Joe Biden is eating away at President Trump’s campaign cash advantage, report CBS News associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice and CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson. According to his campaign manager, the former vice president has $242 million cash on hand. This follows two strong months of fundraising — Biden outraised Mr. Trump in both May and June. The Trump campaign, RNC, and their joint fundraising committees announced at the beginning of July that their entities had $295 million cash on hand, just $50 million more than Biden.
Last night, the Biden Victory Fund filed its second quarter numbers with the Federal Election Commission, revealing the newly formed joint fundraising committee brought in $86 million over three months but still had more than $80 million of it sitting in the committee account at the end of June. It’s a sign of just how much money can be saved on campaigning in the midst of a pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Trump Victory committee raised more than $27 million in the second quarter of the year and had $50 million cash on hand at the close of June, having transferred more than $18 million to other committees. The presidential campaigns and party committees face an FEC filing deadline next week.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
The Trump campaign convened an all-call meeting with campaign staff Thursday morning, following President Trump’s announcement Wednesday that his campaign manager Brad Parscale will be replaced by political operative Bill Stepien. CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett, White House coordinating producer Arden Farhi and campaign reporter Nicole Sganga report Parscale will stay on leading digital and data strategies for the campaign and serve as a senior adviser. The meeting at Trump headquarters was emotional, according to multiple staff in the room. Parscale appeared “misty-eyed” as he thanked the team and praised Stepien for his political acumen. Stepien gave a pep talk to campaign staffers, some of whom learned of staffing changes late Wednesday night from a Facebook post.
In a statement released Thursday, Stepien echoed calls to rally around the president and remain focused in the 110 days remaining before November 3. “We have a better team, better voter information, a better ground game, better fundraising, and most importantly, a better candidate with a better record,” Stepien wrote. “With 109 days left, our goal is clear – to win each day we have left until election day. If we win more days than Joe Biden wins, President Trump will be re-elected. We will expose Joe Biden as a hapless tool of the extreme left and contrast his failures with the undeniable successes of President Trump. The same media polls that had the world convinced that Hillary Clinton would be elected in 2016 are trying the same trick again in 2020. It won’t work.”
The newly minted campaign manager said Parscale would remain “heavily involved” in the campaign operation.
Parscale’s fall from favor took place slowly but accelerated after Mr. Trump’s Tulsa rally, when the campaign gloated that 1 million people had requested tickets for the event. In the end, just 6,200 showed up at the 19,000-seat BOK Center. And at least eight Trump campaign advance staffers and two Secret Service agents who worked in Tulsa ahead of the rally tested positive for the coronavirus. Parscale also drew Mr. Trump’s wrath last year amid reporting of sizable payments to his firms from the campaign and RNC, combined with reports of Parscale’s lavish style of living. Parscale holds at least one stake in Parscale Strategy, LLC, a vendor that racked in at least $11.9 million from the Trump campaign and more than $25.5 million from the RNC, since the start of 2017, CBS News associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports. Resentment toward Parscale grew, as longtime critics of the president’s campaign manager — and the president himself — complained about how much he was profiting from the campaign.
Artist Kanye West has officially filed to run for president, after weeks of teasing his campaign on Twitter. However, his place on any ballots is still up in the air, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. On Wednesday, a statement of organization and candidacy under the name of “Kanye 2020” were filed with the Federal Election Commission and signed under West’s name. They both designated the “Birthday Party” as West’s party affiliation and used the address of a Cody, Wyoming, property the Chicago native owns.
FEC Deputy Press Officer Christian Hilland says West, and any candidate hoping to enter the race, still must gain ballot access in each of the states whose filing deadlines have not yet passed. Late Wednesday afternoon, the Oklahoma State Board of Elections Tweeted that West qualified as an independent candidate for the general election ballot. For independent candidates, the state either requires a petition with 35,592 signatures or payment of a $35,000 filing fee. West’s filing statement was posted online and indicated he opted for the $35,000 filing fee to get his name on the ballot. It also shows that a paralegal notarized the form for him in Miami.
