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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Joe Biden and ActBlue rake in big money in May

Joe Biden's campaign announced Monday they raised $80.8 million in May along with the Democratic National Committee and joint fundraising committee. CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports that it's the most the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has raised to date during the 2020 presidential election cycle. According to the campaign, more than half of the donors last month were new contributors, signaling a surge in grassroots momentum, with more than 1.5 million new supporters joining the campaign in the last few weeks. The campaign also said the number of online donors has tripled since February. The average online donation in May was $30 and educators continue to be listed as the largest occupation group for donors. 

"I'm humbled and honored that you have put your trust in me as your presumptive Democratic nominee. And I'm incredibly honored by the support I've received from you all," Biden wrote in an email to supporters. This cash haul comes as the Biden campaign has been furiously playing fundraising catch-up with President Trump's campaign's powerhouse fundraising. In April, the Biden campaign announced it and the DNC raised a combined $60.5 million, just behind the $61.7 million Mr. Trump and the RNC brought in that month. But the incumbent president maintained about a $100 million cash-on-hand advantage that month. "Just a few months ago, people were ready to write this campaign off. Now, we are making huge dents in Donald Trump's war chest. Every single dollar is going to make sure he is only a one-term president," Biden wrote in Monday's email.  "Let's keep up that pressure."

Mr. Trump's campaign has not yet announced its cash haul for May. On Monday, Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted that the campaign had its single biggest online fundraising day ever the day before by bringing in $14 million to mark the president's birthday. That sum will show up in the second quarter totals.  Presidential campaigns and parties face a monthly June 20 filing deadline with the Federal Election Commission. The second fundraising quarter ends on June 30. 

Meanwhile, ActBlue, which is used by Democrats and progressive groups to raise funds, announced it brought in $178 million through its platform in May. The cash haul came from 5.2 million contributions, making it the third largest month for the number of contributions and unique donors. The average May contribution was just $34.  According to ActBlue, Senate and House candidates raised $52 million using the platform in May, and twice as many people have given to Senate and House candidates last month as did in May 2018 before the midterm election. Congressional candidates face a second quarter filing with the FEC in mid-July. At the same time, State House and State Senate candidates also raised nearly double the amount of money in May as in April 2020 signaling a growing interest in down-ballot races. This comes as state legislatures are set to play a major role in redistricting following the 2020 census. 

FROM THE CANDIDATES

JOE BIDEN

Biden called Monday's LGBTQ Supreme Court decision "a momentous step forward for our country," CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. Heralded as the highest-level politician in 2012 to publicly support same-sex marriage, Biden said in a statement that "everyone should be able to live openly, proudly, as their true selves without fear." On the trail, Biden frequently spoke out about LGBTQ firings and has been critical of the Trump administration's policies related to LGBTQ Americans, as he did last week after some healthcare protections under the Affordable Care Act were rolled back for LGBTQ Americans. Regarding another social issue, the former VP was endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund on Monday. The abortion-rights group pressured Biden a year ago to reverse his support of the federal Hyde Amendment, which prevents tax payer dollars to be used for abortions. He switched that position then and today accepted the endorsement, pledging "to do everything in my power to expand access to quality, affordable health care, including reproductive health care."

