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At the Races: Cop votes and crime ads

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call campaign team. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

Democrats, who control the House and Senate and would like to keep it that way after this year’s elections, teed up votes today to arm their candidates with messaging points on the campaign trail. Senate Democrats held a doomed procedural vote on a bill that would unmask more donors to politically engaged organizations. Even though Republicans blocked it (49-49), as expected, it may give vulnerable Democrats an opportunity to decry dark money, even as their party relies on it to help fund its biggest outside groups. 

House Democrats, meanwhile, brought up a long-beleaguered package of policing measures, including new funding for law enforcement training, aimed at rebutting Republicans’ “defund the police” attacks. Opposition from some of Democrats’ most progressive members delayed the vote. But the package’s existence, so close to the midterm elections, speaks to a major message among Republicans: crime. The main House GOP super PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund, is out with a slew of new ads this week, including several spots hitting Democratic challengers over crime such as this one attacking Christina Bohannan, who is running against Iowa GOP Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

Guy Cecil, chairman of the Democratic group Priorities USA, told reporters this week that there’s been a sharp uptick recently in GOP ads focused on crime.

“Despite all of their talk that the economy was going to be the central focus of the election, we’ve seen a significant decrease in the Republican advertising on the economy,” he said.

In competitive Senate races, too, Republicans are out with attacks against Democrats on crime. Senate Republicans’ chief super PAC has a new ad attacking Democrat Mandela Barnes, who is running against Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. And Tiffany Smiley, the Republican running against Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, has a new spot focused on crime and inflation, pairing two of her party’s key midterm messages. Murray’s latest ads, on abortion rights and efforts to lower prescription drug costs, offer a good example of Democrats’ messaging in the final weeks.

Starting gate

Look, up in the sky: Democratic ads for voter registration will be on banners pulled over some Big 10 football games this weekend, part of a campaign to get college students involved in the 2022 election. 

Show me the money: Kelly Cooper, the Republican challenging Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton in Arizona’s 4th District, amended his personal financial disclosure this month after an inquiry from CQ Roll Call, disclosing more assets and recent salary. But the updated disclosure still leaves questions about the candidate’s $1.3 million in loans to his campaign. 

Going with the flow: Supporters of an unfinished West Virginia gas pipeline that’s at the heart of debate over relaxing federal permitting laws own stock in or received contributions from companies involved in the project, or both, CQ Roll Call’s Ben Hulac reports.

Take a listen: We joined the Political Theater podcast this week to talk with host Jason Dick about our recent updates to the lists of the House and Senate’s most vulnerable members. 


#IASen: Mike Franken, the Democratic challenger to Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, went into damage-control mode this week after reports he made unwanted advances on a former campaign manager. The “case was closed as ‘unfounded,’ and no charges were filed,” the Des Moines Register reported. Franken has denied the allegations. Julie Stauch, Franken’s current campaign manager, said in a statement that there were no nondisclosure agreements related to the situation. “No agreement exists that prevents any employee of our campaign — past or present — from speaking out on this issue. These accusations are false and deceitful insinuations from political opponents.” Franken’s campaign is also out with a new ad, hitting Grassley over campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry and for his opposition to a cap on insulin prices.  

With friends like this: Celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the onetime pal of New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker who ran for the House in 2012 against Rep. Bill Pascrell, tells Rolling Stone he and friend Dr. Mehmet Oz had long talks about how a values-based campaign could unify the public. The nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, however, has become an “election-denying, genocide-denying caricature of an extremist” that Boteach does not recognize.

Arizona ads: The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, canceled $9.6 million of television ad reservations in Arizona, where Blake Masters is challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly. The group expects other outside groups will make up the difference and will reallocate that money toward races in Georgia, Nevada and New Hampshire, according to Axios. 

August fundraising: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported raising $15.5 million last month and had $110.7 million on hand, according to filings made this week. The National Republican Congressional Committee, meanwhile, raised $15.6 million in August and had $113.2 million on hand at the end of the month. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $12.6 million and had $45.8 million on hand, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised $12.6 million and had $16 million on hand as of Aug. 31. 

Ads roundup: Campaigns, party committees and outside groups are all out with new ads this week. House Majority PAC, House Democrats’ leading super PAC, has a spot against Ohio Republican Rep. Steve Chabot on abortion. HMP’s GOP counterpart, CLF (is that enough acronyms?), has a slew of ads out today. Republican Adam Laxalt, who is challenging Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, has an ad stressing that abortion rights haven’t changed in his state.

Party of big business no more: If House Republicans retake the majority in the next Congress, they may investigate a K Street organization that has long boosted business-friendly GOP candidates: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Intercept reports.  

Meanwhile: The chamber in the past week endorsed nine Republicans: Senate candidate Eric Schmitt and Reps. Sam Graves, Blaine Luetkemeyer and Ann Wagner of Missouri; Rep. Ken Calvert of California; Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas; Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson of Pennsylvania; and candidates Alan Fung in Rhode Island’s 2nd District and Jeremy Shaffer in Pennsylvania’s 17th District. 

