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[00:00:08]

Everybody is David Plouffe, welcome to Campaign HQ. Well, we have a ticket, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, they will hopefully make history together, defeating Donald Trump, first African-American major party nominee. We can see just in the last really 12 to 16 hours how excited people are. We knew this pick was coming. We knew Kamala Harris was a possibility. But it certainly strikes me how excited people seem to be about this. I think they're going to be a very strong partnership on the campaign trail.

[00:00:43]

Most importantly, if Joe Biden wins, I think she'll be just an incredible asset as a partner in government and digging us out of this hole. Donald Trump has left us domestically, internationally.

[00:00:53]

So we'll hear from her today, her first remarks with Joe Biden as his running mate. And that's always a big moment when the two of them join. But I think for Kamala Harris, as you think about the campaign, she's got two big hurdles in front of her. She needs to give an excellent speech next Wednesday during the Democratic convention. Virtual, though, maybe it will still be an important moment. And then the most important moment for any vice presidential nominee is that debate.

[00:01:25]

So there's one VP debate that's currently scheduled for October 7th in Salt Lake City. We assume it's Kamala Harris and Mike Pence, although I still don't think it's out of the question that Donald Trump dumps Pence in the next couple of weeks. You know, it's different because traditionally you have a running mate in the presidential candidate, maybe in Ohio, in Wisconsin and Arizona and Nevada in one day. And, you know, the running mate may be in Florida, North Carolina and New Hampshire.

[00:01:53]

That's not the case anymore. Maybe at some point in the fall there'll be some traveling like that.

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But right now it's all virtual.

[00:01:58]

So, you know, she'll be able to do a lot of interviews, do a lot of grassroots organizing events, fundraising events. I think she'll be really helpful to the Biden campaign on questions around voter suppression and voter protection and making sure that we can actually execute this election. So really exciting day for Joe Biden and his campaign. I think for the Democratic Party, I would argue for the country. So I'm excited to see how Kamala Harris gets out of the gate here.

[00:02:27]

I'll have more on that. We're going to drop an episode later in the week or talk about the Democratic convention as we are getting very close to that. But today, we're going to go deep into the United States Senate. We've spent most of our time on this podcast, on the presidential race. But we're going to talk about the United States Senate, a prime opportunity, a necessary opportunity for the Democrats to win back the Senate. The map has gotten more favorable in the last two to three months, similar to the presidential race.

[00:02:55]

You've got core battleground states that have been there since the beginning of the Arizona Senate race, the North Carolina Senate race, the Maine Senate race, the Colorado Senate race. But there are some additional races that have come on to the map, you know, that I think are still uphill climbs, but look like they are, you know, plausible now. And like I've talked about in the presidential race, where you want to be competing in as many battlegrounds as possible so you can lose a bunch of them and still win the presidency.

[00:03:22]

That's going to be important in the Senate as well. But I think just given some of the challenges the Democratic Party has right now with our competitiveness in all 50 states, you know, one too long ago we had all four senators in the Dakotas, had senators throughout the South, had, you know, senators in Nebraska. You know, let's hope that becomes the case again. But right now, we have to make the most of every Senate race because our ceiling in the Senate is lower than it was even 10 or 12 years ago.

[00:03:49]

So let's hope most of these close races tip our way so that we can get well north of 50 in the United States Senate. If Joe Biden wins, his presidency, in part will be determined in terms of its success or failure or somewhere in between by what happens in the Senate. Because if the Republicans hold on to the Senate and a Biden presidency scenario and Mitch McConnell's the majority leader, the vast majority of anything he'd want to do legislatively is dead on arrival.

[00:04:17]

He'll still have a lot of leeway with executive actions in the realm of foreign policy. But if we are able to win back the Senate and hopefully we will get rid of the filibuster as no less an expert than President Barack Obama suggested recently, then I think a lot of the plans that Joe Biden has offered, the American people have a chance to succeed. So we're going to go deep in the Senate with Scott Fairchild, who's the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

[00:04:44]

It's known in political circles is the desk. I worked there a long time ago, back in the day. In fact, one of my projects when I was there to was to work on a special election in Oregon, which was the first all mail in election, if I recall, in the United States. And it worked then, and we need it to work now. Scott has run successful races in Nevada and.

[00:05:06]

In Pennsylvania, at the senatorial level, congressional level, mayoral level, so he understands politics in all its forms and he's tasked now to to lead the organization, that's mandate is to protect Democratic incumbents in this cycle. That really is just Doug Jones down in Alabama. And we'll talk about that race in our discussion with Scott and then help recruit, make sure they're funded well, hire good staff, have good strategies in all the challenger and open seat races.

[00:05:36]

So we're going to take a tour of the country as it relates to the United States Senate. I know many of you are already involved in these Senate races financially volunteering, but hopefully it'll give you a deeper sense of what the Senate looks like on our various pathways to a Democratic majority. So here is Scott Fairchild.

[00:05:56]

Scott Fairchild, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

[00:06:00]

Thanks for joining us on Campaign HQ.

[00:06:02]

Hey, thanks for having me on.

[00:06:04]

No, of course, eager to talk to you about the Senate before we jump into the races in the map and the road to a majority. Let's start by you run the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

[00:06:15]

It's known in Washington through its acronyms, Dwek just talk about what the DNC does and the role it plays in trying to protect incumbents and defeat Republican incumbents.

