Sanders’ Entrance Makes a Splash, Beto Drives the Wall Debate, & Harris Stumbles: 2020 Dems
Another big dog jumped into the fight this week, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made iet official. Sanders’ entrance made a splash in more ways than one. His larger-than-life persona is sure to dominate the Democratic primary conversation, and his fundraising prowess is already on full display.
Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead every single national poll and many state-based surveys. And the other up-in-the-air candidate, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), put his fellow Democrats in the hot seat by his bold declaration about the border wall near El Paso.
For these stories and much more, check out AR Intel’s 2020 breakdown below:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Bernie’s back, and he’s making a splash. The Vermont independent announced Tuesday he’s officially running for president again, delighting his supporters and potentially throwing a wrench in the plans of other far-left liberal candidates hoping to take over the “progressive” mantle from the 77-year-old.
Within 24 hours of his announcement, Sanders’ campaign said they raised nearly $6 million – likely more than all the other announced candidates’ first 24 hours combined – from more than 225,000 donors. In an interview on the liberal program, “The Young Turks,” Sanders said his ideal running mate would be female and “ a couple of years younger” than him.
Fmr. Vice President Joe Biden
While the country waits for Biden to make a decision about running for president, the former vice president appears to be in no hurry. During a speech at the University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Biden said he’s more optimistic about the country than ever, argued how he would reverse President Trump’s foreign policy moves, and demanded new worker protections to strengthen the middle class, per the Washington Post. But what he did not do was hint at his thinking about 2020.
A new poll of Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire showed Biden once again leading the field with 28 percent, followed by neighboring-state favorite Sanders at 20 percent, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 14 and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 9. Fourteen percent said they were undecided. Nationally, the results are similar, according to a Morning Consult poll.
Fmr. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
The other will-he-or-won’t-he candidate that Democrats are eagerly watching, O’Rourke gained attention (and some scrutiny) when he told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last week that he believed the border wall separating El Paso and Mexico should come down. Specifically, he added that if the question were put to the residents of El Paso, they would agree with him.
O’Rourke’s bold proclamation wound up putting other 2020 Democrats in the hot seat this week as many of them were asked if they agreed with O’Rourke’s assessment. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) was asked the question on camera, and she argued that if removing parts of the wall “makes sense, I could support it.” The question was also put to Harris, who basically dodged answering.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
The president is eager to make socialism a contentious 2020 issue, but Harris was quick to bat away a voter’s question about the topic earlier this week. “The people of New Hampshire will tell me what’s required to compete in New Hampshire, but I will tell you I am not a democratic socialist,” she said in Concord. The remark was a not-so-subtle dig at Sanders and liberal rising star, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), both of whom self-identify as socialists. But when pressed on the issue by NBC News’ Kasie Hunt, Harris struggled to explain why a policy like Medicare For All is not socialism.
Harris also stumbled when asked about the controversial Jussie Smollett incident, in which the “Empire” star may have faked a hate-crime attack. Harris and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) called the incident a modern-day lynching, but after it was revealed Smollett’s case may have been a hoax, Harris acted as if she could not remember her tweet on the topic:
.@JussieSmollett is one of the kindest, most gentle human beings I know. I’m praying for his quick recovery.
This was an attempted modern day lynching. No one should have to fear for their life because of their sexuality or color of their skin. We must confront this hate.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 29, 2019
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
During a CNN town hall on Monday evening, Klobuchar raised some eyebrows when she publicly broke with many far-left liberals in her party on key issues, namely Medicare for All and free college tuition for everyone. The two projects are pet causes of Sanders, but Klobuchar argued for a more gradual approach. On health care, she said she supported a “public option” as a better immediate alternative to the current health care situation.
Klobuchar’s position on free college tuition was a call back to 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s, before she capitulated to win over Sanders voters:
“I am not for free four-year college for all, no,” Klobuchar said. “If I was a magic genie and could give that to everyone and we could afford it, I would.” Instead, she pitched an expansion of Pell grants, free two-year community college, and streamlined refinancing programs.
She called the Green New Deal “an aspiration,” but in practice, she said accomplishing its goals in 10 years, as the resolution lays out, “would be very difficult to do.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Warren’s big announcement this week was her free child care program, which her campaign said would cost $700 billion to implement. That figure relies heavily on some economic assumptions that could very well go awry, potentially putting the cost at or near the trillion-dollar mark:
But, the sources said, the campaign has an internal analysis that shows the initiative will likely require approximately $700 billion in new federal spending over 10 years. That is a net figure, taking into account higher economic benefits of early childhood investments, such as making it easier for new parents to return to work.
