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Apr 16, 2020 at 3:01 pm ET

Democratic Convention's Host Committee Cuts Staff as it Faces Coronavirus Challenges

28365365体育投注In a possible early sign of downsizing ahead for this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, the host committee for the gathering is cutting its staff by more than half as it deals with the financial and logistical challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee, the nonprofit charged with raising $70 million for the event, said Thursday that it will cut its staff from 31 to 14 employees.

“The entire nation is facing the unprecedented challenge of responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and unfortunately, the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee is no different,” Raquel Filmanowicz, the committee’s chief executive, said in a statement. “In this climate of uncertainty, we must adjust our plans to match the new reality we’re facing as a nation.”

Eleven staffers have been offered positions with either the Democratic National Convention Committee or as organizers for the party, while six have been laid off. Separate from the host committee, the DNCC is the organization responsible for conducting the convention.

28365365体育投注The Democratic National Committee said earlier this month that it would push the convention later into the summer because of the pandemic in a move that marked the biggest tangible disruption yet to the presidential campaign as a result of the crisis.

28365365体育投注The gathering will now take place the week of Aug. 17, more than a month later than originally planned. That will also delay when the party’s nominee can start using general election dollars to directly confront President Trump.

28365365体育投注Officials have said they haven’t made any determination yet on the length or format of the convention, given the outbreak's unpredictability. DNC members have said there’s growing speculation the event is unlikely to host the 50,000 delegates, donors, members of the media and others that were originally expected.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee and someone who will have considerable input on convention decisions, has said the event may have to be held in a virtual manner if the virus continues to pose a public health threat in August. Convention organizers are planning for that possibility, as well as other scenarios.

Mr. Trump has said the Republican National Convention will go on as planned in Charlotte, N.C. That gathering, the week after the Democratic gathering, would typically also attract about 50,000 people.

Apr 15, 2020 at 6:42 am ET

Liberal Group Targets Susan Collins on Virus Response

New statewide ads in Maine are attacking Sen. Susan Collins, a vulnerable Republican senator facing a tough election fight this fall, claiming she hasn't worked hard enough to get supplies to health-care workers, the latest sign that the pandemic is shaping up to impact congressional races this fall.

Majority Forward, a liberal dark money group, is spending six-figures to place the television ads to urge voters to call Ms. Collins’s office to encourage her to support health care workers during the pandemic. The ad cites a recent interview Ms. Collins did saying President Trump for did “a lot right in the beginning” to combat coronavirus.

“Maine doctors and nurses are scrounging for medical supplies,” the narrator in the ad says. “Once again, Susan Collins defends the president. But that’s wrong for Maine.”

Majority Forward is also running ads praising Ms. Collins’s opponent, Sara Gideon, the current Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.

28365365体育投注Ms. Collins is one of a handful of senators that Democrats are hoping to beat in the November election in their effort to win control of the Senate, which currently has 53 Republicans. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates her race as a toss-up, along with Senate races for GOP incumbents in Colorado, Arizona and North Carolina.

28365365体育投注In many of those states, Democrats see an advantage to tying incumbent Republican senators to Mr. Trump, where his approval rating is under 50%.

28365365体育投注Like many states, Maine is facing a shortage of personal protective equipment for health care and frontline workers, and seeing a rise in health care workers affected by the novel coronavirus.

28365365体育投注Ms. Collins has focused on the Senate’s response to the pandemic, and pushed for funding for small businesses that are closed. On Tuesday, she joined with the four-member Maine Congressional delegation to send a bipartisan letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services to request more personal protective equipment for their state.

“Clearly one of Sara Gideon’s dark money allies feels threatened by the vital role Susan Collins has played in delivering critical Coronavirus relief to Mainers, including her instrumental work on the important Paycheck Protection Program,” said Jesse Hunt, spokesman for the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. “Voters will be disgusted by the group’s petty cry for relevance during a national crisis.”

Apr 9, 2020 at 11:13 am ET

Trump Allies Book Fall TV Ad Time in Florida, N.C.

With the general election effectively under way, the super PAC supporting President Trump said it will begin Friday to reserve $26.6 million in television time for this fall in two key states: Florida and North Carolina.

28365365体育投注America First Action last week said it planned $10 million in ads attacking presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Those ads are to run next week through May and are to paint Mr. Biden as an unacceptable career politician and knock his support for trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mr. Trump last year signed a replacement trade deal that updates the rules of the game including for Mexican labor and the auto industry.

28365365体育投注As of Thursday, America First had booked more than $700,000 in local broadcast TV ad time over the next two weeks in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, according to political ad tracker Kantar/CMAG.

The moves represent opening volleys in a quickly escalating fight for voter attention, even as the coronavirus emergency has sidelined Messrs. Trump and Biden from traditional campaigning.

28365365体育投注It is also a bit of catch-up. Groups supporting the former vice president have already begun TV spending in midwestern states that were crucial to Mr. Trump's victory in 2016. A leading super PAC, Priorities USA Action, has produced spots criticizing the president's response to the health crisis.

28365365体育投注The pro-Trump group said it is reserving broadcast time in Florida and North Carolina due to the expensive nature of Florida's TV markets and because North Carolina will feature a number of marquee elections, including those for governor and U.S. Senate.

America First said it will reserve more than $8 million in air time in the Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham markets. In Florida, $18.5 million will be split between the Tampa and Orlando markets. The ads would begin around Labor Day and run through Election Day, according to the group.

28365365体育投注"America First is making the Florida and North Carolina reservations because we are confident we can secure inventory at the best possible rates in these crucial battleground states," the group's president, Brian O. Walsh, said in a statement. "We will make further decisions in May.”

The group has faced criticism from Trump allies for not moving faster and being more aggressive about fundraising. The Trump campaign declined to discuss its television ad strategy but it has focused heavily on digital platforms such as Facebook.

