Sheldon Adelson Spends $90 Million on US Midterm Elections

Sheldon Adelson GOP Political Donor

Sheldon Adelson was a top GOP donor in 2012 and behind only the Koch Brothers in 2016.

Las Vegas Sands Corp chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson is set to become the Republican Party’s top donor for the 2018 midterm elections. The GOP hopes to maintain control of the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and over a dozen governorships throughout the United States during the Nov. 6 elections.

Sheldon Adelson donated nearly $35 million to Republican candidates in the past few weeks. In all, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson pledged more than $90 million to Republican causes this year, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Even without the recent contributions, the Adelsons’ third quarter donations cemented the family that runs the Las Vegas Sands’ casino empire as the top GOP donors. Much of the money went to the Congressional Leadership Fund and a GOP Senate super PAC. $55 million of the money went to those organizations alone.

Donations to America First Action

The Adelsons also gave smaller amounts to individual Republican candidates. $10 million went to America First Action, a super PAC designed to support President Donald Trump’s agenda directly. America First Action received $12 million in the third quarter, so Sheldon Adelson’s contributions equaled a huge percentage of Trump’s political contributions over the past several months.

America First Action spent money taregeting Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, a longtime Democrat in a red state who is in a tough re-election battle. Sheldon Adelson also gave $2 million to the ESAFund, a super PAC which supports candidates who espouse small government viewpoints. ESAFund spend $1 million on the campaign of Sen. Ted Cruz, who hopes to upend the campaign of Rep. Beto O’Rourke in the US Senate race for Texas.

From July to September, the Adelsons gave $3 million to the Republican Governors Association. At present, 33 U.S. governors are Republican, 16 are Democrats, and 1 is an Independent. On the Nov. 6 ballot, 26 Republican governors are up for reelection, while 15 Democrat governorships are on the line.

Florida Governors Race

Several of the key battleground states in the coming 2020 US presidential election are among the governorships on the line. Because the party in power during the 2020 election controls the administration of those elections, each could be pivotal to Donald Trump’s election bid.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is term-limited, so Republican Ron DeSantis faces Democrat Andrew Gillum in an open race. The DeSantis-Gillum campaign has received a great deal of media attention, because each candidate represents the far edge of the ideological spectrum.

The US Senate race for Florida could be pivotal in who wins control of the Senate. The Republican Rick Scott is facing three-time incumbant Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson in one of the most hotly-contested races of the year. Polls have shown Nelson and Scott ahead at various times. While Rick Scott led in early September, Andrew Gillum’s surging popularity helped Bill Nelson, a former Vietnam veteran and NASA astronaut, surge in the polls as well.

Most polls now have Bill Nelson either slightly ahead, though pollsters consider the race a dead heat. Perceptions of Gov. Rick Scott’s reaction to Hurricane Michael could be the difference in the final two weeks of the campaign.

Ohio Governors Race

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich also faces term limits. Democrat Richard Cordray faces Republican Mike DeWine. DeWine has a 37% to 36% edge in an University of Akron Bliss Institute Poll, but that leaves a whopping 27% undecided.

When the poll narrows to likely voters, DeWine has a 51% to 49% lead, but the Bliss Institute pollsters say that is within the margin of error and thus considered a dead heat. The poll surveyed 1000 likely Ohio voters.

Wisconsin Governors Race

In Wisconsin, polls show the two-time Gov. Scott Walker faces an uphill battle to secure a third term. Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers won a late-August primary battle with a huge number of candidates for the right to face Scott Walker.

Wisconsin does not have term limits, but it is difficult for governors in a narrowly divided state like Wisconsin to win a third term. Any problems voters have with current policies fall squarely on the shoulders of anyone who’s been in office for the better part of a decade.

Democrats Might Take Control of US House

Most political analysts believe the Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives. Democrats need to win an aggregate of 23 or more seats to take back control of the House. Depending on the source, 69 to 75 Republican seats have a realistic chance of going to the Democrats. About 5 to 6 Democrat seats might go to the Republican in the race.

That means the Republicans would have to run the table in the House races to retain control over the lower house of Congress. Even Republicans admit that the Democrats have sown up 15 of the needed 23 elections, though a Democrat seat in Minnesota is likely to go Republican. That means about 10 of the remaining 60 Republicans seats have to flip to the Democrats for Nancy Pelosi or her successor to be the next US Speaker of the House.

Republicans to Retain Control of the Senate

The same pollsters believe the Republican Party will retain control of the US Senate. 25 Democrat seats are up for grabs in 2018, including 10 seats in red states which Donald Trump won in 2016. 9 Republican-held seats are in play. Once again, the Democrats would have to run the table to oust Sen. Mitch McConnell as Senate Majority Leader.

For much of the summer, it looked like the Democrats might have the momentum to do so. Then the Brett Kavanaugh hearings ignited rage among Republicans and conservatives, who felt the US Supreme Court nominee had been smeared in the public by the Democrats. While Democratic anger was just as white hot in the Kavanaugh hearings, Democrat outrage was a given after two years of the Trump Administration.

Democrat and Republican Senate Opportunities

Several Democrat senators appear to be in vulnerable positions, with Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota as the most vulnerable. While Joe Manchin appears like he’ll survive in the reddest of red states (West Virginia), candidates like Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Bill Nelson (Florida), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) face tough challenges.

On the Republican side, Sen. Dean Heller (Nevada) appears to be in a tight race after it looked like much of the year he would be defeated by Rep. Jacky Rosen. In Arizona, Democrat Krysten Synema has held an edge in the fight for the late Sen. John McCain’s open seat, but Republican Marthy McSally has mounted a late challenge to Synema in the past weeks.

After polls shifted in the past month, Republicans believe they have a chance to widen their majority in the US Senate. The result of a GOP-controlled Senate and a Democrat-controlled House would be more conservative and right-wing judge confirmations by Mitch McConnell in the Senate, but dramatic public oversight of the Trump Administration in the House.

Democrats would control all the key committees that can launch investigations of a president, which means Trump/Russia, Trump family emoulements, and Brett Kavanaugh all might face public hearings in 2019. That might allow Democratic House members to stand out in prepartion for the 2020 presidential election, while prominent Senators would remain in the background. Of course, given the effect of the Kavanaugh hearings, widely publicized House hearings might not have the effect Democrats desire.