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Jaime Harrison, Steve Bullock, Sara Gideon and Cal Cunningham raise big money for Senate bids

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WASHINGTON — As Republicans nervously watch President Donald Trump’s slide in the presidential polls, Democratic candidates for Senate are raking in record sums for their bids to unseat GOP incumbents and take back control of the upper chamber

South Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Jaime Harrison is the latest to announce a monster haul as he seeks to oust Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the president’s staunchest allies. For the second-quarter fundraising period running from April to June, Harrison’s campaign says it raked in almost $14 million, nearly double his fundraising total from the previous quarter.

As of Tuesday morning, Graham had not released his fundraising total for the quarter, and had raised more than $26 million through June 20, according to his most current report with the Federal Election Commission. 

Despite his fundraising prowess, though, Harrison still faces an uphill battle in a race in a state that voted for Trump by a 14-point margin in 2016.  

The staggering South Carolina sum was the latest in a string of buoying news for Senate Democrats hoping to harness anti-Trump sentiment to flip red seats blue in November. Challengers in at least three other high-profile Senate races — in Montana, North Carolina and Maine — have also announced impressive totals for the quarter.

All three races are rated by the Cook Political Report as toss-ups. 

In Maine, state House speaker Sara Gideon raised $9 million in the second quarter, another eye-popping sum from a candidate who has put up strong fundraising numbers since she jumped into the race to take on Republican Sen. Susan Collins. Gideon is the favorite to win the state’s July 14 primary, and whichever Democrat wins will also be the beneficiary of the millions of dollars raised after Collins’ vote to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh that was earmarked for her eventual Democratic opponent. 

Maine’s Senate race is already setting up to be costly — there’s been more than $36.7 million spent on the airwaves in the race so far, according to Advertising Analytics, more than in any other Senate race. Collins had raised $16.2 million through June 24, while Gideon had raised $23 million by that point. 

U.S. Senate candidate Sara Gideon speaks at campaign event on Feb. 19, 2020 in Skowhegan, Maine.Robert F. Bukaty / AP

In Montana, Gov. Steve Bullock set a single-quarter record for a Senate candidate in the state with his $7.7 million total. Bullock, a two-term governor of the state, hopes to oust incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines. Through March, Daines had raised $9.4 million for his re-election bid. 

And in North Carolina, State Sen. Cal Cunningham’s campaign announced Monday that it had raised $7.4 million in the second fundraising quarter, a quarterly total more than any candidate has raised for a Senate bid in North Carolina since at least 1979. That’s the earliest year from which the Federal Election Commission makes campaign finance reports available. 

Cunningham had raised $7.7 million through March, compared to Republican Sen. Thom Tillis’ $11.7 million raised over the same period. 

Most of the fundraising data released so far does not include context like total spending, cash on hand or loans to the campaigns. A fuller picture of each candidate’s fundraising will be available when candidates file official paperwork to the FEC, which they are not required to do until later this month.

The strong fundraising quarter comes as Democrats try to expand their pathways to winning back the Senate majority. The party needs to gain a net of four seats in November to win control of the Senate (or three plus the presidency, since the vice president breaks ties in the Senate). But far more Republican-held seats are expected to be in play in November than Democratic-held ones. 

Sen. Ernst releases first campaign ad of 2020 cycle with China center stage

WASHINGTON — Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, joined a chorus of GOP candidates making tough-on-China pitches this cycle, releasing her first 2020 campaign ad Monday centered on the “supply chain threat” posed by the country.

“We rely on communist China for far too much, from technology to medicine. So I’m fighting to bring it home,” Ernst says in the 30-second spot. “Saving America starts with made in America.”

Ernst is considered one of the more vulnerable Republican senators heading into November, with polling suggesting the Iowa race is more competitive than initially thought and heavy Democratic spending in the state. Since Ernst’s opponent Theresa Greenfield won the Democratic primary last month, Democrats have spent about $3.7 million on TV and radio ads in the Senate contest compared to $3 million by Republicans, according to Advertising Analytics.

