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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Democratic Senate candidates raise serious cash

Democratic Senate candidates have again touted impressive fundraising numbers for the second quarter of 2020 showing that the coronavirus pandemic had little effect on the candidates' draw, report CBS News political unit associate producers Eleanor Watson and Sarah Ewall-Wice. In two of the top targeted seats for Democrats, the candidates each pulled in over $7 million. Sara Gideon in Maine raised $9 million from April through June, about $2 million more than she raised in the first quarter of 2020. Meanwhile, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina pulled in $7.4 million, about $3 million more than he raised in the first quarter.

In Montana, a race that Politico recently shifted to a toss-up, Governor Steve Bullock's campaign said he raised $7.7 million in his race against incumbent Republican Senator Steve Daines. And in South Carolina, Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison's campaign reported he raised almost $14 million in his race against incumbent Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. The Cook Political Report rates Graham's seat as likely Republican. While Graham has not yet released his second quarter fundraising number, Harrison raised nearly double what he raised during the first quarter of the year, when he broke South Carolina fundraising records and outraised the incumbent Senator.

While candidates do not need to file their quarterly numbers with the FEC until next week, WinRed announced overall federal Republican candidates raised $275 million in the second quarter of 2020 using its platform from more than 6.7 million donations. The cash haul through WinRed was more than the last three quarters combined, signaling increases in fundraising heading into the summer like never before despite the pandemic.

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

He's already the Democratic presidential nominee but Tuesday marked Joe Biden's first vote in the 2020 election. His home state of Delaware held its presidential primary on Tuesday, which was originally scheduled to be in April but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. Biden and his wife, Jill, mailed in their absentee ballots last week, according to the campaign. While it's an easy guess who they voted for, other Delawareans technically had options as Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren qualified to be on the ballot as well. Also on Tuesday, the Biden campaign released a five-page plan to "rebuild U.S. supply chains."  In other elections, this would not be the most popular topic, but it has new importance this year related to access of healthcare products and the federal stockpile during the pandemic. Highlights included using the research arm of the Department of Health to "build long-term supply chain resilience for pharmaceuticals." Research like this is already going on but Biden says he is prepared to use "direct compulsory licensing of vaccines where companies are slow in producing them or are charging excessive prices," to grant other companies production access even without the vaccine patent, an openness that could be critically important when a COVID-19 vaccine is procured. And adding to his regular talk of "surging" production of healthcare supplies through the Defense Production Act, the plan says a Biden administration is willing to pay companies in the future to maintain excess stock for certain products in case of emergencies. 

Biden on Tuesday was also quick to pivot away from the Trump administration decision to leave the World Health Organization: He said he will rejoin the WHO on the first day of his presidency if elected.   

PRESIDENT TRUMP

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu says he'll be wearing a mask when he greets President Trump ahead of his campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. There is currently no statewide mandate in New Hampshire requiring people wear masks in public, but both Sununu and Trump campaign officials are strongly encouraging mask-wearing at Saturday's gathering. "Whether it's a mandate or not, we want people to understand, it's important that they'll do their best to maintain physical distance, wear the masks. That's the same message we've had since the beginning of the pandemic," Sununu said. The governor urged New Hampshire seniors not to attend the large gathering. "I'd say if you're over the age of 60, you should stay home." He added, "To be in a large crowd gathering is a risk that an individual doesn't need to take, frankly." It's also a risk Sununu said he does not typically take. And the governor hinted that he might even skip the president's New Hampshire speech. "I don't know if I'll be in the large gathering of the rally. I tend to avoid those types of situations as much as I can," Sununu said on a call with reporters on Tuesday. Several New Hampshire GOP state and Republican party officials tell CBS News they will be in attendance, donning masks to the campaign event.

VEEPSTAKES

HARRY REID TALKS VEEPSTAKES

After telling The Washington Post earlier this month that Senator Tammy Duckworth was getting a "lot of attention" lately as a potential running mate for Biden, former Senator Harry Reid on Nevada doled out significant praise for the Illinois Democrat in an interview with CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. But Reid insisted he is "not pushing for anyone." "I, of course, admire Tammy Duckworth. So very, very much. And there's nothing I can say about her, further than she's one of the most amazing people I've ever met. She's one of my heroes," said Reid. The former Senate Majority Leader acknowledged he had initially urged Biden to tap a fellow Nevada Democrat, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who withdrew her name from consideration in May. "She's a person who knows what she wants. And she didn't feel it was appropriate through this time of her career to be sidelined with the vice presidential issue," recalled Reid.

Reid named a number of other prominent Democratic women "getting attention," including former national security adviser Susan Rice, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. CBS News has reported all three women are among those getting a more serious look in recent weeks from Biden's vetting team, which is expected to finalize a shortlist ahead of one-on-one interviews with the former vice president later this month.

"I'm in touch with Joe Biden. I'm in touch with Steve Ricchetti, his chief of staff. And I think that they're approaching it in the right way. They have Chris Dodd, who is someone who is admired by anyone who ever came in contact with him when he was senator," said Reid. He later praised Biden's vow to pick a woman running mate as "one step in the right direction."

