sixth District runoff after both were the top vote-getters in the May election to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright, who died earlier this year. Texas election laws have the top-two candidates in a special election move onto a general election unless one wins a majority of the vote on the first ballot.
Trump went on to praise the former congressman in the robocall, saying that his wife will "carry on Ron's legacy." The call notes that its distribution will be paid for by the Wright campaign.
The news of the robocall wasn't the only Trump-related development in the race over the weekend. Make America Great Again Action Inc, a super PAC reportedly helmed by former 2016 Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski, reported a last-minute, $100,000 TV-ad expenditure aimed at boosting Wright.
McAuliffe launches first TV ad of general election
Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin has blanketed Virginia’s airwaves for months, and now his opponent, former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is up with his first TV ad since clinching the Democratic nomination.
The ad touts McAuliffe’s record as Virginia governor from 2014-2017, and it also ties Youngkin to former President Donald Trump.
“When I was governor last time, I worked with reasonable Republicans to get things done,” McAuliffe says in the ad. “We created thousands of new jobs, put billions into our infrastructure projects and a billion dollars into education.”
“But let me be clear, Glenn Youngkin is not a reasonable Republican. He is a loyalist to Donald Trump.”
It's no surprise that Trump is a central figure in the ad — McAuliffe has, from even before he won the primary election, made Trump a centerpiece of his own bid, criticizing Youngkin and trying to tie him to the former president who lost the state in 2020 by 10 points.
Youngkin even sought to push back at that messaging in a recent digital ad where he linked the Democrat to Trump. And on Wednesday night, Youngkin tried to frame McAuliffe as the partisan.
The Republican nominee has had the airwaves largely to himself, at least in the general election, until today. From the day McAuliffe clinched the Democratic nomination (June 8), Youngkin has spent $3.6 million on TV and digital ads, according to AdImpact, compared to less than $300,000 in ad spending by McAuliffe, all on digital. But McAuliffe, a strong fundraiser, is expected to ramp up the TV spending in the months to come in the highest-profile race of 2021.
Former Democratic Rep. Finkenauer running for Senate in Iowa
Former Iowa Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer is running for Senate, looking to win the seat currently held by longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Finkenauer, 32, served one term in Congress after winning Iowa's First District in the 2018 midterms, but lost to now GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson in one of the top congressional races of 2020. An early endorser of President Joe Biden, Finkenauer emphasized the working class and those being "left behind" in her announcement video. She also includes a significant focus on the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, laying blame at the feet of Republicans like Grassley for not protecting democracy.
"The politicians who have been there for decades don’t really want people like us there. They think they own democracy and they were silent when it was attacked. It’s politicians like Sen. Grassley and Mitch McConnell who should know better, but are so obsessed with power they oppose anything that moves us forward. Since the Capitol was attacked, they’ve turned their backs on democracy and on us," she said.
Grassley hasn't said whether he'd run or not, but if the 87-year-old seeks re-election, he'd be the heavy favorite in a state former President Trump won twice and where he's been the senator for more than 40 years.
In a statement, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokeswoman Katharine Cooksey framed Finkenauer as too liberal for the state.
“Abby Finkenauer and her far-Left positions are indistinguishable from those of Bernie Sanders, AOC, and the socialist squad, so it’s not surprising Iowans fired her just last year," she said.
Right now, Finkenauer is the highest-profile Democrat in the race. Rep. Cindy Axne hasn't ruled out a bid and former county supervisor Dave Muhlbauer is the other Democrat running right now.
New fundraising totals show how party committees are gearing up for crucial midterms
The Democratic National Committee edged out the Republican National Committee in fundraising over the first six months of the year, even as Republican congressional committees edged out their Democratic rivals over the same time period.
The DNC raised $87.1 million through June, with $63.1 million left in the bank, new Federal Election Commission reports show. By comparison, the RNC raised $85 million but ended June with significantly more money, $81.7 million, in the bank, than the DNC. National party committees
At the congressional-committee level, both the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Congressional Campaign Committee outraised their Democratic counterparts, with both parties flush with cash as the battle for control of Congress begins.