The “Late Registration” rapper has missed the filing deadline for independent presidential candidates in North Carolina, Texas, New Mexico, Indiana, Nevada and South Carolina and Delaware. He also missed the deadline for Florida, where it was reported that he had contacted a consultant to help collect the necessary signatures, but that was eventually scrapped. Thursday is the deadline for the swing state of Michigan, where 30,000 signatures are needed. A press contact for Michigan’s State Board of Elections said West did not file in time.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Thursday led a group of senators in bashing the Trump administration for making a “windfall” deal with Gilead Sciences to buy the majority of remdesivir, the pharmaceutical manufacturer is producing this summer, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. The Department of Health and Human Services touted the deal with Gilead, writing in June that, “President Trump has struck an amazing deal” to secure over a half million treatment courses of the drug through September.
But in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar that was also signed by Sens. Bernie Sanders, Tammy Baldwin, Tina Smith and Sherrod Brown, the senators asked why the administration had agreed to pay Gilead over $800 more per treatment course than other developed countries. Remdesivir has been shown to benefit some COVID-19 patients. Citing a study on the costs of producing drugs used to fight the virus, the senators said Gilead is selling remdesivir at 350 times the price it needs to in order to turn a 10% profit. “It is profoundly unfair to the American taxpayers that furnished over $70 million in research costs for the drug to now be stuck paying the highest prices in the world,” they wrote. The senators also questioned why the administration had not utilized the Defense Production Act or march-in rights to secure orders of remdesivir for the nation at a lower cost.
The Jacksonville Host Committee for the Republican National Convention announced on Thursday measures it is taking to scale down the convention in August, reports CBS News associate producer Eleanor Watson. The committee has faced questions about how to handle a large event in a city where COVID cases are spiking. According to a memo from the committee released Tuesday morning, admittance to the convention venue for the first three days of the convention celebration will be limited to regular delegates only, and for the final day President Trump will publicly accept the nomination, delegates and their guests and alternate delegates can attend. The committee plans to have on-site temperature checks, available PPE, sanitizing protocols, and available COVID-19 testing.
Nearly two months after a federal judge in Florida ruled a state law was unconstitutional for preventing formerly incarcerated people with felony convictions from voting due to an inability to pay fines, the Supreme Court decided Thursday to let a temporary halt on the order stand. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, one of three liberal justices to dissent the decision, noted that the court’s order “prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor.”
CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that Sotomayor added in her dissent that the court’s decision “allows the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to disrupt Florida’s election process just days before the July 20 voter-registration deadline for the August primary.” As previously reported by CBS News, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of the Northern District of Florida called the state law in question, a “pay-to-vote system,” and added at the time of his ruling in May that the requirement to pay fines and fees that are “unknown and cannot be determined with diligence” as a condition of voting is not constitutional. Florida voted in 2018 to pass the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons initiative — also called “Amendment 4” — so that most people with prior felony convictions who had served their sentences could vote, although the inability to pay unknown court fines and fees could still prevent some from utilizing their restored voting rights.
In a statement Thursday, Southern Poverty Law Center Deputy Legal Director Nancy Abudu called the ruling an “unfortunate, but not insurmountable setback.” “Regardless of the Court’s stance, Florida already has acknowledged its system for administering elections, especially its rights restoration process, is deeply flawed,” her statement read. “Our hope is that the over 700,000 people who remain eligible to vote through Florida’s Amendment 4 ballot initiative will not be victims in Florida’s war to strip poor and low-income people of all political power.”
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp filed a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta, in hopes of blocking the city’s mandate requiring people to wear masks. Other city mayors throughout the state have issued similar executive orders. In a series of tweets, Kemp said, “This lawsuit is on behalf of the Atlanta business owners and their hardworking employees who are struggling to survive during these difficult times.”
He added, “Just like sending in the @GeorgiaGuard to protect those living in our capital city from crime and violence, I refuse to sit back and watch as disastrous policies threaten the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.” Kemp called the mandates “pandemic politics,” and said he would fight “these reckless actions.”
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms took to Twitter to respond to the suit saying, “3104 Georgians have died and I and my family are amongst the 106k who have tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, I have been sued by @GovKemp for a mask mandate. A better use of tax payer money would be to expand testing and contact tracing.”
