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Happy Tuesday morning. The midterm elections are 28 days away.
New: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is privately asking President Joe Biden and top administration officials to funnel millions of dollars more to the committee to help win House races, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.
The DNC, controlled by Biden and his political operation, announced it was giving $7.5 million each to the DCCC and DSCC back in February. The DNC transferred millions into state party committees during 2021 as well.
But the DCCC, led by New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, wants the DNC to at least double its current donations to match the $16 million the RNC has given to the NRCC this cycle. The RNC has also moved more than $11 million to the NRSC.
DCCC leadership believes that if they had another $20 million, they possibly could hold the House despite the stiff political winds blowing against Democrats.
“We appreciate their support and of course welcome every investment we can get to defeat MAGA Republicans who want to pass a nationwide abortion ban,” a DCCC official told us.
The cash gap between Republicans and Democrats is quite large. House Republicans’ political entities – the NRCC and the Congressional Leadership Fund – had $240 million on hand as of their last filings. The DCCC and House Majority PAC have $188 million in their coffers.
The DNC says it has “committed $70 million to the 2022 midterms and electoral programs,” which is far greater than the sum spent during the 2018 midterms. Democrats won the House that year.
The White House has been getting increasingly active on the political front. Biden will be in Los Angeles this week for a DCCC fundraiser with Speaker Nancy Pelosi that’s expected to bring in north of $2 million. Biden has also taken part in a number of DNC fundraising events throughout September and early October. First Lady Jill Biden did an event last week in San Francisco with Pelosi that raked in $1.6 million for the DCCC. The first lady will speak at a DNC event today in Nashville.
The DCCC recently gave the Biden administration a list of administration surrogates for the campaign trail. Among the most requested surrogates by rank-and-file members is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He’s especially valuable given that the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill was one of the chief accomplishments of the 117th Congress. Other officials in high demand include Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Administration officials say they have surrogates ready and eager to appear with House Democrats.
Biden, with his polls improving, is popular among incumbents as well, although there are lots of variables on how and where the president can and should go. A president’s time is immensely valuable, meaning he can’t just go anywhere for anyone.
Biden was in Poughkeepsie, New York, last Thursday with Maloney and Rep. Pat Ryan (D-N.Y.) – who won an upset victory in an August special election by focusing on abortion rights – to celebrate a $20 billion expansion of an IBM research facility. The president followed that up with a DNC fundraiser at N.J. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s home that raked in $1 million for the DNC. Later in the evening, Biden was at billionaire James Murdoch’s home in Manhattan for a DSCC fundraiser with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and DSCC Chair Gary Peters.
On Friday, Biden did an event in Hagerstown, Md., with vulnerable Democratic Rep. David Trone. Trone is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, and he’s donated hundreds of thousands of dollars this cycle to the DNC, DCCC and assorted Democratic committees. Biden attended a DNC fundraiser at Trone’s home back in May.
Also: The Senate is in session today. They come in at 11 a.m. to begin consideration of the annual defense authorization bill. There are no votes in the chamber for another five weeks.
– Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
Update: We are postponing our virtual one-on-one conversation with Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), originally scheduled for Wednesday. Look out for a new date in the newsletter and on our social channels soon!
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Crypto CEO makes donation blitz
News: One of the crypto industry’s top veterans wrote more than two dozen checks to incumbents this week, dishing out just under $100,000.
That’s by no means the biggest spending we’ve seen from the crypto world this cycle. But Ryan Selkis, CEO of the digital asset market intelligence platform Messari, is trying to send a signal to the rest of the industry – these are the Republican and Democratic lawmakers who’ve done their homework on crypto, he says.
Selkis has spent nearly a decade working in the crypto sector, making him the rough equivalent of an elder statesman, and his list will carry some weight with the wider industry. It’s also a departure from the strategy pursued so far by Sam Bankman-Fried, the much-covered CEO of the crypto exchange FTX.
While Bankman-Fried pumped enough money into a series of House Democratic primary races last spring to make him the fourth biggest donor of the 2022 cycle, Selkis is focused on keeping 28 incumbents in office. Selkis says these lawmakers have made an effort to understand digital assets as Congress mulls the industry’s future.