The NRCC closed its June books having raised $79.3 million this year and with $55 million in the bank. The DCCC finished with $70.7 million and $44.3 million in cash on hand.
The NRSC raised $51.2 million through June and banked $25.1 million, with the DSCC raising $46.6 million and banking away $11.6 million.
The congressional committees are largely more flush with cash than they were ahead of the 2018 midterms, as Democrats' narrow majorities in the House and Senate mean that both chambers will be up for grabs in the 2022 midterms
Early voting begins in Texas House special election
Monday marks the beginning of early voting in Texas’ 6th Congressional District special election runoff, as voters get ready to choose the Republican who will fill the empty seat.
The seat’s been vacant since January, when GOP Rep. Ron Wright passed away. His widow, Susan Wright, and state Rep. Jake Ellzey are running against each other in a runoff because they were the two highest vote-getters in the first round of voting in May, but neither was able to win the race outright with the majority of the vote.
Susan Wright is running with the backing of former President Donald Trump, Reps. Stefanik, Granger, Roy, Gohmert, Sen. Ted Cruz and more. She’s raised $740,000 for her bid, but has spent a little more than $576,000.
While he lacks the marquee national endorsements, Ellzey is backed by former Texas Republican Gov. (and former Energy Secretary) Rick Perry, Texas GOP Rep. Dan Crenshaw and the Dallas Morning News’ Editorial Board. Plus, he’s the leading fundraiser in the race, having raised $1.7 million and spent almost $1.3 million.
While Wright has been significantly outspent on the airwaves by Ellzey, she has received some significant air cover from a powerful ally: the conservative Club for Growth Action. The Club has spent almost $350,000 on ads for Wright, making the group the largest ad spender in the race, according to AdImpact, and pushing the combined pro-Wright spending above that of pro-Ellzey forces.
What we learned from the second campaign fundraising deadline of 2021
Thursday marked the Federal Election Commission's 2nd Quarter deadline, covering fundraising for federal candidates largely from April through June (political action committees either file monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually and not included in this deadline).
While it’s still early in the 2022 election cycle, the reports are an important gauge as to how these key contests are shaping up. And that’s particularly important ahead of this cycle, where both the House and the Senate majorities are in play.
Here’s a look at some of what we learned from the 2nd Quarter FEC reports.
The battle for the Senate is drawing big money
With the balance of power in Congress up for grabs in 2022, Senate incumbents and top challengers are already hauling in eye-popping amounts of money.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., leads the pack among incumbents raising money for their re-election — he raised $9.6 million in the second quarter, ending June with a $14.4 million warchest. Scott isn’t seen as particularly vulnerable, as the state hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1998 and Democrat Jaime Harrison ended up losing his 2020 Senate challenge to Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham by about 10 points.
Ohio Republican Mike Gibbons raised more than any other challenger with $6.2 million, but almost $5.7 million of that was in loans.
Not including personal loans, Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., raised the most of any Senate challenger with $4.7 million raised and $3.1 million in cash on hand. Her would-be GOP opponent (assuming she wins the primary, in which she’s heavily favored), Sen. Marco Rubio, also had a strong quarter and raised $4 million to leave his cash on hand at $6.3 million.
Ten other incumbents facing re-election raised more than $2 million this past quarter:
- Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., ($7.2 million)
- Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., ($6 million)
- Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., ($3.3 million)
- Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., ($3 million)
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-N.M., ($2.8 million)
- Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., ($2.7 million)
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., ($2.4 million)
- Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., ($2.2 million)
- Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., ($2 million)
- Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., ($2 million).
Other incumbent senators to note include:
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., hasn’t announced whether or not he’s seeking re-election, but he raised $1.2 million last quarter should he opt to run again in this battleground state.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who former president Donald Trump has publicly pledged to defeat, raised $1.1 million and is running in a field that includes a Trump-backed Republican challenger.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. who is facing a primary challenger, raised under $800,000
Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., who just drew a primary challenger, raised less than $900,000.