CBS News Campaign Reporter Tim Perry reports that during a virtual press conference earlier Thursday, before the lawsuit was filed, Bottoms told reporters that she was “not concerned” about it. Bottoms accused the governor of using his executive order Wednesday evening, which banned cities and counties from issuing mandates requiring masks, of singling out her city, saying, “The city of Athens put forth a mask mandate July 8th, the city of Savannah, put forth the mask mandate July 1st. But when the city of Atlanta put forth the mask mandate [on July 10th] and it was noted that the president violated that mask mandate when he didn’t wear a mask at Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport, then suddenly the governor has taken a formal position on masks in the state of Georgia.” She added, “So whatever the motivation is, I think that at the end of the day, we all have to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.”
Joe Biden’s team is growing in Arizona, with the former vice president’s campaign naming five new top staffers for the battleground state this week, reports CBS News Campaign Reporter Alex Tin. Among the hires is deputy state director Jacob Smith, an alum of the Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaigns, and communications director Geoff Burgan, who headed communications in Iowa for Beto O’Rourke’s caucus bid. Meanwhile, President Trump’s campaign is celebrating the “grand opening” of its field office in Phoenix on Saturday.
CBS NEWS COVID CHRONICLES
CBS News is chronicling what has changed for the lives of residents of some of the biggest battleground states in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
First came the coronavirus. Then came the cancellations: weddings, business trips, anniversary celebrations, athletic tournaments, religious holidays, proms, graduations and funerals were all nixed as states clamped down on large gatherings amid the surge of infections. Brides and 2020 graduates watched the pandemic crush their big days. Dry cleaners and tailors nationwide saw their livelihoods decimated. Nicole Sganga spoke to dry cleaners and tailors struggling to ride out the pandemic’s impact on their small businesses. It is difficult to make meaningful comparisons that measure the coronavirus’ economic toll. For these businesses, other downturns don’t really compare.
“2008 was a blip. This is a whole different world,” Arthur Anton, Jr., chief operating officer of Anton Cleaners told CBS News. As coronavirus cases surged, Anton scoured for masks, sanitizing wipes and gloves, dropping off supplies at all 40 locations of his family’s 107-year-old dry cleaning business. At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, most dry cleaners were down 83 – 92% in sales, according to Peter Blake, executive vice president of the Northeast Fabricare Association. “You’re looking at an industry that was decimated,” Blake told CBS News. “In the Northeast, businesses shut down during the busy season.” Read more here.
ISSUES THAT MATTER
More than two million American workers filed for jobless aid last week, a sign that economic recovery may be stalling as coronavirus cases spike in several states, reports CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. According to the Labor Department, 1.5 million workers filed for traditional unemployment benefits for the week ending July 11, using non-seasonally adjusted data, and more than 900,000 people filed claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a program for self-employed and gig workers.
At the end of June, 32 million people were receiving some jobless benefits. The extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits is set to expire this month, meaning many people may have to cut spending drastically if it is not extended. According to the Economic Policy Institute, there are 14 million more unemployed workers than open jobs.
A recent study shows “New Americans” – first and second generation naturalized citizens – are underrepresented in 46 of 50 U.S. state legislatures. CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar reports that New American Leaders (NAL), a national, non-profit organization, is hoping to change that by recruiting and training first- and second-generation immigrants to run for political office. Sayu Bhojwani, President and Founder of NAL, said leaders who share the experiences of their constituents create policies that “work and responds to the needs of more Americans.”
First- and second-generation Americans make up more than 25% of the country’s population. First-generation immigrants who are naturalized citizens make up 9.2% of the national citizen voting age. But new Americans hold only 258 of the 7,383 legislative seats in U.S. state legislatures, or 3.5% of seats, according to NAL’s study. Nine states have no new American state legislators. In New Jersey, where naturalized citizens make up nearly 18% of the voting age population, new Americans account for only 3% of state legislatures.