Here’s what Selkis told us about his process for selecting lawmakers:
“I’ve spent a lot of time getting educated on policy – specifically which lawmakers have really rolled up their sleeves and gotten educated on the subject in the last year since the infrastructure bill. What I think is really important – this is true in a startup setting, and I think the same is also true in DC – is that you never want to lose institutional knowledge.
“We might end up having some disagreements with certain members, we being the industry, and different companies may differ on specific issues. But I think generally, it is always better to work with people that understand the subject matter that they’re looking to craft policy on.”
Earlier in the cycle, Selkis donated to a handful of primary campaigns and PACs, including $1,000 to WinRed, $500 to California Democratic candidate Aarika Rhodes, $500 to Oregon Democratic candidate Matt West, as well as $1,000 Arizona Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters. (Selkis has since recanted support for Masters, calling the donation “a mistake” via text.)
Now Selkis has pivoted to the general election, arguing that policymakers’ crypto expertise “can only be demonstrated through track record.”
Nearly all the contributions sent out this week were made to the candidates themselves and max out the cycle’s individual limit of $2,900. Selkis also will donate $5,000 to Digital Future PAC, a super PAC recently set up by the Crypto Council for Innovation. All told, Selkis will give $86,200 in this round of campaign checks.
The partisan split among recipient lawmakers is roughly even. In the Senate, seven Democrats and seven Republicans received contributions. Things are a bit more lopsided in the House, where five Republicans received funds compared to nine Democrats.
Three of the 28 lawmakers had already received a contribution from Selkis below the maximum limit prior to this week’s blitz: Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), as well as Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.). All three have been considered leaders in crypto policy for some time now.
Several lawmakers in the mix sit on the key congressional committees that could take the lead on digital asset bills. On the House Financial Services Committee, for instance, GOP Reps. Patrick McHenry (N.C.) and Tom Emmer (Minn.) received donations, along with Democratic Reps. Jake Auchincloss (Mass.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio), Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), and Josh Gottheimer (N.J.).
There aren’t many surprises among the senators on Selkis’s list. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. John Boozman (Ark.), the ranking Republican, have emerged as favorite lawmakers for the crypto-verse since introducing the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act. They’ll receive maxed-out contributions from Selkis along with co-sponsors Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Minority Whip John Thune.
But one name on the list that may come as a surprise to some policymakers is that of Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). “I think a lot of people in crypto view him as a skeptic, or even potentially at odds with some of our goals,” Selkis said. “But he’s a former tech entrepreneur. He gets it.”
In general, Selkis described the DCCPA as a “good, constructive piece of legislation” that would be better if it focused on “the exchanges, centralized services [and] the custodians.”
Selkis also had this to say about all the ink spilled over Bankman-Fried’s plans for Washington, which have dominated coverage of crypto regulation in recent months:
“I think Sam is great. He’s very passionate, he’s obviously brilliant and full disclosure, FTX Ventures is one of the investors in Messari, among many others. … There’s a reason that I think Sam is getting so much time and attention, and it’s not just that he is making contributions; it’s that he’s spending time [in D.C.].”
– Brendan Pedersen
Aguilar raises more than $11 million for Dems
House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Pete Aguilar has raised and contributed over $11 million this cycle to Democratic candidates, incumbents and the DCCC.
Aguilar, seen as one of the future leaders of the House Democratic Caucus, is also scheduled to campaign in more than 20 districts this month. This fundraising strength is a sign that Aguilar is assuming one of the major roles of party leadership — raising and doling out serious sums to keep House Democrats in the majority.
As we reported last week, the California Democrat is one of just six House Democrats who are part of the DCCC’s “Million Dollar Club” – lawmakers who have given more than $1 million to the party committee. Aguilar is in good company, joining Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, House Majority Whip James Clyburn, Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries.
More details on Aguilar’s campaign schedule:
Aguilar has already stumped in his home state for Rudy Salas — Rep. David Valadao’s (R-Calif.) Democratic challenger — in addition Rep. Ken Calvert’s (R-Calif.) opponent Will Rollins. Adam Gray, who’s seeking an open toss-up seat, received a visit from Aguilar too.