PRESIDENT TRUMP

Ahead of his first rally in over three months, President Trump downplayed the risks of hosting tens of thousands of his supporters in an indoor arena on Saturday night in downtown Tulsa amid the coronavirus pandemic. "Oklahoma's at a very low number. They've done really fantastic work," Mr. Trump told reporters following a roundtable on Monday afternoon. Mr. Trump spoke with Oklahoma Governor Stitt on Monday, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports. "We have a 22,000 seat arena, but I think we're also going to take the convention hall next door and that's going to hold 40,000 so we'll have 22,000 plus 40,000 people." The location of the rally, the Bank of Oklahoma Arena, fits approximately 20,000 people, but according to their official website, the adjoining Cox Business Center accommodates just under 9,000.  "I can tell you on COVID or coronavirus, whatever you want to call it - plenty of names - tremendous progress is being made," Mr. Trump said Monday. This week, Oklahoma counts itself among over a dozen U.S. states battling spikes in new coronavirus cases. State officials on Monday reported 186 new cases of COVID-19, once again marking a new high in daily increases for both the state and Tulsa County. The Oklahoma State Department of Health have reported 1,653 confirmed coronavirus cases in Tulsa County since the pandemic broke out. According to Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale, each attendee at Mr. Trump's rally will receive a temperature check, hand sanitizer and mask before entry. Masks handed out to rally attendees will be optional, per a campaign spokesperson. The head of the Tulsa Health Department said he wishes an upcoming rally held by the Trump campaign would be postponed amid the surge in new coronavirus cases in the county. In an interview with Tulsa World, Dr. Bruce Dart, director of the Tulsa Health Department, said an indoor rally set to attract tens of thousands of Mr. Trump's supporters "is a huge risk factor."  Dart added that "COVID is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently…I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn't as large a concern as it is today." It is remains unclear if the campaign will implement further social distancing measures both inside and outside the arena, with thousands of overflow expected.

VEEPSTAKES

ELIZABETH WARREN

Over 100 progressive leaders, activists, scholars and celebrities are urging Joe Biden to pick Senator Elizabeth Warren as his running mate. CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak says that in a letter to Biden, the groups outlined six arguments for Warren as VP, ranging from her policy ideas to her ability to explain complex government functions. "Elizabeth Warren has proven herself most prepared to be president if the occasion arises and deeply expert on the overlapping emergencies now plaguing America – COVID-19, Economic Insecurity, Racial Injustice and Climate Change," the letter reads. It also argued that Warren is the best option to unite the party. Among the best-known signers are actors Jane Fonda and Alan Cumming, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and activist Ady Barkan. The letter also pushed back on the idea that Warren's Senate seat would be in jeopardy if she were chosen because Massachusetts has a Republican governor who would appoint her temporary successor. The letter accurately noted that the Democratic super majority in the state House and Senate there could, as it has in the past, vote to change the rule. The letter, which was first reported by The Washington Post, was provided to CBS News by former New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, who spearheaded the effort. He said that he did not speak with Warren or her team about the letter, but that he saw a need for her case to be made. "She's a once in a generation talent," he said. "But she's pretty humble. That's the Oklahoma side. She's not going to hustle for it, and some of the others will." 

Warren and a group of Democratic lawmakers on Monday introduced a bill to strengthen oversight of the federal government's pandemic response. The Coronavirus Oversight and Recovery Ethics (CORE) Act, which would require the president to inform Congress about the removal of any acting inspector general, comes after Mr. Trump fired or replaced nearly a half dozen watchdogs in April and May. Warren, along with Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Coons as well as Representatives Pramila Jayapal and John Sarbanes, proposed a draft of the bill last month, but officially introduced it Monday with 26 Democratic Members of Congress joining as co-sponsors. The bill would expand the authority of the Congressional Oversight Commission to include the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program and give the Commission subpoena power. It would also require White House task force members working on pandemic aid to disclose their financial interests and ban companies receiving pandemic aid from spending money on lobbying for at least a year. "Congress must pass our bill in the next relief package to hold the Trump administration  accountable as they hand out trillions of dollars in response to the COVID-19 crisis," Warren said in a statement. The bill would also hold senior executives at companies receiving pandemic aid personally liable if they fail to meet employment requirement

LEGAL MATTERS

LGBTQ CIVIL RIGHTS

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is illegal for an employer to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, delivering a major victory in the fight for civil rights for LGBTQ people, CBS News digital reporter Melissa Quinn reports. The court's 6-3 ruling extends the scope of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion, to include LGBTQ people. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Neil Gorsuch, who authored the majority's opinion, joined the liberal wing of the bench in ruling that "an employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender violates Title VII." Gorsuch wrote, "Judges are not free to overlook plain statutory commands on the strength of nothing more than suppositions about intentions or guesswork about expectations."  He continued, "In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee's sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law."Mr. Trump called the ruling, "very powerful" at the White House, Monday afternoon, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga reports. "We live with the decision of the Supreme Court," Mr. Trump said, later adding, "They have so ruled."

