Democratic Senate hopeful Jaime Harrison of South Carolina raised $57 million between July and September. Sara Gideon in Maine raised more than $39 million in that same period. And Mark Kelly in Arizona brought in $38.7 million. These eye-popping numbers shattered the previous record for fundraising, Beto O’Rourke’s $38 million cash haul in the third quarter of 2018. Now the Democrats are spending that money in the face of massive Republican super PAC funds, report CBS News political unit associate producers Sarah Ewall-Wice and Eleanor Watson. And it’s left many Republican candidates with more cash on hand than the Democrats in the final weeks of the race. In South Carolina, where the Senate race is unexpectedly tight, Harrison’s $57 million in three months was more than double what Republican incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham raised with $28 million, a state record for a Republican. Records show from July through September, Harrison spent more than $55 million. According to his October FEC filing, Harrison paid AL Media LLC more than $42 million over three months for TV, radio and digital advertising. He also spent another $6.5 million for digital advertising and services to Mothership Strategies, and $2 million to Blueprint Strategy LLC for radio and billboard advertising. $641,000 went to “direct mailing services.” That amounts to more than $51 million spent on ads and direct mail alone. But after being outraised roughly 2 to 1, Graham’s operating expenses covered about half of what he raised, $26.5 million and another $1.75 million was transferred to the state Republican party. In their pre-general election filings, Harrison raised another $22 million in just 14 days from October 1 through 14, but ended the period with just $3.5 million cash on hand. Graham raised less than half of that but had $7.3 million as of October 14.
Even with his record fundraising, Harrison’s campaign warned it needed to raise $10 million in the 12 days before the election to beat Graham. In a memo Wednesday, his campaign manager Zack Carroll wrote “our campaign woke up the Republican giant.” Carroll pointed out Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s super PAC raised $92 million in September and is already spending to try and stop Harrison. “Too many pundits don’t understand what we are up against and have said the Senate campaigns like ours don’t need to keep fundraising,” it read. “But the fact is that unless our fundraising surges in the final 12 days, we will not be able to match Mitch McConnell jeopardizing our path to victory.” On Tuesday, Republican super PAC the Senate Leadership Fund reported it had more than $113 million cash on hand heading into October, even as Republican candidates were being outraised by Democratic challengers. It still had nearly $70 million to burn as of October 14. Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC had less than $20 million October 14 and had raised more than $100 million less than what the Senate Leadership Fund brought in across 2020. Other Senate Democrats are also now at a cash disadvantage in the final stretch despite outraising GOP incumbents by millions.
Read more about the state of the Senate money race here.
FROM THE CANDIDATESTRUMP-PENCE CAMPAIGN
The Trump campaign fundraised $26 million around Thursday night’s debate, marking President Trump’s single largest day of online fundraising this election cycle. That GOP uptick could not come fast enough. Team Biden entered October with nearly three times as much cash on hand as the president’s re-election bid, leaving Trump campaign officials to make difficult choices on ad buy placements in battleground states. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien told reporters Friday, he is hopeful field operations in places like Minnesota, Ohio and Florida will offset the Biden campaign’s nationwide ad blitz. “Joe Biden’s been running a lot of TV ads. He’s got nothing on the ground,” Stepien said. The campaign manager also noted, “We track the absentee and early vote numbers in every state. We know exactly where we stand pertaining to ballots out and ballots in.” CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga says Mr. Trump heads to Florida Friday for back-to-back rallies. As polls show the president hemorrhaging support among seniors in the Sunshine State, Mr. Trump made his pitch to the country’s largest retirement community – the Villages. CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that the president’s visit Friday marks his 14th to the state this year and his 4th visit to the Sunshine State within the past four weeks. This is also the Trump campaign’s second stop to The Villages within two weeks. Mitchell and Sganga note that seniors are among a critical voting bloc that the president is courting, in an effort to make up ground with a group that some polls say he could be losing steam with.
Vice President Mike Pence campaigned in Ohio Friday for the second time this week. Pence said Mr. Trump took the fight “straight to Joe Biden and he won that debate hands down.” Laughing, Pence said, “It was amazing, I saw Joe look down at this watch, I figured he was trying to figure out how soon this thing’s gonna be over.” Pence also picked on Biden saying he would eventually replace the oil industry. “America’s strength comes in part from our vast natural resources,” Pence said. “We are going to continue to develop all of the resources of this land and drive a boundless American future,” he added.
