First quarter fundraising numbers continue to roll in (check out a comprehensive list here), two Democrats held formal campaign “launch” events this weekend, and there’s a new frontrunner nationally (according to one poll, at least). For all these stories and updates on nearly every Democrat in the race, check out AR Intel’s weekly 2020 Movers & Shakers below:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Do we have a new leader? According to the latest Emerson Poll of national Democrats, we do, and Sanders is atop the leaderboard by about a five-point margin. According to the survey, Sanders leads all Democrats with 29-percent support, followed by Joe Biden at 24 percent, and Pete Buttigieg at 9 percent. This is the first poll to show Sanders in the lead on RealClearPolitics’ list of primary polls dating back to October 2018. A previous Emerson poll from March did, however, show Biden and Sanders tied.
Meanwhile, news that Sanders’ best-selling book has made him a millionaire has led some critics to question whether he’ll continue to rail against “the millionaires and billionaires” that he so often lambasted on the campaign trail in 2016. Sanders wrapped up a four-day, five-state tour in Pittsburgh on a Sunday at a rally with about 4,500 supporters. He promised to win the traditionally blue states Hillary Clinton lost Trump in ’16: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Fmr. Vice President Joe Biden
Far-left liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez landed a blow against Biden on Sunday when she told Yahoo News that the prospect of a Biden campaign did not “animate” her. Her rationale? It would be a nostalgia-filled candidacy, reliant on fond memories of the Obama administration, and she would prefer to focus on the future. Will other Democrats feel the same way?
The former veep headed to South Carolina on Monday to eulogize a former Senate colleague, Fritz Hollings. Biden eulogized Ted Kennedy and more recently John McCain, but it’s his eulogies for one-time segregationists like Strom Thurmond and Hollings that is causing some Democrats to become uncomfortable. At “a time when Democrats are placing greater emphasis on gender and racial diversity,” the Associated Press notes, it’s acts like this by Biden that certain liberals find troubling.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Buttigieg made a formal entrance into the 2020 presidential primary on Sunday with a rally in his hometown of South Bend. About 6,000 attended the event that focused on the economy, climate change, and the government’s role in protecting freedom. Notably, Buttigieg did not mention Vice President Mike Pence, who formally served as the governor of Indiana. The media has fanned the flames of a feud between the two after Buttigieg criticized Pence’s LGBT record.
Buttigieg has seen a steady increase in his polling since March. The Emerson poll cited above showed the mayor with 9 percent support nationally and an average of 7 percent in Iowa.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Like Buttigieg, Booker held a formal rally on Saturday in Newark, where he used to be mayor, for his presidential campaign. Here’s how the Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick described Booker’s campaign so far: “His position in the polls is solidly middle of the pack. His fundraising is fine but not impressive. He hasn’t had a singular breakout viral moment despite his early use of and comfort with social media.” But, according to Resnick, his campaign is not worried about playing the long game. “We’re not building this campaign to win a poll in April of 2019,” his campaign manager said. “We’re trying to win a primary in February of 2020.”
Booker also unveiled a plan on Monday that he says will cut taxes for more than 150 million Americans. Dubbed the “Rise Credit,” Booker’s proposal would expand on the existing Earned Income Tax Credit designed to help lower-income workers. Read the details of that plan here.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Warren unveiled yet another policy proposal this week, adding to well-informed Democratic voters’ homework load. Her latest focuses on protecting public lands from fossil fuel leasing. Yet despite all of these proposals, Warren continues to tread water in the campaign. She routinely earns high single-digit polling results, and her fundraising haul of $6 million. The problem for Warren, according at least on CNN analyst? Democrats aren’t interested in policy proposals this go-around.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Harris released 15 years of tax returns on Monday, showing she made $1.89 million in 2018 and putting her squarely in the so-called “one percent.” The Mercury News reported: “Since the couple married in 2014, they’ve paid about $2.2 million in federal taxes, with an effective rate of 32.57 over the last five years. They reported giving more than $27,000 to charity in 2018 to organizations like Howard University, Harris’ alma mater, and the Children’s Defense Fund.”
Harris earned another dubious distinction: Hollywood’s favorite candidate. According to the Los Angeles Times, Harris has raked in more than $1.7 million from the entertainment industry over the past decade. “Jane Fonda, Leonardo DiCaprio, Barbra Streisand, Halle Berry, Reese Witherspoon, Ben Affleck, Kerry Washington, Charlize Theron and a long roster of studio executives gave money to Harris in the years before she launched her campaign for president.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Klobuchar also released her tax returns this week (12 years of them, dating back to 2006). Unlike Harris’s seven-figure income, Klobuchar had a total income of about $338,000 in 2018.
Klobuchar is also planning another swing through Florida this week, stopping in Miami on Tuesday for a health care roundtable and Tallahassee to meet with Democrat state leaders in the Florida legislature. Perhaps recognizing Florida’s importance to securing the nomination, this is Klobuchar’s second trip to the Sunshine State. She met with climate activists in Tampa in March.
Bits & Pieces
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reported raising just $3 million in Q1 of 2019. That puts her in dead last among her Senate presidential colleagues. She also earned the weakest CNN town hall ratings of any 2020 contender.
Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D-TX) reported raising $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2019.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told CNN’s Jake Tapper that his support for an assault weapons ban would not impact owners of pistols, rifles, and shotguns.
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) delivered an inclusive message during his latest swing through Iowa. “I’m running for president because I think we are in a national crisis of division,” he said.
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) got his own CNN town hall last week, focusing primarily on climate change, health care, and Donald Trump.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) criticized the Justice Department’s indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange last week, calling it a “dangerous and slippery slope.”