Ernst’s campaign has about $825,000 booked through the end of the month, compared to $480,000 booked by Greenfield’s campaign. But outside groups have, and will continue, to play a big role in this race on both sides.

The new spot, “All Over,” represents the latest example of Republican candidates making China central to their messaging this election season.

President Trump’s reelection campaign and his super PAC, America First Action, have accused his Democratic rival Joe Biden of failing to hold China accountable in past ads — a theme that has trickled down to races across the country and employed in Senate ads in Arizona and Kansas. The National Republican Senatorial Committee circulated a memo to GOP campaigns in April detailing how to best make China an issue this cycle, POLITICO reported.

—Ben Kamisar contributed.

Previewing the New Jersey primary contests

Voters will head to the polls Tuesday for primary contests in New Jersey, where election administrators have promoted mail-in voting as the state seeks to avoid a second major surge in coronavirus cases.

In recent weeks, all registered Democratic and Republican voters have received a ballot in the mail, while unaffiliated and inactive voters have received absentee ballot applications. Additionally, every municipality in the state will open at least one polling location.

Mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday will be accepted through the July 14, so it’s likely that some races will not be called on Tuesday night. 

New Jersey-2: Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who changed his party affiliation in 2019, is facing his first serious primary with challengers. On the Democratic side, the frontrunners are political scientist Brigid Callahan Harrison — who’s won the backing of both of the state’s senators as well as key local union groups and politicians — and Amy Kennedy, a former public school teacher who is the wife of former Rep. Patrick Kennedy and the daughter-in-law of former Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. 

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., conducts a news conference introducing legislation that would help offset expenses incurred by new parents in the Capitol on Dec. 4, 2019.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

New Jersey-3: Republicans Kate Gibbs and David Richter are jostling for the right to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim. Kim, the only current member of Congress of Korean descent, represents a heavily white district that supported Donald Trump in 2016, even though Kim flipped the district blue in his 2018 election. 

New Jersey-7: An array of Republicans, including N.J. state Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean Jr., are fighting for the GOP nomination. The winner will take on first-term Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski, a prolific fundraiser who is uncontested in his party’s primary.

New Jersey-8: Democratic Rep. Albio Sires is facing a formidable primary challenge from lawyer Hector Oseguera, who is backed by major progressive groups including the Sunrise Movement and Our Revolution. In this deep-blue district, the winner of the Democratic primary is all but guaranteed a seat in Congress.

U.S. Senate: Democratic Sen. Cory Booker is also facing a progressive primary challenger, and a number of Republicans are competing for the chance to challenge him this fall. But Booker is unlikely to be  threatened on either front.

The races reflect some of the push-and-pull dynamics seen on the national level (and which will come to a head in November). Republicans are looking to win back seats in traditionally conservative strongholds, while Democrats hope to capitalize on the “blue wave” gains made in the 2018 midterms and hold onto control of the House. 

Tipton the latest incumbent to lose party’s nomination

WASHINGTON — There was a big surprise in Tuesday’s primary elections — five-term incumbent Colorado Republican Rep. Scott Tipton lost to Lauren Boebert, a gun-rights activist and restaurant owner who flouted coronavirus regulations and has spoken favorably about a fringe conspiracy theory. 

Incumbents rarely lose, especially in a primary. But Tipton joins a handful of other incumbents whose parties voted them out so far this cycle. (Two other longtime Democratic incumbents, Reps. Eliot Engel and Carolyn Maloney, may also be bracing to join that group as New York continues to count mail-in ballots from the state’s June 23 primary election.)

Here’s a look at the House incumbents who have already lost their party’s nomination, and how they went down. 

llinois Democratic Rep. Daniel Lipinski

The writing was on the wall for Lipinski, one of the only House Democrats who had supported anti-abortion rights legislation. 

While nonprofit executive Marie Newman fell just a few thousand votes short to Lipinski in 2018, Newman was able to get over the hump and take Lipinski down in the 2020 primary. 

Newman had a lot of progressive allies in her corner — a group affiliated with EMILY’s List spent about $1 million on TV ads to boost her, and several influential progressive groups, including NARAL, backed her primary bid. 