College claims: John Gibbs, the Republican nominee for Michigan’s 3rd District who defeated Rep. Peter Meijer in a primary, argued as a college student against women having the right to vote and said women’s suffrage grew the size of the federal government. A spokeswoman told CNN that the website at which he made these claims was “made to provoke the left on campus” and “was nothing more than a college kid being over the top” and that he does not actually espouse those beliefs.

What we’re reading

Stu says: April’s doomsaying about Democrats’ chances seems like ancient history with new surveys showing that the enthusiasm gap, “which once favored Republicans decisively, has closed dramatically,” Stuart Rothenberg writes.

Fact or fiction: Republican J.R. Majewski, a far-right Republican running against Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, presents himself as a combat veteran who deployed to Afghanistan, but an Associated Press investigation calls into question details about his military service and other elements of his résumé. 

Wisconsin independents: Independent voters, who Republicans had hoped would side with them this year because of the economy, are now weighing issues like abortion and former President Donald Trump as they consider how to vote this fall. The AP reports this is particularly prevalent in Wisconsin, where GOP Sen. Ron Johnson is in a tight battle for reelection and recent elections have been very close.

#NCSen: The New York Times looks at the race for North Carolina’s open Senate seat, calling it both a sleeper and sleepy in a cycle with punchier candidates in other states. 

Speaking of North Carolina: Axios has some helpful tips so you can avoid committing a barbecue faux pas on the campaign trail. Hot dogs and hamburgers do not count.

The count: 9

That’s how many Republicans in the House voted on Wednesday for a bill to revamp the Electoral Count Act of 1887 that governs how Congress certifies the vote for president. All nine either decided not to run or lost primaries this year, CQ Roll Call’s Chris Cioffi notes.

Nathan’s notes

After 2018 set a record for turnout in midterm elections, 2022 might break it, Nathan L. Gonzales writes.

Candidate confessions

Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who is running in Oregon’s 5th District (after defeating incumbent Rep. Kurt Schrader in a primary) reflected recently on the debate over gun policy after a shooting at a grocery store in Bend on Aug. 28. She said she would seek to bring together responsible gun owners along with those seeking new gun safety measures. She said she believes lawmakers should consider new limitations on “weapons of war,” such as the AR-15-style weapon the gunman used. 

“I grew up in a household where my dad hunted to put food on the table,” McLeod-Skinner said. “So the frustration I have with what’s been going on, and that is trying to pit common sense gun owners against folks who are living in fear and really, so many of us are and so many Oregonians are now living in fear.” She said the shooting at a local Safeway means that people in the 5th District have now experienced “the horror that people have experienced across the country, and it’s now become almost a daily occurrence.” She credited a Safeway employee, who was killed in the attack, for helping limit the death toll, as well as police who arrived within minutes. 

“Yes, people have the right to bear arms,” she said. “And people have the right to feel safe.”

Shop talk: Erin Perrine

Perrine is vice president for communications at TAG Strategies, a marketing and creative agency.

Starting out: Perrine got her start in politics as an intern for the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis–St. Paul. “Moved out there for the summer and my boss from that, we kept in touch, and when I graduated college in 2010 she helped me get a job on Ron Johnson’s first U.S. Senate campaign in Wisconsin, and you know, snowballed from there.” 

Most unforgettable campaign moment: “It would be, probably, in September of 2020 during COVID, I got to speak at a Republican event in Dyersville, Iowa, at the ‘Field of Dreams’ movie site,” she said. “It was golden hour, it was beautiful out. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had in my life, was being able to, like, go to that movie site and enjoy it, and do it for work.”

Biggest campaign regret: “My biggest campaign regret would be, you know, the loss in 2020,” she said, referencing her work for Trump’s reelection campaign. “I worked really hard on the campaign, and up until that point it was, you know, come November 2020 I’d been there since March of 2019. It’s hard to be on a campaign that doesn’t win in the end.”

Unconventional wisdom: “If you get an opportunity to move to a state you maybe have never been to or you don’t really have ties to, but you’re like early in your career and it’s a swing state, do it,” Perrine said. “Move to a state you’ve never been to. Go to a Florida, or a Wisconsin, or a Pennsylvania or North Carolina. When you’re younger, it’s so much easier to do that, but it’s great to live somewhere else, great to see how elections are different even in this country in different states. Getting that experience early is a great thing to have if you want to be in politics.”

Do you know someone who works in campaigns whom we should feature for Shop Talk? Email us at

Coming up

President Joe Biden heads to Florida on Tuesday. In Fort Lauderdale, he’ll talk about Medicare and Social Security (and presumably, NRSC Chairman Rick Scott). Later, in Orlando, he will headline a Democratic National Committee rally for Florida Democratic candidates. Rep. Val B. Demings is the Democratic nominee for Senate, while recently resigned Rep. Charlie Crist is trying to become governor again, this time as a Democrat. Biden’s trip to Florida also coincides with the next potential launch date for Artemis 1 from Cape Canaveral.

Photo finish

Dean Swihart, the husband of the late Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., plays “Amazing Grace” during a memorial service Tuesday in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall to honor former members of Congress who died in the past year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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