The vice president continued to attack Biden on health care, claiming that Biden’s plan to add a public option to Obamacare will lead to socialism. “You take Bernie Sanders’ socialist idea, you put it right in the middle of Obamacare, and you’re going to put America on an inevitable path to socialist medicine,” Pence said. Pence, who dropped off his absentee ballot in his home state of Indiana this morning along with Second Lady Karen Pence, will continue to campaign this weekend, according to CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. In addition to making a stop in Pennsylvania this evening, Pence holds two rallies Saturday in Florida. The vice president heads to North Carolina Sunday and then another trip to Pennsylvania on Monday.
After some time away from the campaign trail to prepare for the second and final presidential debate, Biden began Friday to publicly outline plans for a potential transition into the presidency amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. “I’ll reach out to every governor in every state, red and blue, as well as mayors and local officials during transition to find out what support they need and how much of it they need. I’ll ask the new Congress to put a bill on my desk by the end of January,” Biden said in Delaware, as the contest enters its final stretch ahead of Election Day. Both campaigns claim the debate buoyed their prospects ahead of Election Day. However, Mr. Biden’s opponents have seized on his debate stage acknowledgement that he would “transition away from the oil industry,” ahead of the former vice president’s planned visit to Pennsylvania on Saturday. Though not much of a departure from his campaign’s climate plan publicly outlined months ago, the former vice president’s remark drew a firestorm from opponents. “We’ll get rid of the subsidies of fossil fuels, but not going to get rid of fossil fuels for a long time,” Biden said late Thursday as he departed Nashville.
BATTLEGROUNDS IN THE BATTLEGROUNDSMINNESOTA – *BLUE EARTH COUNTY*
Blue Earth County, which includes Mankato, voted for President Obama twice and then flipped for Mr. Trump in 2016, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. Two years after Trump carried the county by nearly four points, the county overwhelmingly supported Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith. The county includes a younger population who attend Minnesota State University, Mankato, a rural population outside of Mankato and a refugee population. Mark Halverson, the chair of the Blue Earth County Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) Party, said he expects Biden to win the county, adding that Trump’s character has turned off people in the county. “A lot of people thought he was maybe going to be a breath of fresh air, but you know he’s been just the opposite,” he added. “He’s kind of bogged everything down in personality conflicts and temper tantrums.” Blue Earth County is also in Minnesota’s first congressional district, where Democrats are hoping to unseat Republican incumbent congressman Jim Hagedorn. Hagedorn flipped this district in 2018, defeating 2018 Democratic congressional candidate Dan Feehan. It is a rematch of 2018, with Feehan is challenging Hagedorn again in 2020.
ISSUES THAT MATTERTRUMP V. BIDEN
With the 2020 election just 11 days away, CBS News social media producer Li Cohen has compiled a comprehensive look at where the presidential candidates stand on some of the major issues facing the nation. Their stances and plans were compiled based on information available on Mr. Trump’s and Biden’s respective campaign sites, as well as official documents and prior CBS News reporting. Click here to learn where the candidates stand.
ON THE $$$CAMPAIGN CASH
Biden headed into the final 20 days of the election with a more than $107 million cash advantage over Mr. Trump, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. According to the latest Federal Election Commission filings of fundraising through October 14, Biden, the Democratic National Committee and their joint fundraising committees had more than $331 million cash on hand. Mr. Trump, the Republican National Committee and their joint fundraising committees had more than $223.5 million cash on hand heading into October 15. Looking at the Biden campaign committee, it brought in $130 million in 14 days, including $70 million in direct contributions and nearly $60 million transferred from other committees. That’s three times what the Trump campaign committee brought in with its $43 million, though it did not transfer funds. The president’s campaign now also has more than $1.2 million in debt. With his massive cash advantage, Biden’s campaign has also spent much more than Trump’s campaign over 14 days. It had about $143 million in operating expenditures. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s campaign committee spent $63 million. The president’s joint fundraising committee also spent around $34 million, not including money transferred to other accounts, while the Biden joint fundraising committees spent just over $29 million on operating expenses. Operating expenses for the DNC over two weeks was $45.4 million while the RNC expenditures were $21.8 million.