[00:06:26]

Yeah, absolutely. So the way to think about the DNC is it's laser focused on the election and defeat of of Senate candidates defending our Democratic incumbents and defeating Republican Senate candidates. That is the the central focus of the organization. I think our work could broadly be put into three buckets. The first is everything we do on the coordinated or or hard side of the campaign to directly assist the Senate candidates and the state parties where we're competing. The second thing is there's a separate independent expenditure that runs television commercials and digital ads for our candidates.

[00:07:09]

And then the last piece is all of our voter rights and legal work. The DNC is actually doing more voter rights litigation than any other organization in the country. Much of this started pre pandemic, but focusing on protecting the franchise, protecting people's right to vote by mail or early vote and make sure that they have a chance to to cast their ballot in that ballot is counted. So those are, I would say, broad brushstrokes, the three places where we we help Senate candidates win.

[00:07:41]

OK, well, that's helpful context.

[00:07:43]

So let's jump in. So right now, the Republicans have 53 seats, Democrats 47, including Bernie Sanders and Angus King, who caucus with the Democrats.

[00:07:51]

So if Joe Biden wins the presidency, you need three net to win back the Senate. If Donald Trump disastrously holds on, you need four.

[00:08:03]

So let's start with it looks and correct me if I'm wrong, but there's one incumbent senator that you think will have a tough race this time. Who is Senator Doug Jones who won that remarkable victory in a special election. So let's talk about that race, because obviously, if Doug Jones wins, then, you know, you're not in the hole at all.

[00:08:22]

If he obviously loses, then you go down to forty six and need to pick up an additional seat. So let's talk about that race first.

[00:08:29]

Sure. Yeah, absolutely. So Doug Jones, if he was on this podcast, he would tell you he's the underdog just because of how Republican leaning the the state is. But Jones definitely has a couple of advantages over a typical Democrat. The first is he I think he will get record African-American turnout like he did in his special election. Jones is very popular in the African-American community. He prosecuted the Birmingham church bombers, the bombing from the 60s that was prosecuted in the 90s.

[00:09:02]

He prosecuted those bombers. He has a long, long and compelling record on civil rights. So I think we can expect to record African-American turnout. And then Doug Jones over performs with younger Republicans, suburban Republican women, college educated Republicans. He over performs with with those groups. And then you add to that Joe Biden's numbers in Alabama are looking much stronger. I'm not suggesting he's going to win Alabama, but Biden is is closing the gap and losing Alabama by a much closer margin, which makes it a little easier for Jones to make it over the top.

[00:09:43]

We're seeing Biden Biden down by by 10, 11 points instead of losing Alabama by 20 to 30 points. So that makes it a little easier for Jones. And then Tuberville has some big problems, his Florida residency. And then he had a two person investment firm. The other person in the firm went to prison. Securities fraud, so he has a lot to to answer for in the in the November election. Sounds kind of swampy. So that's just important context, because for those of you looking to help Senate races, you know, Doug Jones obviously is someone who's just got a terrific background and record.

[00:10:23]

One is stirring special election. But him winning that race is the difference between having to pick up three versus four and a Biden wins in a row. So it's a it's a huge deal.

[00:10:33]

So, Scott, let's talk you mentioned Biden doing better in Alabama. And before we jump into individual races, I mean, you've got races, whether it's Alaska, South Carolina, Montana, Alabama, where Biden likely is going to win those states. You know, maybe we'll all be shocked. And the question is, you know, and there's some distinction, I know, in each of those. But like how much can a Democratic Senate candidate over perform a Democratic presidential nominee?

[00:11:02]

Like, kind of what what range? So the point there is like, you know, Doug Jones is going to get some ticket splitters. Steve Bullock in Montana will get some ticket splitters. But there comes a point where the gap is just too big. So kind of what range do they need Biden to get in?

[00:11:17]

Yeah, I think it varies a lot by state. If you look at the 2016 map, and I was I ran Senator Cortez Masto Senate race in Nevada in twenty sixteen. Her margin was just slightly ahead of Secretary Clinton's margin. Maggie Hassan, Senator Hassin got just about the same amount as Secretary Clinton in New Hampshire. A lot of the races in 16 tracked very closely to the presidential. Jason Kander in Missouri was one big exception. And one of the reasons for that is because he he was a military veteran.

[00:11:52]

He he over performed Secretary Clinton pretty dramatically in Missouri. He was he lost, but he over perform the top of the ticket by a lot. And I think for us, we have a lot of veterans running this year. And I think that does give them a chance to over perform the top of the ticket. Gary Peters in Michigan, Mark Kelly in Arizona, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, Amy McGrath in Kentucky, MJ Hagar in Texas. We have a lot of we have a lot of decorated and well respected military veterans running this year.

[00:12:24]

And I think that that will give them a chance to over perform the top of the ticket. I think in a lot of states, the presidential performance and the Senate performance, we'll track we'll track closely. But Democratic candidates have certainly proven that they can over perform at the top of the ticket. Joe Manchin, Jon Tester, and then also Governor Bullock on Governor Bullock won re-election for governor in twenty sixteen by four points while Secretary Clinton was losing Montana by 20 points.

