Monday, May 20, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

Welcome to Hell Week.

Here at the beginning of a week in which most bills in the Texas Legislature will die, the big priorities set out at the beginning, in January, are still alive: school finance, property tax reform, school safety and responses to Hurricane Harvey.

Lots of other proposals are fading fast.

As of Friday, just over 5% of the 7,324 bills filed in the House and Senate this session had made it all the way to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. That tells you a bit about what will happen in the next few days. When this is over, when lawmakers have gaveled out on Memorial Day, that percentage will have jumped considerably. Two years ago, 18% of the filed bills made it to the governor. Four years ago, it was 21%. And in 2013, it was 24.4%.

But don’t just look at success; that won’t explain the dramatic tension of the next few days. Look instead at the overwhelming failure rate. Only about 1 bill in 5 -- 1 in 4 in a good year -- makes it out of a regular session alive. Everything else (that hasn’t found new life as an amendment to other legislation) meets its final end in the final week -- when procedural deadlines form a bottleneck that most of the stampeding legislation doesn’t survive.


The Texas Legislature’s Doomsday Calendar -- the dramatic name for the deadlines that stack up at the end of a regular legislative session -- only has a few squares left.

Four of those are red-letter days:

  • Tuesday, May 21, the last day Senate bills can be considered for the first time in the House.
  • Wednesday, May 22, the last day the House can consider Senate bills on a local and consent calendar, which is for uncontested legislation, for the first time.
  • Friday, May 24, the last day the House can decide whether to accept or negotiate Senate changes to bills.
  • Sunday, May 26, the last day the House and Senate can vote on final versions of bills they’ve been negotiating.

The last day -- the 140th -- gets a Latin name, but not a red border. It’s sine die, the last day of the 86th Texas Legislature’s regular session.

Another clock starts then, marking the time between the end of the legislative session and Father’s Day -- June 16 -- the last day Abbott can veto legislation passed by the House and Senate.



David Collins and the Texas Tribune have the latest on HB 2504, the bill that would put the Texas Green Party back on the ballot for 2020.  Spoiler (see what I did there?): Its prospects for becoming law are very good.

Many more updates throughout the week, appearing in the Twitter feed, top right column.

Last weekend's developments saw the death of SB9, but everyone remains on high alert for a zombie amendment to living bills.

And sure enough ...

Meanwhile, Progress Texas brings the good, the bad, and the ugly of the bills that remain among the living.  Kuff analyzes the relentless Republican attack on local control this session.

In news away from the Pink Dome ...

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar
warned against elected officials who fuel Islamophobia and pit religious groups against each other at an Iftar dinner Saturday night in Austin, just days after Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller called on Austin Mayor Steve Adler not to attend the event.

Omar, 37, was the keynote speaker at the Annual Austin Citywide Iftar Dinner, a ceremonial meal to break the fast during Ramadan. Adler, who (is Jewish and) has attended each of the previous city-wide Iftars, was the guest of honor.

A Dallas woman who was beaten two weeks ago in a parking lot outside her apartment was found shot to death on Sunday afternoon.  She wasn't just another random killing.

Debbie Nathan at The Intercept writes about the vigilante militia defending an imaginary southern border near El Paso.

Socratic Gadfly, with help from political scientist and author Corey Robin, explains that Trump is not a fascist but rather a schematically predictable variety of president.

The Texas Signal notes Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's suddenly-easier path to re-election now that Prop B has been declared unconstitutional (by the same district judge that ordered he and the firefighters union into mediation, which failed).

Jim Schutze at the Dallas Observer sees all the power players err, zombie endorserati lining up behind one mayoral candidate.

John Nova Lomax, writing at Texas Monthly, takes note of the Bayou City's aggressive plan to make housing more affordable.

Downwinders at Risk is hosting a fundraiser just prior to Memorial Day weekend.

Rachel Pearson at the Texas Observer flaunts her sorcery.

Harry Hamid blogs about Folli's recuperation (a metaphor for his own, by all indications).

Dan Solomon, also for TM, freaks out just a little at the prospect of Whataburger being sold.

Lisa Gray at Gray Matters (Houston Chronicle) calls on all Houstonians -- really, all good Texans -- to resist bad tacos.

Beyond Bones wants to tell you about Megalosaurus.

Finally, Jesse Sendejas Jr. of the Houston Press went to ZZ Top's 50th Anniversary Bash and had his top blown.  In the revival -- or perhaps last gasp -- of dinosaur rock legends, Cheap Trick and Bad Company opened the evening.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is joining the two dozen other Democratic candidates running for president and many of us can only ask, why? Why would another (usually white, often male) politician look at the field of highly qualified Democratic presidential candidates and think: You know what this race needs? One more.

