2018 Campaign

The Attempted Remaking of Michael Grimm

Olivia Nuzzi has a must-read profile of former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY), who is attempting a comeback in a Republican primary for his old seat today.

“Grimm owned one of the most centrist records in the 111th Congress. And then, after only four years in office, he resigned and assumed a new title: inmate 83479-053. He pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion after first being hit with a 20-count indictment related to his Upper East Side restaurant — mail and wire fraud, filing false tax returns, perjury, hiring and employing undocumented immigrants, and so on. The establishment was called Healthalicious…”

“In a more sane time in our political history, that might have been it for Michael Grimm’s political career. Maybe he’d have gotten lucky and ended up a Fox News pundit, or on the speaking circuit somewhere, or quietly and legally running Healthalicious 2.0. Fuhgeddabout holding office again as an ex-con best known for threatening graphic violence against a TV reporter as cameras rolled. But the sane times are over. In the ensuing handful of years, as he served his time in prison and got out, American politics came unglued in such a way that invited his return.”

McConnell’s Super PAC Targets Races In Three States

“Top allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are diving into the midterm elections with an initial fall television advertising reservation of nearly $25 million,” the Washington Examiner reports.

“Senate Leadership Fund, financed by wealthy campaign contributors cultivated by the Kentucky Republican, is placing buys in Missouri, Nevada, and North Dakota in a bid to pad the GOP’s thin 51-49 majority. The group plans tens of millions more in advertising to begin after Labor Day, but is delaying to guard its November strategy.”

Tech Firms Held Meeting with Intelligence Agencies

Washington Post: “The meeting with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security took place at Facebook’s headquarters last month and was also attended by Google, Apple, Microsoft and others… It was an attempt at dialogue and information-sharing that was absent during the 2016 presidential elections.”

“The nation’s top intelligence chiefs declared in February that the Kremlin is continuing its effort to disrupt the U.S. political system and to target the midterm elections. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said at the time that operatives plan to use propaganda, false personas, and bots to undermine the upcoming election.”

New York Times: “The meeting, which was initiated by Facebook, was seen as a hopeful first step to ensure that the midterms were not a repeat of the Russian interference in 2016, said the three people who attended the meeting.”

Democrats Have Turned Out in the Primaries

New York Times: “Democratic turnout has risen more sharply than Republican turnout in at least 123 congressional districts, including districts where Republican incumbents are most vulnerable, in states like California and New Jersey.”

“That turnout pattern is highly encouraging to Democrats who hope to flood the polls in November and unseat Republicans, even in districts that typically lean to the right. Midterm campaigns often hinge on voter enthusiasm: Without a presidential race to draw casual voters to the polls, the party out of power tends to benefit from disproportionate turnout among Americans who feel angry or aggrieved about politics in Washington.”

Pelosi Says Democrats Will Contest 70 GOP-Held Seats

“As many as 100 seats could be in play,” but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) “says the party can only afford to contest about 70. Candidates who want to keep the full backing of the DCCC will have to stick to the playbook,” Rolling Stone reports.

Said Pelosi: “Everybody in the 70 has to really perform, or else they know we’ll go someplace else.”

Democrats Want to Be the Health Care Party

Bloomberg Businessweek: “For the first time since it became law in 2010, Obamacare is a political asset for Democrats heading into an election—a striking turn after several cycles in which the law’s unpopularity helped Republicans sweep into power in legislative races across the country. Still, Democrats face a challenge: President Trump’s attacks on Obamacare prompted a broad reassessment of its merits and hurt his party’s political standing. To successfully exploit the issue, Democrats have to find a way to cut through the din of Trump news and scandal coverage and convince voters they’ll defend the health-care law from ongoing GOP sabotage and repeal efforts.”

“That will entail digging deep into their own pockets to pay for advertising. Democratic strategists have all but given up on trying to influence Trump-obsessed cable news coverage, even though a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that health care is voters’ top issue, above jobs and the economy, guns, taxes, and immigration.”

The Bellwether Race for 2018

First Read: “The midterm battle for Senate control has plenty of colorful characters, important narratives and high-profile races… But for a true bellwether contest about the state of the country in 2018, the best bet might be Indiana, where Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly is facing off against relative political newcomer and GOP businessman Mike Braun.”

“Why? Donnelly doesn’t have the strong personal and political brand of a McCaskill or a Manchin, and Braun doesn’t have the political baggage of being a ‘D.C. insider.’ That makes this more of a generic Democrat v. Republican ballot than most of the other marquee Senate races elsewhere in the country. And it’s in a state where — despite a GOP-leaning history — Democrats have sometimes benefitted from political winds blowing their way, including Barack Obama’s win there in 2008 and Donnelly’s victory in 2012.”

Romney Says He’ll Speak Out Against Trump

Mitt Romney, writing in the Salt Lake Tribune:

“I have and will continue to speak out when the president says or does something which is divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions. I do not make this a daily commentary; I express contrary views only when I believe it is a matter of substantial significance.”

What Republicans Are Watching Ahead of the Midterms

A source close to GOP leadership emails Jonathan Swan: “Only thing that matters now is a) how bad they get crushed on ACA premium increases; b) the final Mueller verdict; and c) how crazy Trump gets with the CR.”

“Republicans are worried about the potential for health insurance premiums to skyrocket in September, shortly before the midterms. Democrats are seizing on health care as their number one issue. Senior Democratic sources say their polling shows voters are now blaming their dissatisfaction with health care on the party that controls the House, Senate and White House rather than the party that implemented the Affordable Care Act.”

“The final Mueller verdict speaks for itself: it would take a new revelation of the most explosive kind to persuade any Republican senators to vote to impeach Trump.”

“And the CR — or continuing resolution — refers to the government spending bill that’s due to expire at the end of September. The unanswerable question is whether Trump decides to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn’t give him enough money to build his wall (spoiler: it won’t).”