[00:12:58]

So we know people like Tester Bullet can can over perform the top of the ticket, that Montana Democrats have a unique brand and perform well for AG and governor and Senate. So we certainly like our our chances there. And then in a lot of other states, the they'll perform closer to the top of the ticket. But Michigan and Arizona, places like that, that's just fine. The Biden numbers are are looking pretty good. Right.

[00:13:25]

So I said I just want to add one question before we jump in the race. I have one more. So, you know, you mentioned we just talked about kind of where the presidential nominee has to be to win. In some cases, that will track very closely others. You mentioned Montana. Alabama won't be one of the other challenges. Back when I used to run Senate races long time ago was, you know, in a presidential year, what are the challenges is, you know, to make sure that the Senate candidate is getting as close to the same number of votes as the presidential candidate.

[00:13:55]

Because one of the things that's always concerning is, you know, in a state, let's say the presidential candidate gets, you know, a million, five hundred thousand votes, but people don't vote the rest of the ticket. And if you only get one million, three hundred thousand votes, it can be a challenge. So what is your strategy is to make sure that in these states, our candidates are getting as close to this, particularly in the base, the same amount of voters as Joe Biden is.

[00:14:19]

The first step is on the both the airwaves and the digital advertising, making sure that our candidates are are well-funded and are running enough television and digital advertising to to close the name ID gap so that they are just as well known as as Joe Biden or as close to it as humanly possible. That's step one. And then the second piece is through the state parties. And we're very lucky this cycle. The state party partners have been really fantastic that with the state parties making sure that our ordinated campaigns are maximizing both the knowledge about our candidates and then making sure people complete the ballot and have as little undervote as humanly possible.

[00:15:04]

So there. Constantly hearing the the Senate candidate's name over the phone, over the phone or through the mail, it used to be on the doors, but less of that these days due to the pandemic. But if they're getting enough touches on mail and phones, digital plus the television advertising, that should minimize that that that undervote problem that that you outlined. Right.

[00:15:28]

OK, let's let's jump into the races. And you obviously, Scott, if I'm not mentioning race, you just jump in. But let's start with actually the core presidential battlegrounds. You mentioned Senator Gary Peters, Democratic incumbent. I don't want to dwell on that because, you know, Biden's got a huge lead there. There's some suggestion Trump's going to drop out and Peters looks sound, but we know that's going be a tough race.

[00:15:49]

So let's talk about Arizona and North Carolina, two prime battlegrounds where right now Joe Biden's leading in polling. Both Mark Kelly and Arizona Cal Cunningham are leading. How do you see those two races? And are those our two best chances for pickups? I don't. We'll talk about Colorado, man. So let's focus on North Carolina and Arizona. Yeah, so I think for us, like you said, we can we can come back to Colorado, so we're not forgetting about that important opportunity.

[00:16:19]

But in Arizona, in North Carolina, I think we have we have really strong candidates. I just mentioned how both are both are military veterans. Both, I think, are going to perform better than the top of the ticket. And Mark Kelly, who's a first time, first time candidate, he's outraised Martha McSally, who's the incumbent six quarters in a row. He has an 11 million dollar cash on hand advantage over McSally for your listeners. Martha McSally ran and lost for Senate in twenty eighteen to now Senator Sinema and then was reappoint was appointed to the other seat.

[00:16:57]

So she's not actually been even though she's a senator, she's she's not been an elected Senate incumbent, which makes her even weaker. And then in the North Carolina Senate seat, Cal Cunningham has also proven to be an excellent candidate, really strong fundraising. He's he's been outraising Thom Tillis the last couple of quarters and outpolling him. Tillis His job approval rating is in the high 20s, low 30s. So I think you're seeing in that case, I think Cunningham's chances are good.

[00:17:32]

We're not taking it for granted. I mean, he has reservations and spending that are very aggressive in both Arizona and North Carolina. But, you know, I like our our chances in both of those races.

[00:17:46]

So, Scott, I've talked to some of our guests previously about this question as relates to the presidential, but it's closely linked to your Senate races.

[00:17:55]

Are you how concerned are you about sort of astronomically high or unusually high turnout for Trump in some of these battlegrounds that would then flow down to the Senate races? Or do you think his current troubles hurt him not just with swing voters, but also going to harm his ability to really jack the kind of turnout they need to win?

[00:18:16]

Yeah, I mean, I think turnout across the board is going to be really high. We certainly saw that in the last couple of Democratic primaries, Montana, Iowa, Georgia, Texas, both primary and runoff turnout was high, but higher and more enthusiastic for our side. I think Trump has a couple of problems. One, I think he's losing a lot of Obama Trump voters are coming back to the Democratic Party. I do think his enthusiasm will be dampened by his handling of the pandemic.

[00:18:47]

And lastly, I think he's creating a lot of chaos and confusion with his voters by constantly criticizing vote by mail, vote by mail and absentee ballots or something that both parties and all Americans can and should use. And it's causing a lot of confusion and dampening enthusiasm in his base. And it's mystifying because President Trump votes absentee, his family members vote absentee. It's something that Republicans in many states use as a tool or tactic, as they should. It's a perfectly appropriate way to vote.

[00:19:23]

So I think that's creating a lot of chaos for his base by denigrating vote by mail and absentee voting.

[00:19:31]

Yeah. So have you picked up at all? Scott, I mean, the Senate Republicans, whether they be incumbents or challengers that are running, have to be furious at Trump because there are none of them are denigrating vote by mail.

