WORKING OVERTIME -- For us congressional watchers, the big storyline on Election Night will be which party wins control of the Senate. But the reality is, we might not know who prevails in the battle for the Senate for several weeks — and maybe even months.
For starters, not all races may be called by tomorrow night, despite President Donald Trump’s false claim that votes shouldn’t be counted after Nov. 3.States are dealing with a surge of mail-in ballots thanks to the pandemic, and each state has their own rules about how late ballots can be received and still be counted. Some states have also extended those deadlines, which have been the subject of legal challenges.
Then there’s the possibility for runoffs. Georgia is home to a pair of hotly-contested Senate races that could determine the Senate majority. But if no candidate clears the 50 percent threshold in either race, then they will head to a runoff on Jan. 5. And that is the most likely scenario, unless there is unexpectedly high Democratic turnout, according to Marianne and James Arkin. More on that here: https://politi.co/3ekyWqR.
Not to mention, the GOP currently holds a slim majority. And in the final stretch, it looks like some of the most critical match-ups are going to be nail-biters. So the Senate majority could really all come down to the results of just one or two races. “There’s some races out there that are really tight. I suspect, you know, it could go into overtime,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told The Hill. A good look at all this from Jordain Carney: https://bit.ly/2TNccGC.
Clicker: FiveThirtyEight has a handy guide on “when to expect results in every state.”
Related reads: “Trump threatens Senate GOP — now and in the future,” by Burgess: https://politi.co/35Z6SFZ … “Trump drags down GOP senators, giving Democrats more paths to the majority,” from WaPo’s Paul Kane and Seung Min Kim: https://wapo.st/323E7qz.
DAILY DOSE OF DINGELL -- Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who has been sounding the alarm about Democrats taking Michigan for granted, gave this assessment over the weekend when pressed on which candidate she thinks will win the battleground state: "My gut says we’re going to win. And that’s the first time, I’ve officially said that to anybody. I think the momentum is on our side,” Dingell said, per Detroit News’ Craig Mauger.
But in another key battleground state … “Democrats grow more anxious about Pennsylvania,” via WaPo’s Sean Sullivan: https://wapo.st/3mK11Lw.
THE AOC OF THE RIGHT? -- Congressional candidate Madison Cawthorn quickly became a rising star in the GOP after his upset primary win earlier this year. But the 25-year-old has come under fire for racist language on his campaign website and offensive social media posts about Adolf Hitler, which have made the race more competitive and could dog his career in Congress if elected.
Ally Mutnick recently traveled to the North Carolina district,which used to be represented by former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.). Her dispatch on the race: “On Tuesday, Republicans could add to their ranks a 25-year-old congressman bent on being as disruptive to the right as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is to the left — or suffer an embarrassing defeat in a district they have no business losing. Either way, the election here in North Carolina’s 11th District is poised to rattle the Grand Old Party.
“Madison Cawthorn, the paraplegic survivor of a near-fatal car crash, achieved instant star power after a June primary in which he toppled the candidate endorsed by both President Donald Trump and former GOP Rep. Mark Meadows, who resigned the seat to become the president’s chief of staff. Armed with his newfound fame, Cawthorn has centered his campaign on a scathing critique of his own party, calling it xenophobic, feckless and devoid of empathy — all while aligning himself closely with a president accused of embodying those very traits.” More: https://politi.co/3eiCOst.
Related read: “How GOP star Madison Cawthorn polarized the battle for Asheville’s seat in Congress,” by Danielle Chemtob of the Charlotte Observer: https://bit.ly/3kTtQV9.
NORTH CAROLINA, COME ON AND RAISE UP -- Elsewhere in the state … Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham has basically gone into hiding from the press since his sex scandal — and it seems to be working out for him. James Arkin went to North Carolina to check out the race. His story: “Republican Sen. Thom Tillis is campaigning everywhere. Democrat Cal Cunningham is hard to find. Both campaigns think that’s exactly how they win — and potentially secure their party a Senate majority.
“The North Carolina Senate race, the most expensive in U.S. history after more than $250 million in spending, has not been kind to either candidate down the home stretch. Tillis was forced into isolation after contracting Covid-19. Cunningham voluntarily went into relative isolation after admitting to an extramarital affair. The diverging strategies are on display in the final weekend of a race that could decide control of the Senate.” More: https://politi.co/2GqkxNC.
Related read: “Traveling with Nikki Haley, Tillis assails Cunningham’s character. Is it working?” from the News and Observer’s Luke Decock, Brian Murphy, and Tim Funk: https://bit.ly/35RepGK.
HAPPY MONDAY! Welcome to Huddle, the play-by-play guide to all things Capitol Hill, on this Nov 2, where your host is grateful for the extra hour of sleep right before Election Day — but really not looking forward to these early dark days in the pandemic.
FRIDAY’S MOST CLICKED: HuffPo’s piece on how impeachment is barely mentioned in the campaign was the big winner.
EYES ON THE HAWKEYE STATE -- A glimmer of hope for the GOP in Iowa. From the Des Moines Register: “Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst has pulled ahead of Democrat Theresa Greenfield in the closing stretch of a contentious U.S. Senate race, according to a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll. Ernst leads 46% to 42% over Greenfield, the Iowa Poll shows.
