While our focus has been tilted toward policy and other Washington developments recently, we're still keeping tabs on political races across the country. There's been some movement in Georgia's special Congressional election to replace now-HHS Secretary Tom Price, an update from Montana's statewide special, and a new player in the 2018 Senate battle. Let's walk through each of them:
GEORGIA (CD-06) -- The first public poll of this contest is out, and it confirms virtually everyone's suspicions: It's a very close race. In a survey conducted for WSB-TV, Republican Karen Handel holds a very thin lead over Democrat Jon Ossoff, 49.1 percent to 46.5 percent. That's within the poll's margin of error. This race has now become the most expensive battle for a House seat in US history, shattering the previous record. Nearly $30 million has been spent by the campaigns, political parties and outside groups. Ossoff and the Democrats held a wide advantage in the money game, but GOP-aligned groups are now up on the air with a barrage of ads backing Handel and attacking her young liberal opponent who doesn't live in the district. This one -- depicting San Francisco liberals wearing Pelosi/Ossoff swag and bragging about how California is the "leading funder of the Ossoff campaign -- stands out:
Ossoff has claimed that he hasn't given any thought to whether he'd support Nancy Pelosi as House Democrats' leader, but he's on the record as stubbornly supporting failing Obamacare and opposing efforts to replace it. So despite his moderate posture, there's not much of a mystery about how he'd vote in Congress. Turnout, turnout, turnout.
MONTANA (CD-at large) -- When we last checked in on this race, the Democrats' socialism-friendly folk singer nominee had just been exposed as a poser on gun rights and "Montana values." Several public polls showed the GOP candidate, Greg Gianforte, holding a double-digit lead. But Democrats released an internal purporting to show the race within six points, prompting the DCCC -- under pressure from national liberals -- to pour $400,000 in new funds into the campaign. This is a big investment in a media market like Montana's:
WEST VIRGINIA (Senate) -- Democrats are already facing a major uphill climb their effort to retake the US Senate next year, mostly thanks to an exceptionally daunting map. Even if the political headwinds are battering Republicans in 2018 (unclear at this point), the likelihood of a Democratic takeover of the upper chamber looks remote. If they want any prayer of pulling off the upset, Chuck Schumer's crew simply cannot afford to lose the seat held by West Virginia incumbent Joe Manchin. Republicans now have a serious challenger to Manchin, however, in Congressman Evan Jenkins, whose opening campaign video takes aim at Minchin's rhetoric at home versus his actions in Washington. The gun control clips, along with the Hillary and Obama endorsements, pack an extra punch:
I'll leave you with Team Manchin tying themselves in knots over Planned Parenthood -- an organization that the Senator believes was not selling or profiting from the sale of fetal organs, in spite of Planned Parenthood officials' own words. After undercover videos revealed the scandal in 2015, the organization announced it would cease accepting payments in exchange for harvested fetal body parts, which they (and the media) framed as "reimbursements." The organization that purchased the parts from aborted fetuses advertised their services as providing "financial profits" and "fiscal rewards" to their providers. One of the Planned Parenthood representatives quoted in the investigative videos spoke of affiliates seeking to perform "better than break even" financially.