Illinois’ third congressional district, which includes a portion of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, is considered a safely-Democratic one, as 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won it by double-digits. So Newman is expected to join Congress in 2021. 

Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King

King’s loss came after a series of racist and controversial comments cost him support within his own party. 

House Republicans stripped King of his committee assignments in 2019, after he asked in a New York Times interview: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” That left King without much of a say in Congress, something his rivals used against him in the 2020 primary. 

While largely steering away from King’s rhetoric on race, state Sen. Randy Feenstra bludgeoned King over the fact he couldn’t serve on committees in Congress, arguing that he could not adequately serve the district or defend President Trump with a muted voice in Congress. 

And groups like the Republican Main Street Partnership and the Chamber of Commerce made similar arguments as they rallied around Feenstra, who ultimately emerged victorious in June’s Republican primary

King represented the rural district for years, and the district backed Trump by almost 30 points in 2016 (according to the Cook Political Report). But the district might not be as solidly red anymore. In 2018, Democrats were able to get within just a few points of King with Democrat J.D. Scholten. And Scholten’s running again in 2020, although it may be harder for Democrats to flip the seat without having the advantage of running against King and his baggage. 

Virginia Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman

Riggleman’s time in Congress will be short, as the former Air Force officer-turned-distiller will be kicked to the curb after taking office in 2019. 

Local Republican activists bristled at his decision to officiate a same-sex wedding, a move that sparked a county Republican Party to censure him and another to give him a vote of no confidence

That controversy is one main reason why Bob Good, the former athletics director at Liberty University, ultimately emerged victorious in June during a drive-through convention, a method Riggleman argued stacked the deck against him. 

This is another seat that could see a competitive race in November, as Democratic nominee Cameron Webb significantly outraised Good during the primary. And Riggleman had a relatively close race in 2018, when he won the sprawling Virginia district that’s larger than a handful of U.S. states by 6 points.  

Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton

Tipton is the latest incumbent to fall in a primary after Boebert came hard-charging from his right, Tipton he wasn’t conservative enough to represent the western Colorado district. 

Boebert is a familiar face in the district, she co-owns Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo., where servers open carry guns (click here to watch a 2014 interview with Boebert on NBC about that decision). 

But she’s made headlines more recently for more controversial positions — she flouted coronavirus regulations to keep Shooters Grill open despite local orders and she spoke supportively about the fringe Qanon conspiracy theory.

Despite her comments about Qanon, the campaign arm of House Republicans has said it will still back her as the party looks to hold onto the seat Trump won by 12 points in 2016. But Democrats hope that the controversy around Boebert can help them win the seat back two years after Diane Mitsch Bush, who is running again, lost by 8 points. 

Biden VP Watch: Spotlight on Harris, Duckworth and Rice

WASHINGTON — While Joe Biden’s self-imposed deadline to announce his vice presidential pick is just about a month away, Biden allies continue to press him to pick a woman of color.  

South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn’s endorsement of Biden ahead of the South Carolina Democratic primary set the stage for Biden’s comeback in South Carolina and Super Tuesday. So when Clyburn said in April that it “would be great for him to select a woman of color”, many saw that as a signal of the direction Biden would go.

Clyburn reinforced those comments this week, but added that the only “must” of this campaign is to win. 

“It would be a plus to have an African American woman,” Clyburn said in an interview with The Guardian. “And I’ll reiterate I have never said it is a must. The only must is to win this campaign. That’s a must, not just for Black people but for the country.”

Joe Biden and Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., embrace as Clyburn announces his endorsement for Biden in North Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 26, 2020.Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Heading into Fourth of July weekend, here’s how some of the women being vetted for the job are stacking up: 

Sen. Kamala Harris: The California senator has long been seen as a frontrunner for the veep job given her personal history with the Biden family and her ability to debate and bring in supporters. But those debate skills could also be her Achilles heel in the vetting process. 

During the first Democratic primary debate, Harris went after Biden for his comments on segregationists and his opposition to mandated busing in the ‘70s. In March, former second lady Jill Biden called the attack a “punch to the gut.” But now, she’s saying the past is the past, an important development from one of the most important voices in Biden’s inner circle.

