With Daniel Strauss and Zach Montellaro
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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ELECTION DAY IN ALABAMA — “Alabama Senate race hurtles to a dramatic finish,” by POLITICO’s Gabriel Debenedetti in Birmingham, Ala.: “The anticipation surrounding the highest-profile special election in years grew with a surprise poll from Fox News showing Jones ahead by double-digits — defying a slew of other surveys that had Moore clinging to a narrow lead. While Moore prepped for an evening rally with [Steve] Bannon, the former White House chief strategist and right-wing provocateur, Jones’ campaign is circulating robocalls from [former President Barack] Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden. The flurry of eleventh-hour activity was a fitting conclusion to a race that has captivated the country, with the possibility of Democrats picking off a coveted Senate seat in deep-red territory against a Republican accused of preying on teenagers as a man in his 30s.” Full story.
KEEP AN EYE ON — “Alabama Senate election: 5 things to watch,” by Campaign Pro’s Daniel Strauss: 1. Do black voters turn out in force for Jones? 2. How will college-educated white voters break? 3. Will rural conservatives stick with Moore? 4. Does the write-in vote hurt Moore? 5. How will the Republican Party react to the results? Full story.
CLOSING ARGUMENTS — “There’s a special place in hell for Republicans that should know better. You know what they’re doing: They’re trying to shut up President Trump & Judge Moore. They’re trying to shut you up.” — Steve Bannon introducing Moore, MSNBC reported.
— “At some point, we got to stop looking like idiots to the nation. I love Alabama, but at some point we have to draw a line in the [sand] and show we’re not a bunch of damn idiots.” — Charles Barkley at the Jones rally last night, Debenedetti tweeted.
— Polls close at 8 p.m. Eastern.
CHOOSE YOUR DATA — “Monmouth poll: Close Alabama Senate race hinges on turnout,” by Campaign Pro’s Kevin Robillard: “If the turnout for Tuesday’s special election looks like the 2014 midterm, Moore has a 48 percent to 44 percent lead over Jones. But if the election looks like turnout models based on the most high-profile statewide election of 2017 so far, last month’s gubernatorial race in Virginia, the two men are tied at 46 percent of the vote. And if voter demographics resemble the 2016 presidential election, Jones has 48 percent of the vote to Moore’s 45 percent, according to Monmouth.” Full story.
— “Pollsters dodge Alabama prediction game,” by POLITICO’s Steven Shepard: “Who’s leading in Tuesday’s special Senate election in Alabama? The race is so peculiar and has so many variables that some pollsters are reluctant to say. Rather than put out a single result that could be viewed as a projection in the race between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore, several polling outfits have simply released a number of different turnout models that explain how the composition of the electorate could swing the election. It’s an approach that they say best reflects the tremendous uncertainty surrounding a historically unusual, off-year, mid-December special election in a racially polarized state — where one candidate is an accused child molester.” Full story.
— “Fox News poll: Jones 50, Moore 40,” by Robillard: “Democrat Doug Jones has a 50 percent to 40 percent lead over Republican Roy Moore in a new Fox News poll released [Monday] morning — his biggest lead in any public survey of Alabama’s special Senate election.” Full story.
FINAL HEADLINES — “Secret super PAC backing Jones in Alabama exposed,” by Debenedetti: “A mystery super PAC backing Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama is controlled by a pair of groups closely aligned with the national Democratic Party, even as the candidate strives to dissociate himself from Washington interests. Highway 31, which has dropped more than $4.1 million in support of Jones and against Roy Moore ahead of Tuesday’s Senate special election, is a joint project of two of the largest national Democratic super PACs — Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA Action — along with a group of Alabama Democrats, multiple senior officials familiar with the arrangement told POLITICO.” Full story.
— “Nebraska RNC official resigns to protest support of Moore,” by POLITICO’s Alex Isenstadt. Full story.
— “Obama, Biden to record robocalls for Jones,” by Debenedetti. Full story.
— “Moore accuser says he’s ‘unfit’ to be a senator,” by POLITICO’s Louis Nelson. Full story.
— “Most Alabama GOP leaders say they still plan to vote for Roy Moore,” via The Associated Press. Full story.
FIRST IN SCORE — EMILY’s List endorses Gretchen Driskell in MI-07: EMILY’s List announced it’s endorsing Democrat Gretchen Driskell again, after supporting her in 2016. Driskell is challenging GOP Rep. Tim Walberg. “As city councilor, mayor of Saline, and member of the Michigan House of Representatives, Gretchen has devoted herself to growing the local economy, supporting public education, empowering small businesses, and improving infrastructure in her district,” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said in a statement.