In neighboring Arizona, Aguilar has campaigned with Frontline Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Ariz.), along with Rep. David Schweikert’s (R-Ariz.) challenger Jevin Hodge and Kirsten Engel.
Aguilar is planning further campaign stops in Colorado, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania, as well as more in California ahead of November.
— Max Cohen
OHIO SENATE RACE
Ryan: ‘Ohio needs an asskicker, not an asskisser’
It’s pretty late in the 2022 election cycle, but Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) may have dropped the most memorable line of the year during his debate Monday night with Republican J.D. Vance. And fitting with these times, it was a pretty graphic putdown.
Now we’ll preface this by saying Vance was solid during what was a brutal debate. It was contentious right from the state. Vance is polished and smart. Vance hit Ryan hard on immigration, inflation and being a career pol. Ryan hit Vance back just as hard on abortion, federal support for distressed areas and the broader role of the federal government. Ryan, however, did seek some political distance from President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the hour-long faceoff.
But debates are built on moments, and the best moments here went to Ryan. At one point, Ryan noted “Just a few weeks ago in Youngstown, on the stage, Donald Trump said to J.D. Vance ‘All you do is kiss my ass to get my support.’ He said that.”
That was just the warm up, though. A few minutes later, Vance disparaged Ryan for being a vote for Chuck Schumer as Senate majority leader if the Democrat were to win this race.
Here’s how Ryan countered:
“The reality is I have been a pain in the rear end to Nancy Pelosi. If Chuck Schumer is the leader, I will be a pain in the rear end to him too. I’m from Ohio. I don’t kiss anyone’s ass like him. Ohio needs an asskicker, not an asskisser.”
Vance immediately quipped, “It’s a well-rehearsed line, Tim.”
You can watch the whole sequence starting at about the 22 minute mark in this video from Fox 8 in Cleveland.
Trust us, the write-ups of this debate don’t do it justice. Watch the whole video. It’s not Lincoln vs. Douglas, that’s for sure. There is no poetry or soaring rhetoric here. But you’ll get a pretty good idea of where the two candidates are.
And we’ll note that they did shake hands at the end. There was even a backslap. With love, of course.
– John Bresnahan
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Rachel Levitan, an aide to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), is heading to the Education Department to work on the Biden administration’s student loan debt cancellation strategy as a senior adviser to Secretary Miguel Cardona.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) has a seven-point lead over Republican challenger Joe O’Dea, according to a new Marist poll.
The DSCC held a joint fundraiser for its “Majority Rising” initiative last night featuring Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and three Senate challengers: Former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.).
The Majority Rising initiative is led by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). Its goal is to elect candidates to ensure the Senate more accurately reflects America’s demographics.
In a new ad, Demings presents herself as an independent politician who’s willing to stray from the Democratic Party line.
“I stood up to those in my party who wanted to defund the police,” Demings, a former police chief, says. “I was one of a few Democrats who voted to make sure violent criminals go to jail and stay there.”
Demings is referencing her vote in support of Kate’s Law, a bill that sets prison sentences for undocumented immigrants convicted of further crimes.
— Max Cohen and Jake Sherman
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7 a.m.: President Joe Biden will get his daily intelligence briefing.
1:15 p.m.: Karine Jean-Pierre will brief.
2:30 p.m.: Biden will speak at the Summit on Fire Prevention and Control.
6:45 p.m.: Biden will participate in a virtual reception for Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.).
“SPAC That Intends to Merge With Trump’s Truth Social Delays Shareholder Vote,” by Matthew Goldstein
“With Attacks on Ukraine, Putin Gives Hard-Liners What They Wanted,” by Valerie Hopkins and Anton Troianovski
“Israel and Lebanon agree on maritime boundaries in first ever deal, says Lapid,” by Steve Hendrix and Sarah Dadouch
“Chipmaker Rout Engulfs TSMC, Samsung With $240 Billion Wiped Out,” by Naoto Hosoda and Ishika Mookerjee
“Poll: Majority in US see relations with adversaries souring,” by Ellen Knickmeyer and Nuha Dolby
“Political futures in jeopardy amid mounting calls for L.A. City Council members to resign,” by Julia Wick, David Zahnhiser, Dakota Smith and Benjamin Oreskes
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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.
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