Though each of these candidates surely thinks he or she has something unique to offer, the truth is that with this many people in the race, it’s hard to see what possible way there is to break out of a very crowded race. The recent additions to the packed Democratic field could be better described as ”a bay of milquetoast men running for president,” Lee Banville, a political analyst at the University of Montana, recently told Vox’s Ella Nilsen.

Sure, there are real reasons candidates like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, or even Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan have entered a campaign that Joe Biden appears to be dominating -- and that Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris are duking it out for double-digit polling numbers. After all, Biden’s support could always collapse.

Paradoxically, the more candidates in the race, the more enticing it becomes to join because the number of delegates are awarded proportionally, dramatically lowering the bar for the potential to win.

There certainly is a strong degree of personal vanity too; some of these guys just look in the mirror and say “I’m just born to be in it.”

But maybe the most important reason the field is so damn crowded is that the Democratic Party is still sorting through an identity crisis in the aftermath of 2016. A host of candidates look at recent history and think: The Democratic Party doesn’t really know what it’s looking for, and in this time of chaos, maybe the answer is me.

Today is cut-down day for the Update.  Long shots, pretenders, has-beens, and never-wases are relegated to the grandstands.  Henceforth I'll focus on the top five or ten or so, have a quick blurb on the new shooter(s), and then mention the others outside the Donkey Scramble.

This week candidates also traded barbs over climate change, speculated about which rival would make the best running mate come the general election, and reacted to a controversial anti-abortion bill signed into law in Alabama.

Here we go.

1. Joe Biden

The former vice president responded to a number of attacks this week from rivals both inside and outside his party.

On Monday, Biden defended his son Hunter against Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has made a number of efforts to investigate the work Hunter Biden did for a Ukrainian energy company while his father was focused on making threats against the leaders of the country under the Obama administration. Giuliani had planned to travel to the Ukraine for more information, but cancelled his trip on Saturday.

Facing criticism from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and ... Washington Governor Jay Inslee (see last week's Update) over his record on climate change after a report in Reuters claimed he was seeking a 'middle ground' solution on the issue, Biden told reporters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, “I’ve never been middle of the road on the environment. Tell her to check the statements that I made, and look at my record and she’ll find that nobody has been more consistent about taking on the environment and a Green Revolution then I have.”

Biden's past environmental record -- compiled over ten years ago when he was selected Obama's running mate -- has indeed been satisfactory.  It is his recent lurch to the right, seemingly taking the advice of those now around him, that has us concerned.  We'll wait to see what his forthcoming plan entails before rendering judgment.

2. Bernie Sanders

The progressive leader became the latest 2020 hopeful to join the chorus of candidates calling to break up big tech companies like Facebook.

“The answer is yes, of course,” Sanders told Politico. “We have a monopolistic -- an increasingly monopolistic society where you have a handful of very large corporations having much too much power over consumers.”

Sanders is taking a Southern swing this weekend.

3. Elizabeth Warren

The “I’ve-got-a-plan-for-that” candidate continued to step out in front of the 2020 field this week, becoming the first Democrat running for president to denounce appearing on FOX News.

Warren said she wouldn’t go on the network, slamming Fox News as a “hate-for-profit racket.”

“Hate-for-profit works only if there’s profit, so Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and outright lies with enough legit journalism to make the claim to advertisers that it’s a reputable news outlet,” Warren wrote on Twitter. “It’s all about dragging in ad money -- big ad money.”

Warren’s fiery words follow Sanders making waves last month when be became the first 2020 Democrat to sit for a town hall on Fox News.

The Massachusetts senator also pledged that If elected, she would select a public school teacher to head the Department of Education, taking aim at Trump’s appointed secretary.

“I’ll just be blunt: Betsy DeVos is the worst Secretary of Education we’ve seen,” Warren said.

Warren narrowly lost the Kos straw poll this week, coming in a close second to Bernie.

4 (tie). Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigeig, Beto O'Rourke

All are losing momentum for various non-Biden-related reasons.

(Harris) is attempting to strike a difficult balance between appeasing progressive activists and appealing to more moderate Democrats as her poll numbers fall.

California's former attorney general, Harris has found vocal critics within the progressive community -- particularly among criminal justice activists and public interest attorneys who take issue with much of her 25-year-long prosecutorial record.