CBS NEWS COVID CHRONICLES

MICHIGAN TOURISM

CBS News is chronicling what has changed for the lives of residents across the nation in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemicCBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster spoke with small business owners in Michigan about the uncertainties that lie ahead during the crucial summer season. In 2018, Michigan had 125 million visitors who spent $25.7 billion on tourism-related activities such as transportation, lodging, dining and recreation, according to the Michigan Tourism Impact report. Tourism spending supports about 1 out of every 16 jobs in the state and generated $2.8 billion in state and local taxes in 2018. Heidi Gesiakowski and her husband Joel opened Taste, a small plates and martini restaurant, in South Haven, a beach town on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, in 2013. When the coronavirus pandemic struck, Taste could only offer takeout service for several weeks and revenue took a hit. Business started to pick back up to more normal levels in June when dine-in service could resume at half capacity. It came just as the critical summer tourism season was starting for small businesses like Taste in towns like South Haven across Michigan's two peninsulas. "It really feels like we're walking into the middle of the war every single day, just trying to tread, keep our head above water," Gesiakowski said. Taste normally makes about half of its revenue between June and September and Gesiakowski said there is some extra pressure to have a strong summer. For many businesses like Taste, there is one goal for the 2020 season: survival. "Everybody knows this will not be a year to thrive, it'll be a year simply to survive as a business," said Dave Lorenz, vice president of Travel Michigan, the state's tourism office.

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

PARTY PLANNING

The Republican National Convention in Jacksonville will administer coronavirus tests and temperature checks for attendees daily during the convention in August, report CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson and CBS News campaign reporters LaCrai Mitchell and Nicole Sganga. CNN was the first to report the new steps. Convention officials are not yet sharing the type of test they will use or who is paying for the tests, but a Republican official told CBS News they will roll out a plan in the coming weeks. CBS News Correspondent Nikole Killion reports that Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry noted at a virtual press conference that there is a statewide order that facilities can't have over 50% capacity and stated plainly "that's where we are right now." The CBS News political unit has confirmed Senators Chuck Grassley, Lamar Alexander, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and Mitt Romney will not be attending the convention. The unit has also reached out to several other Republican officials. According to CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro, a spokesperson for Republican Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has said it's too early to comment since no one knows what the COVID-19 situation will be in August. Senator Mike Braun of Indiana tweeted that he will be attending the convention in August. A spokesperson for Senator Rob Portman said the senator plans to attend pending the safety and security precautions outlined by the CDC, and a campaign official for Senator Joni Ernst said she currently plans to attend. 

In a clip that was released Tuesday of his upcoming interview with Greta Van Susteren, Mr. Trump said that "when we signed in Jacksonville and again, we wanted to be in North Carolina — that almost worked out but the governor didn't want to have people use the arena essentially and we sort of — I said too bad — too bad for North Carolina. And then we went to Florida and when we went when we signed a few weeks ago it looked good and now all of a sudden it's spiking up a little bit and that's going to go down. It really depends on the timing. Look, we're very flexible, we can do a lot of things, but we're very flexible."

BY THE NUMBERS

ASKING ALASKA

CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports that with no recent polls in Alaska, a group of online election pundits, analysts and aficionados, self-dubbed as "Election Twitter," has successfully raised enough money to get the Public Policy Polling (PPP) group to poll the state for the presidential, Senate and House races. Started in part by Jack Vaughan, a Democratic field organizer in Tennessee, the GoFundMe aimed to raise $5,000 from people online. After quickly surpassing that, and being told by PPP that they'd do the poll for free, the $5,000 was split among two charities in the state and they surpassed their new $8,000 goal for another poll. "Congratulations on raising the money! We hope you will find some good cause(s) to share it with and since it was obvious you were going to get there we went ahead and wrote the poll at 3 AM and will get it in the field today for President, Senate, House, and approvals," PPP tweeted. The poll will be released Thursday morning with a second to come next Monday, Vaughan Tweeted. "It will include AK-SEN, AK-AL, presidential race, Trump approval, Biden favorables, [Governor] Dunleavy recall, Murkowski favs & more," he wrote. 

LEGISLATIVE LOOT

If the fundraising numbers signal anything, donors are focused on state level races ahead of what is expected to be a major redistricting battle following the 2020 census. On Tuesday, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee announced it smashed its second-quarter fundraising record by bringing in $5.8 million over the course of three months, nearly $2 million more than was raised in the second quarter of 2018. CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports this comes after the DLCC announced its best first-quarter fundraising in history with more than $6.4 million. According to the DLCC, it, along with affiliated organizations, have raised $30 million for this cycle through the end of the quarter, which is already three times the amount raised in the entirety of the previous redistricting cycle. "Thanks to record-breaking fundraising and grassroots energy, Democrats are primed to flip state legislatures across the country," said DLCC President Jessica Post in a statement. Earlier this month the Republican State Leadership Committee also announced record-breaking fundraising for the 2020 election cycle. According to the RSLC, it, along with the State Government Leadership Foundation, raised a combined $10.5 million in the second quarter of 2020, setting a new second-quarter record. The RSLC also announced its best online fundraising quarter in history including adding more than 5,500 new online donors from all 50 states. "The stakes of this year's elections have only gotten more serious, as our economy struggles to recover from a period of alarming uncertainty and sweeping job loss," said RSLC President Austin Chambers in a statement. Both the DLCC and the RSLC took aim at the opposite party amid ongoing health and economic hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic.