[00:19:42]

In fact, Trump's own campaign is not denigrating vote by members only Trump. I mean, what's your view on that? Because I agree with that. And the polling seems to suggest that, you know, the starting to be a pretty big gap between how Democrats and Republicans view vote by mail dangers on Election Day. And, you know, maybe at the end of the day, it's not going to be a huge difference. But in close states and close races, it could be.

[00:20:02]

Yeah, absolutely. I would imagine it's very frustrating for Republican Senate candidates, but they chose to embrace President Trump. They haven't stood up to him for nearly four years. And it's way too late now for them to try and separate from him. So they're going to have to own his mistakes. And I think you're going to see that play out. I mean, just like in twenty eighteen, when we took the house back, they're going to own President Trump and their own record on health care.

[00:20:31]

And we're running on health care. And you're going to see the arguments we were making about health care have only been amplified by the pandemic. You know, the arguments around protecting preexisting conditions on things like Medicaid expansion, if those were a good idea before the pandemic, there an even better idea now.

[00:20:51]

And are most of your candidates now running advertising and doing message events around health care?

[00:20:56]

Oh, absolutely. All of our candidates have talked about health care and a lot of our candidates. And I'll give you two examples. Governor Hickenlooper added over half a million Coloradans to the health care rolls through both. Through both Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, Governor Bullock was able to expand Medicaid in in Montana and even pre pandemic, this was helping improve health care outcomes for Montanans and Coloradans. But I think you're seeing those health care arguments have only been amplified.

[00:21:31]

All of our candidates are are talking about health care on the campaign trail and on the airwaves.

[00:21:37]

So, Scott, you mentioned John Hickenlooper. Let's talk about a couple of they're really not battleground states right now. They're they're lean Biden, both Colorado and Maine, although the second congressional district in Maine will be competitive yet again. So let's talk about those two states where you've got both Cory Gardner and Susan Collins. They, I assume, would be, in your scenario to get to 50 close to most wins. Maybe they are missed ones. Talk about those two races.

[00:22:00]

Yeah, absolutely.

[00:22:01]

So in Colorado, Cory Gardner is tied way too closely tied to Donald Trump. That's why he's going to lose Governor Hickenlooper. For your listeners, Governor Hickenlooper was the long serving mayor of Denver and then and then was elected in both 2010 and re-elected in twenty fourteen governor of Colorado, a very popular figure in the state. And he's got an incredible record. He talks about both what he did to expand health care for Coloradans, but he also talks about how when he was governor, Colorado went from the mid 40s to number one in job creation.

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So he's a popular, well-known, well respected figure. And then you contrast that with Cory Gardner, who's just a complete rubber stamp for Donald Trump, no separation from Trump on anything meaningful. So that race is looking really good for us, but we're not going to take it for granted. We're working hard. Governor Hickenlooper is raising money. He's getting out on the campaign trail virtually as aggressively as he can. But we feel really good about our chances there.

[00:23:10]

And what there's there's the conventional wisdom is that that John Hickenlooper is a friend of mine. And I've spent a lot of time on the campaign trail in Colorado, has had a few stumbles. Are you picking that up in the polls? For instance?

[00:23:24]

Do you think there's a chance that, you know, the former governor quite popular, he's able to outperform Joe Biden in Colorado, you know, even though Biden could be heading to a pretty significant win in Colorado?

[00:23:35]

Yeah, I do. I think Governor Hickenlooper is he's he's a popular, well-known, well respected figure in the state. So I. I just. In the polling that I see, you see a really very large well outside the margin of error path for for Hickenlooper. It's still a purple state. We have to work hard and not take it for granted. But we're seeing Hickenlooper, his numbers really strong against Gardner.

[00:24:04]

OK, let's talk about the cowardly Susan Collins up in Maine. Yes. So in early twenty nineteen, you could definitely call me a Maine skeptic. Susan Collins won reelection in twenty fourteen with with over sixty eight percent of the vote. So, you know, I started the cycle skeptical about winning that seat, but we recruited the speaker of the state house, Sarah Gideon, and she's proven to be an incredibly adept campaigner. Not only is she dramatically outraising Susan Collins and most importantly, she's outraising her with low dollar contributions, which is true across the board, but she's she's outraising Susan Collins.

[00:24:49]

But the other thing that Gideon has done that's really smart, she was doing this pre pandemic and then she's continued this post pandemic. She was doing town halls in every single town throughout Maine once the pandemic hit. Now, those town halls have converted to being either Zoom's or telephone town hall. So but she's still meeting with moaners town by town and answering questions, which is something Susan Collins hasn't done at Town Hall in years. So I think she's getting a lot of credit for showing up, showing up used to be in person.

[00:25:24]

And now it's been switched to more virtually. But it's still she's still doing virtual events that are dedicated to to focusing on this town, answering questions from Mainers in this town and the next town, then the next town. And I think she's getting a lot of credit for for doing that. So what we're seeing in that race is Gideon has a small lead. I think Sarah Gideon is probably up by two to five points, depending on who you ask.

[00:25:52]

And I think the problem for for Susan Collins is she's tied too closely to Trump on a number of key issues, the Republican tax bill, which benefited wealthy people but really didn't benefit Mainers. And then not just the vote for Kavanaugh, but also just the you can't say you're pro-choice and then fill the court with anti choice Federalist Society judges and and maner see through that. So I think our our odds of winning are are really excellent.