Warren’s team claims that they will use the money from her wealth tax, a plan that taxes the wealthy simply for being wealthy, to help offset costs for the free child care plan. The larger question there, is if her wealth tax (which would need to pass Congress first) is even constitutional.
Bits & Pieces
Two Coloradans, former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), are headed to Iowa this week to test the waters. Hickenlooper will be in Sioux City, Carroll, and Ames this weekend, while Bennet plans to visit Dubuque on Thursday.
Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropy has given away $6.4 billion to projects taking on the gun lobby, obesity, and the tobacco industry. His team is now beginning the process of “asking beneficiaries of his largesse if they’d be on board for his presidential bid.” Don’t call it a shake-down!
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) got the kind of press he might be hoping to avoid as he mulls a 2020 run: a new Politico story noted that he could be viewed on Wall Street as more reasonable alternative to hard-liners like Warren or Sanders. That might not play well among the party’s far-leftwing base.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) appeared on ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday and defended her positions on Syria and Venezuela, arguing that the U.S. should not be involved in the unrest in either nation.
Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D-TX) has struggled to make headlines since announcing his presidential exploratory committee, but he’s visiting towns in Northwest Iowa Friday and Saturday and has pledged to visit all 50 states during his presidential campaign.
Booker Jumps In, Beto’s Stock is Falling, Harris Racks Up Endorsements: 2020 Dems
Democrats gained one more official candidate in the 2020 presidential field last week when Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) made it official. He quickly announced a series of early primary state hires as a show of strength in state likes Iowa and South Carolina.
Meanwhile, some of the air appears to have come out of the Beto O’Rourke trial balloon, as staffers and backers begin to look at other campaigns to join.
For those stories and more, check out AR Intel’s weekly 2020 Movers & Shakers post:
Fmr. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
Is O’Rourke’s stock falling? That’s the premise of a new McClatchy report, which found that “the early excitement is dissipating” for an O’Rourke 2020 campaign. The argument? O’Rourke had nothing to lose by running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in deep red Texas. He raised vast amounts of money, but that could dry up when he’s challenging fellow Democrats in a presidential primary.
“He’s kind of a house of cards,” one Dem operative who worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign said.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Warren, who announced on Dec. 31 she was forming an exploratory committee for president, is expected to make it official on Saturday during an event in Lawrence, Mass. For all intents and purposes, Warren is already in the presidential primary contest, but she plans to kick off an aggressive tour of early primary states following the event on Saturday. Warren is expected in New Hampshire later that same day, then will head to Iowa for a trio of events on Sunday, followed by visits to South Carolina, Georgia, Nevada, and California “in the coming weeks as part of her organizing tour,” per Mass Live.
On another note, former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) told the Boston Globe that he can’t endorse Warren, but he’ll do anything he can, short of that, to help her win the nomination.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Booker made it official on Friday, releasing a highly polished video and sitting for a series of interviews with national outlets. The announcement came as little surprise, and he’s spent the past few days announcing major staffing moves.
He hired Christale Spain to serve as his South Carolina state director and Clay Middleton to sever as his senior adviser. In Iowa, he hired Mike Frosolone to be his state director and Jim O’Hern to serve as senior adviser.
Fmr. HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D-TX)
Castro made news on Friday by being the first 2020 Democratic candidate to call on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) to resign after a disturbing and racist photograph was revealed to have been on his medical school yearbook page. “It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Harris has picked up an impressive number of congressional endorsements, the most of any candidate so far. Freshman Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) endorsed Harris last week during an appearance on MSNBC. That endorsement followed that of Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who endorsed Harris a day earlier.
Harris also picked up the backing of a much lesser-known but no less significant benefactor: Susie Tompkins Buell, a longtime Hillary Clinton confidant and major donor and fundraiser. “I was not planning on having any strong feelings about the 2020 elections this early in the cycle with many other hopefuls yet to announce,” she said in a statement. “But Senator Harris’s campaign rollout has been so strong and so encouraging that I am compelled to get behind her now.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Brown kicked off his “Dignity of Work” tour last week, with stops in his home state of Ohio, as well as the early Democratic primary state of Iowa. During a stop in Iowa, a farmer asked Brown about his position on tariffs. “Full disclosure, I supported the tariffs originally,” he said, adding that they should been used as a short-term negotiating tool. “Trump has made them a long-term trade policy because he’s not doing very good negotiations with China.”