“It’s politics. You get over it. You just move on. You have to, right? I mean you can’t just keep harboring ill will. So, I mean, it’s just part of what politics is,” Biden said on The View this week. 

It’s unlikely the presumptive Democratic nominee would pick a running mate without the thumbs up from Jill Biden – and this could be the go-ahead he’s looking for. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth: Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran who received the Purple Heart, has flown under the radar in the veepstakes — but now the progressive group VoteVets has thrown its support behind the Illinois senator. 

VoteVets put out a video this week saying that a Biden-Duckworth ticket would “inspire” the country. 

“Tammy’s tough and will take it to the coward in chief,” the video narrator says. They add, “Tammy Duckworth opens doors to new voters, winning swing voters and sweeping to victory in the Midwest the same year Trump was elected.” 

Earlier this week on MSNBC, Duckworth was asked about whether she’s answered questions for the Biden vetting team.

“I answer questions all the time,” Duckworth said. “So, at this point, the vetters – they have got their whole process at the Biden camp. I’m not going to interfere with that. I’m, again, focused on getting Joe Biden elected.”

Susan Rice: This week, reports surfaced that the United States gathered intelligence that Russia offered the Taliban a bounty to kill American soldiers. That kind of foreign policy debacle could raise the stakes for a potential vice presidential pick — and former U.N. Ambassador and national security adviser Susan Rice could fill that gap, although she drew the ire of many Republicans during the fallout from the 2012 attack in Benghazi. 

Rice published an op-ed this week in which she detailed what would have happened had she received that intelligence as national security adviser. Rice wrote, “At best, our commander in chief is utterly derelict in his duties.” She added, “At worst, the White House is being run by liars and wimps catering to a tyrannical president who is actively advancing our arch adversary’s nefarious interests.” 

This week on MSNBC, Rice said there isn’t a “higher imperative” than getting Biden elected and that she is “humbled and honored” to be considered. 

Check out the NBC News political unit’s coverage of the veepstakes here

Liz Brown-Kaiser contributed. 

President Trump expected to host fundraiser in Florida despite coronavirus spike

WASHINGTON — President Trump is expected to travel to Florida next week to host a high-dollar, in-person fundraiser on July 10 for his re-election effort, according to a Republican familiar with the event. 

The dinner is set to take place at a private home in Hillsboro Beach, Fla. and will raise money for Trump Victory, the joint fundraising effort between the campaign and the Republican National Committee. 

Ticket prices for the event are $580,600 per couple, and Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale and RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel are slated to co-host. 

Due to health concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, all donors will have to test negative for the virus on the day of the fundraiser and the will also have to pass temperature checks and fill out a wellness questionnaire before the event. Test costs will be covered by Trump Victory. 

President Donald Trump speaks during a fundraiser in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Sept. 7, 2018.Nicholas Kamm / AFP – Getty Images

Florida has seen a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases in recent weeks — the state has had about 113,000 new cases since June 1, about two-thirds of the state’s 169,106 cases, according to NBC News analysis. 

This will be the president’s first high-dollar fundraiser in July. In June, Trump hosted two multi-million, in-person fundraisers: one at a private residence in Dallas and one in Bedminster, N.J. at his golf resort. 

The fundraiser comes after presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee outraised the GOP entities for the second consecutive month. 

It’s unclear whether the president will do anything else while he is in Florida. He hasn’t been to the state, which is now technically his official residence, since the weekend of March 6 when he hosted the Brazilian delegation at his Mar-a-Lago club. Several members of that group later tested positive for coronavirus, prompting the resort to close down much of its business for several months. 

The Trump campaign later halted all in-person events because of the pandemic, but held its first in-person rally in Tulsa, Okla. and several fundraisers in recent weeks.

Despite the spike in coronavirus cases in Florida, Vice President Pence is schedule to travel to Florida on Thursday. 

