2017 Campaign

Special Elections May Shed Light on Midterm Strategy

Washington Post: “Yet in all three races, Democrats have made a tactical decision not to turn the contests into a referendum on Trump’s alleged scandals and instead are focusing on policy decisions by the president and congressional Republicans.”

“Democratic strategists privately say that this might be the recurring theme through the November 2018 midterm elections. Democrats say that they have learned a lesson from the 2016 elections, in which House Democratic candidates relentlessly focused their campaigns on trying to tie Republican incumbents to the personal scandals of Trump or some of his more outlandish policy statements.”

“That strategy failed in almost spectacular fashion.”

New York Times: “The contrast between what Democrats in Washington are consumed by and what their candidates are running on illustrates an emerging challenge for the party as the president becomes ever more engulfed in controversy: For all the misfortunes facing their foe in the White House, Democrats have yet to devise a coherent message on the policies that President Trump used to draw working-class voters to his campaign.”

Democrats Running Neck-and-Neck In Virginia

A new Washington Post-Schar School poll in Virginia finds the Democratic race for governor very close, with Tom Perriello (D) at 40% and Ralph Northam (D) at 38%.

Key finding: “Perriello leads by 18 points among Democratic-leaning registered voters who wanted Sanders to win the party’s presidential nomination last year, while Clinton voters split 35 percent for Northam and 34 percent for Perriello.”

Republicans Ponder Losing Seat in Red Georgia

“Republican anxiety is mounting about a runoff election in a typically red Georgia House district—a race that will offer an early test of Democratic motivation just weeks after Donald Trump’s health care repeal bill passed the House,” McClatchy reports.

“Republicans in Washington and Georgia acknowledge that a GOP loss in the special election runoff between Karen Handel (R) and Jon Ossoff (D) is a distinct possibility, a development that would harden the narrative that Republicans face a daunting task in maintaining control of Congress in 2018… Interviews with a half-dozen Republican operatives and strategists familiar with the race reveal a recognition that Democrats have enthusiasm on their side.”

Georgia Special Election Breaks Spending Records

“It’s official: Georgia’s special election will be the most expensive House race in U.S. history,” Politico reports.

“Candidates and outside groups have aired or reserved more than $29.7 million worth of TV ads in the race to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price in Congress, which will break a five-year-old record for House spending — highlighting the outsized importance a sliver of the Atlanta suburbs has taken on in national politics.”

Montana Candidate Caught on Tape Praising Health Bill

“When Greg Gianforte (R), the Republican running for an open House seat in Montana, was asked on Thursday whether he would have supported the bill repealing the Affordable Care Act that passed the House that day, he declined to answer,” the New York Times reports.

But on the same day, during a private conference call with Republican-leaning lobbyists in Washington, Gianforte offered a more supportive view of the health bill: “The votes in the House are going to determine whether we get tax reform done, sounds like we just passed a health care thing, which I’m thankful for, sounds like we’re starting to repeal and replace.”

Brooks Mulls Senate Race In Alabama

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said he is “seriously’’ considering challenging Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) in an upcoming special election and has even conducted a poll to see where he stands, the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

Brooks said he’s had a six-person poll conducted that showed Roy Moore (R) in first with about 30%, Strange in second with about 20% and him in third with low double digits. He said three others trailed with single digits.

TV Station Adds Newscast to Run More Political Ads

An Atlanta television station added a 7 p.m. newscast on its sister station for the sole purpose of running more political ads, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

“Two sources at 11Alive said the newscast is temporary and tied directly to accommodate a flood of political ads promoting (or taking down) either Jon Ossoff and Karen Handel vying for the hotly contest House seat left behind by Tom Price, now the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. They said the newscast will end after the runoff is over June 20.”

Democrats Make Big Investment In Montana

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is investing an additional $400,000 in Rob Quist’s (D) campaign to fill the Montana congressional seat left vacant when former Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) was sworn in as the interior secretary, the HuffPost reports.

“The new donation brings the DCCC’s total investment in Quist to $600,000. On April 20, the DCCC invested $200,000 in the folk singer, which was used to buy political ads for Quist’s campaign. According to Kelly, the additional money will be invested in a program aimed at getting likely independent and Democratic voters to vote by mail, which accounts for approximately 60 percent of Montana’s voters, as well as to buy more TV ads.”