Posted by on September 21, 2022 3:42 pm
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Campaign Report — Fetterman hits the trail running

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, tracking all things related to the 2022 midterm elections. Starting this week, you can expect this newsletter in your inbox every TuesdayWednesday and Thursday leading up to November’s election.  

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Fetterman ramps up campaign appearances

Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman (D) is becoming more of a regular figure on the physical campaign trail after weeks of facing scrutiny over his health.

Last weekend, Fetterman drew a crowd of 1,000 at a Scranton rally and is slated to hold another rally in Philadelphia this weekend. The campaign said they saw a crowd of 3,000 attend a rally with Fetterman and Planned Parenthood earlier this month in Philadelphia, the same day as the home opener for the Philadelphia Eagles, no less.

The Democrat is also seeking to appeal to voters in rural and conservative strongholds. Fetterman’s campaign said a crowd of over 500 supporters came out to see the candidate at an even in “deep red” Indiana County on Tuesday.

‘People are hungry’: “We’re really seeing something really special play out here in Pennsylvania,” Fetterman’s spokesperson Joe Calvello told The Hill. “Now we’re back out there and I think people are hungry.”

The change in pace for the Fetterman campaign comes as Republican Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and his Republican allies have sought to portray the lieutenant governor as weak and absent from the campaign trail following a stroke he suffered in May.

Oz hits back: But Oz and his allies say that Fetterman has not been transparent enough. Oz has drawn attention in particular to an upcoming October 25 televised debate hosted by The Hill’s parent company Nexstar.

Shortly after Fetterman announced he was attending the forum earlier this month, the Oz campaign rolled out a statement demanding that the Fetterman campaign agree to three conditions: that the moderator explain that Fetterman is using a closed-captioning system, that questions in practice sessions do not resemble the questions in the live debate and that the debate would be extended from 60 minutes to 90 minutes.

“For months John Fetterman lied and dragged his feet on debating Dr. Oz and with absentee ballots already out, voters still won’t see a debate until the end of October,” said Rachel Tripp, a senior communications adviser to Oz’s campaign. “John Fetterman needs to agree to more debates so more voters can take part and they need to be extended to 90 minutes to accommodate for closed captioning concessions that have been made.”

GOP hopes rise for Walker

As polling and forecasts continue to show Democrats gaining ground in their quest to defend the Senate majority, Republicans are feeling renewed hope in at least one battleground state: Georgia.

GOP Senate candidate Herschel Walker and his campaign suffered a series of early stumbles during the campaign, but The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports that Republican officials say they are seeing a more profession operation emerging from Walker’s campaign.

The growth of Herschel: “I think you’re seeing the professionalization of Herschel as a candidate,” Chuck Clay, a former state senator and Georgia GOP chair, told The Hill. “He is who he is. His early on statements that were kind of goofy or off the wall — but never malicious or mean-spirited — have sort of been brought under control.”

Walker’s campaign lately has been focused on deploying the national Republican message through hitting incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) inflation, crime, and border security. Walker has also presented a more unifying message, saying he wants to “bring us together” while accusing Warnock and Democrats of using “race to divide” Americans.

And polls seem to be reflecting that.

An InsiderAdvantage-Fox 5 Atlanta poll released earlier this month found Walker leading Warnock by three points. In July, Warnock was leading Walker by that same margin.

Mitch and Rick can agree on this: The revamped strategy has resulted in praise from Senate Republican leadership. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott (R-Fla.) told reporters on Tuesday that he believes Walker is going to win and that the GOP will get to 52 Senate seats in November. Meanwhile Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is a hosting a fundraiser for Walker this week.

But Walker still faces obstacles.

Warnock has a natural advantage as an incumbent and other polls, including a Marist College poll released on Tuesday, show him with a lead. Democrats will likely try to tie Walker to recent negative headlines plaguing former President Trump, playing up Walker’s ties to him.

POLL WATCH

A new poll from Emerson College and The Hill shows Kansas’ Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly (D) leading her Republican opponent state Attorney General Derek Schmidt. The poll showed Kelly leading 45 percent to 43 percent among very likely voters in the state. And in more good news for the incumbent governor facing a tough reelection bid, the poll also showed the Democratic governor with a lead among independent voters. Forty-six percent of independents said they favored Kelly, while 30 percent said the same about Schmidt.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) holds a four point lead over his Democratic opponent Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), according to a new USA Today-Suffolk University poll released on Wednesday. The poll marks a narrowing of Rubio’s lead. A similar poll conducted in January showed the incumbent senator leading Demings 49 percent to 41 percent.

And speaking of Florida, the same USA Today-Suffolk University poll shows Gov. Ron DeSantis leading former President Trump in a hypothetical matchup 47 percent to 40 percent.

Meanwhile in Ohio, a Marist poll released on the Senate race in that state shows one point separating Republican J.D. Vance and Democrat Tim Ryan. Vance leads Ryan 46 percent to 45 percent, well within the poll’s 3.6 percentage point margin of error.

AD WATCH

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a group dedicated to boosting House Republican candidates, released new ads in 11 House districts on Wednesday, including their first spots in five districts.

The Republican group is launching its first ads in Iowa’s 1st and 3rd districts, New York’s 19th District, California’s 40th District, and Pennsylvania’s 7th District. The latest ads are apart of the group’s ad reserves for the general election. Additionally, the group is rolling out ads in Kansas’s 3rd District, Maine’s 2nd District, Michigan’s 10th District, Pennsylvania’s 17th District and Nebraska’s 2nd District.

The Hill was the first outlet to view the ads.

Cook shifts more House races toward Dems

The Cook Political Report shifted three House seats toward Democrats on Wednesday, serving as a glimmer of hope for Democrats struggling to defend their majority in the lower chamber.

The election forecaster changed Rep. David Schweikert’s (R) reelection contest in Arizona’s newly drawn 1st Congressional District from “lean Republican” to “toss up” and Rep. Tom O’Halleran’s (D) race in a neighboring Arizona district from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.”

Additionally, Cook also moved Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D) closely watched race in Texas’s 28th Congressional District from “toss up” to “lean Democrat.”While the recent ratings change have been good news for Democrats, most polling still shows the GOP on track to gain back the majority in the House.

ENDORSEMENT WATCH

Voting rights group iVote rolled out a slate of Democratic secretary of state endorsements in a number of battleground states on Wednesday. The group announced its backing Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in Michigan, Secretary of State Steve Simon in Minnesota, Georgia secretary of state candidate and state Rep. Bee Nguyen, Arizona secretary of state candidate Adrian Fontes, and Nevada attorney general candidate Cisco Aguilar.

The group’s latest endorsements come after iVote announced an eight-figure paid media campaign across the endorsed races.

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