The Senate Leadership Fund, a Super PAC run by political allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have made an initial TV advertising reservation for the fall worth $25 million, according to the Washington Examiner.
The ads will run in Missouri ($10.5 million), Nevada ($11.2 million) and North Dakota ($2.3 million). Missouri and North Dakota represent pickup opportunities for Senate Republicans to add to their slim 51-49 majority. Republicans are playing defense in Nevada, where incumbent Dean Heller is seen as one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans. The organization is holding off on buying more advertising time until later to keep its strategy for November under wraps.
In contrast, the organization’s Democratic counterpart Senate Majority PAC has announced a “first wave” of buys worth $80 million targeting Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia. With the exceptions of Arizona, Nevada and Tennessee, Senate Democrats are playing defense in the other states.
The report also notes, “The Republican super PAC is already active in West Virginia and Indiana, where Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly is in trouble against Republican businessman and former state legislator Mike Braun. The Democratic super PAC has been spending on advertising in Florida, where Republican Gov. Rick Scott is challenging Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson; in Montana, where state Auditor Matt Rosendale is challenging Democratic Sen. Jon Tester; and in Indiana and North Dakota.”
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) has been announced as the keynote speaker for the Florida Democratic Party’s annual Leadership Blue Gala, scheduled for this weekend in Hollywood, Fla. Also scheduled to speak at the event are House Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and incumbent senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who is running for re-election this fall.
The event is scheduled one week after Inslee traveled to Iowa to campaign on behalf of Democratic nominee Fred Hubbell, who is running for governor. As was the case in Iowa last week, Inslee is attending the event in Florida in his capacity as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, although it will also raise eyebrows about his possible 2020 presidential ambitions.
Also scheduled to speak at the event are Democratic state legislators and candidates, including the five candidates running for the party’s nomination in the governor’s race this fall: Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Jeff Greene, Chris King and Philip Levine, as well as Marjory Stoneman Douglas teacher Kat Posada. Democrats are trying to win the state’s chief executive position for the first time in 24 years.
Larry Sabato and the Cook Political Report both project the Florida governor’s race as a toss-up. The state’s primary is scheduled for August 28.
Incumbent Democratic senator Bill Nelson recently confirmed to CNN that he would be running for a fourth term in 2018. Nelson has the benefit of seniority in the Senate, as well as the fact that his previous two reelections (2006 and 2012) were in very favorable cycles, as was the case for Senate Democrats in general who were elected or re-elected in those years.
One potential Republican who is interested in running for the seat is Governor Rick Scott, who is term-limited from running again for governor in that same year. Scott would enter the Republican field with the advantages of name-recognition, fundraising, networking, as well as the fact that he has already won two consecutive statewide races. On top of all of that, he was an early supporter of Donald Trump, who would presumably campaign heavily on his behalf in the midterms if he chooses to run for Senate.
If this is the matchup for November 2018, Florida will be a long and very expensive race.
Good scoop from Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti:
Four weeks out from Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, Democrats may soon be launching a few unorthodox, mega-rich candidates of their own.
In three major states with a governor’s mansion up for grabs in 2018, a big-name, politically active billionaire or multimillionaire is taking steps toward a run — donors looking to take matters into their own hands after 2016’s gutting losses.
In Florida, it’s John Morgan, a wealthy attorney who has long been one of the Democratic Party’s biggest swing-state fundraisers. In Illinois, it’s J.B. Pritzker, the businessman and philanthropist with a history of pumping cash and Chicago political support toward Hillary Clinton. And in California, it’s Tom Steyer, the hedge fund manager-turned climate activist who used the 2014 and 2016 election cycles to become one of the left’s single biggest donors, to the tune of over $140 million. And more may be on the way.
It’s an unexpected development that stands to inject new life into the Democratic Party — but it also exposes the lack of clear pipeline for young, rising Democrats after a series of losses, at a time when they are down to just 18 governors across the country, from 29 just eight years ago.
“There seems to be a feeling that we need to look beyond the normal folks we always look to, the normal types,” said Elisabeth Pearson, the Democratic Governors Association’s executive director, who said the party was discussing a “need to look beyond the type of people who have been elected before, and look at who else might be out there.”
California is a Democratic stronghold. Incumbent governor Jerry Brown will be retiring at the end of his current term, which means the Democratic primary is where the competition will really be in this race. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are running for the job as well, so how Steyer might fit into this race is not known at the present time.
Illinois and Florida are both under Republican control, but will be in different circumstances in 2018. Illinois incumbent Bruce Rauner will be running for re-election, while Florida incumbent Rick Scott is term-limited and Republicans will be defending an open seat.
UPDATE: Here is a post-election tweet from John Morgan linking to a Medium post outlining his vision for what the next governor of Florida should do.