Senate challengers who raised over $1 million include: Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, ($3.1 million); Pennsylvania Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman ($2.5 million); Ohio Republican Bernie Moreno ($2.3 million); Arizona Republican Jim Lamon ($2.2 million); North Carolina Democrat Cheri Beasley ($1.3 million); former North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory ($1.2 million); Pennsylvania Democrat Val Arkoosh ($1 million); and Pennsylvania Republican Jeff Bartos ($1 million).
Corporate spigot beginning to turn on again, even among those who paused donations after Jan. 6
Many corporations that decided to re-evaluate their political donation policies after the vote on certifying the Electoral College results, as well as the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters, are still sitting on the sidelines. But others have re-started their giving.
Toyota has become one of the most prominent companies in this saga — after initially saying they would reassess their giving and then returning to donate to Republicans who voted against the certification, they reversed course and announced they’d no longer donate to lawmakers who objected to that Electoral College count.
Cigna, American Airlines, Bloomin Brands, Boeing, and UPS are among the companies who expressed concerns about their political donations after Jan. 6 and have since begun donating to those who objected to the Electoral College count again.
Even so, many of the Republican lawmakers who objected reported little to no corporate donations in the second quarter of 2021.
Anti-Trump Republicans can still raise good money, but so can Trump’s biggest allies
For the handful of Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January, their vote may have frustrated many within their party. But it hasn’t necessarily made a dent in their fundraising capacity.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., raised $1.9 million last quarter, more than all but six members of Congress. And Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., raised more than $800,000, a significant uptick from his previous fundraising.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio, facing a primary challenger blessed by Trump himself, raised over $600,000 last quarter, more than double what he raised during the same three-month stretch in 2020, months before an election.
But tying yourself to Trump is still lucrative for a Republican. Rep. Jim Jordan’s, R-Ohio, $1.6 million raised was more than all but seven members of Congress. And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., finished one just behind Jordan with almost $1.6 million raised, followed by Rep. Matt Gaetz’s, R-Fla., $1.4 million and Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who raised $1.2 million as she successfully ran to take over Cheney’s spot in GOP House leadership.
Other odds and ends
A handful of senators with presidential ambitions are filling their campaign coffers despite not having to worry about a race in 2022. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, raised almost $4.7 million last quarter, more than any incumbent senator besides Scott, despite not having to run again until 2024. And Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., raised $2.1 million last quarter and won’t face re-election until 2024 as well.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, also had a huge quarter for a House incumbent, raising more than $3 million, the most of any House member who isn't in leadership or running for Senate.
In North Carolina, Democratic candidates open up in order to stand out
The Democratic candidates running for North Carolina’s soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat have held the traditional town halls and embarked on the usual county-by-county tours across the state — all to introduce themselves to voters before next year’s competitive primary.
And when it comes to digital space, several candidates have sought to differentiate themselves from a competitive field in unique ways: Using social media to discuss their personal finances on TikTok, capturing themselves at a progressive climate rally and providing a history lesson on Juneteenth.
The three top Democrats vying for the open seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., are former North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, former state Sen. Erica Smith and state Sen. Jeff Jackson. The eventual nominee will face off against the winner of an equally competitive GOP primary in a state where Democrats narrowly lost both the presidential contest and a key Senate race last year.
For Jackson, social media has allowed him to give voters a window into his daily life, which he says supports one of his campaign’s core goals of transparency. On TikTok, Jackson has posted videos breaking down his family’s finances and calling out lawmakers in the North Carolina Senate. On Twitter and Facebook, he’s regularly posted his answers to town hall questions and shared family moments with his kids.
“In this cycle, playing it safe is just too risky,” Jackson said in an interview with NBC News. “You've got to be willing to hold yourself out there and let people get to know who you are. You have to be willing to take an energetic or a transparent approach, or we're just going to lose.”
For Smith, social media has given her the chance to showcase her progressive platform, her background growing up in rural North Carolina and her experience as a minister. On Twitter, she’s posted videos including her attendance at a Sunrise Movement climate protest in Washington D.C. last month as well as her North Carolina campaign stops with fellow progressive Gary Chambers of Louisiana. On TikTok, she’s advocated abolishing private prisons and releasing the body camera footage relating to the killing of Andrew Brown Jr. by North Carolina sheriff’s deputies in April.