“The ability to serve in our state legislators is hampered by the structural barriers that have been created to ensure that our leaders are wealthy and well connected,” Bhojwani said. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the base salary for state legislatures is less than $30,000 in 30 states. New Mexico doesn’t pay anything.
Several other states pay around $100 a day in base salary for state legislators. Last month, the Georgia House passed a bill to cut salaries of the General Assembly by 10% from the yearly salary of roughly $17,000. Bhojwani said reforms like allowing candidates to use campaign funds for childcare costs or increasing the per diem for state legislators might help increase new American representation in political office. “We want to make sure that the system changes so that legislators or candidates running for office don’t have to choose between serving their city or state and supporting their families.”
Bhojwani also mentioned that new faces to politics often appeal to new voters. She added that incumbent candidates are often elected by the same voters, “so they’re not reaching the new and first-time voter.”
“It matters not just because of the policies they will eventually create,” Bhojwani said of first- and second-generation Americans getting into office, “but it also matters because it’s that first time contact with a voter that often helps to establish a lifelong voter.”
IN THE SENATE
Democratic Senate challengers outraised Republican incumbents this cycle and have cut down the incumbents’ cash on hand advantage in several states, report CBS News associate producers Eleanor Watson and Sarah Ewall-Wice. Overall, Democratic candidates in seven competitive races outraised their incumbent opponents from April to June by $30 million. In Kansas where there is an open seat, Democratic candidate Barbara Bollier outraised all of her Republican opponents. In Montana and Arizona respectively, former governor Steve Bullock and former astronaut Mark Kelly topped the incumbent’s cash on hand number. A notable exception to the trend is Republican John James, who outraised incumbent Democratic Senator Gary Peters in Michigan. James brought in $6.4 million, but Peters still has more cash on hand. Meanwhile, while Democratic challengers Amy McGrath in Kentucky and Jaime Harrison in South Carolina were able to outraise Republican incumbents with record sums of cash in the second quarter of the year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Lindsey Graham were able to maintain their cash advantages heading into the latter half of the year in races that Cook Political Report ranks as “likely Republican.”
IN THE HOUSE
Many House candidates filed FEC reports late Wednesday night, and while a trend of Democrats outraising Republicans continues, there are exceptions, reports Aaron Navarro. In California’s 39th, Republican candidate Young Kim raised more than Democrat incumbent Gil Cisneros this quarter, and trails slightly in cash on hand, $1.5 million to Cisneros’ $1.66 million. In Iowa’s 1st, Republican Ashley Hinson raised more than $1.05 million this quarter, while Democrat incumbent Abby Finkenauer raised just over $875,000. Finkenauer does lead the cash on hand race, with $2.6 million to Hinson’s $1.6 million. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania’s 17th was also outraised by Republican Sean Parnell, but Lamb still holds a cash-on-hand advantage.
On Thursday, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced six new challengers to Republican incumbents on its “Red-to-Blue” program. Of the six candidates, Desiree Tims in Ohio’s 10th was the only one to outraise her incumbent opponent this quarter, with $374,000 compared to Congressman Mike Turner’s $73,000. Democrat Candace Valenzuela, also added to the program Thursday, raising more than GOP candidate Beth Van Duyne this quarter, but she has $373,000 less on hand after her recent runoff. In total, 30 Democratic challengers outraised Republican incumbents or opponents.
Others on the program, such as Betsy Dirksen Londrigan in Illinois’ 13th and Democratic candidate Michelle De La Isla in Kansas’ 2nd, also raised more than the respective incumbents they’re trying to unseat. Congressman Steve Watkins, the Republican incumbent in Kansas’ 2nd, outraised his primary opponent Jake LaTurner. Though, LaTurner does hold a cash on hand advantage, $524,000 to Watkins’ $368,000. In Minnesota’s 5th district, incumbent Ilhan Omar raised $479,828 while her challenger Antone Melton-Meaux raised a whopping $3.2 million.
The DCCC also announced it had raised $39 million in Q2, a record breaking amount with $25.2 million of it being raised through online, over the phone, and mail grassroots donations. Their counterparts at the National Republican Congressional Committee have not yet had to release the June portion of their second quarter numbers, with a monthly filing deadline next week.