[00:26:25]

Well, no, the skepticism, I think, was understandable because you mentioned Jason Cantor in Missouri in 16 who who really dramatically outperformed Hillary Clinton. You know, Doug Jones will need to do that and will clearly outperform Joe Biden. The question is by how much you would have thought at the beginning of this cycle that, you know, that's one of the issues with Collins, is she's just going to do so much better because she's shown an ability to win a lot of swing voters, even Democrats, that even if our nominee won, you know, by three or four or five points, would it be enough?

[00:26:52]

And it seems like right now she's become a traditional Republican. Is that fair or does she still have some outsized strength there compared to other incumbent Republicans?

[00:27:03]

I mean, she's certainly running stronger than than Trump is in Maine, but not by enough. I think people are starting to see that when the rubber really hits the road, she votes with with Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. And then combine that with I mean, part of what turned me around on this race was our candidate recruitment. Sarah Gideon is she knows the state. She has an impressive record as speaker of the state House on things like opioids, property tax cuts.

[00:27:32]

She certainly knows the state. And then she's proven to be a really adept campaigner in terms of both meeting with voters and raising money. And she's got a small grassroots army that she can just go back to time and time again. And that's true. Across our map, most of our candidates are outraising the Senate incumbents, especially with small dollar donations, which allows us to go back to people again and again to make sure that our candidates are competitive.

[00:28:12]

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[00:30:24]

You've got Iowa, Greenfield, Ernst, you've got Georgia, the race against the sort of quasi criminal Kelly Loffler you've got. Well, let's start let's talk about those two and then let's talk maybe through Montana and there where, you know, clearly Trump is going to win Montana almost certainly. But that's also going to be more competitive. Let's talk about those three states. Sure.

[00:30:45]

Absolutely. Working for Cortez Masto, she always likes me to start West. So. All right. So, yeah, I mean, look, Governor Bullock is I mean, you can't get a better recruit in Montana. He's still the governor. He gets high marks for handling both the pandemic and the economy. He's he's a well-known brand. People know who he is. They know that he's a Montana Democrat. He won attorney general and two gubernatorial races, so he's a proven statewide vote getter in Montana and he's he's well known, well-liked, certainly has a lot of crossover appeal.

[00:31:27]

And I think you see in Steve Daines, this is true for a lot of the candidates we're trying to beat. McSorley was never elected to the Senate. Lefler never elected to the Senate. And then the rest of the map, with the exception of Susan Collins, are pretty weak candidates. That one in twenty fourteen, they won in a really good year. And that was certainly true for for Steve Daines, the only one in twenty fourteen. And it doesn't have much of a brand.

[00:31:53]

Montanans are just starting to learn that Steve Daines lived in China for four years working for a company to outsource American jobs from the United States to China. They didn't know that in twenty fourteen, but they they sure know that now. So this tough on China stuff isn't going to isn't going to work, especially in a case like this where the guy lived in China for four years and outsourced American jobs to China. That's not going to stack up well against Governor Bullock's record.

[00:32:23]

So I think that's going to be a hotly contested race. It's going to be a close race all the way through. But I would much rather be us than them.

[00:32:34]

Let's talk about Georgia or no, let's talk about Iowa. We're going west to east. So, yeah, I think a race that people are surprised is in the conversation is Iowa. So so where does that race stand?

[00:32:44]

Yeah, absolutely. And they shouldn't be surprised, but it's great. And I think The Des Moines Register after the June primary was over, the Des Moines Register, which is well respected, they came out with a poll that showed Greenfield beating Ernst up by three points and that justifiably gave Greenfield a lot of momentum. Joni Ernst is another Senate incumbent who she won in twenty fourteen, which was a great year for Republicans, but we definitely is shown to be weaker than people thought she was.

[00:33:15]

This is definitely a toss up race. Biden is doing well at the top of the ticket. I think Biden could win Iowa. President Obama won Iowa in twenty twelve by six points. Secretary Clinton lost it by 10 points. I think you're seeing Vice President Biden. This is going to be competitive here. I think he has a real shot at winning Iowa and then into Richard Greenfield. We have a we have a candidate who grew up in a rural community.

[00:33:44]

Her father was a crop duster. She knows her way around ag issues in Iowa. And she has a really compelling story about living on Social Security disability. When her husband, he was an IBEW lineman, he was electrocuted on the job. She was widowed at age twenty four. She lived on Social Security and a pension. And then you contrast that with Joni Ernst talking about how we need to, quote unquote, reform Social Security behind closed doors.

[00:34:14]

So I think the Social Security argument, the ACA arguments that we're making when you have a candidate like like Teresa Greenfield, there's no better no better candidate to get that message out. So we feel we feel really good about our chances that Montana and I, we're both going to be hard fought races through and through. But, you know, we've we feel this is a very winnable race.

[00:34:41]

You make a really important point about some of these Republican incumbents.

[00:34:44]

I mean, so many of them, almost all of them are in Collins, one in 14, which, you know, you could have run a terrible race if you're a Republican and made it through your primary and won. Conversely, a lot of Democrats who won in the House and Senate back in 08, as you remember, you know, that was ideal circumstances, too. So whether it was 2010 in the House or 14 in the Senate, tougher race is so important to understand the conditions under which people came in office.