“If you can scroll through 15 posts on someone's Twitter, and you don't know what they stand for or what they're fighting for, then they're hiding something from you,” Morris Katz, Smith’s communications director, said in an interview with NBC News.
For Beasley, she’s used social media to highlight her historic tenure as the state’s first Black chief justice and previous statewide wins in North Carolina, along with sharing the stories of those she’s met while touring the state. She’s also shared informational videos to Twitter, including one on the significance of Juneteenth.
“Our campaign is reaching North Carolinians in creative and diverse ways, including on social media through photos that tell the story of her visits with people all around the state, videos that allow her to speak directly to voters, and relevant and informational news clips and graphics,” Dory MacMillan, Beasley’s communications director, said in a statement to NBC News.
But with an increasingly fractured media environment and many voters who also aren’t online, the campaigns noted that this time around, efforts to reach voters across North Carolina need to be all-encompassing.
“It's increasingly hard to reach voters through any single avenue,” Katz said. “So you need to be doing everything. You need to be going to 100 different counties in North Carolina; you need to be talking to local papers; you need to be talking to national papers; you need to be talking through different social media channels.”
House Republican campaign arm bests Democrats in latest fundraising haul
The National Republican Congressional Committee raised more than $45.4 million in the second quarter of 2021, besting its Democratic counterparts by nearly $9 million as the battle for control of the House heats up, according to numbers shared by the GOP group.
The NRCC said it raised over $20 million in June, which is $5.6 million more than the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brought in last month.
"We will take back the majority next fall and voters are doing everything they can to help us accomplish that goal," Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., chair of the NRCC, said in a statement, adding, "Every vulnerable House Democrat should be eyeing the exits because if they choose to run, they will lose."
The NRCC said it raised nearly twice as much in the first half of 2021 as it did in the first half of 2019 — or the same timeframe from the previous cycle. It said the haul was its best first-half total in committee history while June saw the committee set a record for most cash brought in during an off-year month. It ended the quarter with $55 million in cash on hand.
The NRCC totals come after the DCCC announced its haul of $36.5 million for the second quarter earlier this month. Its June total was the second-best of any month this year, trailing March. It concluded the first half of 2021 with more than $44 million in the bank, about $19 million more than it held at this point in 2019, the organization said.
"While Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans prioritize extremism and lies, Democrats in Congress are working each day to continue uplifting the American people," Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., chair of the DCCC, said in a statement. "Our strong fundraising success shows American voters are rejecting Republican extremism and know just how critical a Democratic House Majority is to protecting our democracy and delivering for American families."
July fundraising reports are not due to the Federal Election Commission until Tuesday. The two groups have traded fundraising leads throughout the year with the NRCC topping the DCCC in January, March and May as the DCCC edging out its counterpart in February and April.
GOP groups take to the All-Star Game airwaves
Baseball may be America's pastime, but during Tuesday's Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the airwaves will be inundated with another national hobby — political disagreement.
This year's showcase of the league's top players has been wrapped up in politics since the MLB moved it to Denver amid protests of recent voting laws passed in Georgia. And now, several Republican groups are planning to run television ads during the game to highlight the controversy.
The Republican National Committee announced Monday it is spending seven figures to run a new ad during the game on FOX, as well as on other channels, an ad that argues "Democrats stole our All-Star Game to push their divisive political agenda" and in the process harmed businesses in the Atlanta area. The ad goes on to tout popular voter ID policies, sharing party polling on the issue, amid a broad fight playing out across the country over voting laws and on the implications of former President Donald Trump's false claims he won the 2020 election.
Democrats and voting rights activists have blasted Georgia's new voting laws, particularly highlighting new measures like identification requirements for mail-in voting and restrictions on giving voters waiting in line food and water. In a statement addressing the new GOP ads, the Georgia Democratic Party accused Republicans of waging a "misinformation campaign" in order to "deflect blame from their bad, divisive policy."
