With Zach Montellaro and Elena Schneider
The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro’s Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races — and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day’s most important campaign news — sign up for Campaign Pro today. (http://www.politicopro.com/proinfo)
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FRANKEN FALLOUT — Announcement coming from Franken today, his office announced. No word yet on the substance of the announcement after more than half of the Democratic Senate caucus called for him to resign Wednesday, in the wake of new sexual harassment allegations. Franken’s official Twitter account denied a news report saying that he had decided to resign, saying that no decision had yet been made. “Senator Franken is talking with his family at this time and plans to make an announcement in D.C. tomorrow. Any reports of a final decision are inaccurate,” the account tweeted.
— “Female lieutenant governor expected to replace Franken if he resigns,” by Campaign Pro’s Maggie Severns: “Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to appoint his lieutenant governor and close ally, Tina Smith, to Al Franken’s seat if the Democratic senator resigns [today], three people familiar with the Democratic governor’s thinking said. But that appointment would be just the start of a huge upheaval in Minnesota. Part of the reason Smith could be heading to the Senate, the sources said, is because she has indicated no interest in running for Congress in the past and would not run for the remainder of Franken’s term, which expires in 2020, in a 2018 special election. That would clear the way for a wide-open Democratic primary next year if Franken steps down. … [Smith] is a former marketing professional who served as chief of staff to former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. She worked at the mayor’s office in 2007, when the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, and played a role in helping rebuild the bridge in the months that followed.” Full story.
— “DNC chief Perez initially declined to call for Franken ouster,” by POLITICO’s Gabriel Debenedetti: “Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez declined late last week to call for Sen. Al Franken’s resignation, holding off after discussions with top aides who wanted him to do so, three senior Democrats with knowledge of the discussions told POLITICO. Perez called for Franken’s resignation on Wednesday, after Democratic senators started calling for his exit for the first time. But the move came days after a group of high-level DNC staffers, including CEO Jess O’Connell, last week spoke with Perez about the need to push for Franken’s ouster. After the chairman consulted with several senators and political allies, he opted against calling for the Minnesotan’s ouster over allegations of sexual misconduct before Senate Democrats did so.” Full story.
DAILY WAR EAGLE — “Jones mailer attacks racial double standard on Moore,” by Campaign Pro’s Daniel Strauss: “A mailer distributed by Democrat Doug Jones’ Senate campaign asks: ‘Think if a black man went after high school girls anyone would try to make him a senator?’ The mailer shows an African-American man wearing a skeptical look under that sentence. The mailer in the closing days of Alabama’s Senate special election references sexual misconduct and child molestation allegations against Republican Roy Moore. Moore has denied the allegations and recently won a re-endorsement by President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee.” See a picture of the mailer here. Full story.
— In Jones’ latest ad, he says to the camera: “I’ll never embarrass you.” Jones also pledges to work across party lines in the spot. See the ad here.
HE’S IN — “Bredesen running for Senate,” by Nashville Post’s Cari Wade Gervin: “Former Gov. Phil Bredesen is entering the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. According to multiple sources, Bredesen began calling major donors [Wednesday] afternoon to confirm that he is in the race. He has been mum about a campaign since U.S. Sen. Bob Corker announced he would step down next year, only acknowledging that he was contemplating a run. A formal announcement of his intent to run has not yet been made. … Bredesen has not faced a seriously competitive race since 2002, when he narrowly beat out Republican Van Hilleary for governor, and the campaign landscape has changed dramatically even since his last race in 2006.” Full story.
NEW THIS MORNING — AAN promotes tax bill with TV, digital blitz: American Action Network is airing TV and digital ads, part of a $2 million ad effort, in 24 House districts in support of the GOP’s tax bill. The legislation “means a simpler, fairer tax code – that cuts middle-class taxes, boosts the child tax credit, and closes loopholes so everyone pays their fair share,” says the ad’s narrator. Check out the list of House seats here. Watch the TV ad here.
Days until the 2018 election: 334
JOIN POLITICO PLAYBOOK – LIVE: Join Playbook co-authors Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman for a live taping of POLITICO Playbook. Featured guests include: Michael Barbaro, host of the New York Times’ ”The Daily” Podcast, DCCC Executive Director Dan Sena and NRCC Executive Director John Rogers, and Rachael Bade, Seung Min Kim, and Annie Karni. Sixth and I – Dec. 7 – Doors open 6 p.m. Get tickets here or watch the livestream here.
BLUE TO RED — “Indiana GOP Senate candidate voted Democrat until 2012,” by The Associated Press’s Brian Slodysko: “A wealthy Indiana Senate candidate who bills himself in television ads as a conservative Republican voted for more than a decade as a Democrat in the state’s primary elections, according to public documents obtained by The Associated Press. Records from the Dubois County Clerk’s office, where candidate Mike Braun is registered to vote, show the 63-year-old consistently cast Democratic ballots until 2012. … He began voting as a Democrat in at least 1996, according to county records that date back only 25 years. That continued through the 2008 primary, where Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Barack Obama.” Full story.
DEEP IN THE HEART… — “Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez announces she’s resigning to run for governor,” by The San Antonio Express-News’ Peggy Fikac: “Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez said Wednesday she is jumping into the Democratic race for governor, a day ahead of Houston businessman Andrew White’s formal announcement for the post. ‘Like so many hardworking Texans, I know it’s tough deciding between buying food, finding a decent place to live and setting aside money for college tuition. Opportunity in Texas ought to be as big as this great state, but it is out of reach for far too many, that’s why I’m running for Texas governor,’ Valdez said in a statement.” Full story.
KING CHALLENGER — “Trump wants LePage to challenge King in Maine Senate race,” by The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey: “President Donald Trump is pushing Maine Gov. Paul LePage to run for the U.S. Senate, according to White House advisers. Trump has told advisers he plans to call Mr. LePage, the bombastic governor who endorsed him in February 2016, and ask him to jump in against Sen. Angus King (I-Maine.) in 2018 — and that he would endorse him. King is an independent who often caucuses with Democrats. … LePage’s approval rating in Maine is 42 percent, according to Morning Consult, ranking him the seventh least popular governor in the country. He has caught flak in Maine for controversial statements about minorities, threatening comments to a lawmaker in a voicemail message and an assertion that he makes up stories to fool the political press, who he castigates in personal terms.” Full story.
GETTING THE NOD — VoteVets adds four House endorsements: VoteVets endorsed four new House Democratic challengers, including Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23), Damon Martinez (NM-01), Conor Lamb (PA-18) and Maura Sullivan (NH-01).
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think many people have been talking about this for some time. And we all responded with what we had been feeling today.” — Sen. Patty Murray after she called for Sen. Al Franken to step down.