Pro-Biden super PAC American Bridge 21st Century has launched an 11-day, $1.6 million paid media blitz – primarily in Pennsylvania – targeting seniors, veterans, and the small-town, rural voters, report CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga and political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. The new spots include broadcast, cable, digital and radio ad buys, mail, as well as billboards and postcards. A new advertisement highlighting a former Trump supporter — “Preacher” — will begin airing on Pennsylvania TV and radio this weekend, up through Election Day. American Bridge will roll out two new Pennsylvania digital ads: “Harold” and “Pennsylvania Lives.” While the American people knew this president could not be trusted to tell the truth, the COVID-19 pandemic gave Donald Trump’s dishonesty and incompetence new meaning for millions of families — and they are ready for a change,” said American Bridge 21st Century President Bradley Beychok. “American Bridge 21st Century began our first ever paid media program with a clear mission to undercut Trump’s support with seniors, rural communities, and the White working class voters who propelled him to narrow victories in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan in 2016. In the final days of this election, it’s never been more clear that the president has no path to reelection without these Blue Wall states. American Bridge 21st Century is closing out the election with a final push to ensure Pennsylvania goes blue, fighting as hard as we can up until the minute polls close to elect Joe Biden the next President of the United States.” The 7-figure buy includes TV and radio in markets in Erie, Harrisburg, Johnstown, Pittsburgh, Wilkes Barre-Scranton,as well as statewide digital targeting.
Gun rights and open carry advocates in Michigan have sued Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson over her directive last week banning openly carrying firearms at polling places, according to CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster.Last Friday, Benson issued an order that said, “the open carry of a firearm is prohibited in a polling place, in any hallway used by voters to enter or exit, or within 100 feet of any entrance to a building in which a polling place is located.” The directive said concealed carry is not allowed at any building that already prohibits the practice. The lawsuit filed by Michigan Open Carry, Michigan Gun Owners and Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners claims that Benson’s directive “makes an unsupported correlation between mere possession of a firearm and voter intimidation; and, is conjured without any legal basis or authorization under Michigan law.” Some local law enforcement officials in Michigan have indicated they don’t plan to enforce the order. Earlier this week Benson defended the order, telling reporters, “This is not a ban on firearms. This is an effort to protect our voters from intimidation, threats and harassment on Election Day itself.” Benson said her understanding is Michigan State Police will help enforce the directive where local law enforcement is choosing not to.
Democrats in Ohio’s Appalachian region are approaching the 2020 general election with a mix of optimism and concern, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. It is unlikely that Biden will win Ohio’s Appalachian region, but Democrats are hoping to diminish Republican strength in this heavily conservative area. “I’m terrified. I have said a hundred times I don’t think that there has ever been an election in which I was old enough to vote that I was actually afraid of who might win,” said Mary Jane Tullius, a 71-year-old Democrat living in Beverly, Ohio. Democrats in the region are enthusiastic about their party in 2020, citing Mr. Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and their disdain for the president. Republican enthusiasm is evident in the region with lawn signs supporting the president and opposing abortion. The Trump campaign has touted its field operation in the state, recently noting that its operation has made 12 million voter contacts. Ohio’s Appalachian region has been plagued by poverty and opioid addiction, but the manufacturing industry saw some growth in the state since the Great Recession. That growth slowed at the end of 2019 and job losses ensued early on in the COVID-19 pandemic. Local mayors along the Ohio River who spoke with CBS News attributed job growth in their towns to local and state efforts. “If we are going to do something, we need to raise the money or find the funding on our own,” said Belpre, Ohio, Mayor Michael Lorentz.
It was another busy day for Pennsylvania courts making elections rulings, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Friday that mail ballots and applications can’t be challenged or rejected for signatures mismatches. The court’s two conservative justices joined its five liberal ones in ruling that subjective signatures analysis can’t be the reason any ballot is rejected in the key battleground state. “County boards of elections are prohibited from rejecting absentee or mail-in ballots based on signature comparison conducted by county election officials or employees, or as the result of third-party challenges based on signature analysis and comparisons,” Justice Debra Todd wrote in the opinion. Pennsylvania’s elections chief had issued guidance in September in line with that interpretation of the law, and the Trump campaign asked a federal district court judge to deem it unconstitutional. That court dismissed the lawsuit earlier this month, and Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar asked the state’s top court to use it’s “King’s Bench” power to affirm the legality of her directive on ballot rejections. This is the first year that Pennsylvania, a state worth 20 electoral votes, is allowing no-excuse mail-in voting. Nearly a third of the state’s 9 million registered voters have applied for a mail-in or absentee ballot, and two thirds of those voters are Democrats.
