POLITICO's Morning Score: South Carolina GOP special primary goes to recount — Montana special pivots to health care — Deadline day: Filing deadline for Alabama Senate special

By Scott Bland | 05/17/2017 10:00 AM EDT

With Kevin Robillard, Daniel Strauss and Elena Schneider

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)

TUESDAY SPECIAL - "Norman leads SC-05 GOP primary by 200 votes with all precincts in," by Campaign Pro's Kevin Robillard: "Real estate developer Ralph Norman, a former state representative who won the backing of national conservative groups, has a 200-vote advantage over state Rep. Tommy Pope with all precincts reporting in South Carolina's 5th District GOP primary runoff - a 0.6 percentage point margin that will trigger an automatic recount."

- "If Norman's advantage holds, he will face Democrat Archie Parnell in the June 20 special election to fill OMB Director Mick Mulvaney's former, heavily Republican House seat. ... [C]onservatives rushed in to lift Norman, who said he would join the House Freedom Caucus if elected. The Club for Growth spent heavily on his behalf, attacking Pope as a personal injury lawyer and career politician. Former Gov. Nikki Haley, former Sen. Jim DeMint and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz all endorsed Norman. ... Both Republicans have been considered heavy favorites in potential matchups with Parnell, a former Goldman Sachs executive and congressional staffer." Full story. See the election results here.

NEXT SPECIAL UP - "Quist pivots to health care in search of Montana upset," by Campaign Pro's Elena Schneider in Kalispell, Mont.: "A week from Election Day, the campaign to be Montana's next House member is all about health care. Democrat Rob Quist is pivoting hard to health care, which 'has taken over as the No. 1 issue' for voters in the special election, he said at a rally as supporters waved handmade signs that said: 'Save the ACA.' Quist, reaching for an unlikely red-state upset, is attacking Republican Greg Gianforte's taped statement that he was 'thankful' for the House GOP health care bill that passed earlier this month. 'This is a rural state. This health care plan cuts so much funding for Montana,' said Quist, kicking off a 'hands off our health care' series of rallies across the state before the May 25 special election. But the health care pivot has also highlighted some of Quist's weaknesses as a candidate in a nationally watched special election. As Quist highlights his own health struggles and medical debt, Republicans are attacking his personal finances and legal history, including fraud accusations." Full story.

- FIRST IN SCORE - House Majority PAC digital ads hit six House Republicans on health care votes: The Democratic super PAC is also attacking on health care, with digital spots targeting GOP Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), Brian Mast (FL-18), Erik Paulsen (MN-03), Lee Zeldin (NY-01), John Faso (NY-19) and John Culberson (TX-07). The videos say the GOP health care bill includes an "age tax - premiums for older people could jump to five times the amount insurers charge younger consumers." The narrator then connects the vote to money donated to the incumbents by "insurance and financial interests" and casts them as "good for insurance companies, not so good for you." Watch the ad against Rohrabacher here.

- ON ANOTHER DIGITAL FRONT... - American Bridge search ads pressure Senate contenders on Russia: American Bridge is running Google search ads linking Republican House members eyeing Senate runs to the Trump administration's Russia-related troubles. "Why Did Trump Fire Comey?" the ads ask. "Demand Answers on Trump-Russia." The ads are targeting Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer in Indiana, Ann Wagner and Vicky Hartzler in Missouri, Fred Upton in Michigan and Lou Barletta and Mike Kelly in Pennsylvania. "Our message to any Republican running for Senate or thinking about it is simple: you can try to run from Donald Trump's Russia scandal, but you can't hide," Bridge spokesman Joshua Karp said.

Days until the 2017 election: 174.

Days until the 2018 election: 538.

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.

You can also follow us on Twitter: @politicoscott, @ec_schneider, @politicokevin and @danielstrauss4.

HAPPENING TODAY - 5 p.m. local filing deadline for the Alabama Senate special election. GOP Rep. Mo Brooks is already in; will state Senate President Pro Tempore Del Marsh take the plunge too?

- In the meantime, GOP Sen. Luther Strange is out with his first TV and radio ads: "The ads cast Strange as an 'Alabama conservative' who rooted out corruption when he was state attorney general. 'As attorney general, Big Luther's corruption prosecution team convicted a corrupt House speaker, convicted dozens of corrupt public officials,' the TV ad's narrator says. The ad then shows a clip of President Donald Trump saying, 'We're going to drain the swamp in Washington D.C.' 'Big Luther is working with President Trump to drain the swamp, repeal Obamacare, deport criminal illegal aliens, protect our Second Amendment,' the narrator in the ad says." Full story. Watch the TV ad here. Listen to the very similar radio ad here.