Some of Harris' top aides, including pollsters, have determined that the Democratic voter base doesn't want her to move left, The New York Times reported. They argue Harris should highlight her prosecutorial record and that the effort to please the left is futile while she's competing against progressive stalwarts like (Sanders and Warren).

In a strategic shift, Harris has recently leaned into her criticism of Trump and his administration. A video of her questioning Attorney General William Barr during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee went viral last week. The exchange put Harris' prosecutorial skills on display and strengthened her reputation as a fighter.

During a speech at an NAACP event in Detroit on Sunday, Harris hit Trump multiple times.

"This president isn't trying to make America great," she said. "He's trying to make America hate."

Trump has also recently taken aim at Harris, describing her as "nasty" twice in response to her questioning of Barr. Notably, Trump infamously used that same word in 2016 to describe Hillary Clinton, dubbing her a "nasty woman."

Kamala also punched back at the front-runner.

In a not-so-subtle jab at Biden, Harris on Wednesday slammed recent talk that she would be a great running mate for the former vice president.

“Sure, if people want to speculate about running mates, I encourage that. Because I think Joe Biden would be a great running mate,’ Harris told reporters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire. “As vice president, he’s proven he knows how to do the job, and there are certainly a lot of other candidates that would make for me a very viable and interesting vice president.”

The California senator announced on Tuesday that if she becomes president, she will take executive action to ban imports of all AR-15 style assault weapons.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who has not announced a run, polls ahead of Buttigieg with 2 percent among black Palmetto State Democrats, who comprise 61 percent of Democratic voters in the state.

Despite his rapid rise in the crowded Democratic primary field, Buttigieg recently came under scrutiny over the revelation that he had used the phrase “all lives matter” during a controversy involving the South Bend Police Department. Activists have said the phrase minimizes hardships faced specifically by African Americans.

Turn out the lights, the Pride Party's over.

Beto reboots.

...(S)ince his mid-March campaign launch, the buzz surrounding the former congressman has evaporated. Competing in a massive field of Democratic White House hopefuls, O'Rourke has sagged in the polls. He's made few promises that resonated or produced headline-grabbing moments, instead driving around the country meeting with voters at mostly small events.

In a tacit recognition that this approach isn't working, O'Rourke is planning to try again, taking a hands-on role in staging a "reintroduction" ahead of next month's premier Democratic presidential debate. As he finalizes his plans, O'Rourke has entered an intentional "quiet period" to build out campaign infrastructure, according to an adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the campaign's strategy.

That will end soon.

O'Rourke plans to step up his national media appearances after skipping most of that kind of exposure in recent months. He is scheduled to appear on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show" on Monday night and ABC's "The View" the next day.

Yet another CNN town hall next week as well.  And more of these, I guess.

This ain't it, Chief.

I can't bring myself to do Cory Booker, or Amy Klobuchar, or Kirsten Gillibrand, or whomever you may feel rounds out your personal top ten.  Maybe next week.

Click his name at the top for Bullock (it's hilarious).  Here's de Blasio.

In recent history, no other potential presidential candidate has had a more humiliating run of press coverage before even announcing their decision to run than the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio.

“Is Bill de Blasio trying to escape New York City by running for president?” asked New York-based Observer. “De Blasio PAC spends $30m on ads urging candidate not to embarrass self by running,” wrote the Onion, not entirely unbelievably. New York magazine aggregated a listicle of everyone who has told the mayor he shouldn’t run. Among them: old advisers, “self-described friends”, recent advisers, his own wife.

It’s hard to overemphasize the lack of enthusiasm De Blasio will be starting off with as he enters the race. In a Quinnipiac poll last month, 76% of New Yorkers agreed that their mayor should not run for president. This included 70% of black voters, who usually make up De Blasio’s strongest base of support. As the Washington Post’s Philip Bump pointed out, De Blasio was a standout in another poll, this time of national Democratic primary voters, for being the candidate with the highest unfavorability ratings. He was also the only candidate with net unfavorability, with more respondents having an unfavorable than favorable view of him. The Quinnipiac poll even showed that one-third of Democrats in De Blasio’s home city -- what ought to be his main bulwark of support -- disapprove of his job performance.

Screamingly funny.  Couple more items.

-- Socialist Action announces their 2020 ticket: Jeff Mackler and Heather Bradford.

-- What do John Hickenlooper, Steve Bullock, and Beto O'Rourke all have in common (besides their mushy centrist politics)?