“Another 3% say they plan to vote for someone else, 1% do not plan to vote in the Senate race, 3% are unsure and 4% already voted but did not want to say which candidate they support.” More from Brianne Pfannenstiel: https://bit.ly/3kOAsnS.
And in House races … “Iowa Poll: Republicans preferred in 3 of 4 U.S. House races; Rep. Finkenauer appears at risk,” by Nick Coltrain of the Des Moines Register: https://bit.ly/383XovC.
SCHUMER’S DREAM JOB -- Chuck Schumer could become Senate majority leader next year. Or, as WaPo puts it, he could wind up as “perennial political bridesmaid.” More from Paul Kane: “A bit superstitious and focused on winning first, Schumer has avoided big speeches about how he would run the Senate, unlike Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who spent all of 2014 describing how he would govern in the run-up to the midterms that made him majority leader for the next six years.
“Schumer, who declined to speak for this column, has happily taken a back seat as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) does TV appearances at a rate that Schumer used to crave. But if Democrats hit the trifecta — a Joe Biden victory with control of the House and Senate — Schumer will become the focal point of the battle over how ambitious they need to be.
“The immediate will-he-won’t-he speculation will focus on abolishing the legislative filibuster so a more robust agenda can pass on a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority needed to end debate on most bills.” The dispatch: https://wapo.st/3oO00DM.
Related: “House’s most liberal caucus divided over how to use its political clout,” by WaPo’s Rachael Bade: https://wapo.st/3ekJczn.
MEANWHILE, in McConnell land … “Major KY Newspaper That Historically Endorsed Democrats Declines to Publicly Back Amy McGrath,” via Town Hall’s Reagan McCarthy: https://bit.ly/3mICDcV.
CABINET BATTLE #2 -- There’s been buzz about members of Congress — including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders — angling for a job in a potential Biden administration. But Joe Biden’s camp is considering an “informal ban” on senators being named to his Cabinet, per Axios. The deets from Hans Nichols: “Biden, if he wins, is bracing for bruising legislative battles on day one, starting with the next phase of coronavirus relief. Many advisers don’t think he can afford to lose a single vote in the Senate if Democrats hold a slim majority.
“Biden himself hasn’t made a decision on a potential Senate ban, with his efforts focused on winning on Tuesday, the sources say. .. An informal ban could also be an elegant way of tamping down campaigns to place progressive senators in top Cabinet roles by reminding the movement of the priority around enacting legislation.
“Warren and Sanders both come from an unusual construct — blue states with Republican governors who'd be empowered to fill vacancies. There might be a way for a Democratic supermajority in the Massachusetts legislature to force Gov. Charlie Baker to appoint a Democrat. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said on Friday that if Sanders joins a potential Biden administration, he would consider a 'more left-leaning type of independent that would obviously caucus with the Democrat' to replace him.” The story: https://bit.ly/3jY1d8d.
STIMULUS STALEMATE -- Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week she is aiming for a coronavirus relief deal in the lame-duck session of Congress. But McConnell is now throwing cold water on that idea, saying they'll tackle a stimulus package next year. “We probably need to do another package, certainly more modest than the $3 trillion Nancy Pelosi package. I think that’ll be something we’ll need to do right at the beginning of the year,” McConnell told Hugh Hewitt on Friday.
Meanwhile … House Republicans introduced their own targeted relief plan last week that carries a price tag of around $47 billion, per The Daily Caller’s Henry Rodgers. Democrats are pushing for more than $2 trillion in coronavirus aid.
COVID IN CONGRESS -- “Georgia Rep. Tests Positive for COVID Days After MAGA Rally,” from The Daily Beast’s Pilar Melendez: https://bit.ly/34OKobn.
QANON CONNECTION -- A super PAC linked to GOP congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene — who has embraced QAnon conspiracy theories and espoused racist views — is boosting other House candidates with some ties to QAnon, reports Daniel Newhauser. His scoop for Business Insider: https://bit.ly/2THSEDI.
THE CHERI ON THE CAKE -- “House Democrats run late ads defending vulnerable DCCC chair,” by The Hill’s Reid Wilson: https://bit.ly/3eiJmY5.
ENGAGED! -- Cooper Teboe, founder of CDT Strategies and Rep. Ro Khanna's campaign manager and long time adviser, and Brooke Weisenfluh, partner at a financial advisory firm, got engaged on Friday. The couple met at a country bar in San Francisco when they both reached for the same Coors light.
How he popped the question: at a vineyard in Sonoma, Calif. When Cooper took a knee, their puppy started rolling in the dirt. They both hollered at him to stop at the same time and they knew it was meant to be. Pic.
Nicholas Scoufaras is now legislative director for Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.). He most recently was senior policy adviser for Woodall.
The House and Senate are out.
FRIDAY’S WINNER: Michael Herson was the first person to guess that President Herbert Hoover won election with over 400 electoral votes and also lost in an election to an opponent who scored over 400 votes.
TODAY’S QUESTION: From Michael: Congress has decided the outcome of 3 presidential elections. Which ones were they and what were the outcomes? The first person to correctly guess gets a mention in the next edition of Huddle. Send your best guess to [email protected].
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- Melanie Zanona @MZanona