Over the next two weeks, fundraising numbers big and small will roll in from all over the country as campaigns celebrate success (or try to hide failure) from the first months of 2014. Here’s what we’ll be looking out for:
— Do Senate Democrats pick up the pace? Senate Dems, especially the incumbents, looked pretty solid on the cash front at the end of last year. But as Koch-connected spending against them piled up rapidly at the end of last year and the beginning of this one, many of them decided to put significant resources into early TV advertising to combat the assault from the outside with personal, image-boosting messages. Budgets may have been readjusted over the last few months.
— Do any primary challengers soar? Money is always an obstacle for primary challengers, who need to manage a certain baseline to break through. That’s why this quarter will be important, when challengers can start accruing the higher marginal benefits of that early money. Keep an eye on challengers like Seth Moulton (D) (running vs. Rep. John Tierney (D) in MA-06 and widely unknown at this point) and two Club for Growth endorsees, John Ratcliffe (TX-04) and Bryan Smith (ID-02), who are also starting from scratch and challenging GOP incumbents in May.
Battleground House districts bear watching too: As Democratic pollster Celinda Lake mentioned at a recent Christian Science Monitor breakfast, her party’s big money may shift toward saving the Senate, leaving House candidates to shoulder more of the burden on their own. Those areas will all have our focus over the next few weeks.
— Scott Bland
What We're Following See More »
As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."