The Week Ahead for Feb. 4, 2019
It’s a busy week in Washington. President Trump will deliver the State of the Union address on Tuesday followed by the Democratic response from Stacey Abrams. On Thursday he delivers remarks at the 2019 National Prayer Breakfast, and attorney general nominee, Bill Barr, is expected to receive a committee vote.
The House will vote this week on the Veterans’ Access to Child Care Act. The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing on presidential tax returns. The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker. The Senate will vote on Monday “to adopt the bipartisan McConnell amendment to S1, the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act.
Monday, February 4
Senate is back in session
Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) will attend a rally for Montana’s future leaders at The Governor’s Reception Room at the Montana Capitol in Helena, MT
Howard Schultz will attend a book tour stop at VenueSIX10 at 610 S Michigan Avenue in Chicago, IL
Tuesday, February 5
President Trump will deliver the State Of The Union address at the U.S. Capitol
Stacey Abrams, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, will deliver the Democratic response to the State of the Union
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) will attend the State of the Union with air traffic control specialist Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik at the US Capitol in Washington, DC
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) will attend Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversation in Times Square, New York City, NY
Howard Schultz will attend a book tour stop at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA
Wednesday, February 6
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) will attend the National Rural Health Association Policy Institute at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC
Trump has dinner with faith leaders.
Thursday, February 7
Trump delivers remarks at the 2019 National Prayer Breakfast and has lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Harris will attend a reception in Midtown New York, NY
Friday, February 8
The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing with Acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) will attend an event in Mason City, IA and a roundtable in Waterloo, IA
Saturday, February 9
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will make a presidential announcement in Lawrence, MA
Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) will attend the Young Women Run Atlanta Event at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA
Booker will attend a forum in Des Moines, IA
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will attend The Granite Slate Awards at the Currier Museum in Manchester, NH
Sunday, February 10
Warren will attend an organizing event at the Veterans Memorial Building in Des Moines, IA; an organizing event at the Iowa Memorial Union at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA; and a roundtable discussion at The Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds in Davenport, IA
Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) will attend a town hall at Richland College in Dallas, TX
Harris Makes a Splash, Schultz Dips a Toe, & Beto Stalls: 2020 Dems
It’s been two weeks since our last AR Intel 2020 Democrats update, and quite frankly, a lot has happened. Kamala Harris made it official (twice), Starbucks’ former CEO is mulling a run as an independent, Beto O’Rourke says a decision could still be months away, and Joe Biden was forced to apologize for thanking a Republican secure cancer research funding.
The 2020 primary has been a wild ride lately – get caught up to date here:
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
An estimated 20,000 people helped Harris officially kick off her 2020 campaign in Oakland on Sunday. Though Harris made her initial splash on “Good Morning America” last week with the news that she was forming an exploratory committee, the rally in Oakland marked the official kickoff for the campaign. Crowd estimates are difficult to make, and those reported by campaign staff should be viewed with particular scrutiny, but it is notable that Harris is the first 2020 candidate to attempt a rally-style event, and she appears to have pulled it off.
The bad news for Harris is that it puts a target on her back. A San Francisco law professor familiar with Harris’s work as district attorney and attorney general penned a scathing op-ed in the New York Times that criticized Harris for, among other things, helping to put innocent citizens behind bars. How Harris deals with the harsh glow of the spotlight will go a long way in determining whether she manages to hang on for essentially two full years of campaigning.
Fmr. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
Howard who? Despite reportedly being on Hillary Clinton’s VP shortlist in 2016, the former Starbucks CEO is not particularly well known by voters. The self-described life-long Democrat isn’t focused solely on winning over Democratic primary voters, though. That’s because he would run as an independent, if he jumps in the 2020 race at all. Schultz told CBS News’ Scott Pelley he would run as a “centrist independent.”
But Democrats are none too pleased with Schultz’s quasi-announcement. More than a few Democrats tweeted that Schultz would almost certain serve as a spoiler for whomever ultimately wins the Democratic Party’s nomination, thereby handing President Trump a second term. But a Schultz decision could be months away. He told the New York Times he plans to “crisscross the country” on a book tour and make a decision after that.
