By Scott Bland and Elena Schneider | 04/20/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With Kevin Robillard and Daniel Strauss
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)
ROUND 2 - "Georgia candidates dive into intense runoff campaign," by Campaign Pro's Elena Schneider: "By the time Georgia voters woke up Wednesday morning, their House special election was already back in overdrive. Democrat Jon Ossoff ... raised over $500,000 on Wednesday for a grueling two-month runoff, campaign manager Keenan Pontoni said - the most lucrative day of the campaign so far for Ossoff ... Ossoff is putting some of that money on TV immediately, with an ad campaign starting back up Thursday after a one-day break. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is jumping in with a half-million dollars on TV, a DCCC source confirmed, as the party tries to keep Republican Karen Handel from unifying GOP voters in the two-month runoff.
- "Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan is planning a trip to Georgia to campaign alongside Handel in the next few weeks, according to a Ryan political aide. Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC that has already spent about $3 million hitting Ossoff and turning out conservative-leaning voters, is readying yet more involvement in the race. In short, the hotly contested House race is rumbling on with barely a pause after Tuesday ... 'It's probably going to be the most expensive House seat in U.S. history by the time it's over,' said Rob Simms, a senior adviser to Handel and former National Republican Congressional Committee executive director, predicting that it will also be even more competitive and hard-fought than the primary." Full story.
- WEB WARS - CLF wasted no time releasing a new web video criticizing Ossoff for raising the majority of his money from "liberals from outside of Georgia." It also calls Ossoff "Nancy Pelosi's congressman, not ours." Watch it here.
- Handel's campaign is sparking some intense online donor interest of its own, according to consultant Tom Newhouse, the digital marketing VP at Simms' firm. Newhouse tweeted that Handel could set a record for single-day online fundraising by a GOP congressional candidate.
- "GOP strategists: Georgia results are a wake-up call," by POLITICO's Austin Wright: "The official Republican message on Wednesday, one day after Georgia's special election, was that it meant nothing. There is no cause to be alarmed by Democrat Jon Ossoff's indisputably strong performance. Republican nominee Karen Handel is going to defeat him in the June runoff. There's no reason to worry about the party's standing going into the 2018 midterm elections. Unofficially, however, there were plenty of Republican operatives who viewed last week's Kansas special election and Tuesday's contest in Georgia as a harbinger of tough times ahead - warning signs that congressional leaders would be crazy to ignore as they craft their legislative strategy for the months ahead." Full story.
OPEN PRIMARY WATCH - "Chaffetz won't run for reelection in 2018," by POLITICO's Austin Wright: "House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Wednesday he will not run for reelection next year, ending a fast-rising political career, at least for now. 'After long consultation with my family and prayerful consideration, I have decided I will not be a candidate for any office in 2018,' he wrote on Facebook. ... The move by the highly ambitious politician came as a shock to many in Washington. ... Asked whether he would run for governor in 2020 in an interview with Utah's KSL Newsradio, Chaffetz said, 'Maybe,' adding, 'I'm not trying to close the door or open the door to anything in the future... a couple years from now you can make that decision.'" Full story.
- "Chaffetz retirement opens door for Utah Republicans," by Campaign Pro's Daniel Strauss: Full story.
Days until the 2017 election: 201.
Days until the 2018 election: 565.
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2018 HOUSE WATCH - Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Wexton to launch VA-10 campaign: Wexton was floated as a candidate against GOP Rep. Barbara Comstock in 2016, but she declined to run. This time, the attorney is taking the plunge in one of the House's quintessential swing districts - one that Comstock won by about 6 percentage points last year even as President Donald Trump lost the district by 10.
- Democratic veteran R.D. Huffstetler is also beginning a campaign for Virginia's 5th District, a more conservative-leaning seat represented by freshman GOP Rep. Tom Garrett.
MORE Q1 FUNDRAISING - Wyoming: GOP Sen. John Barrasso raised $1.159 million and has $3.72 million cash on hand.