These men still haven’t seemed to figure out that the future of America and the livelihoods of working people and families should take precedent over their own personal dreams and ambitions of one day occupying the White House. Even if one of these long-shot candidates did end up somehow winning the Democratic nomination and the presidency, they would be unable to pass any meaningful legislation with a Republican-controlled Senate. It isn’t too late; all three could get over their egos, drop out of the presidential race, and announce campaigns for Senate.

Sema Hernandez gets it.  She got it two years ago.  Just vote for her instead.  If you're in Austin tomorrow, go by and see her.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance is saying sine die in the mirror as it brings you this week's lefty blog post and news round-up.

(news item: Rep. Jonathan Stickland calls vaccines 'sorcery')

Stephen Young, Dallas Observer:

There's a little more than two weeks left in Texas' regular legislative session. Dozens of bills will pass the Texas House and Senate and make their way to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk between now and May 27. But thanks to an annual Texas House deadline, hundreds more died as Thursday night faded into Friday morning. No bills that haven't received an initial sign-off will move any further in the House, but the Legislature's business is far from wrapped up.

Here's what you should be watching as the Legislature hits the homestretch:

Young lists his priorities as marijuana reform, abortion rights, school financing, a state income tax, and a drivers responsibility program along with red light cameras.  Go read his deep dive into the bills that your representatives and senators will be approving or denying in the coming days.

In related Lege reporting, the Dallas News indicates that the state's Senate and House leaders are essentially starting over from zero on the teachers' pay raise and other tax bill details.  The Fort Worth Star-Telegram covered the DFW area's annual Marijuana March, while Jonathan Tilove at the Statesman says that the Texas House hates those red light cameras even more than they hate Stickland.  And the Texas Freedom Network calls out the state's Health and Human Services Commission for the hypocrisy of tomorrow's "Pink Day" while systematically destroying women's health services in tandem with the extremist right wing.

Now HHS wants everyone to wear pink to show their support for women’s health. Well, yes, let’s all wear pink. But we would prefer having state HHS officials (and the elected officials who appoint them) who actually seem to care more about promoting women’s health than anti-abortion politics.

Progress Texas has a special report on the continuing battle over voting rights.  It centers on #SB9, which as Andrew Turner at the Quorum Report previews, is set for Wednesday.

Just as Texas retreats from a voting rights fight in federal court in San Antonio over the way embattled Secretary of State David Whitley handled the rollout of a botched voter purge, Senate Bill 9 by Sen. Bryan Hughes, R- Mineola, has the potential to inflame the situation if it gains any traction in the House during the closing weeks of the session.

The bill would increase the criminal penalty of forging a ballot from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony, something that voting rights groups say would have a negative impact on turnout.

Sanford Nowlin at the Current has more.

"This legislation magnifies the voter suppression tactics that (Texas politicians) have been pursuing for the last couple of years," said Zenén Jaimes Pérez, advocacy director for the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Somewhat related: Charlie Kuffner warns that the end of the TXSOS voter purge lawsuit is not the end of that business.

The Texas Observer and ProgTex have also been on the story about local control at the Lege.  For the Observer, Justin Miller:

More than 30 Confederate monuments were taken down in Texas between 2015 and 2018, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center report. This has sparked an intense backlash from Anglo conservatives who see the removal of these monuments as an erasure of their Antebellum heritage. Activist groups pumped out robocalls and radio ads calling on Texas Republicans to keep the monuments in place.

State lawmakers responded this session by proposing controversial legislation -- Senate Bill 1663 and House Bill 3948 -- to strip local governments of their authority to take down historical monuments, statues or portraits, or even rename schools, parks, streets and other public property.

And for Progress Texas, Glenn Smith.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler was right when he observed recently that the Republican-led state government “has declared war against” Texas cities.

The state is trying to take self-government away from cities, counties and school districts. It is a war on local government. It is also a war on democracy.

From limiting local government’s ability to meet its financial needs, to pre-empting local worker protections and public health and safety ordinances, the state is saying local voices don’t matter.

Why, you ask? Consider this: Eighty-five percent of Texas residents and 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas. A glance at any state or national map of election results shows disproportionate Republican support in rural areas.

Cities in Texas and elsewhere are increasingly diverse, tolerant, progressive, and focused on actually addressing issues that matter. That’s probably why, in Texas and elsewhere, they are increasingly under Democratic control.

Environment Texas provides us with another ecological legislative update.  Arya Sundarum at the Texas Tribune reports on the House bill that could have prevented future arrests like Sandra Bland's but multiple attempts to pass it failed.  Eric Trayson at the Houston Chronicle explains why one statehouse bill (stopped by a Democratic point of order last week) was a mortal threat to trans people like himself.  Better Texas Blog is concerned about Medicaid managed care protections.  And Scott Braddock sees a crackup coming in Texas Republican tax orthodoxy.