Police union head lashes out at AFL-CIO leadership over police reform comments

LOS ANGELES — The International Union of Police Associations, a major police union under fire by activists for its protection of its members, lashed out at the AFL-CIO in a June letter over comments made by the AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka on police reform measures. The police union called them “ridiculous” and “disgraceful.”  

In a letter to Trumka, obtained by NBC News, Sam Cabral, president of the International Union of Police Associations, said Trumka’s comments condemning “America’s long history of racism and police violence against black people” were both “inflammatory” and “patently false.” 

Cabral added, “Your call to end racial profiling and to ‘demilitarize”’police forces makes assumptions that are, again, ridiculous. Racial profiling is already banned in every police agency I am aware of.”

Cabral’s letter came in response to a larger statement from the AFL-CIO announcing proposals on ways to encourage reform in police unions and law enforcement departments after George Floyd died when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes. That officer has been charged with second-degree murder for his actions. Trumka’s comments came as part of that statement.  

The AFL-CIO declined to push police unions from their federation, saying that “the best way to use our influence on the issue of police brutality is to engage our police affiliates rather than isolate them.”

A boy rides a scooter past signs outside the boarded-up entrance to AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington on June 6, 2020.Patrick Semansky / AP file

Cabral said he and other police officers had been “shocked and saddened” by what happened to Floyd, but rejected the idea that all police officers should be painted in a negative light.

“It is disgraceful that you would dishonor all of law enforcement based on the act of one, or the extreme few,” Cabral wrote. 

Cabral’s letter was first reported by labor magazine, In These Times. The AFL-CIO and IUPA did not respond to NBC News’ requests for comment. 

Recently, NBC News reached out to all 55 affiliated members of the AFL-CIO to gauge their view of police unions. Many did not respond or declined to comment, and only one, the Writer’s Guild of America East, called for the expulsion of police from the labor federation. Several said police and other law enforcement unions needed to be open to reform, but not at the expense of labor solidarity.

However, many smaller local unions across the U.S. are calling for police to be removed from the labor federation, or are actively demanding police unions acknowledge their role in resisting reform. 

Cabral acknowledged those pressures, but pointed to the support police unions received from others in the federation as approval to stay in the AFL-CIO. 

“I hear no call to remove the police officers, deputy sheriffs, and corrections officers from the dozen of other internationals which represent them,” wrote Cabral. “We are more than willing and even anxious to discuss how we can improve” what “we believe are misconceptions that cause fear in some members of our communities.”

“We will not, however, sit down with those that march the streets calling for our death or those with a loud voice that have already indicted 850,000 men and women based on one horrible incident,” added Cabral, referring to Floyd’s death, omitting numerous other incidents in recent years. 

This isn’t the first time labor leaders have clashed over policing. In 2014, after Michael Brown was fatally shot by police in Ferguson, Mo., Trumka signed a letter to President Obama advocating for police reform. 

Cabral dismissed that letter as well, writing at the time that police “are not the cause of the problems facing the black communities in America.” 

“[Police] are not responsible for the single parent families, the unemployment, the school dropout rate or its attendant unacceptable literacy among black youth,” wrote Cabral in 2014. “They are not responsible for the gangs, black on black crime, or the infant mortality rate.” 

NRCC will back Colorado candidate who has expressed support for fringe theory

WASHINGTON — The House Republican campaign arm, the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Wednesday it would back a Colorado candidate who toppled one of its incumbents but has faced criticism for comments supporting the fringe, QAnon conspiracy theory

Lauren Boebert, a gun-rights activist and restaurant owner, defeated five-term Republican Rep. Scott Tipton in a defeat most didn’t see coming, and one that could significantly shift the contours of the general election in the district. 

But Boebert made news earlier this spring after her decision to flout coronavirus regulations and operate her Shooters Grill (in Rifle, Colo.) despite local orders.

(Watch a 2014 interview with Boebert below, where she spoke with NBC’s Craig Melvin about her decision to allow servers at her restaurant to open carry.)

But her decision to defy coronavirus-related restrictions isn’t the only controversy about Boebert — during an appearance on an internet show, Boebert said she’s “familiar” with the QAnon conspiracy theory and that “I hope that this is real. Because it only means America is getting stronger and better and people are returning to conservative values.”