MORE SPECIALS - "After Georgia's Close Race, Montana Democrats Demand Party's Attention," by the New York Times' Jonathan Martin: "'They've been on the sidelines a little too long, and it's time for them to get in the game,' said Mr. Quist, the banjo-playing Democratic nominee in a special May election to fill Montana's at-large House seat. But, he predicted, 'they're coming in.' They may have little choice. After a hard-fought campaign to fill a House seat in the Atlanta suburbs fell just short of outright victory on Tuesday, the House seat in Montana vacated by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is up next, and a groundswell of new activism on the left is demanding attention. Democrats have now chalked up a closer-than-expected loss in a House special election in Kansas this month and a near miss in Georgia, leading logically to discussions of how hard to play going forward - not only in the June 20 runoff between their first-time candidate Jon Ossoff and the Republican Karen Handel in Georgia, but also in looming House races in Montana and South Carolina." Full story.
EARLY POLLING DATA - WPA slams Texas Lyceum poll: WPA Intelligence pollster Chris Wilson slammed a new poll from Texas Lyceum that showed GOP Sen. Ted Cruz tied with Rep. Beto O'Rourke (at 30 percent apiece) and trailing Rep. Joaquin Castro in a new memo. Here's the gist of their case against the poll: It oversampled Democrats and worded the ballot test question oddly, specifically asking respondents whether they had thought enough about the race, leading to a high number of undecideds. Wilson also writes that the Lyceum has missed the mark with recent polling. "This polling cannot be taken at face value," Wilson writes. Full memo.
- American Bridge survey says swing district voters want Russia investigation: The Democratic super PAC paid for Anzalone Liszt Grove to conduct an online survey of persuadable voters in districts targeted by the DCCC. It found 65 percent of voters wanted an investigation into Trump's ties to Russia, and 71 percent supporting a bipartisan commission to investigate. The intensity is also on the side of investigating, with 41 percent strongly supporting an investigation and just 10 percent strongly opposing. Full memo.
BOOK NUGGETS - DSCC Chair Chris Van Hollen denies he tried to keep black turnout down in '16 primaries: The Baltimore Sun reports Van Hollen's campaign is denying an anecdote from "Shattered," a new book about Hillary Clinton's failed campaign, that "he urged unions to not aggressively turn out the state's African American vote because it would help his Democratic primary opponent." High black turnout also would've helped Clinton as well as Van Hollen opponent Donna Edwards, and Clinton allegedly asked one of her aides "who gives a f--- about Chris Van Hollen" after an event in Baltimore. A Van Hollen campaign aide "categorically denied" he tried to keep black turnout down. Full story.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW - "Katie McGinty Appointed Partner At Militia Hill Ventures." Full release.
ENDORSEMENT WATCH - NEW THIS A.M. - PCCC endorses Perriello: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee has endorsed Democrat Tom Perriello ahead of the Virginia gubernatorial primary. The group boasts its Virginia political coordinator, Teddy Smyth, "will be coordinating directly with the Perriello campaign on the ground -- mobilizing our over 23,000 members in Virginia, conducting intensive training for field volunteers, and providing key political advice for the campaign." The group will also raise cash for the former congressman.
- Khizr and Ghazala Khan endorses Perriello: Another endorsement for Perriello comes from Khizr Khan, the Virginia lawyer whose speech about his son who died in Iraq electrified the Democratic National Convention.
STAFFING UP - Preston Maddock will be the communications director for Sen. Sherrod Brown's campaign: Preston Maddock, previously the communications director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, will serve as the communications director for Brown's reelection team, the Brown campaign announced in a press release Wednesday.
- Former Florida Democratic Party executive director Scott Arcenaux has joined Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum's gubernatorial campaign, per POLITICO's Marc Caputo.
CODA - QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The two people who participated in the survey said it was conducted by an out-of-state firm that referred to state residents as 'Wisconsinians,' not Wisconsinites." - The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice, on the trials and tribulations of polling the state properly.
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