POLITICO's Morning Score: Ossoff falls short of win, headed to GA-06 runoff with Handel — How the parties already prepped for a runoff — Early Democratic radio buy aims to boost McCaskill

By Scott Bland and Elena Schneider | 04/19/2017 10:00 AM EDT

With Kevin Robillard

The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro's Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races - and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day's most important campaign news - sign up for Campaign Pro today. (http://www.politicopro.com/proinfo)

GEORGIA RESULTS - "Ossoff falls short of win, Georgia election heads to runoff," by Campaign Pro's Elena Schneider: "Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old political novice, fell just short of a shocking victory in a House race that had captured the attention of the political world as a referendum on President Donald Trump. The results left Democrats hoping for an upset deflated at the ballot box once again, but Ossoff will get another crack at the district in a June runoff, when relieved Republicans are looking forward to a one-on-one race between Republican Karen Handel and the upstart Democrat. Ossoff had 48 percent of the vote when the Associated Press declared that he would miss the 50 percent threshold for victory and instead qualify for a one-on-one runoff in June." Full story.

- "Parties gird for two-month runoff battle in Georgia," by Campaign Pro's Elena Schneider: "Republicans and Democrats were already telegraphing strategy for a two-month runoff even before voters in Georgia's 6th District had finished casting ballots on Tuesday ... Last Friday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee posted research materials on Handel and another top Republican contender online, highlighting preferred attack lines for outside groups that could dive into the fray. And Republicans look set to reprise their TV ads casting Ossoff as a bad fit for the usually conservative-leaning district: National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Steve Stivers linked Ossoff to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 'Hollywood stars' in his late-night statement ... The attacks the DCCC highlighted focus on spending in Handel's office when she was Georgia's secretary of state, including thousands of dollars in travel costs, playing off criticism Handel faced from fellow Republican candidates and outside groups before the primary." Full story.

ON DEFENSE EARLY - "Senate Democrat outside group launches radio ads defending McCaskill," by Campaign Pro's Kevin Robillard: "A nonprofit controlled by allies of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is spending $500,000 on radio ads backing Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill an early cash injection bucking up one of the most vulnerable Democrats facing reelection in 2018. Majority Forward is paying for the ads, which will air statewide over the next four weeks. Majority Forward is affiliated with Senate Majority PAC, the main super PAC that supports Senate Democrats. The ads are the first from either group aimed at the 2018 elections ... The new ad ... touts McCaskill for promoting and protecting rural hospitals ... 'Today, hospitals in rural Missouri are in crisis. Nearly half are at risk of shutting down. That's why Sen. Claire McCaskill is fighting back,' a narrator says in the 60-second ad." Full story.

NEW RACE TO WATCH THIS YEAR - Alabama governor sets 2017 special election for Strange's Senate seat: "New Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey today announced dates later this year for a special election for Attorney General Jeff Sessions' old Senate seat, now held by Republican Luther Strange. Ivey's proclamation sets the primary for Aug. 15, 2017 and a runoff for Sept. 26. The general election will be on Dec. 12, almost a year ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The term for Sessions' seat expires in 2020. Resigned Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Strange, then the state attorney general, to the seat this winter." Full story.

Days until the 2017 election: 202.

Days until the 2018 election: 566.

Thanks for joining us. You can email tips to the Campaign Pro team at sbland@politico.com, eschneider@politico.com, krobillard@politico.com and dstrauss@politico.com.

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NAMES ON THE CHECKS - "Perriello's big donors stand out in Virginia's governor's race," by Campaign Pro's Kevin Robillard: "Half of Tom Perriello's big first-quarter fundraising haul came from just three sources - one of several liabilities embedded in the campaign finance reports of each of the major contenders to be Virginia's next governor. Democratic megadonor George Soros and his family, a Charlottesville philanthropist, and a nonprofit founded by Perriello together account for more than $1.1 million of the $2.2 million Perriello raised in the first quarter of 2015. Meanwhile, Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam took donations from Dominion Power, a utility Perriello has held up as a symbol of establishment corruption, while Republican political strategist Ed Gillespie's campaign for an increasingly blue-tinted state took in hundreds of thousands of dollars from George W. Bush administration alumni." Full story.

- Meanwhile: "Though no one denies Senate Democrats are in for a rough 2018 midterm election, a host of their vulnerable incumbents just posted some eye-popping fundraising numbers - a sign the party won't easily cede more ground to Republicans next year." Full story.