QAnon is primarily a conspiracy theory that argues an anonymous, high-ranking government official, “Q,” is sharing breadcrumbs on the internet alluding to a war between President Trump and the “deep state.”

As NBC’s Dareh Gregorian wrote in a recent NBC article about Qanon-promoting candidates: “The conspiracy posts, first shared through the website 4chan in 2017, also hint at a much darker plot in which many of those figures control a worldwide child sex-trafficking ring.”

After facing numerous questions about whether the NRCC would still back Boebert, the group’s chairman, Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, said it would in a statement congratulating her. 

“Lauren won her primary fair and square and has our support. This is a Republican seat and will remain a Republican seat as Nancy Pelosi and senior House Democrats continue peddling their radical conspiracy theories and pushing their radical cancel culture,” he said.

“With Lauren’s win, we now have more female nominees than at any other point in the history of the Republican Party and that is a point that should be celebrated.”

Democrats criticized the NRCC for not disavowing Boebert, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee blasting out a press release recounting many of her controversial comments. Robyn Patterson, , a DCCC spokesperson, said in a statement that “choosing to stand behind this dangerous and despicable nonsense is a new level of recklessness.”

Democrats are also hopeful that the surprise could improve their chances in the district.

Tipton beat Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in the district by 8 points in 2018 —Mitsch Bush is the Democratic nominee for the district and has vastly outraised Boebert so far this cycle. 

Trump campaign scraps idea of Alabama rally ahead of Senate runoff

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s re-election campaign has scrapped the possibility of holding a rally in Alabama ahead of this month’s Senate Republican primary runoff. 

While the Trump campaign never formally announced a rally in Alabama, officials familiar with the potential event told NBC News they had been exploring venues for a mass gathering there in the coming weeks.

That plan has now been scrapped partially due to concerns over rising coronavirus cases and it’s unlikely the president will travel to the state before the Republican runoff between his former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. 

Trump has endorsed Tuberville, accusing Sessions of letting the country down in his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Tuberville has been running ads aimed at amplifying that message. 

Sessions has pushed back on the president’s criticism, arguing his decision to recuse was ultimately beneficial to Trump. 

In March, Trump formally endorsed Tuberville over Sessions, the first senator to back his presidential bid in 2016. Tuberville and the president were last together on June 11 in Texas. The former football coach met with the president on Air Force One during a trip to Dallas.

The Alabama Republican Senate runoff election is Tuesday, July 14.

After the lower than expected turnout during the president’s Tulsa rally earlier this month, and with subsequent advance staffers and Secret Service personnel contracting the virus while on the ground, the re-elect team effort was under higher pressure to ensure the next mega-rally would go off without a hitch, these officials said. 

But with no way to know how cases would rise in Alabama and whether large gatherings would be permitted, the 2020 team decided not to announce an event with Tuberville after all. 

“We never comment on rally planning and no rally had been announced,” communications director Tim Murtaugh said.

A senior Alabama Republican operative who’s been advising the Tuberville campaign reiterated the message from Murtaugh, saying that no pre-runoff rally with the candidate and president had ever been confirmed or finalized. 

The official, who spoke to NBC on the condition of anonymity so as to not get ahead of the Trump campaign, added that the campaign is eager to get Tuberville on the trail with the president, should he become the nominee, and are hoping for opportunities to do so either in late summer or fall.

Officials from the Tuberville campaign would not comment publicly on this report when contacted by NBC News.

On Tuesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey extended the state’s “Safer at Home” order in response to a rising number in coronavirus cases.

The order, which was set to expire today, requires places like gyms, daycares, salons,  barber shops, and entertainment venues to follow social distancing guidelines. There remains no statewide order to wear a mask, but many businesses and local governments require them. The renewed order will now expire on July 31.  

MoveOn endorses Joe Biden

WASHINGTON — MoveOn, a prominent progressive group, endorsed Joe Biden for president on Wednesday, after what the group said was an overwhelming vote of its membership. The group called the presumptive Democratic nominee’s agenda “the most progressive platform in Democratic Party history.”