To wrap up the Wrangle's aggregation of Lege developments this week, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs blogged about the Greens' new hope of achieving ballot access in 2020 via a bill passed late Friday night.  David Collins followed up with more details, and Alyson Goldenstein at the Houston Chronicle also has an account.

Wesson Gaige, co-chair of the Green Party of Texas, was cautiously optimistic about the bill’s passage on Friday knowing that it still needs Senate approval.

If it does pass, Gaige said “we will be running Green candidates who uphold planet over profit, people over profit and peace over profit.”


“It’s a mixed bill from a third-party standpoint,” said Wes Benedict, former executive director for the Libertarian Party of Texas.

While the lower threshold would help Libertarian and Green Party candidates stay on the ballot, Benedict said the fee requirement will hurt the parties. He said the filing fee helps pay for primary elections, in which third party candidates generally don’t participate because of the high barrier to entry.

The Libertarian Party would likely challenge that fee in court should the bill pass, he added.

As Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez prepare to join the Sunrise Movement in Washington to rally for the Green New Deal ...

... SocraticGadfly continues his Greens vs. Democrats on the Green New Deal series with Part 4 about ag tech and its role in addressing climate change.

The Texas Living Waters Project uses the Austin Central Library to showcase the value of rainwater capture, condensate reuse and reclaimed water.

In the wake of severe flooding throughout southeast Texas last week, both Save Buffalo Bayou and Nick Powell at the Chronicle wrote about the Houston area's potential third reservoir likely having little effect in the northwest part of Harris County.

After tens of thousands of homes flooded in the watersheds of Cypress Creek and the Addicks and Barker reservoirs during Harvey in 2017, regional planners revived an idea originally conceived nearly 80 years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers: a third reservoir to supplement the capacity of Addicks and Barker in the event of a major flood.

But the study by Rice University’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education, and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center revealed the difficulties in attempting to eliminate flooding in the Cypress Creek watershed, which covers over 300 square miles in northwest Harris County and features over 250 miles of open streams.


The study also concluded that the remaining undeveloped land in the Cypress Creek area should be protected against development, specifically the Katy Prairie west of Houston, where vegetation and wetlands provide flood protection.

Last, a downtown Austin barbecue joint that only does pig caught the attention of Texas Monthly's Daniel Vaughn.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Texas Greens get a shot at 2020 ballot access

A most surprising and welcome development.  Via Ballot Access News:

On May 10, the Texas House passed HB 2504.  It requires candidates nominated in convention to pay filing fees.  Currently only primary candidates pay filing fees, because Texas filing fees were always intended to help pay for the election administration costs of primaries.  The Libertarian Party is the only party on the ballot now that nominates by convention.  In the recent past, the Green Party did also.  The bill passed 77-57, with all Republicans who voted voting 'yes', and all Democrats who voted, voting 'no'.

The bill also says (see amendment) that if a party polled at least 2% for any statewide race in any of the last five elections, it is ballot-qualified.  If this provision becomes law, the Green Party will be on the ballot in 2020, because in 2016 it polled over 2% for Railroad Commissioner and two statewide judicial races.

Two aspects here as I see them:

-- The TXGOP wants to reduce its competition with the Texas Libertarian Party by squeezing some money out of their candidates, who fill the state's ballots top to bottom every two years.  (There remains the petition/signature gathering option, of course.)

Update: David Collins expands, linking to the schedule of filing fees associated with various state offices, and recalling the history of past Green petition drives that received RPT assistance.

-- Texas Republicans also want Texas Democrats to get some competition back, thus the party line vote you see in the excerpt.  With a similar majority in the state Senate, this bill would seemingly have a good chance of becoming law.  We'll be watching.

Should Democrats nominate another appalling conservative for president next year, las fortunas de Partido Verde get strengthened in the Lone Star State.  (Recall in a previous 2020 Update that US Greens appear to be coming together around Howie Hawkins.)  If Bernie Sanders -- or another D progressive -- gets tapped, the dynamic changes; Los Burros de la Izquierda get to quarrel with the GPTX while the jackass centrists sulk -- or more likely, piss and bitch louder than ever about "spoiler".  This fight could get hostile if, for example, "capitalist to her bones"/"Israel has a right to defend itself" practice genocide on the Palestinians' Elizabeth Warren winds up as the nominee.

Good times!

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

"Electability" is an establishment construct.

