How the Census Bureau is adapting to the pandemic

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— The Census Bureau announced that it is launching a new phase of outreach to historically hard-to-count populations, as the bureau grapples with the decennial count amid a pandemic.

— Outside groups founded by former aides to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) are launching their first big pro-Joe Biden campaign, in an effort to shore him up among progressives.

— Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) beat back a primary challenger endorsed by Sanders, and other results from New Jersey.

Good Thursday morning. A big thank you to Maya King ([email protected]; @mayaaking) for her dispatch on how the Census Bureau is grappling with the pandemic. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @ZachMontellaro.

Email the rest of the Campaign Pro team at [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow them on Twitter: @POLITICO_Steve, @JamesArkin and @allymutnick.

Days until the Maine primary and Alabama and Texas primary runoffs: 5

Days until the Democratic convention: 39

Days until the Republican convention: 47

Days until the 2020 election: 117

COUNTING HEADS — Since suspending all in-person operations in March and pushing its deadlines back by more than three months, the Census Bureau has totally overhauled operations to remain largely remote and web-based. It is moving into a new phase of outreach now to the groups that are historically hard to count and interview the households that have not yet filled out their census. Among those in the hard-to-count category: the homeless, college students and young children.

On a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Al Fontenot, associate director for decennial programs at the bureau, announced the rolling out of in-person operations in a handful of cities across the country. Census takers will be deployed in late July to interview delayed respondents in Virginia, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Washington state.

More will be sent out as conditions across the country prove safe enough for them to do so, Fontenot said. He and other officials are monitoring individual cities that show at least a 14-day downward trend in coronavirus cases before sending more people out.

Fontenot, who was joined by Tim Olson, the director of field operations, maintained that both volunteers and full-time census employees will be supplied with ample PPE for their efforts. All census takers will be required to wear face masks while working and have also received special training in how to conduct a modified count that allows for social distancing and are required to follow local guidelines.

The announcement comes as the Census Bureau released new data from its weekly Household Pulse survey on Wednesday that aims to illustrate the impacts of Covid-19 on American households. Areas experiencing more widespread food scarcity also saw lower Census response rates.

As it stands now, the Census response rate sits at 61 percent nationally. The deadline for all mailed-in and self-response rates is October 31.

AD WARS — Nuestro PAC and America’s Progressive Promise, two super PACs launched by former aides to Sanders, are out with their first ad boosting Biden, POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein reported. The ad targets Latino voters and attacks President Donald Trump over the pandemic. “Since the day he announced for president, Donald Trump has been at war with the Latino community,” the ad’s narrator says. The ad is part of a seven-figure TV and digital buy in Arizona, Michigan and North Carolina, in Spanish and English.

— American Bridge, the Democratic super PAC, is out with more ads in its campaign that featured former Trump supporters saying they won’t back him again. “I voted for Donald Trump, but I do not think we were prepared for this,” a man in one of the ads says, in reference to the pandemic.

— FIRST IN SCORE — PACRONYM, the Democratic super PAC, is launching a pair of new digital ads in Arizona, North Carolina, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. They both feature past Biden speeches, one focused on health care and one hitting Trump over the economy.

THE CASH DASH — Trump will hold his first “nationwide virtual fundraiser” on July 21, which is open to small-dollar donors.

PLATFORM POLITICS — The joint task force between supporters of Joe Biden and Sanders revealed their policy platform suggestions in a 110-page document. “The task force recommendations don’t include the kind of wide-scale systemic upheaval that won Sanders such a fervent following,” POLITICO’s Caitlin Oprysko wrote, but they “also include ambitious timelines for reaching certain environmental benchmarks.” Sanders praised the recommendations in a statement: “Though the end result is not what I or my supporters would have written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country.”

— One noticeable place the left came up short on in the platform? Criminal justice initiatives, like qualified immunity and marijuana legalization, POLITICO’s Holly Otterbein and Laura Barrón-López reported.

THE PROCESS — The drastic increase of mail-in ballots expected in November may also lead to significantly more ballots being rejected for signature mismatches or other problems, with little opportunity for voters to cure their ballot, The Guardian’s Sam Levine reported.

— The League of Women Voters is suing New York election officials over the state’s high absentee ballot rejection rate, saying the state needs to give voters an opportunity to cure mistakes, Bloomberg’s Erik Larson reported.

STAFFING UP — Trump’s campaign named Max Miller as deputy campaign manager for presidential operations, handling campaign events and rallies. His campaign press shop added several new aides: Alexa Henning is director of media affairs, Thea McDonald is a deputy national press secretary, Audra Weeks is a deputy press secretary and Sam Dubke and Posie Paoletta are press assistants.

MORE WINNERS — We have two concessions in New Jersey. Gottheimer held off a primary challenge from Arati Kreibich in NJ-05, after Krebich conceded the race on Wednesday morning. The Republican primary to face Gottheimer remains uncalled.

And in NJ-03, Republican David Richter defeated Kate Gibbs for the right to face Democratic Rep. Andy Kim.

THE CASH DASH — Six more days!

— IA-Sen: Democrat Theresa Greenfield raised $6 million and has $5.6 million in cash on hand.

— KS-Sen: Democrat Barbara Bollier raised $3.7 million and will report over $4 million in the bank.

— FIRST IN SCORE — AZ-06: Democrat Hiral Tipirneni raised $665,000 in the quarter and will report $1.65 million in cash on hand. Her campaign said it is the best quarter for a candidate in the history of the district.