CONGRESSIONAL COVERAGE

IN THE HOUSE

NEW YORK

The state's 16th district is slated to be the most competitive primary to watch next Tuesday. Progressive Jamaal Bowman is looking to unseat 31-year-incumbent Eliot Engel and picked up the endorsement of California Congresswoman Katie Porter on Monday.  CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro reports the campaign also announced they'd raised more than $750,000 in the month of June alone. Engel, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has picked up more Democrat establishment support, with endorsements from Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressmen Adam Schiff of California and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. 

VIRGINIA

After an unorthodox drive-thru convention on Saturday, ex-Liberty University employee Bob Good has claimed victory against Congressman Denver Riggleman, winning 58% of the approximately 2,537 delegates who voted in the adapted drive-thru convention vote on Saturday. Pending a challenge to the results from Riggleman, he would be the third House incumbent to be unseated in a primary this cycle. The other two are Dan Lipinski of Illinois and Steve King of Iowa. Saturday's convention was held in the parking lot of Tree of Life Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, near Good's home, where registered delegates voted in their cars. Riggleman, a Republican freshman who faced scrutiny from some local Republicans for officiating a gay wedding, claimed ballot irregularities as the results were being calculated. "At some point, we really have to look at how these votes were actually counted and what the processes were," Riggleman told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro in his first interview since Saturday. "For only 2,500 people to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people like this is really egregious." In response to Riggleman's claim, Good said when results were called, "That's what losers say." Riggleman said he's still weighing his option on whether to challenge the results and claimed Good paid committee members to push for a convention rather than a primary. Democrats anticipated a Good win to make this seat, which Trump won by double digits, more competitive. Good is seen as a poor fundraiser and a more polarizing social conservative that Democrats could campaign against, and four Democrats will have a primary for this seat on June 23: entrepreneur and past 2018 primary candidate R.D. Huffstetler, local school board member John Lesinski, veteran Claire Russo and healthy policy instructor at the University of Virginia Cameron Webb. The last Democrat to win this seat was Tom S.P. Perriello in 2008. 

IN THE SENATE

GEORGIA

One Democratic candidate running in Georgia's special senate election is receiving national attention. Reverend Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta's famous Ebenezer Baptist Church (the church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was once the pastor), received endorsements from five sitting U.S. senators and former presidential candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination.  Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Michael Bennet all announced their support for Warnock, according to CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry. In a statement Warnock praised the senators for their leadership and support and said, "I look forward to joining them in the United States Senate and continuing my service to Georgians and working people." Warnock is currently in a crowded special election race for the Senate seat currently held by Senator Kelly Loeffler. Loeffler also faces a Republican primary opponent in her race, Congressman Doug Collins. The special election date is set for November 3 with a potential runoff scheduled for January 5, 2021.

KENTUCKY

Early in-person voting has started this week in Kentucky for the state's primary next Tuesday, and one contest to watch will be the Democratic Senate primary for who will take on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. Former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath has led the field in fundraising, but in recent weeks Kentucky State Representative Charles Booker has earned the endorsements of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. McGrath has been criticized in ads from both sides for either being too Democratic or too pro-Trump. Booker's campaign released an ad called "Real Democrat" in which he promises to fight for real change. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has endorsed McGrath and many of the former presidential candidates like Senators Warren and Harris supported McGrath when she initially launched her Senate campaign last summer.

AND IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

CBS News campaign reporters Tim Perry and Jack Turman joined CBSN over the weekend to talk about their latest reporting on Louisiana and Minnesota for CBS News COVID Chronicles, which reports what has changed for the lives of residents in some of the biggest battleground states in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. Watch here.     

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