Sondland also produced a batch of related emails, including one to Pompeo in August in which he proposed that Zelensky meet with Trump so that the Ukrainian president could “look him in the eye and tell him that once Ukraine’s new justice folks are in place” he could advance “those issues of importance” to Trump. Sondland continued, “Hopefully that will break the logjam,” to which Pompeo responded, “Yes.” In his testimony, Sondland explained that because Pompeo had listened in on the now-infamous call between Trump and Zelensky, Pompeo would know what those “issues of importance” were.
A Pompeo spokesperson responded with a statement denying Sondland’s charges, though unlike the ambassador, Pompeo hasn’t offered any testimony under oath. And despite his miserable day on Capitol Hill, Pompeo may nevertheless go through with a Senate bid: After Sondland’s testimony concluded on Wednesday afternoon, the Washington Post reported that two individuals “with knowledge of Pompeo’s deliberations” say they believe Pompeo is still deciding whether to run.
● GA-Sen-B: Rep. Doug Collins was one of the many Republicans who applied to be appointed to the Senate to succeed Johnny Isakson, but he's the first one to say he's interested in running if Gov. Brian Kemp passes him over. Collins, who represents a safely red seat in northeastern Georgia, said Wednesday, "In recent days and weeks, I've heard from more and more Georgians encouraging me to pursue statewide service," and continued, "Those Georgians deserve to have me consider their voices―so I am, strongly."
If Collins makes good on his threat to run if someone else gets chosen, he could make it extremely difficult for Kemp's eventually pick to win the majority of the vote in the November all-party primary that they'd need to avoid a January 2021 runoff. Collins certainly knows this, which is probably why he's making this threat. However, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution notes, this move could just piss Kemp off and motivate him to go with someone different, especially if he's convinced that Collins is bluffing.
● CA-25: On Tuesday, Sen. Kamala Harris endorsed Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith.
● FL-16: On Wednesday, Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good picked up an endorsement from EMILY's List. Good is challenging GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan in a 54-43 Trump seat in the Sarasota area, and she posted a strong fundraising total during her opening quarter. Good outraised Buchanan $445,000 to $370,000 during the third quarter of 2019, while the incumbent ended September with a $534,000 to $370,000 cash-on-hand lead.
● GA-06: This week, Sen. David Perdue endorsed former Rep. Karen Handel in the GOP primary to face freshman Democratic Rep. Lucy McBath. Handel also recently earned the backing of Sen. Johnny Isakson, who represented a previous version of this seat before he joined the Senate in 2005.
● IN-01: On Tuesday, Democratic state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon filed paperwork with the FEC for a potential bid for this open seat.
● MA-04: Former state Comptroller Thomas Shack announced Tuesday that he was forming an exploratory committee for a possible bid for the Democratic nod in this open seat. Shack was appointed comptroller in 2015 by GOP Gov. Charlie Baker, and he stepped down in January. (Unlike in many other states, Massachusetts does not elect comptrollers.)
Shack came into conflict with Baker during the last months of his tenure over who would be in charge of designing the computer system that would impact all state agencies. Last year, Shack said that the administration was "subjecting the apolitical and independent comptroller's office to a political arm of government" and withholding money for security updates and new software.
● MD-07: On Tuesday, one day before the close of candidate filing for this special election, state Sen. Jill Carter announced that she'd join the February Democratic primary. Carter, who is the daughter of the late Baltimore civil rights activist Walter Carter, has represented part of Baltimore in the legislature since 2003. This year, Carter also set in motion the chain of events that led to Catherine Pugh's resignation as the city's mayor.
Things began when Carter filed a bill to prohibit business deals between the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) and its board members, and the Baltimore Sun then began looking into board members' financial disclosures to see what agreements had already taken place. The paper then discovered a $500,000 deal between UMMS and board member Pugh for her crummy self-published children's book series. Things escalated from there, and Pugh stepped down as mayor weeks later and was indicted on Wednesday (see our Where Are They Now? item).
● MI-03: On Tuesday, state Rep. Jim Lower dropped out of the GOP primary to take on independent Rep. Justin Amash.
Lower launched a primary bid against Amash in May days after the incumbent, who was still a Republican at the time, took to social media and wrote that he believed Donald Trump "has engaged in impeachable conduct." However, several other Republicans went on to join the race, and Amash himself announced in July that he was leaving the GOP. Lower's fundraising collapsed during the third quarter of 2019, and he acknowledged on Tuesday it would be tough for him to be "financially competitive."
Amash hasn't ruled out giving up his seat in Congress to challenge Trump as an independent or a Libertarian, but for now, the incumbent is seeking a sixth term in this 52-42 Trump district. Amash took in $150,000 during his first quarter as an independent, and he ended September with $273,000 in the bank.
Several Republicans are competing in the August primary for this seat in the Grand Rapids area, and Army veteran Peter Meijer holds a financial edge over the rest of the field. Meijer, who hails from a prominent Michigan billionaire family, raised $306,000 during his opening quarter and self-funded another $104,000, and he had $343,000 to spend at the end of September.