— IA-02: Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks raised $352,000 and has $504,000 in the bank.

— FIRST IN SCORE — KY-06: Democrat Josh Hicks raised $600,000 in the quarter and will report $892,000 in cash on hand.

— MN-02: Republican Tyler Kistner raised $744,000 and will report $512,000 in the bank.

— MO-02: Democrat Jill Schupp raised more than $800,000 and will report more than $1.5 million in the bank.

— MT-AL: Democrat Kathleen Williams raised over $760,000 and has over $1.6 million in cash reserves.

— PA-01: GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick raised $455,000 and has over $1.8 million on hand, per PoliticsPA’s John Cole. Democrat Christina Finello raised $310,000 but did not announce a cash on hand.

— TX-23: Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones raised $810,000 and will report over $3 million in cash on hand.

FIRST IN SCORE — ON THE AIRWAVES — Giffords PAC, the pro-gun control group, is booking $1.25 million for an ad campaign criticizing Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). The ads will start running on July 28 for four weeks in the Denver media market and will criticize the incumbent over the Senate’s inaction. “Gardner forgot he represents Coloradans — not President Trump and his NRA cronies,” Giffords executive director Peter Ambler said. “Giffords PAC will remind voters who Gardner really listens to on gun safety reform.” It is the group’s first buy of the cycle.

The NRSC is also out with a new ad in Colorado, bashing former Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, saying he engaged in “pay to play on steroids,” while also referencing his ethics violations.

— FIRST IN SCORE — Club for Growth Action is launching a big campaign backing state Rep. Timothy Hill in the open TN-01. “Hill backs Trump’s push for term limits on Congress,” the ad’s narrator says. “He’ll defend law enforcement against lefist efforts to defund the police.” The ad is backed by a $550,000 TV and digital buy, the group said.

— FIRST IN SCORE — Advancing AZ, a Democratic dark money group, is up with an ad criticizing Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.). “McSally wrote a bill to give wealthy families a $24,000 tax break to go on vacation,” the ad’s narrator says. “The super rich get first class flights … unemployed Arizonans get a pay cut.” The group said it is backed by “high six figures.”

— A lot of GOP money is about to flow into Georgia. One Nation, the GOP dark money group, and Senate Leadership Fund, the affiliated super PAC, are making big reservations in the state, per Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser. One Nation is making a $8.65 million buy starting on Aug. 4 and running for four weeks, and SLF is expected to reserve $13.5 million worth of airtime, starting in mid-September.

One Nation is also booking a new campaign in Kentucky. The group reserved nearly $4.3 million of TV and radio starting on Aug. 4 and running for four weeks, Campaign Pro’s James Arkin reported (for Pros).

— Senate Majority PAC, the Democratic super PAC, released an ad attacking Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.). “Steve Daines helped a huge American corporation build factories in China,” the ad’s narrator says, referring to Daines’ employment with Procter and Gamble. “Then, that same corporation laid off 4,000 American workers.”

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock is also out with a pair of ads. Both ads feature nurses praising him. One ad highlights that he fought for Medicaid expansion and the second ad says he helped save rural hospitals in the state.

— Good Jobs MT, the DGA-aligned group in Montana, is out with an ad attacking GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte on health care.

— Women Vote!, the independent expenditure arm of EMILY’s List, is up with a new ad boosting Democrat MJ Hegar ahead of next week’s Senate primary runoff. The ad is a positive message focused on health care.

THE GOVERNATORS — The Montana Commissioner of Political Practices found that Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney violated the state’s ethics code when he participated in a DGA call in his office in the state capitol and fined him $1,000, the Helena Independent Record’s Holly Michels reported.

NOT HERE — Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, ordered that the Texas state GOP convention be canceled, the Houston Chronicle’s Dylan McGuinness reported. The Texas GOP promised a legal fight to Turner’s order. “We are prepared to take all necessary steps to proceed in the peaceable exercise of our constitutionally protected rights,” state GOP Chairman James Dickey said in a statement.

POLL POSITION — A poll from FairVote, a pro-ranked choice voting group, shows a contested GOP primary in ME-02. The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, has Dale Crafts at 37 percent, Adrienne Bennett at 25 percent and Eric Brakey at 19 percent (604 likely primary voters; June 30-July 6; +/- 4.1 percentage point credibility interval). But recall that downballot elections in Maine are ranked-choice elections, so a candidate needs to clear 50 percent or it goes to an instant runoff (and nobody’s close in this poll).

— An internal poll from Williams in MT-AL showed a competitive race in the open seat. The Global Strategy Group poll had WIlliams and Republican Matt Rosendale deadlocked at 47 percent each (500 likely voters; June 24-28; +/- 4.4 percentage point MOE). The poll was first reported by The Hill’s Tal Axelrod.

FIRST IN SCORE — ENDORSEMENT CORNER — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is backing Republican John James, who is challenging Sen. Gary Peters (R-Mich.). “As our country faces many challenges and is collectively working to not just reopen our economy, but return to growth and expanded opportunities for all Americans, we need leaders like John James,” Chamber CEO Tom Donohue said in a statement.

CODA — HEADLINE OF THE DAY: “Bill Clinton, John Calipari, other heavy hitters send letters to support convicted KY politico” — The Lexington Herald-Leader on the campaign for leniency for Jerry Lundergan, who was convicted of violating campaign finance laws.

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