“The MLB All-Star Game would be played in Georgia today were it not for Brian Kemp and Georgia Republicans’ divisive, racist attack on voting rights – plain and simple. The GOP chose voter suppression and partisan politics over Georgia’s economy when it passed SB 202, driving investments like the All-Star Game out of our state in the process,” Scott Hogan, the state Democratic Party's executive director, said in a statement.
Republicans have argued those concerns are overblown and that the changes were needed to shore up election security.
The GOP's Senate campaign arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is getting in on the mix too with a spot (which ran during the Home Run Derby on Monday and will run again during the Tuesday game) that links Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., to the decision to move the game.
"Baseball's midsummer classic, the All-Star Game, a $100 million boost to Georgia's economy until the radical left, woke crowd took it all away," the ad's narrator says, claiming Warnock "refused to oppose it."
Before the MLB made the decision to move the game, Warnock told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow "we need Georgia businesses to stand up ... stand up against voter suppression," but did not explicitly support the idea of moving the game. After the MLB picked up and left, Warnock said in a statement that the "decision by MLB is the unfortunate consequence of these politicians’ actions" and that he hopes businesses "can protest this law not by leaving Georgia but by coming here and fighting voter suppression head on."
The Heritage Foundation is also running a six-figure ad campaign promoting the new Georgia law by boosting the GOP's arguments in favor of it while criticizing those who oppose it.
And. at least one candidate is getting in on the fray — Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., who is seen as a possible Senate candidate. In it, Carter sits at a baseball park lamenting the decision to move the game and highlighting how he's not "afraid to go toe-to-toe against the leftist Democrats to save America," touting his work with Trump in Congress.
Youngkin drops new digital ad that tries to tie Democrat McAuliffe to Trump
Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin is trying to flip the script on his Democratic rival by trying to link former Gov. Terry McAuliffe to former President Donald Trump.
Trump has endorsed Youngkin. And McAuliffe has spent much of his campaign trying to tie the two Republicans together after Trump lost the state by 10 percentage points.
But in a new digital ad, the Youngkin campaign tries to push back on that frame by arguing that while McAuliffe "spends all his time attacking Donald Trump," he solicited money from Trump during his own political career.
The ad points to a $25,000 donation from Trump to McAuliffe during his 2009 gubernatorial campaign (when Trump regularly donated to politicians of both parties, and well before his attacks on then-President Barack Obama's nationality). And it features comments both Trump and McAuliffe made during the 2017 National Governors Association dinner. At the time, McAuliffe helmed the NGA and attended the dinner at the White House, where Trump called him a "friend" and the Democrat toasted Trump as he called for governors to work together to make America stronger.
"Come on, McAuliffe. Stop talking out of both sides of your mouth," the ad's narrator says.
Christina Freundlich, a McAuliffe spokesperson, brushed aside the spot in a statement that needled the Republican over the ongoing debate negotiations in the race.
"No amount of bogus advertising will hide Virginians from Glenn Youngkin's own words: that he is 'honored' to have Donald Trump's endorsement and 'Donald Trump represents so much' of why he's running. Glenn needs to buck up and face Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia Bar Association debate so they can hear him once again give praise to Donald Trump right from his own mouth," Freundlich said.
McAuliffe's campaign has run digital ads amplifying Youngkin's comments about Trump as well as the former president's endorsement.
Trump also recently put out another statement praising Youngkin that included similar arguments to the one the Republican is making now.
Kelly, Fetterman and Britt raise big money as 2022 Senate fundraising totals trickle in
Pennsylvania Democratic Senate hopeful Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, is out Thursday with his second-quarter fundraising total: $2.5 million.
The Federal Election Commission’s second quarter ended in June, but campaigns have until July 15 to file their full fundraising reports. That means that any information about fundraising that trickles out before then comes from the campaigns themselves.
One of Fetterman’s opponents, Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, says she raised $1 million last quarter, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Other Democratic primary hopefuls, notably state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, have not yet released their fundraising totals.
Ahead of that deadline, here’s what we know so far from some of the 2022 Senate campaigns themselves (note: Unless they publicly volunteer the information, there’s no way to know if a candidate is relying on any form of self-funding until seeing the FEC filings).
Incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly raised an eye-popping sum in the second quarter, almost $6 million according to the campaign, which it says leaves Kelly with more than $7 million in the bank. Kelly is running in what could be one of the more competitive races of the cycle, but has been a prolific fundraiser as both a candidate and as a senator.
Two of Ohio’s top GOP Senate candidates have already released their fundraising figures, and they’re quite similar.
Josh Mandel, the former Ohio state treasurer, says he raised $1.5 million over the quarter, just above the $1.4 million raised by former state GOP chairwoman Jane Timken.
Businessman Mike Gibbons, who has loaned significant amounts of his own money to his political career, says he raised $6 million over the quarter. But the campaign also says it had about 1,500 donors over the quarter, which suggests he loaned millions more to his campaign as well.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Tim Ryan says he raised almost $2.3 million last quarter for his Senate bid.
Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley reported raising almost $1.3 million in the second quarter in her bid to win the Democratic Senate nomination, despite her launching her campaign almost a month into the quarter.
State Sen. Jeff Jackson’s campaign announced he raised $700,000 over the second quarter, according to the Charlotte News and Observer.
Katie Britt, the former chief of staff to the retiring Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, says she has raised $2.2 million since she announced her campaign less than a month before the end of the fundraising quarter.
One of Britt’s primary opponents, former Ambassador Lynda Blanchard, has loaned her campaign millions of dollars but hasn’t yet released new fundraising figures. Neither has GOP Rep. Mo Brooks, who is also running and has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
The Florida Senate race is also shaping up to be expensive. Democratic Rep. Val Demings' campaign announced Thursday it raised $4.6 million, while Republican Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News he raised $4 million.
Early voting begins in two Ohio special House elections
Voters can begin voting today in two special House elections in Ohio to fill seats vacated by former Reps. Steve Stivers and Marcia Fudge, a Republican and a Democrat respectively.
Neither district is expected to be competitive in the general election, making the primaries the biggest game in town. And early voting ahead of the Aug. 3 primaries begins Wednesday.
Here's a glimpse of the state of play in both districts, Ohio's 11th (formerly held by the Democrat Fudge) and 15th (formerly held by the Republican Stivers):
Ohio's 11th Congressional District
The Cleveland-area district has turned into a two-candidate race between Democrats Nina Turner and Shontel Brown.
Turner is a former state senator who made headlines when she shifted allegiances in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary from Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders. Turner emerged as one of Sanders' most vocal surrogates, helming his allied political group Our Revolution and serving as his 2020 campaign co-chair.
She's won the backing of national progressives like Sanders, Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, the four members of "The Squad," and the co-chairs of the Progressive Caucus, Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Mark Pocan. But Turner has also won over prominent local endorsements from politicians like Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, former state party chairman David Pepper and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Turner has already spent about $1.2 million on television and digital ads, according to data from AdImpact, and through March (the most recent campaign fundraising deadline) had raised almost $1.6 million.
Brown, a Cuyahoga County Council representative who lead's the county's branch of the Democratic Party, has won the backing of people including Clinton, Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty (who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, whose PAC has also endorsed Brown), California Rep. Pete Aguilar (a member of House leadership), and Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan.
She's spent about $500,000 in digital and television ads, per AdImpact, with the allied Democratic Majority for Israel spending another $180,000. She had raised $640,000 through March
No other candidate had raised over $25,000 through March, and the winner of the primary will be a heavy favorite in a district President Joe Biden won with 80 percent of the vote (according to DailyKos' data).
Ohio's 15th Congressional District
The field is a bit wider in the Republican-leaning 15th district. Because Stivers announced his retirement in April, after the first campaign fundraising deadline of 2021, there's no current information on how much money candidates are raising.
So far, businessman Thomas Hwang has spent the most of any candidate on television ads, just under $150,000 per Advertising Analytics. Mike Carey, the coal executive backed by former President Donald Trump, has spent the second most, just under $100,000.
While Jeff LaRe, the state representative endorsed by Stivers, has barely spent on the airwaves, Stivers has spent almost $290,000 with an ad asking voters to support LaRe.
