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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Labor Day has traditionally marked the official start of midterm Congressional campaigning as voters settle into their fall routines and start watching more TV (where they could see a deluge of campaign ads). Not anymore.

The bottom line: Democrats have been protesting since President Trump's election. The Democratic Party jumped in early this cycle to harness that energy into voting, but Republicans were watching that too — forcing both parties to start their midterm campaigning earlier than ever before.

The Republican National Committee started putting campaign staff in the field five months before the election — 540 staffers in 27 battleground states, the most they've ever had that early on.

  • The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC that works to keep Republican control of the House, has been knocking on doors and contacting voters (over 21 million) since February 2017. Their first ad reservations were placed in the spring, compared to last cycle when the first buy was not until August.

The Democratic National Committee made its largest investment in grants to state parties in January to prepare for the midterms.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hired full-time political organizers in February 2017 in 20 critical Republican-held districts. Per Washington Post, that's "an unusually early investment in House races that do not even have declared candidates yet."

By the numbers: In Senate races so far Democratic candidates and groups have already spent $17 million on ads highlighting health care, while Republicans have spent $10.5 million on ads praising President Trump and $14 million on ads touting the GOP tax law, per USA Today.

What's next: The day after the midterms, we'll be 454 days out from the Iowa caucuses.

Go deeper

Mike Pompeo shells out for media makeover

Via "Fox News Sunday"

Mike Pompeo's political action committee spent $30,000 on media training from last March to June — the most on any service beyond payroll during the first six months of 2021.

Why it matters: The former secretary of State hasn't just been losing weight but working to hone his media skills amid speculation about a possible presidential run, records show.

Bipartisan infrastructure group takes on election reform

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The bipartisan group focused on updating the Electoral Count Act of 1887 is seizing on this recess period to court senators more freely.

Why it matters: The group is led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and includes many members who helped reach the bipartisan infrastructure deal. They see themselves as the only hope of creating an election reform package able to muster 60 votes in the Senate.

Rep. Lamborn may have misused official resources, ethics panel alleges

Rep. Doug Lamborn departs from a news conference held by the House Republican Israel Caucus on May 19, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Congressional ethics investigators said Monday there is "substantial reason" to believe that Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) misused official resources and solicited or accepted improper gifts from subordinates.

Driving the news: Lamborn's aides told investigators they were often asked to run personal errands for his wife, Jeanie Lamborn, and were at one point tasked with helping his son apply for a federal position, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). Lamborn strongly denies the allegations.