2018 WATCH - Ohio investment banker considering GOP Senate run: "Republican investment banker Michael Gibbons is considering a 2018 Senate run in Ohio, according to GOP operatives with knowledge of Gibbons' discussions. A senior managing partner at the Cleveland-based Brown, Gibbons, Lang & Company, Gibbons has been working with the Republican consulting firm RightVoter as he considers joining the field to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown." Full story.

- "Adviser: Carly Fiorina 'strongly considering' Virginia Senate run," by CNN's Miranda Green: "Former Presidential Republican candidate Carly Fiorina is 'strongly considering' a run to unseat Hillary Clinton's former running mate Tim Kaine for Virginia senator in 2018, an adviser to the former Hewlett-Packard CEO told CNN. Fiorina... has been considering a run against Kaine in Virginia since November, said Frank Sadler, former campaign manager for her presidential run and the former executive director to her PAC. Sadler said that Fiorina will likely make a formal decision about running for Senate in the fall, a timeline the former presidential candidate essentially confirmed to SiriusXM's Julie Mason earlier Tuesday." Full story

- Dane County exec the latest Democrat to say no to Wisconsin governor run, via the Wisconsin State Journal's Matthew DeFour: "Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said Tuesday he won't run for governor in 2018, removing one of the most high-profile Democratic elected officials from the shortening list of Gov. Scott Walker's potential challengers." Full story.

AND 2020 WATCH - "Warren dodges on whether she'll run for president in 2020," by POLITICO's Kelsey Sutton: "Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren slammed President Donald Trump for refusing to release his tax returns Tuesday, but she refused to say whether she was considering running against him in 2020. In an appearance on NBC's 'Today' Tuesday to promote her book, 'This Fight is Our Fight,' Warren dodged questions from NBC's Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer about whether she was weighing a presidential run as pockets of support around the country for her possible candidacy continue to emerge." Full story.

MONEY CHASE - Spicer attends Va. GOP fundraiser at Trump's golf course: White House press secretary Sean Spicer will be the special guest at Republican Party of Virginia fundraiser next month ahead of 2017 marquee gubernatorial and legislative races. The fundraiser, held at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, will cost attendees at least $125, with tickets maxing out at $5,000. Invite here.

REJECTED - "Non-profit returns U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's donation of Backpage.com owners' money," by the Arizona Republic's Ronald J. Hansen: "A non-profit media organization has rejected U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema's donation of money given to the Arizona Democrat's campaign by owners of a website accused of knowingly accepting ads offering sex with underage girls. Sinema, D-Ariz., donated $10,600 to Friends of Public Radio Arizona last week to shed money donated to her campaign last year by Michael Lacey and James Larkin, founders of the controversial classified-ad website Backpage.com and former Phoenix New Times executives." Full story.

STAFFING UP - Chris King adds personnel: Florida Democrat Chris King, a businessman, rolled out staff announcements on Tuesday, including several Clinton and Obama alums. Zach Learner, who worked as the voter protection director for Clinton's Florida operation, will serve as the campaign's COO, managing "day-to-day operations," per a statement from the campaign. Raymond Paultre, who worked on the Obama campaign and Enroll America's Florida state and organizing director, will be director of strategic engagement. Stephanie McClung, who served as finance director for Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, will work as finance director. Amanda Sands, who worked as digital director for 2016 New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern, will be the King's digital director. Raul Martinez Jr. will serve as south Florida regional director and Juanica Fernandes will serve as regional finance associate.

- Taylor Thornely Keeney joins Adams campaign: Taylor Thornley Kenney, a former spokeswoman for GOP Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, has joined John Adams' campaign for Virginia Attorney General.

- David Abrams joins Gillespie campaign: Abrams, previously the communications director for New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, is now the campaign's communications director, replacing Matt Moran, who became the chief of staff for Virginia House Speaker-delegate Kirk Cox.

CODA - QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I don't mind the occasional call to action that is based on a negative emotion, it's the declaring final defeat at the start of the third quarter that bugs me. 'All is lost' is a preposterous thing to say to a voter or a donor, and to use words like 'crushing' is a total misunderstanding of how to motivate people." - Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), to POLITICO about Democratic messaging around the special elections.

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-score/2017/04/ossoff-falls-short-of-win-headed-to-ga-06-runoff-with-handel-219858

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