This is another race where the primary winner will be heavily favored — Trump won the district in 2020 with 56 percent of the vote.
Fauci says uneven vaccination rates could lead to regional Covid spikes
Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost infectious disease experts, told “Meet the Press” that while he's not expecting a new, more transmissible Covid-19 variant to lead to another nationwide spike, he worries that uneven vaccination rates could mean regional spikes in infections.
"I don't think you're going to be seeing anything nationwide because, fortunately, we have a substantial proportion of the population vaccinated. So it's going to be regional," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview for a special edition of "Meet the Press" airing Sunday.
"We're going to see, and I've said, almost two types of America. You know, those regions of America which are highly vaccinated and we have a low level of dynamics of infection. And in some places, some states, some cities, some areas, where the level of vaccination is low and the level of virus dissemination is high. That's where you're going to see the spikes."
The World Health Organization has warned that the new delta variant of Covid-19 is "the most transmissible" yet, leading Fauci to warn previously it's the "greatest threat" to America's attempts to stamp out the virus. Health officials are particularly concerned that the delta variant could wreak havoc on communities where vaccination rates are low.
Two Senate hopefuls take the plunge
Two Senate hopefuls are taking the plunge on Thursday, announcing their candidacies in the hopes of winning a spot in the U.S. Senate next year.
Charles Booker, the former Kentucky state lawmaker who narrowly lost Kentucky's Democratic Senate primary in 2020, is running again this cycle in the hopes of dethroning Republican Sen. Rand Paul.
Booker had previously announced he was exploring a bid, but he made his campaign official in a new video released Thursday.
"For so many people across Kentucky and across the country, freedom hasn't been freedom for us," Booker says in the video, before evoking Breonna Taylor, the Kentucky woman who was killed in a police raid on her house last year.
"We can make freedom ring true, we could make it ring for everybody. We can build a future where Breonna's door isn't kicked in."
If Booker wins the Democratic nomination, he'll face Paul in an uphill battle. Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell won his re-election last year by almost 20 points, and Kentucky hasn't elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1992. That said, Democrat Andy Beshear won the governor's race in 2019.
There's also another candidate expected to jump into a Senate field today — author J.D. Vance, who has been eying a run for Senate in Ohio.
Vance is hosting a Thursday evening rally where he's promised a "special announcement," and filed documentation with Federal Election Commission to ready for a Senate bid.
Assuming he runs, the Republican will join a crowded field that's looking to replace the retiring Sen. Rob Portman. On the right, former state GOP treasurer Jane Timken, former secretary of state Josh Mandel and businessmen Bernie Moreno and Mike Gibbons are among the candidates looking for the GOP nomination, while Rep. Tim Ryan is the frontrunner among Democrats.
Garcia defends ranked-choice voting after NYC errors mar mayoral primary vote count
Kathryn Garcia, the New York City Democratic mayoral hopeful, defended the ranked-choice voting process the city is using for its mayoral primaries after a Board of Elections error threw the vote count into chaos.
During an interview on Wednesday's "MTP Daily," Garcia said that "ranked choice isn't that complicated to do once you have the data."
"The challenges we had yesterday were not related to rank choice voting, that was a human error, but ranked-choice voting does allow you to really be able to have a positive campaign, and to talk about issues rather than trying to tear down your opponent," she said.
"And so I was very pleased to have ranked-choice voting be part of this, because it's the campaign I wanted to run, was one where I got to talk about the things that were impacting New Yorkers, because we’ve got a lot of work to do."
A look at Texas' border counties as immigration fights heat up
As Republican lawmakers and governors repeatedly attack President Joe Biden's border policies, former President Donald Trump travels to the Texas-Mexico border with Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, on Wednesday.
Texas' heavily Hispanic border counties (as designated by the state) have seen some strong political shifts over the last decade and are home to some interesting demographic trends. Here's a look at some of the dynamics on the ground in these counties, which are at the center of the immigration debate.