The concept of electability was on some candidates’ minds this week as they considered the potential of the eventual Democratic presidential nominee to win the general election, especially in Midwestern states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin ...

But in an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted at the end of April, the preference for a candidate who matched the respondent’s views was nearly equal to preference for a nominee who could beat Trump.

Several hopefuls also spoke out this week to argue that it should not be assumed that moderate blue-collar Midwestern voters prefer a white, male candidate or even that they’re all moderate and blue collar themselves.

The establishment is Biden.

Anyone the Democrats nominate ought to be able to defeat Trump.  Hillary Clinton should have defeated Trump in a rout.  On the one hand, it's patently ridiculous for me to imagine that the Democrats could nominate someone with the most remote chance of losing to President Shitler.

On the other ...

Salon: Are centrist candidates really the most electable? It may be the opposite

Let's roll.

Michael Bennet

Bennet hit the ground running in the first week after his May 2 announcement of his 2020 presidential bid. Bennet, the 21st Democratic candidate to join the race, was in Iowa talking about the cost of education.

“Getting to free college for everybody is not a very progressive way to approach this because a lot of wealthy kids will benefit from that, but let’s see if we can get you out debt free,” Bennet told a voter, without offering any specifics.

Bennet also appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday to respond to criticism of his voting record. The senator from Colorado had previously been given an 'F' rating from progressive super PAC Demand Justice for helping to advance Trump’s judicial nominees and specifically for voting against filibustering the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch.

What, really, is the point of this man's campaign?  He's entering too late to gain a podium for the first debate (IMO).  His well-right-of-center positioning is a crowded lane.  He's not the biggest joke in the running but he's tied for second with about ten others.

Joe Biden

The former vice president received pushback from Sen. Bernie Sanders in response to a claim Biden made in March that he has “the most progressive record of anyone running.”

“I think if you look at Joe’s record and you look at my record, I don’t think there’s much question about who’s more progressive,” Sanders told ABC's Jonathan Karl in an interview from Des Moines, Iowa, that aired on This Week last Sunday. Sanders’ refutation was part of a trend of 2020 candidates defining themselves in relation to Biden.

Biden also stopped in Columbia, South Carolina Saturday to speak with African American voters and attended a private fundraiser on Saturday evening at the home of his longtime adviser Dick Harpootlian, an attorney and former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman. On Wednesday, a health care union in California held a protest at a fundraiser for Biden at the home of a board member for Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles.

A small group of members from the National Union of Healthcare Workers -- which represents 3,500 mental health clinicians who work for Kaiser Permanente in California -- stood outside the home of Cynthia Telles, a member of the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan boards of directors, to protest long wait times for patients to receive follow-up care and fight inequities between mental health care and medical health care with Kaiser Permanente.

Union president Sal Rosselli (said) that his members hope Biden, who has been an advocate for mental health care, would support the union’s position. Biden did not address the protests during his remarks at the fundraiser and the Biden campaign declined to comment to ABC News for a story.

Biden's raising money the old-fashioned way, relying on Hillary's money train, which belonged to Obama.  No mention of the words "swamp" or "drain" yet.  And again, this doesn't appear to be impacting Uncle Joe's polling yet.  Although methodology is an important consideration (pgs. 21, 22 at bottom) when assessing these polls and their relative value.

The poll spotlighted a generational divide, with Sanders leading among those 49 and younger, and Biden on top with voters 50 and older. The survey also pointed to a partisan split, with Democrats giving Biden a six point advantage, and Sanders holding a nearly two-to-one margin among independents likely to vote in the Democratic primary. New Hampshire is one of two dozen states across the county where independent voters can cast a ballot in either the Democratic or Republican primaries.

Vox's Ella Nilsen is of the opinion that New Hampshire will make or break Bernie (and Elizabeth Warren, and maybe even Biden).

Political Wire: be skeptical of Biden's surge

Cory Booker

Booker introduced what his campaign team called “the most sweeping gun violence prevention proposal ever advanced by a presidential candidate.” Booker supporters were notified Monday in an email titled: “I’m sick and tired of thoughts and prayers.”
His plan focuses on pressuring gun manufacturers to comply with new regulations and imposing rigorous oversight over their products. The senator has previously vowed to “bring a fight to the NRA like they have never ever seen before.”

In an interview with ABC’s Nightline, Booker reflected on the violence in Newark, a city he led for over seven years as mayor.

Booker told co-anchor Byron Pitts. “I’m tired of walking around cities like mine that have shrines of teddy bears and dead kids. Teddy bears and candles and places where the murders happen.”