STATE-BY-STATE

PENNSYLVANIA

Biden on Tuesday tapped two top Pennsylvania Democratic operatives to helm his campaign's operation in the state. Brendan McPhillips will serve as state director and Sinceré Harris as senior adviser, the campaign said in a press release. McPhillips, who led Pete Buttigieg to a first place victory in Iowa as state director there, has worked on several Democratic campaigns in Pennsylvania since 2012, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. Harris has been the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's executive director since 2015, during which time Democrats have added several Congressional seats, and she worked on Governor Tom Wolf's campaign and in his administration. President Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by less than 1% of the vote. The new additions there follow recent hires by the Biden campaign in half a dozen battleground states.   

GEORGIA

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is criticizing state Governor Brian Kemp for authorizing the activation of 1,000 Georgia National Guard troops across the state in the wake of a contentious Fourth of July Weekend.  CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry reports that during an interview Tuesday morning, Bottoms said "an irony of that is that I asked Governor Kemp to allow us to mandate masks in Atlanta and he said no. But he has called in the National Guard without asking if we needed the National Guard." She added, "So, I understand if he wants to protect state buildings. We have been coordinating with the Georgia State Patrol — which we do on any number of occasions. Law enforcement agencies coordinate, and we provide assistance to them, they provide assistance to us." In a statement released Monday from the Governor's office, Mr. Kemp said, "This lawlessness must be stopped and order restored in our capital city. I have declared a State of Emergency and called up the Georgia Guard because the safety of our citizens comes first. This measure will allow troops to protect state property and dispatch state law enforcement officers to patrol our streets. Enough with the tough talk. We must protect the lives and livelihoods of all Georgians." Bottoms, who on Monday tested positive for COVID-19 along with her husband and one of her children, criticized the governor for his handling of COVID-19 in the state saying the state was "too aggressive," in opening.

MICHIGAN

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said an interview with CNN that Michigan will not keep re-engaging the economy if "it is too risky to do so" amid COVID-19 case surges across the country. Whitmer added that she will continue to listen to epidemiologists. "I am not going to be bullied into moving before it is safe," Whitmer said. Whitmer also said she would like to see the White House advocate for "national mask-on campaign" to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus. "I think that if everyone endorsed this, it's a simple, cost-effective thing that we could do to really mitigate spread," she said. CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman says Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Whitmer announced the state is joining a federal lawsuit with four other states and the District of Columbia against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the U.S. Department of Education over a rule related to CARES Act funding, which is a coronavirus relief package, being allocated to private schools. The states argue that the rule limits the amount of federal funds public schools can use. "This most recent action by Secretary DeVos is really just another example in a long history of an administration that uses any and every opportunity available to tip the scale in favor of private schools at the great expense of our public schools," Nessel said.

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

VIRGINIA

In a 2-1 decision, the Virginia State Board of Elections has granted an extension for the candidate filing deadlines of Bob Good, running in the state's 5th district, and Nick Freitas, running in the 7th district. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pushed for the extension to be denied, with counsel on a Tuesday board call arguing it would break precedent and that candidates who missed the deadline can attempt write-in campaigns. Freitas, who is facing a rematch against Abigail Spanberger, missed the filing deadline in 2019 and had to run a write-in campaign for his Virginia House of Delegates seat, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro

MASSACHUSETTS

In Massachusetts, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal is getting attacked by the Fight Corporate Monopolies group, a progressive organization looking to highlight his ties to corporate interests. The ad links Neal to the Blackstone investment firm, specifically their profits on medical bills and Neal's vote against a related bill. "Corporate power is corrupting Democracy, and Richie Neal is part of the problem," the ad ends with. Neal is facing a progressive primary challenge by Alex Morse. 

In response to the ad, Neal campaign spokesperson Kate Norton said "the inconvenient truth for this dark money group is that the surprise billing measure they support would actually HURT hospitals and workers in Western and Central Mass, so Richie proposed his own bill."

"It's ironic that Alex Morse has built his entire campaign message about outside money while this is the first attack ad out the gate. It's another hypocritical move that Morse hopes no one will notice, but if he was standing in his principles he would denounce ads like this," she added.

NEW JERSEY

Lastly, New Jersey has all the notable primaries to watch tonight. CBS News digital politics reporter Grace Segers and Navarro previewed the race between Amy Kennedy and Brigid Callahan Harrison here

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