FOR YOUR CALENDAR — Special election in AZ-08: “Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey has scheduled the special election to replace former Rep. Trent Franks, with the primary set for Feb. 27 and the special general election coming on April 24.” Full story.
Days until the 2018 election: 329.
Upcoming election dates — Arizona 8th District special primary: Feb. 27. Texas primaries: March 6. Pennsylvania 18th District special election: March 13. Illinois primaries: March 20.
Faster, Smarter Legislative Tracking: Don’t wait until 2018 to try Legislative Compass, POLITICO Pro’s powerful, easy-to-use tool for federal and state legislative tracking. 2017 preferred pricing expires 12/31. Start my trial.
MOORE HEADACHES — “Rokita ‘comfortable with whoever’ wins in Alabama,” by CBS 4 Indy’s Dan Spehler: “In an interview that aired on this week’s edition of ‘IN Focus,’ one of Indiana’s candidates for U.S. Senate in 2018 said he would be ‘comfortable’ serving with Moore if both were elected to the Senate. ‘I’d be comfortable with whoever the voters of Alabama send to the Senate, that’s whose decision this is, and I’d be comfortable with Roy Moore,’ said [Todd] Rokita in an interview Wednesday. ‘This is a man who’s 100 percent pro-life like myself, what we shouldn’t be doing is what [Arizona Sen.] Jeff Flake did, this stunt he pulled where he gave a check to the other guy [Jones], a pro-abortionist. So really it’s up to the voters in Alabama, that’s where the decision lies, and that’s where it should be.’ Rokita’s position on the issue has changed along with his party in recent weeks.” Full story.
— “Missouri AG Josh Hawley hedges on whether he’d vote for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore,” by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jack Suntrup: “Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley would not say directly on Monday if he would vote for Judge Roy Moore in an upcoming Alabama U.S. Senate election, if given the chance. … ‘At least some of them are allegations of criminal wrongdoing,” he said. “And that I don’t know what the truth is, but Judge Moore does. And I think that if these allegations are true, he should not be running. And he should step aside. And I also think that he should come forward, at this point, with evidence to exonerate himself, which he has not done.’” Full story.
LISTEN IN — NRCC Executive Director John Rogers & DCCC Executive Director Dan Sena joined POLITICO Playbook’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman for a live taping of their Playbook Audio Briefing podcast, and the audio is now live online. They talk about the state of the 2018 race and which seats to watch out for. Tune in here.
ON THE AIR — Democrat Shri Thanedar released the first ad of the Michigan gubernatorial race. Thanedar is a long-shot candidate, but his money could buy him significant name recognition, and he has reserved $108,000 of TV advertising time so far, according to Advertising Analytics. That includes time during the University of Michigan and Michigan State University’s bowl games. The 30-second ad, “Science,” hits President Donald Trump as a “climate change denier president” and blames Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder as responsible for the Flint water crisis. The ad labels Thanedar as “the only scientist and the most progressive candidate running for governor.” Watch the ad here.
STAFFING UP — The GOP consulting firm OnMessage Inc. has hired North Carolina Strategist Jordan Shaw. Shaw served as state director for Sen. Thom Tillis. He previously served as campaign manager for Tillis’ 2014 Senate campaign. He will be executive vice president at OnMessage.
ENDORSEMENT WATCH — Citizens United backs Rosendale in Montana: Citizens United Political Victory Fund is endorsing Montana Auditor Matt Rosendale in Montana’s Senate race, as Rosendale continues to consolidate support from national Republicans, including endorsements last week from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Utah Sen. Mike Lee. “Commissioner Rosendale will come to the U.S. Senate and join the fight to reform our broken health care system, which includes repealing and replacing Obamacare before it completely collapses,” said David Bossie, the president of Citizens United. “America needs a new generation of conservative senators who listen to their constituents and keep their promises.”
WEB WARS — Blackburn releases digital ad on income tax fight: Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who is running for retiring Sen. Bob Corker’s Senate seat in Tennessee, is out with a new web ad telling the story of her fight against the state income tax when she was in the state Legislature. Watch the ad here.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process.” — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders “doubling down on her argument that Trump’s 2016 election victory ‘answered’ groping allegations made during the campaign,” POLITICO reported.