GOP gains serious ground from 2008 to 2020
Republicans improved their vote share at the presidential level in 20 out of the 32 Texas border counties between 2008 and 2020. The largest gains (of at least 10 percentage points) came in McMullen, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Kenedy, Dimmit and Jim Hogg counties. Those counties are all relatively small, with less than 10,000 people (two, Kenedy and McMullen, are among the 10 smallest counties in the state).
While McMullen saw the largest shift toward the GOP over that period — an almost 19-percentage-point improvement of vote share — the few Democratic gains were significantly smaller. In Sutton, the border county with the largest Democratic-vote-share improvement, Democrats gained just 5 percentage points.
The largest counties in the state — Hidalgo, El Paso, Cameron and Webb all saw single-digit vote-share gains for Republicans over that period.
Border counties are largely Hispanic, have lower rates of higher education
These counties are also heavily Hispanic — according to 2019 data from the Census' American Community Survey, 28 of the 32 are majority Hispanic, and the majority of households speak Spanish in 25 of the counties.
In fact, 13 of these counties have among the largest share of Hispanics in America compared to any county.
These counties also have other demographic trends in common too. In all 32 counties, less than half the population has a Bachelor's degree or higher, but the majority has graduated high school in all but one of the border counties.
In all but five counties, the majority of the population are not U.S. citizens.
And 23 counties, the population increased between 2010 and 2019, compared to nine counties that saw a decrease in population.
Median household income in all 32 counties in 2019 ranges from $25,000 (Presidio County) to $62,000 (McMullen County). The median household income in the state is just under $62,000.
Covid-19 hits border counties hard, but they have high vaccination rates
Western Texas, especially many counties along the border, was hit hard by the coronavirus. According to data from the New York Times, 25 percent of all Dimmit County residents had the virus; and 1 in 163 residents of Maverick County died because of it, for example.
But many of these counties also have among the highest rates of people vaccinated for the coronavirus in the state. For example, 85 percent of those at least 12 years old in Presidio County are fully vaccinated; 71 percent are fully vaccinated in Starr County; 70 percent are fully vaccinated in Webb County; and 65 percent are fully vaccinated in El Paso County.
Newsom sues California secretary of state to have his party ID included on recall ballot
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom is favored to defeat the eventual recall election against him.
But he might have to deal with this hurdle: His political party — as of now — won’t be listed on the recall ballot thanks to what amounts to a small paperwork error back in 2020, when organizers were beginning the latest effort to recall him.
According to Courthouse News, which first reported on the lawsuit, Newsom is suing California's secretary of state to argue he should be able to amend that paperwork, and that California voters have a right "to be accurately and fully informed about the recall election," which his legal team claims includes noting the governor's political party on the ballot.
The Newsom recall is a two-question ballot: The first asks voters if they want to recall the governor, and the second asks them to choose from a (likely lengthy) list of replacement candidates if the governor is in fact recalled by a majority vote on the first question.
While the party preference of the incumbent facing recall hadn't always been listed on ballots (it wasn't during the 2003 recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis, who was a Democrat), the law has since been changed to include it.
There's no set date for the recall election, but the secretary of state confirmed last week that there are enough valid signatures to move forward with scheduling one.
Youngkin begins Virginia general election with big spending advantage
Three weeks after the Democratic primary and the start of Virginia’s gubernatorial general election, Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin has jumped out to a 40-to-1 ad-spending advantage over Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, according to data from Adimpact.
Youngkin has spent more than $2.2 million in ads from June 9 (the day after McAuliffe’s primary win) through Monday, June 28, including more than $1.5 million over the Washington, D.C. area’s pricey airwaves to target Northern Virginia voters. (Here’s one of the new TV ads Youngkin has been airing.)
By comparison, McAuliffe has spent just $55,000 on ads during that same time period — all of the amount on digital ads.
The wealthy Youngkin, the former executive of the Carlyle Group, has promised to raise and spend $75 million for his campaign, which the Washington Post says is more than the $66 million the Democratic and GOP campaigns spent, combined, four years ago in this race.
As the fall general election gets closer, the traditionally well-financed McAuliffe will certainly narrow this spending gap and the former governor spent $5.9 million on ads during the Democratic primary.
But money is going to be one advantage Youngkin will enjoy throughout the course of this campaign.