“Vice President Mike Pence will headline a joint fundraiser in Indianapolis” on May 18 for former Indiana state Rep. Mike Braun (R), Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), and the NRSC.
“The plans were revealed in an email to GOP donors from Pence’s political team one day after Braun secured the Republican nomination for Senate in Indiana, Pence’s home state — and after the vice president canceled a fundraiser for Hawley.” (Washington Examiner)
HASPEL. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) “announced Wednesday he’ll vote for Gina Haspel to be the next CIA director, the first Democratic senator to do so publicly since she testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.” (CNN)
Sen. Angus King (I-ME) “announced Wednesday evening he will vote against … Haspel.” (CNN)
NUMBERS RISING. “In a new memo to donors sent Wednesday morning … top America Rising executives Joe Pounder and Alexandra Smith sent donors an early look at their strategy to attack” Sens. Manchin, Joe Donnelly (D-IN), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “The group plans to paint the lawmakers as too liberal for their state’s red-leaning electorates … noting they have more than 1,600 pages of opposition research on the three senators and have tracked them across tens of thousands of miles.” (The Hill)
American Bridge spokesman Joshua Karp said the group’s opposition research book on West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) “alone is over 800 pages.” (Twitter)
ABOUT TUESDAY NIGHT. “Republican leaders are encouraging President Trump to intervene in competitive primaries, concluding that he is a powerful force to energize GOP voters and help the party hold its Senate majority in the midterm elections. The decision is a notable reversal for top GOP senators, some of whom feuded with Trump during the first year of his presidency and saw his erratic behavior and low approval as potential liabilities.”
“The 10 Democratic Senate incumbents running in the states Trump won have been advised by strategists to focus on undermining Republican efforts to cast them as either liberals or Washington politicians. … In states such as Montana, Missouri and Indiana, the Democratic senators have been talking about veterans’ issues. In West Virginia and Ohio, the Democratic senators have been boasting of their efforts to use federal money to backstop coal miner pension and health benefit funds.” (Washington Post)
Trump “is moving aggressively to hold onto” Ohio, West Virginia, and Indiana; “he has already intervened in one Senate race and plans to campaign in another one Thursday. But historically this heartland region was in play for both parties, and Democrats hope it will be again, after earlier two-party contests around the country have seen a wave of disaffected voters reject Republican candidates in places as diverse as suburban Pittsburgh and Tidewater Virginia.” (New York Times)
“Less than a day after triumphing over Don Blankenship in West Virginia, the Republican leader is bracing for a flurry of anti-McConnell barrages in two critical primaries in Arizona and Mississippi that will test whether McConnell can effectively be used as a foil by conservative candidates. Candidates there are already attacking him and using his name generously to raise money, signaling that McConnell will face another round of insults from conservatives in his bid to keep the Senate in Republican hands.”
“McConnell and his allies are expected to deploy the same strategy in those two races as they did in West Virginia: Quietly directing Republican voters toward the most ‘electable’ candidates, while ignoring the attacks from GOP insurgents. … McConnell’s allies say he’s happy to absorb those attacks—mainly because they don’t believe they’ll work.” (Politico)
“Attacking Mitch McConnell might succeed in getting some insurgent Republican candidates a lot of attention, but it hasn’t yet proven to be a strategy that actually wins elections. … Blankenship isn’t the only anti-McConnell Republican that has failed to win in recent campaigns.” Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN), “who criticized McConnell for not delivering for the party, came in third in his primary Tuesday. And” Ohio investment banker Mike Gibbons (R), “who blamed the failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on McConnell, also lost.” (NBC)
McConnell on Wednesday: “I’m glad the people of West Virginia decided that particular approach of attacking me and my family was good for a distant third place.” (Fox News)
“Democrats have feasted on Republican freak-show candidates in recent Senate elections. Donnelly and McCaskill both skated to victory in 2012 after their challengers made controversial remarks about rape, pregnancy and abortion.
“With Blankenship’s defeat in West Virginia this week, Manchin has been denied that opportunity. Without the coal baron to kick around this fall, his reelection campaign—and Schumer’s quest to become majority leader—just got infinitely, if not insurmountably, harder.” (Politico)