Biden won 82.4 percent of votes cast online and by text message as part of the group’s endorsement process, officials told NBC News, making him just the third non-incumbent MoveOn has backed for president since it was founded more than two decades ago. 

MoveOn members voted to endorse Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016. In 2008, the group backed Barack Obama over Clinton in the height of the nomination fight. A spokesperson from MoveOn tells NBC News that the organization did not hold an endorsement vote among its members for the 2016 general election.

MoveOn said its 2020 endorsement process was delayed until June due to the coronavirus pandemic. An early straw poll of its members at the start of the nomination contest found former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke as an early favorite, but just ahead of Biden, followed by Sanders. 

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden answers questions during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, June 30, 2020.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

“MoveOn’s millions of members are ready to mobilize together in support of Joe Biden, working to turn out voters in key states and ensure that Donald Trump is a one-term president,” MoveOn political action executive director Rahna Epting said in a statement. “Biden is a leader who listens, who is running on the most progressive platform in Democratic Party history, and whose election would create an opportunity for the big, structural changes this country needs. MoveOn members are proud to mobilize to support him.”

MoveOn, whose roots come from an organic campaign opposing former President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, has since been a leading voice for liberal causes. The group announced in February it would mobilize its members against Trump’s reelection and in support of a Democratic Senate —committing to spend $20 million through November with emphasis on states with key Senate races and key to winning the Electoral College.

MoveOn is focused on maximizing turnout among groups Biden struggled with during the Democratic primaries: young voters, people of color and infrequent voters. And the former vice president is welcoming their efforts.

“I am grateful for the support of MoveOn members in our campaign to not just defeat Donald Trump, but rebuild a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient middle class,” Biden said in a statement to NBC News. “The stakes in this election couldn’t be higher and MoveOn members will be critical to mobilizing voters in communities across the country to go to the polls.”

While the group endorsed Biden’s progressive platform, a January survey sent to MoveOn members found overwhelming support for some policies Biden has not fully embraced like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. 

 

Club for Growth targets Lincoln Project in new D.C. TV ad buy

WASHINGTON — Conservative super PAC, Club for Growth Action, released a new ad Tuesday slamming the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group founded by veteran Republican strategists, for mocking average Americans who back the president.

The one-minute spot, titled “We Lose,” claims the Lincoln Project is an elitist Democratic super PAC that sees “tens of millions” of President Trump’s supporters as “stupid.” 

“They don’t just hate him. They hate you,” the ad starts. It began airing exclusively on Fox News in the Washington D.C. market, costing the group $78,500, the Club’s Vice President of Communications, Joe Kildea, told NBC News in an email. And the spot comes as the opposing wings of the Republican party — divided over their support of Trump — continue to feud ahead of November, often on the airwaves.

The Club’s latest ad criticizes the founders of the Lincoln Project as failed strategists who worked on the losing presidential campaigns of late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

“After watching their careers go up in flames, they’ve set up a Democrat PAC, a get rich quick scheme pushing Joe Biden for president,” the ad continues. “America pays the price. Higher taxes on the middle class, crushing regulations on small business, halting our economic recovery. If Biden wins, we lose.”

In a statement, the Club’s President, David McIntosh, said that the Lincoln Project “has nothing to do with principle” as the group bills itself, and is “one of the least efficient ways for anti-Trumpers to spend their political dollars.”

The Lincoln Project did not respond to a request for comment but has barraged social media with viral anti-Trump content in recent weeks, and in statements, accused Trump of “blatant racism” and being “completely devoid of humanity and empathy.” The group has received the ire of Trump on Twitter in the past for its ads antagonizing him, which have likewise targeted the D.C. area.

Asked if the Club hopes the president sees its latest commercial considering the Lincoln Project’s own strategy, spokesperson Kildea said, “The primary audience is the press and political prognosticators.”

The conservative super PAC and Trump didn’t always get along. During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Club initially opposed his candidacy but later got behind him. In August, McIntosh lauded the president on NBC News for governing “as a free-market conservative.”



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