-- Chad Day contributed to this article.

Apr 3, 2020 at 11:07 am ET

Kentucky House Race Heats Up After Massie's Lonely Stand on Coronavirus Vote

28365365体育投注Top Republicans warned Rep. Thomas Massie that he was sabotaging his career. Supercharged fundraising numbers in his GOP primary race show they may have been on to something.

The Kentucky Republican, who angered President Trump when he forced House members to return to D.C. to pass the $2 trillion stimulus bill, is now back home in Garrison, Ky., fighting to stay in Congress ahead of the state’s June primary. Lawmakers of both parties called him reckless, and President Trump termed him a “third rate Grandstander” and said he should be kicked out of the GOP.

28365365体育投注"I thought I might be signing my political death sentence," Mr. Massie said in an interview. "But I did it for principled reasons."

The four-term congressman, once lauded as a hero by conservatives for his successful drive to oust former House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio), faces a challenge from Todd McMurtry, a lawyer best known for representing a high-school student in a defamation case involving a confrontation with an American Indian activist in Washington.

The attention to Mr. Massie’s stimulus stance has injected more energy into the race. Mr. Massie says his campaign has raised $214,000 online since last Friday and has more checks that he has not yet processed, more than half of what he raised in the entire 2018 cycle, when he had no primary challenger in the safe Republican district. Mr. McMurtry, meanwhile, says he has raised more than $300,000 in the same period. First-quarter fundraising reports are due later this month.

Mr. McMurtry, who joined the race in January, argues that Mr. Massie is out of step with Mr. Trump, and that his recent decision showed a lack of judgment and was a betrayal of the White House. In an interview, Mr. McMurtry said his phone keeps buzzing with texts and calls from Kentucky residents and Washington officials that say, “you’re going to win -- that was a really dumb move on his part.”

28365365体育投注The Massie campaign said a poll conducted on its behalf earlier this year, before the stimulus vote, showed a big lead over Mr. McMurtry. But there has been no publicly released independent polling on the race.

Mr. Massie said he knew what he was getting into. He argued that the biggest spending bill in American history shouldn’t have passed without a formal vote.

“People are going to hate you,” he said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) warned him in a phone call last week. He said Mr. McCarthy told him before hanging up: "Good luck with your election." Mr. McCarthy’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.

28365365体育投注“My sense is that Massie was the clear favorite to win renomination beforehand, but that he self-sabotaged his primary chances by forcing the vote,” said David Wasserman, who tracks House races for the Cook Political Report. “Now it's a highly competitive race, and it's on the national radar.”

The wildcard in the race is Mr. Trump, who won Kentucky by 30 points in 2016 and remains popular in the state. He hasn't indicated whether he plans to weigh in further on Mr. Massie. The president's re-election campaign declined to comment. A person familiar with Mr. Trump’s thinking said there were no current plans to campaign with Mr. McMurtry.

Mr. Massie argues that the stimulus law amounts to a transfer of wealth from individuals to businesses, while not providing adequate resources for testing. By his calculation, the $1,200 in checks for most Americans will be dwarfed by the debt they will effectively take on by backing government loans to businesses.

28365365体育投注"A lot of people are extremely receptive," said Sebastian Torres, a 24-year-old law clerk who plans to vote for Mr. Massie again. "We're trusting them with trillions of dollars and to think that they're not even going to be on the record with those votes and what that money might be going for?"

Also helping Mr. Massie: Mr. McMurtry made a series of negative comments about Mr. Trump on his Facebook page, including calling him an idiot. Mr. Massie turned those comments into a TV advertisement that he has run in Florida when Mr. Trump vacations at his Mar-A-Lago resort. Mr. McMurtry has said his past comments were wrong.

The president's re-election campaign declined to comment. A person familiar with his thinking said there were no current plans to campaign with Mr. McMurtry.

Mike Ward, a former Democratic congressman who is now a political consultant, said the big question is how much energy Mr. Trump will put into the race.

“Does he really give a darn, and even if he does, does that translate over? If he argues Thomas Massie is too much of an independent voice, he could be making his case for him,” Mr. Ward said.

Catherine Lucey contributed to this article.

Apr 2, 2020 at 3:43 pm ET

Trump Camp Tells Sessions to Quit Boasting of Connections to President

President Trump’s campaign is calling on former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop promoting his connections to the president in his campaign for his old Senate seat in Alabama.

28365365体育投注Mr. Trump’s campaign sent a letter to the president’s one-time ally this week, criticizing him for a mailer that names the president 22 times and stressing that the president has endorsed his opponent in the runoff to be the Republican nominee for the seat.

“The letter even makes the delusional assertion that you are President 'Trump’s #1 Supporter,'” says the missive signed by Trump campaign Chief Operating Officer Michael Glassner. “We only assume your campaign is doing this to confuse President Trump’s loyal supporters in Alabama into believing the President supports your candidacy in the upcoming primary run-off election. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The letter was first reported by the New York Times. A spokeswoman for Mr. Sessions’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Trump last month backed former football coach Tommy Tuberville in the Republican runoff, which is scheduled for July 14.

The winner will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Doug Jones in November, but Republicans see the primary as the real contest. Mr. Jones narrowly captured the seat in 2018 after the Republican nominee, Roy Moore, was accused by several women of sexual misconduct.

Mr. Trump picked Mr. Sessions, an early backer of his presidential campaign, to serve as attorney general at the start of his term. But Mr. Sessions angered the president by recusing himself from the probe into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and any ties between Russia and Mr. Trump’s campaign.

28365365体育投注Mr. Trump needled Mr. Sessions repeatedly during his tumultuous time in the administration, forced him to resign in 2018, and later said appointing him was his “biggest mistake.”