Pete Buttigieg

On Sunday, Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten, joined former President Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school class in rural south Georgia, according to the Associated Press. Carter said he knew Buttigieg from working on a Habitat for Humanity project in Indiana where the mayor volunteered.
On Friday night Buttigieg was heckled by protesters at (the Dallas County Democratic Party's Johnson-Jordan fundraising dinner).  Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, was interrupted on several occasions by anti-gay remarks. Protesters yelled, “Marriage is between a man and a woman,” and “Repent,” according to a CNN reporter in the audience.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is also running for president, came to Buttigieg’s defense on Twitter. O’Rourke wrote: “Texans don’t stand for this kind of homophobia and hatred. Mayor Pete, we are grateful you came to Texas and hope to see you and Chasten back again soon.”

Julián Castro

Last Friday, Castro’s campaign announced it met the 65,000 donor threshold to earn the former Housing and Urban Development secretary a spot in the first presidential debate.
In an interview with PBS Newshour, Castro expressed confidence that his campaign “will steadily but surely get stronger and stronger,” despite polling that currently shows him in the back of the field.

He further proclaimed that he would remain in the race, at least until the Iowa caucuses next February, pushing back against the idea of stepping out of the race should his support remain stagnant.

John Delaney

Delaney was sharply critical of some of the major proposals being debated on the campaign trail, including the Green New Deal and Medicare for all, in a radio interview earlier this week, labeling them “half-baked socialist policies.”

“I’m just going to point outL their policies are bad policies,” the former Maryland congressman said in the interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.  [Emphasis mine.-PD]  “Medicare for all, in terms of the bill that’s been introduced in the Senate, is fundamentally bad health care policy. Putting aside we have no way of paying for it, even if we were able to pay for it, it still would be bad policy.”

Delaney laid out his alternative, a public health care option, in a PBS Newshour interview, arguing that Americans want to be given choices rather than be limited to one plan.

Thank you.  Next.

Tulsi Gabbard

In a fundraising email to supporters, Gabbard attacked the media, claiming that reporters were ignoring her campaign because she is “taking on … the corporate media and the military industrial complex who drive us into war for their own power and profit.”

The congresswoman from Hawaii outlined her platform in a nearly 30-minute-long interview with The Intercept on Thursday. She also talked about her decision to run for president after endorsing Sanders in 2016, her isolationist foreign policy views and her opinion that it’s time for the Democratic Party to move on from the Mueller report and focus on issues.

Some candidates get more than a fair shake in the corporate media, and some don't.

Kirsten Gillibrand

The senator from New York pledged Tuesday that, as president, she would only nominate judges who would uphold Roe v. Wade. Gillibrand acknowledged that it was unusual for presidential candidates to set such a litmus test, but argued that such a stance was necessary after “Mitch McConnell obstructed the nomination process and stole a Supreme Court seat.”
“I believe that reproductive rights are human rights, and they are nonnegotiable,” Gillibrand wrote in a Medium post. “Women in America must be trusted to make their own medical decisions and have access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion.”

This weekend, Gillibrand travels to New Hampshire for six stops from Friday through Saturday, including at New England College, where she will deliver a commencement address.

Gillibrand spoke in Houston last weekend (as advanced in last Friday's Update).

Kamala Harris

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Harris is reworking her campaign strategy to focus more on Trump, particularly after her aggressive questioning of Attorney General William Barr during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earned her praise.
And during a trip to Michigan last weekend, the senator from California took on the idea of “electability” -- a concept other female candidates have had to navigate as they seek higher office.

She took a direct jab at the idea of her chances to move into the White House at the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner in Detroit on Sunday, the largest NAACP chapter in the country.

“There has been a lot of conversation by pundits, about electability. And who can speak to the Midwest? But when they say that, they usually put the Midwest in a simplistic box and a narrow narrative. And too often their definition of the Midwest leaves people out. It leaves out people in this room who helped build cities like Detroit,” Harris said.

I strongly encourage you to read the various takes Twitter has for you on this topic.

John Hickenlooper

Hickenlooper authored a Wall Street Journal op-ed Sunday titled “I’m running to save capitalism,” in which he explains his belief that while income inequality has led many Democrats to support socialist ideas, “capitalism is the only economic system that can support a strong middle class, a growing economy, and innovative entrepreneurs leading global technological advancements.”
The former Colorado governor concedes however that “the government has to adjust (capitalism),” making it easier for Americans to access higher education, raise wages and strengthen anti-trust laws.