2018 NO-GO - Tiberi will not run for Senate in Ohio: "'"Since the beginning of this new congressional term, I have been immersed in leading the historic effort to reform our failing healthcare system and fix our broken tax code. In doing so, it has become clear to me that I cannot be effective in enacting real change on these critical issues, be the husband, father and son I want to be, and embark on a statewide campaign,' Tiberi said in a statement ... Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who ran against [Sen. Sherrod] Brown in 2012, is already running for the GOP nomination." Full story.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE CLARIFICATION - MN-03 Democrat Dean Phillips will not accept PAC money for his campaign and does not plan to primarily self-fund his run, he told Morning Score on Tuesday - but Phillips, a wealthy businessman, says he will give his campaign some money to avoid falling behind financially because of his PAC pledge.

BIDEN ON THE STUMP - "Joe Biden to visit N.J. to campaign for Phil Murphy," by NJ Advance Media's Brent Johnson: "Former Vice President Joe Biden will travel to New Jersey over Memorial Day weekend to campaign for Phil Murphy, the Democratic front-runner for governor ... Biden is scheduled to appear at two events in Bergen County on May 28 to stump for Murphy -- a private fundraiser in Edgewater and a public rally in Lyndhurst, according to Murphy's campaign. ... The visit marks the first time that a major political figure will wade into the crowded race to succeed Gov. Chris Christie." Full story.

HIDDEN HOMETOWNS - A closer look at what's on the air in Virginia: Former Rep. Tom Perriello's Virginia gubernatorial campaign has taken advantage of the fact that he was born in Charlottesville and represented the area in Congress, but now lives in Northern Virginia, by emphasizing his ties to both regions. And now a little birdie notes his ad featuring President Barack Obama has an added bonus for viewers in the D.C. area: tiny lettering indicating Perriello is speaking direct to camera from Alexandria, Va. The location isn't noted in versions of the ad that have been running outside of the northern Virginia suburbs. Here's the original version. Here's the "Alexandria" version.

STAFFING UP - DLCC adds personnel: The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee is adding five new senior staffers ahead of the 2018 election, per a statement from the group. Josie Bradley, who led the Grassroots Victory Program last cycle, and Chuck Quintero, who worked at the Department of Energy and in the Obama administration, will both serve as regional political directors. Kate Stoner, who most recently worked at EMILY's List, will be the DLCC's major gifts director. Tara Brosnan will serve as the group's data director, and Ivan Cheung will work as the DLCC's digital director.

READ THESE TOGETHER - "Dems warn their Trump obsession will hurt party," by McClatchy's Alex Roarty: " Top Democratic leaders gathered Tuesday to deliver a stark warning: Their party needs to do more than just talk about President Donald Trump. Judging by their own words at the first major party cattlecall of 2017, that's no easy task. A day after a report that the president revealed highly sensitive intelligence from a U.S. ally to Russian leaders, a litany of top Democratic officials and possible 2020 presidential candidates tried to find a balance between denouncing the latest Trump controversy and making time to explain their own vision and agenda." Full story.

- "Worried about fallout, Dems poised to poll-test impeachment," by McClatchy's Alex Roarty: "Democratic strategists are racing to figure out if it's politically wise to call for Donald Trump's impeachment, as one bombshell revelation after another about the president's ties to Russia are forcing Senate and House candidates to consider the question far sooner than anyone expected.In a significant development, party operatives say they now expect Democrats will poll-test the public's views on impeachment, trying to acquire hard data about an issue that until now has not been seriously analyzed. ... The problem, these more wary Democrats argue, is so much of the playing field during next year's midterm election takes place in states or districts favorable to Trump. Senate Democrats must defend 10 states that Trump won during last year's election. 'Voting for a check on Trump is one thing,' said one national Democratic strategist, granted anonymity to speak candidly about party strategy. 'But if a vote for a check on the president ... becomes a de-facto vote for an impeachment trial, the task in front of us will only get more difficult.'" Full story.

CODA - QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It is important to get to the bottom of it." - House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), to POLITICO regarding The New York Times report that President Donald Trump asked former FBI Director James Comey if he could "let this go" - this being an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

To view online:
http://www.politico.com/tipsheets/morning-score/2017/05/south-carolina-gop-special-primary-goes-to-recount-220352

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