Fmr. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D-NY)
Ironically, Schultz is taking a page out of the Bloomberg playbook with this potential independent run. It’s been widely reported that Bloomberg mulled an independent bid for the White House in 2016, but opted against it for fear that his candidacy would hand Trump the presidency. Trump won anyway, and now Bloomberg is again considering a run, but this time within the constraints of the Democratic primary. He put out a statement on Monday, taking a shot at Schultz without mentioning him by name:
“Now I have never been a partisan guy — and it’s no secret that I looked at an independent bid in the past. In fact I faced exactly the same decision now facing others who are considering it,” Bloomberg wrote in a statement on Monday. “Given the strong pull of partisanship and the realities of the electoral college system, there is no way an independent can win.”
Bloomberg’s top lieutenant, Howard Wolfson, was a bit more direct in a tweet Sunday night.
I have seen enough data over many years to know that anyone running for POTUS as an independent will split the anti-incumbent, anti-Trump vote. The stakes couldn’t be higher. We can not afford the risk of spoiler politics that result in Trump’s re-election.
— howard wolfson (@howiewolf) January 28, 2019
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Warren scored headlines late last week when it leaked that she plans to unveil a “wealth tax” on those U.S. citizens with more than $50 million in wealth. Warren and two Berkeley-based economists want to tax those with at least $50 million in wealth a 2-percent tax and those with more than $1 billion with a 3-percent tax. It would be an unprecedented move in the U.S., and at least one Yale economics professor, Robert Shiller, has already predicted it would fail.
The Washington Post editorial board also took issue with the plan, which contains a $50-million fee for those who do exactly what Shiller predicts: flee the country. The editorial board said the move “conveys a certain authoritarian odor” and noted that other countries’ attempts to implement a similar policy have failed.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Is Brown the new Bernie? The Ohio Democrat is determined to win back working-class voters who had traditionally voted Democratic but went for Trump in 2016. He’s kicking off what he calls the “Dignity of Work” tour on Wednesday, with stops in Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.
In a strange way, some of Brown’s positions overlap with Trump’s. While Brown is very pro-union, his emphasis on supporting workers puts him in line with Trump on issues like trade. Brown is “very much anti-free-trade,” according to one Ohio State University political science professor.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Gillibrand continues to grapple with her past. NBC News noted on Monday that on the issue of immigration, Gillibrand “sounded more akin to President Donald Trump than the modern Democratic Party” as of just a decade ago. Whereas Gillibrand now wants to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, just a few years ago she was in favor of additional border security funding “to catch illegal immigrants,” a term that is no longer used by many Democrats.
“I did not think about suffering in other people’s lives,” she said last Sunday in an interview on CNN. “I realized that things I had said were wrong. I was not caring about others.”
Fmr. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
O’Rourke’s decision to join the growing presidential field could still be months away, according to a Politico report. He continues to complain of “exhaustion” following the conclusion of his losing Senate campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
O’Rourke stressed that he does not want to “raise expectations” about a potential 2020 run, adding that a final decision could still “potentially” be months away. “If he does not run for president, O’Rourke said he is considering teaching,” Politico’s David Siders wrote.
Fmr. Vice President Joe Biden
The former veep caught flak last week for a $200,000 paid speech in which he praised a House Republican for helping to increase federal funding for cancer research. To repeat, Democrats are criticizing Biden for thanking a Republican who helped secure money to combat cancer. While some Democrats are upset that Biden gave a paid speech, a la Hillary Clinton, others are upset that Biden’s kind words lent a hand to Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who won a 17th term in 2018, defeating his opponent by more than 13,000 votes (or about 5 percentage points).
Biden remained defiant, however. During a speech last week, Biden said, “I like Republicans. Bless me, father, for I have sinned.”
.@JoeBiden: "I read in New York Times today that I — that one of my problems is if I ever run for president, I like Republicans. Bless me father for I have sinned. But…from where I come from I don't know how you get anything done." pic.twitter.com/LbV3pWQUPw
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 24, 2019
On whether he might pull the trigger and actually run for president in 2020, Biden said on Monday: “I’m a lot closer than I was before Christmas, and we’ll make the decision soon.”