[00:35:08]

So in Georgia, I mentioned Loffler, but you actually have two Senate races in Georgia.

[00:35:14]

So talk about that, which I think confuses people why they are and who's running and whether they're going to perform independently or largely in the same trajectory. Yeah, absolutely.

[00:35:25]

So here, I'll try and do the Cliff Notes version of of Georgia because it's complicated. But so there's two races. There's the the David Perdue seat. Perdue, another senator who won for the first time in twenty fourteen in the Perdue seat. He's facing off against John Ass off. And on the November ballot, you're going to have Perdue, Asaph and one libertarian. If nobody gets 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote getters will go to the January 5th runoff.

[00:35:56]

So that's that's the Perdue seat. Then in the other seat, there's going to be a so-called jungle primary in November. So on the November ballot, this is for the Senator Isaacson seat now held by Kelly Lefler in that seat. You're going to have twenty one candidates on the November ballot. Democrats, Republicans, you name it, and the top two will advance to the January 5th runoff if nobody gets 50 percent of the vote. So in that seat, Kelly Leffler is running, but so is conservative Congressman Doug Collins.

[00:36:33]

She's going to spend she said she's going to spend 20 million dollars of her own money and she's going to need to spend every bit of it because the insider trading that she and her husband were engaged in, I think Will will really damage her with with Georgia voters during a pandemic. People want you to disseminate scientific information, not sell shares in Delta Airlines. It was her conduct was disgraceful. So I think she's going to have problems from her. Right, because of Congressman Doug Collins, who's a well-known conservative congressman from northeastern Georgia.

[00:37:10]

And then the desexed candidate is Reverend Raphael Warnock. Reverend Warnock is the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Martin Luther King's Church in Atlanta, where I grew up, very poor in Savannah, Georgia, went to Morehouse College on a scholarship and became a very successful and well known, well respected pastor. I think he's an exciting, dynamic candidate. And I think he's he's going to he's driving a lot of energy and enthusiasm. So we think we like his chances of of finishing top two and advancing to that January 5th runoff.

[00:37:49]

And explain to people why those two elections are held under different rules. Yeah. So the. Well, there's there's two pieces to this. The first is that Georgia has a rule that you have to get 50 percent of the vote to win. And then they so that which triggers these runoffs. And then with Senator Isaacson was his seat was supposed to be up in twenty, twenty two, but with his retirement for health reasons when he retired, that that forced this special election under different rules, different timing, which is why we have basically two different elections occurring simultaneously.

[00:38:28]

So if but we could have if if Perdue's held under 50 and our candidate, John, also doesn't get over 50, you'd have just those two candidates on the 5th. And then if it goes Ralph Warnock and let's say a Lefler or Collins, you'd have basically those four candidates on the same day on the 5th over the holidays.

[00:38:49]

So so I'm sure you'll take issue with this. But one question I have for you, Scott, is in a scenario where that happens. So we've got two really important Senate races on the 5th of January. Let's say Biden has won the presidency and maybe Democrats have already won the Senate.

[00:39:03]

Let's hope. Is there a concern with those? I know, like that's like, you know, you'll deal with this on November the 4th or November the 14th.

[00:39:11]

But that that dynamic will not be helpful in Georgia because like, you know, we've already gotten rid of Trump and the Democrats at the Senate. And now voters say we, you know, we don't want to overdo it. You know, we've seen that historically that elections that come after, you know, the November election can be affected. Or do you think that won't really be an issue there? Is it too early to tell?

[00:39:30]

I think the runoff election, it was put there to give an advantage to Republicans, but I think that advantage is starting to erode. When you look at the twenty eighteen runoff, John Barrow lost the Georgia runoff by less than four points, that the Georgia runoff is starting to become more competitive because we have this fantastic coalition and this is true in Georgia, but also in Texas, you have non-white voters are enthusiastically in the Democratic coalition. And then you combine that with college educated white voters, suburban white voters.

[00:40:07]

And I think our party is starting to make a really aggressive play for white non college voters. But I think that that runoff coalition in Georgia is is eroding for their side. So I actually think the January 5th runoff election in Georgia will be will be competitive for our side, even if Joe Biden does win, which is, of course, the preferred outcome. So I think. All right, I think we're going to take we're going to work hard to make sure that that Assaf wins outright in November.

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And we're going to make sure that Raphael Warnock finishes top two and then we feel great about our chances. January 5th. Georgia is changing and it's changing dramatically, rapidly.

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Well, and there are so many people down there who work so hard and 18 for Stacey Abrams have worked on House races or work in this time.

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So, you know, it's not like they don't they need much of a reason to work harder.

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But, boy, for those in Georgia who are eager for Georgia to become just a core battleground, if you can.

[00:41:08]

If Biden can win those electoral votes or keep it real.

[00:41:12]

And we win one or two of the Senate races that will really propel George, I think, for the foreseeable future as just a core core battleground state. So, Scott, let's talk about some of the races where, you know, there are going to be in tougher terrain because it's very unlikely that Joe Biden would win. But to your point, he is keeping states closer than we saw in 16. You've got everywhere from Alaska to South Carolina. Some people think Texas could be in play.