Also on Friday, a Pennsylvania state court rejected an appeal effort from the Trump campaign over Philadelphia’s elections officials not allowing poll watchers in satellite elections offices. The campaign had argued that offices qualify as polling places and therefore poll watchers are allowed in them. The offices allow people to register to vote, apply for a ballot, receive it, fill it out and return it in one trip. Philadelphia’s elections officials, the top state elections official and then a Philadelphia judge each said they do not qualify as polling places. A three-judge Commonwealth Court panel today decided that the lower court was correct because the judge’s opinion, “thoroughly discusses, and correctly disposes of, the legal issues before this Court,” wrote Judge Ellen Ceisler in the concurring opinion. Two GOP congressional candidates have a similar lawsuit on going federal court in the Western District of the state.
A Texas state court of appeals on Friday upheld a lower court’s decision that blocked Governor Greg Abbott’s order limiting counties to one drop-off site for mail ballots, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. Republicans are expected to appeal the decision to the Texas Supreme Court, so it’s unclear if more drop-off sites will open. This is separate from a federal case where an appeals court ruled that Abbott’s order was valid. Texas does not offer no-excuse mail voting. To vote by mail, voters have to be either 65 years or older, disabled, out of the county on Election Day and early voting period, or in jail but otherwise eligible. More than 787,000 Texans have already voted by mail, but another 5.6 million have voted early in-person. Combined, more than 37.7% of registered Texans have voted and already turnout is at 71% of the total turnout from the 2016 presidential election.
CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGEIN THE HOUSE
“Will you remember that, Texas? Will you remember that Pennsylvania? Oklahoma? Ohio?” Mr. Trump said during Thursday’s debate, after Biden said he’d transition away from fossil fuels to eventually replace them with renewable energy source. While Oklahoma is not a battleground state for the presidential race, the mention may have been a reference for the state’s 5th district, one of the most notable pickup opportunities for Republicans. Oklahoma’s 5th district has several major oil and gas companies that use fracking, and while she has spoken out against a ban on it before, freshman Democrat Kendra Horn was quick to show some distance between her and Biden. “Here’s one of the places Biden and I disagree. We must stand up for our oil and gas industry. We need an all-of-the-above energy approach that’s consumer friendly, values energy independence, and protects OK jobs. I’ll keep fighting for that in Congress,” Horn tweeted after the debate. Her Republican opponent, state Senator Stephanie Bice, called on her to outright disavow Biden’s transition away from the oil industry. National Republican groups such as the National Republican Congressional Committee or the Congressional Leadership Fund have been highlighting Biden’s comments to target Horn, several Democrat challengers in Texas and Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small in New Mexico’s 2nd. “Congresswoman Torres Small and Joe Biden will both say whatever it takes to get elected, but the one thing that remains true is that they are both dead set on ending good paying energy jobs,” CLF press secretary Will Reinert said in a press release.
Like Horn, Torres Small also voiced her disagreement with Biden on Thursday, tweeting, “I will continue to stand up to my party when they’re out of touch with the reality on the ground in #NM02.” The freshman Democrat has been outspoken on the issue before through debates and ads. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says the oil and gas industry claim to support 51,000 jobs in the district, directly or indirectly, with its revenues accounting for “almost 20% of the district’s total economy.” In Texas’ 23rd, Republican Tony Gonzales called on Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones on Friday to pledge to oppose Biden’s “radical environmental policies.” Jones spokesperson Sharon Yang told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro that Jones doesn’t support a ban on fracking and believes energy leaders should be incentivized to participate in more clean technology development. “Texas is already a clean energy superpower, and Gina is committed to building on Texas’ leadership and investing in our workers so we can address the threat climate change poses to our national security, our economic security, and our public health while creating more good-paying jobs in South and West Texas,” Yang said in a statement. Ortiz Jones is in a competitive race for the state’s open seat, left by retiring Republican Congressman Will Hurd.
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