With Scott Bland and Daniel Strauss
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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TWO MOORE DAYS — “How Trump came around to an accused child molester,” by POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson and Alex Isenstadt: “Mitch McConnell had publicly disavowed Roy Moore when the Senate majority leader received one of several phone calls from President Donald Trump. McConnell wanted Trump’s help to push Moore out of the Alabama Senate race after he’d been accused of harassing or molesting teenage girls. Instead, the president’s response left the straight-laced McConnell aghast. Trump, according to three sources briefed on the discussions, cast doubt on the claims leveled by Moore’s accusers. … Trump’s sentiment — he has also complained privately that the avalanche of charges taking down prominent men is spinning out of control — helps explain the president’s evolving attitude toward Moore over the past three weeks, when he has gone from uncharacteristic silence to a full-throated endorsement of the controversial candidate. The shift has benefited both men, helping the scandal-tarred Moore bounce back from what looked like a probable defeat to become a slight favorite in Tuesday’s special election — and offering the president a chance to claim credit if Moore ekes out a win.” Full story.
HUH — “Did Roy Moore spend the final weekend of the campaign in Philly?” by POLITICO’s Isenstadt and Gabriel Debenedetti: “In the last weekend of Alabama’s wild special Senate election, Doug Jones barnstormed the state with A-list Democrats in a bid to turn out black voters he desperately needs to win in the deep-red state. Republican Roy Moore disappeared. … Two Republicans briefed on Moore’s schedule before this weekend said he intended to spend Saturday in Philadelphia at the Army-Navy football game — a long-planned trip that the West Point grad had insisted he would still take this year despite the election.” Full story.
ICYMI — “Republicans for Jones wage lonely fight against Moore,” by POLITICO’s Daniel Strauss and Luis Sanchez: “A small group of Alabama Republicans have joined forces with Democrat Doug Jones’ campaign ahead of Tuesday’s special Senate election. But they are having trouble swaying many friends and family members to cross the aisle, too. …The Republicans for Jones include Gina Dearborn, an Alabama lobbyist and former Shelby staffer who has backed Jones on social media and is married to White House deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn. … Jones needs votes from at least 1 in 10 Republicans if he is to win, according to Alabama-based Democratic pollster Zac McCrary.” Full story.
— “Shelby: My state of Alabama ‘deserves better’ than Moore,” by POLITICO’s Louis Nelson. Full story.
— “Trump to cut robocall for Moore,” by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt: “Donald Trump has agreed to record a robocall for Alabama Republican Roy Moore ahead of next week’s special election, the president’s most direct involvement in Alabama on behalf of the embattled candidate to date.” Full story.
MINNESOTA SCRAMBLE — “Minnesota governor’s top choice mulling ’18 run,” via The Associated Press: “Gov. Mark Dayton’s top pick to fill Sen. Al Franken’s Senate seat, Lt. Gov. Tina Smith, is considering also running for the seat next year, as Dayton faces pressure from top Democrats in Washington to appoint more than a mere caretaker, according to two Democrats familiar with the discussions.” Full story.
— “Senate vacancy creates opportunity, complications galore,” via Capitol View’s Brian Bakst. Full story.
— Pawlenty says he’s considering run for Franken seat, via the Associated Press: “Franken’s resignation has forced him and others to think about how to improve the state and nation, he said. He spoke after addressing a local Chamber of Commerce event.” Full story.
… IN TEXAS — “Growing list of Republicans aiming to oust Farenthold in 2018,” by the Houston Chronicle’s Jeremy Wallace: “The latest candidate to jump in the race is Bech Bruun, the former chairman of the Texas Water Development Board who is from Corpus Christ but lives in Austin. Bruun officially [qualified] for the 27th Congressional District primary on Friday morning. Earlier this week Republicans Jerry Hall, Eddie Gassman and Christopher K. Mapp all qualified for the primary as well. And a week earlier, former Victoria County Republican Party chairman Michael Cloud qualified for the March 6 primary.” Full story.