The Week Ahead for Jan. 28, 2019
Sen. Kamala Harris drew an estimated 20,000 people in Oakland to her presidential announcement on Sunday, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz drew ire from the Democrats for floating an indpendent run for president.
Meanwhile, President Trump has set a Feb. 15 deadline for a deal to get his wall money, and he’s signaled he’ll declare a national emergency or use other executive powers if he can’t get the money through Congress. The House will vote on the Federal Civilian Workforce Pay Raise Fairness Act of 2019 this week, and the Senate will vote to proceed on the US-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Bill.
For these updates and more, check out the AR Intel Weekly Look Ahead:
Monday, January 28
DNC Chair Tom Perez will attend a DNC Lawyers roundtable luncheon in Raleigh, NC
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) will participate in a televised town hall with CNN’s Jake Tapper
Tom Steyer Town Hall National Town Hall in Washington, D.C.
Former Vice President Joe Biden will attend a moderated discussion with Q&A at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Tuesday, January 29
Michael Bloomberg (D-NY) will attend an event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics in Manchester, NH
Wednesday, January 30
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will attend Dignity of Work Tour stop at Supply Side in Brunswick, OH
Thursday, January 31
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) may attend Louisiana ALIVE at Washington Hilton, in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) will attend a meet and greet at The Exeter Inn in Exeter, NH
Friday, February 1
Edwards may attend a Mardi Gras Friday Festival at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC
Brown will attend a meet and greet at the home of Black Hawk County Supervisor Chris Schwartz in Waterloo, IA
Senate Democrats’ Q3 Fundraising Totals & Cash on Hand
The Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) final deadline before Election Day has come and gone, meaning we now know exactly what Senate Democrats in battleground states raised and spent in the third quarter of the year. It also means we know how much they had in the bank at the start of the final month of the campaign.
Democrats in Ohio and Missouri took the top spots for each of the fundraising categories in AR Intel’s breakdown.
To see the full breakdown, sign up for a free trial of AR Intel today!
AR Intel’s 2018 Midterm Debate Look Ahead
It’s officially debate season! House and Senate candidates across the country are taking the debate stage, looking into television camera lenses, and telling voters what exactly it is they will do in office.
Given the sheer number of closely-watched races, let alone the number of debates for each race, AR Intel compiled a list of debates in some of the most critical races this fall. Take a look below of October’s “Must See TV” debates, and let us know in the comments section if we missed one important to you!
To view the AR Intel debate look ahead, sign up for a free 7-day trial of AR Intel today!
THE AR INTEL WEEK AHEAD: 08-27-18
Washington, D.C. is mourning the passing of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) this week. McCain, a husband, father of seven, Vietnam veteran, Republican congressman and senator from Arizona, and a two-time contender for the presidency, passed away on Saturday at the age of 81 after battling a malignant brain tumor since 2017.
Tributes from around the world have poured in for the late senator, hailing McCain as the ultimate American hero, patriot, and statesman. Politicians, both Republicans and Democrats alike, praised the man they knew as the ‘Maverick’ as a faithful servant of democracy, and one who lived his life true to his principles, unafraid to go his own way.
Subscribe to AR Intel today to read on.
The Top 10 Red State Democrats in Online Fundraising This July
Every dollar counts in a political campaign, and that’s never truer than in the final months of a campaign. Red state Democrats are doing everything they can to raise money to preserve their seats in Congress, and FEC data filed by ActBlue, the Democrats’ online fundraising platform, shows us exactly how much they raised in the month of July.
Whereas voters would normally not get an opportunity to see how online fundraising is doing among these senators, ActBlue’s filings give us a sneak peek on how Q3 fundraising is going for these Democrats.
To see a breakdown of who raised what, sign up for a free 7-day trial of AR Intel here!
Senate Democrats’ Q2 Fundraising Numbers
Red state Democrats will need all the help they can get in the final months leading up to the midterm elections this November. AR Intel has been consistently tracking the fundraising totals of Senate Democrats running in states won by President Trump in the 2016 election.
Many of these incumbents are running for their third or fourth term, but few have faced an environment as challenging as this one. Trump won several of the states that these Democrats represent by larger than 20-point margins.
So, how well did Democrats do in the second quarter of 2018? To find out and get exclusive access to AR Intel’s Q2 fundraising infographic, sign up today!