[00:41:38]

Talk about those races. And, you know, we can go west to east again. And obviously, if I'm leaving any out, pick them up. But talk about the ones where you're probably not saying we have to win this race. But, you know, for folks like I think we're at a place in our party and you should disagree with me.

[00:41:53]

If you think I'm wrong where we are, we are not as competitive consistently in the plains in the south as we were not too long ago, when too long ago we had all four senators in the Dakotas.

[00:42:05]

So there's going to be elections where we are competitive. And to your point, I think we're showing some real signs of renewed strength with white non college voters. But we as a party cannot waste a single Senate race. Right. And so when we have a good electoral year and it's too early to know how good November will be, but if it is going to be a good electoral year for our party, we've got to maximize.

[00:42:22]

Right. And not just wins the one win, the ones you have to win, you know, but hopefully one or two that you weren't expecting at the beginning of the cycle come through well as well.

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So let's talk about some of those races.

[00:42:32]

Yeah, I mean, one of the ones that I'm very excited about, I think I think we are going to win the Texas Senate race.

[00:42:38]

Well, that's exciting news. Tell us about that. Yeah, I figured I would break that on your show. But look, you know, John Cornyn, job approval ratings at thirty six percent. And we have a fantastic candidate, M.J. Hagar's, an Afghan war veteran, decorated Air Force veteran, working mom. I think if she if her fundraising can take off and I think it's starting to her primary and runoff was delayed because of the pandemic. So her runoff didn't conclude until July 14th.

[00:43:11]

But ever since the runoff has concluded, her fundraising has taken off and corniness a week. You know, I always when I'm talking to folks about Texas, I always ask, please name all of John Cornyn accomplishments. I'll I'll wait. He has not he's he's not well known. His job approval rating is very soft. Hagar fits the state. He's a motorcycle riding, working mom, decorated Afghan war vet. And she's talking about Corning's record on health care and his record on campaign finance reform.

[00:43:49]

And her record on those two issues will will beat his record. So I feel very good about this race. As my friend Paul Begala says, Texas Democrats haven't been doing well lately, but this could be our year. We really think this is a this is a winnable race.

[00:44:07]

Well, that would be just downright outstanding. All right. So let's talk about we've got Alaska, Kentucky, South Carolina.

[00:44:13]

Just go through all the races where you think folks should be paying attention if they can, helping out with either financial contributions or or their time.

[00:44:21]

Yeah, absolutely. So. So in Alaska, Dr. Al Gross, he's a doctor. He's a commercial fisherman, born and raised in Alaska. Contrast that with Senator Sullivan, who moved to Alaska just a few years back as folks may not remember this, but Sullivan only won his seat in twenty fourteen by six thousand votes. So we think that Dr. Gross has a real shot. He's running as an independent who would caucus with the Democrats. He's been endorsed by the Alaska Democratic Party.

[00:44:56]

I think he's got a compelling biography and I think he has a compelling case to make. He's certainly making the argument that Alaska depends on on three industries, oil, tourism and fisheries. And they're all being devastated right now by a combination of the the pandemic and low oil prices. So I think his background as both a doctor and a commercial fisherman, he knows a lot about the Alaska economy and then he also knows a hell of a lot about health care.

[00:45:27]

So I think he's got a good argument to make the Kansas race. Well, we'll know more in the next couple of days. But if Kobach wins that primary, I think everybody in both parties would acknowledge that Kobach is a radioactive candidate. He would really jeopardize the Kansas Senate seat. This is a seat where Democrats haven't won since nineteen thirty two. But Kris Kobach was the secretary of state. He defeated the incumbent Republican governor in the primary and then went on to lose the general election to Democrat Laura Kelly by over five points.

[00:46:03]

So he's got a radioactive brand. The Republicans know it. If he wins the primary tonight and we probably won't know until Thursday or Friday, but. If he wins the primary tonight, that seat is really vulnerable and we I think we've recruited a stellar candidate, Dr Barbara Bullier. She was a moderate Republican state senator, a pro-choice pro Medicaid expansion. She switched parties a couple of years ago because she was so frustrated over the the inability to pass Medicaid expansion, which would which would save lives and improve health care outcomes.

[00:46:38]

So she's an impressive doctor, a moderate Republican turned moderate Democrat. She's raising a lot of money. I think she's going to make that race really competitive. And we've seen polling that shows her competitive against Hamilton and Marshall as well. But certainly Kobach would be their weakest candidate and the Republicans know that, too.

[00:46:58]

Well, here's hoping for bad news for them this week in their primary. And how about Kentucky, South Carolina?

[00:47:05]

So in Kentucky, the Republicans are nervous. Mitch McConnell has spent or reserved over 20 million dollars for his Senate race. So even though Trump has won the state in twenty sixteen by 30 points, a bigger margin than he won Alabama. But even despite that, McConnell has a couple of problems. One, he's a lot less popular than Donald Trump. To Amy McGrath is a decorated Marine fighter pilot, a native of the Bluegrass State, really compelling biography.

[00:47:40]

And three, she's raising a really impressive fundraising. So he's worried. I mean, and Mitch McConnell wouldn't spend 20 plus million dollars on his own Senate race if if he wasn't actually worried about losing to Tammy McGrath. And he's right to be worried. And the same dynamic in South Carolina. This is a state Trump won by 14 points, but the margin is tightening there. And Lindsey Graham is far less popular than Trump. Jamie Harrison has proven to be an electrifying candidate, both on the stump and with his fundraising success.