— ICYMI from NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers: “’I think the filing deadline hasn’t happened in Texas and Blake Farenthold has some thinking to do about whether he wants to run for reelection or not,’ Stivers told Business Insider, adding that the GOP needs to ‘push folks where there’s serious allegations or proven allegations aside.’ ‘We have zero tolerance for that kind of behavior and we’ve made that clear,’ Stivers said.” Full story.
Days until the 2018 election: 330.
BETWEEN THE LINES — Supreme Court adds another redistricting case for this term: Maryland’s Benisek v. Lamone, which challenges Maryland’s Democrat-drawn 7-1 congressional map as unconstitutional because it infringes on Republican voters’ First Amendment rights to political speech and association. See the SCOTUS order here.
— “Inside the gerrymandering data top Pa. Republicans fought to keep private,” by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Lai: “Lawyers for House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati had fought to keep private a trove of documents as they prepared for the trial, which began Monday in Philadelphia. They also sought to block the documents in a separate, state gerrymandering trial that begins next week in Harrisburg. Among them are maps that contain detailed data on partisanship across the state, which experts said appear to confirm widespread suspicion that Republicans had intentionally drawn the map to favor their party. One map’s database contains details for each of the more than 9,000 voting districts in the state, including the races and ethnicities of voters and results from state and national elections from 2004 through 2010. Also included are metrics that appear to rate each voting district’s level of partisanship.” Full story.
2020 WATCH — “DNC ‘unity’ panel recommends huge cut in superdelegates,” by POLITICO’s Kevin Robillard: “A commission set up to help reform the Democratic presidential nominating process has voted to restrict the number of superdelegates as part of a slew of changes. The Democratic Party’s Unity Reform Commission is recommending cutting the number of superdelegates by about 400, equal to a 60 percent reduction. Many of the remaining superdelegates would see their vote tied to the results in their state. The commission is also suggesting that absentee voting be required as an option for presidential caucus participants. It is calling for automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration. And it wants to mandate public reporting of raw vote totals from caucus states.” Full story.
HOUSE INTERNAL — “Democrat commissions poll pointing to tough reelection for Ryan,” by POLITICO’s Edward-Isaac Dovere: “Paul Ryan might be facing a tough reelection race back home next year — provided anyone finds out who his biggest Democratic challenger is. A new internal poll from Randy Bryce, the ironworker who blasted onto the national political scene in June with a viral video, claims he trails by just 6 points in Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district, 46 to 40. But the same poll from the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group shows that 79 percent of likely voters surveyed in late November don’t even know enough about Bryce to say they view him favorably or unfavorably.” Full story.
— “Most approve of job Reynolds is doing, but nearly half want another governor,” via The Des Moines Register: “Just more than half of Iowans approve of the job Gov. Kim Reynolds is doing, but nearly as many are ready for someone new to hold the governor’s office, a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows. … Yet just 35 percent say they would vote for Reynolds if the election were held today, and 49 percent say it’s time for someone new. Sixteen percent aren’t sure.” Full story.
POST-MORTEM — “After bruising losses, Virginia Republicans gather to find path out of wilderness ahead of 2018,” by The Washington Post’s Jenna Portnoy and Laura Vozzella: “Virginia Republicans tried to make the best of a grim electoral landscape this weekend at their annual retreat, which marked Ed Gillespie’s first public appearance since his loss in the governor’s race seemed to drive the party further into the political wilderness. Gillespie’s contest became a symbol of a party struggling to bridge the gap between President Trump’s populism and the need to appeal to minorities and independent voters in a purple state. The same forces will be in play in the coming year, when the GOP will try to unseat Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and has to defend seven congressional seats in the state.” Full story.
GETTING THE NOD — DFA endorses four California House challengers: Democracy for America announced it’s endorsing four Democratic House challengers in California: Bryan Caforio (CA-25), Laura Oatman (CA-48), Sam Jammal (CA-39), and Mike Levin (CA-49).
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I don’t think — President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility,” — California Gov. Jerry Brown on Trump, POLITICO reported.