Businessman Joel Langlois only took in $47,000 from donors but self-funded another $200,000, and he had $197,000 in the bank. State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis raised $114,000 and had $146,000 to spend, while military veteran Tom Norton only had about $1,000 on-hand.
Democrats are hoping that the unpredictable state of affairs on the right will give them an opening in this historically red seat, and two notable candidates are running. Hillary Scholten outraised fellow attorney Nick Colvin $234,000 to $125,000, and she ended September with a $165,000 to $136,000 cash-on-hand lead.
● NJ-03: On Wednesday, former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs announced that she'd seek the GOP nod to face freshman Democratic Rep. Andy Kim in this competitive South Jersey seat. The New Jersey Globe's David Wildstein writes that Gibbs is "considered a top-tier recruit for Republicans," and that she is close to the state's powerful building trades union. Gibbs also works for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825, which Wildstein calls "one of the state's most politically influential labor unions."
Gibbs already has the support of Burlington County GOP Chairman Sean Earlen, which could be a very good get for her if there is a competitive GOP primary. As we've written before, county party endorsements are a major asset in a state where endorsed candidates are put on their own separate column on the ballot. Burlington County contains 45% of the 3rd District's 2016 Trump voters; the remainder are in Ocean County, where party leaders have not yet endorsed anyone. So far, Gibbs' only notable intra-party foe is Barnegat Township Deputy Mayor John Novak, though it's not clear if he'll have the support to mount a serious bid.
While Gibbs may be a strong candidate, her last bid for office ended in a surprising defeat. She ran for re-election last year, and her prospects seemed to dramatically improve in September when Democratic foe George Youngkin suspended his campaign after the news broke that he'd been arrested in 2006 on a domestic violence charge against his ex-wife, and that a different woman had also accused him of stalking her in 2004 and 2006. It was too late to get Youngkin off the ballot, and the county's Democratic chair declared, "George will not appear on any of our literature or our website or any campaign material at all."
However, despite all this, Youngkin narrowly unseated Gibbs in November; Youngkin ended up serving one day and then resigned. GOP leaders may not be holding that ignoble defeat against Gibbs, though. Wildstein wrote over the summer, "She was widely viewed as a casualty of the blue wave that dominated the 2018 midterm elections for Democrats, rather than a rejection of Gibbs."
This coastal South Jersey seat backed Donald Trump 51-45, but Kim unseated GOP Rep. Tom MacArthur 50-49 last year. This district may be the most expensive in the nation to advertise in: About 57% of the 3rd is in the pricey Philadelphia media market, while the balance is in the very expensive New York City market. Kim raised $575,000 during the third quarter of 2019, and he ended September with close to $1.5 million in the bank.
● WI-05: Former Gov. Scott Walker has endorsed Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in the GOP primary for this open seat.
● Baltimore, MD Mayor: State Sen. Mary Washington announced this week that she would enter the April Democratic primary. Washington, who the Baltimore Sun identifies as "among the most progressive legislators in the Maryland State Senate," is the most prominent woman to join the race, though there's plenty of time left before the January filing deadline. It takes just a simple plurality to win the Democratic nomination, which is the contest that matters in this very blue city.
Washington used her announcement to argue that incumbent Jack Young, who was elevated from City Council president to mayor in May, had shown a lack of leadership. Washington in particular pointed to a recent statement by Young where he responded to a question about the city's high homicide rate by saying, "I'm not committing the murders and that's what people need to understand," and, "How can you fault leadership? This has been five years of 300-plus murders. I don't see it as a lack of leadership." Washington said of Young, "If you have a leader who is not willing to be responsible, it's time to change the leader."
Washington also faulted another primary foe, City Council President Brandon Scott, for proposing that a city manager be appointed who would take over many of the mayor's duties.
● Where Are They Now?: Former Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, a Maryland Democrat who resigned in May during one of the strangest political scandals we've ever seen, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday on charges of wire fraud and tax evasion. If convicted, the former mayor could face up to 100 years in prison.
Prosecutors allege that, starting in 2011 when she was still a member of the state Senate, Pugh sold her self-published (and truly terrible) "Healthy Holly" children's book series "directly to nonprofit organizations and foundations, many of whom did business or attempted to do business with Maryland state government and Baltimore City," but that she never had any intention to actually deliver many of these books. Instead, the indictment says that Pugh resold many volumes and used the money she collected, which was reportedly about $800,000, to buy a house and to advance her political career.
Prosecutors go on to say that most of the buyers were unaware what Pugh was up to, but in 2016, the year Pugh successfully ran for mayor, someone called “Purchaser G, the owner of a Maryland-based financing company that did business with Baltimore City” had “understood that Pugh would use the money to produce and distribute the Healthy Holly books, with the balance of the money going toward her mayoral campaign.”
The indictment says that Purchaser G “knew that providing money to Pugh’s campaign via Pugh’s company was a violation of Maryland’s election laws,” and later made another book order knowing that most of the money would go towards Pugh’s new house. Prosecutors also argue that Pugh conspired to hide her augmented income from the IRS.