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So I think you're seeing you're seeing that race really tighten. There have been a couple of polls that show Lindsey Graham only beating Jamie Harrison by by five or six points. So things are starting to tighten in our direction for Jamie. Jamie was Mr. Cliburn's floor director when I was a House chief of staff. So I have a soft spot for that race. And he's look, Jamie fits the state, grew up poor in South Carolina, went on to to Yale, went on to a successful career working for Mr.

[00:48:50]

Clyburn, I think. And then you combine that with people's disdain for Lindsey Graham. I think he has an interesting shot. Some of Lindsey Graham's big boosters in state, like people who raise money for his presidential bid, have now bucked him and become public supporters of of Jamie Harris. And a lot of the more moderate Republicans are done with Lindsey Graham. So the state's tightening and it's it's interesting.

[00:49:16]

Well, not to get too greedy, obviously. We hope, you know, I don't know if it'll be election night, probably sometime in November. We get to celebrate Donald Trump losing and Democrats winning back the Senate. But it'd be really nice to add Lindsey Graham losing that soulless sycophant. You know, losing would kind of be the cherry on top.

[00:49:34]

And then and also the mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, just got in the race in Louisiana against Cassidy, decorated Iraq war vet, president of his class at West Point, mayor of Shreveport named Adrian Perkins.

[00:49:49]

An incredibly impressive in the videos I've seen. That's going to be an exciting race. So talk to everybody about the timing, timing of that race.

[00:49:57]

So that race, it'll be on the November ballot. The desk and Louisiana Democratic Party has endorsed Adrian Perkins, similar to the dynamic in the in Georgia Lefler Warnock race. It's a jungle primary on the November ballot. And then if nobody gets 50 percent, the top two candidates will face off December 5th. So the job of job one for for Mayor Perkins is get Cassidy under 50 percent. I think he can do it. This is a guy who grew up in humble beginnings in Shreveport, Louisiana, was a president of his class class president at West Point, decorated Army veteran, elected mayor of Shreveport, third largest city in the state.

[00:50:41]

He's got a health care argument that's very compelling on Medicaid expansion against a doctor, Senator Cassidy. So I think he can hold him under 50 percent in force. December 5th, runoff. The last thing, I'll just say how the momentum is going. Ninety seven percent of the Republican spending is on defense and ninety seven percent of Democratic spending is on offense. So I think that shows you that these guys can't get away from President Trump fast enough.

[00:51:10]

So, Scott. I'm just going to ask you last question to take off your Senate hat for a minute and put on a presidential hat, so you ran Patrick Murphy's campaigns where his chief of staff, for those of you don't know, that's Bucks County, Pennsylvania, kind of core battleground in the presidential race box was a battleground for us in the Obama years. We won it, if I recall, against Romney by around 4000 votes, give or take.

[00:51:33]

Hillary, actually, you know, if I remember correctly, walked out of southeastern Pennsylvania with about a four hundred fifty thousand vote lead, really over performed Obama in the suburbs, had decent turnout in Philly. Maybe not all you would have liked, but, you know, didn't do as well in Bucks County as people thought she won it, but super narrowly, in part because some of the more working class areas of Bucks County really gravitated to Trump.

[00:51:54]

I'm just curious and obviously Bucks County is not Arizona, North Carolina, but you're seeing a lot of research here. You understand how voters are behaving in this election. What could we expect out of Bucks County in a Biden Trump matchup, in your view?

[00:52:07]

Some of President Trump's sales pitch, particularly around unfair trade deals. The reason that President Obama did so well there in 2012 was that he used the auto rescue to paint Mitt Romney as the out of touch plutocrat while he's fighting for American jobs. The auto industry, is it mostly in in western Pennsylvania and Michigan. But there are there are some small facilities in lower bucks as well. So I think that that argument around the auto rescue is what helped President Obama against Mitt Romney.

[00:52:40]

But fast forward to 2016. Trump was the one railing about unfair trade agreements with China, somebody like Joe Biden, who was born in Scranton. And I think people will get that he's going to stand up to China. I think that will get some of those folks back. You know, a lot of Democrats who are frustrated by by unfair trade agreements with with China. And I think it's our party recaptures that we're going to recapture a lot of those battlegrounds, like lower bucks and places like Michigan.

[00:53:11]

Well, if we do, I mean, for those of you and I think probably all of you listen to this, you know, we're paying a lot of attention this election. You know, you ought to pick out your counties that you're going to follow closely on election night in the days after his votes are counted in Bucks County, certainly at the top of the list.

[00:53:25]

And I agree with Scott, that's going to be if we can if we can repair some of the erosion in lower bucks, it's a good sign across the country that. Well, listen, Scott, great luck to you in winning back the Senate and both maybe beating McConnell, but certainly, you know, making sure he is no longer majority leader and can you know, which is going to be such a key ingredient to making the progress we as a country need to make.

[00:53:52]

So I would encourage all of you that have your favorite Senate races to continue to give both of your time and whatever money you can if you live in those states, really dig in and help our candidates here, you know, in the closing 13 weeks of. Scott Fairchild, thanks for your time today.

[00:54:07]

Thanks so much.