I can't say this loud enough: Fuck this guy and the horse named Howard Schultz he rode in on.

Jay Inslee

The Washington governor unveiled what he called the”100% Clean Energy for America Plan,” which calls for clean energy standards with regard to electricity, new vehicles and building construction.
In conjunction with the plan -- which would begin on the first day of his presidency and attempt to achieve renewable, zero-emission energy by 2035 -- Inslee told ABC News that he is interested in retraining workers, such as coal miners, who currently labor in positions that would be affected by the plan, to work in new, clean-energy jobs.

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar rolled out a $100 billion proposal last Friday to fight drug and alcohol addiction and improve mental health care. In a statement announcing the initiative, the Minnesota senator tied it to her father’s alcoholism and subsequent treatment, saying that she feels “everyone should have the same opportunity my dad had … (to get the) help they need.”
The plan’s foundation includes prevention, early intervention and treatment initiatives, as well as justice reforms that would de-prioritize jail sentences for non-violent drug crimes and economic and housing opportunities to support recovery.

Completely unnoticed by most media was Klobuchar's Fox News town hall this past Wednesday.

It's worth noting that Pete Buttigieg is scheduled to appear at his own Fox town hall on May 19, and Kirsten Gillibrand on June 2.

Beto O’Rourke

On Monday, the former Texas congressman spoke at the United Steel Workers Local 310 as part of a five-day trip across Iowa, according to the Des Moines Register. A union pipefitter asked O’Rourke if he would commit to a federal law that would give unions the power to collect money from non-union members for collective bargaining.
“Everyone needs to pay into the benefits that they gain as a result of those who are willing to organize and fight,” O’Rourke responded.

On Wednesday, Sasha Watson, a writer who dated O’Rourke when she was in college, penned a story for the Washington Post Magazine about watching his rise to fame.

Watching him run for Senate, she wrote, “I was no longer one of a small group of friends who watched him at a distance, but a member of the public, and I followed his campaign along with tens of thousands of people.”

Tim Ryan

In an interview with CNN last weekend, Ryan criticized Biden for saying China was “not competition,” calling the statement “stunningly out-of-touch.” The Ohio congressman elaborated by noting that China was “putting billions of dollars” behind construction in the South China Sea and investment in the solar industry.

Bernie Sanders

The senator from Vermont debuted an agriculture and rural investment plan in Iowa on Sunday which includes sweeping reforms to break up agribusiness conglomerates, establish a 'right to repair' law for farm equipment and redirect subsidies to prevent their disproportionate distribution to large producers as opposed to small farmers, among other proposals.
Sanders campaign staffers ratified a union contract with leadership this week, the first of its kind in presidential campaign history. Included in the contract are provisions that require the campaign to pay health insurance premiums for low-salaried employees and a pay ceiling for senior officials.

On Thursday, together with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Sanders proposed legislation to cap credit card interest rates at 15% and establish basic banking services at post offices.

Another very strong week for Bernie.

Eric Swalwell

Swalwell would not commit to supporting Trump’s impeachment during an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, but said the president should face “consequences,” comparing the situation to one with his children.
“We have to start taking this president seriously and speaking the only language they know, which is force and consequence,” Swalwell said on the show Sunday. “I’m a father of a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old. We’re going through the terrible twos. When my son misbehaves, we take a toy away.”

Too mealy-mouthed for the Democratic "BeatTrump" caucus.  Booker is beginning to steal Swalwell's gun-sense thunder also.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren appears on the cover of TIME this week and the accompanying profile directs a spotlight on her policy-heavy campaign.
On Wednesday, Warren released a $100 billion plan to combat opioid addiction over 10 years. Friday, Warren is scheduled to visit West Virginia, the state with the highest level of opioid-related deaths in the nation, and a state that voted for Trump in 2016. The senator will visit the town of Kermit, where in 2016 the Charleston Gazette-Mail revealed the trail of nearly 9 million opioid pills shipped to a single pharmacy in the town.

On the Senate floor Wednesday, the senator from Massachusetts read portions of the Mueller report and continued to call for Trump’s impeachment, explaining to Politico that, in the wake of Sen. Mitch McConnell’s 'case closed' pronouncement, she “felt a responsibility to go to the floor to say: 'Case not closed, buddy.'”

Warren is also continuing to build on her solid momentum.

Andrew Yang

The Des Moines Register reported Tuesday that Yang did not disclose on his campaign finance reports his monthly gifts of $1,000 to a New Hampshire family to demonstrate his proposed universal basic income plan. A spokesperson for Yang’s campaign said that their first quarter report would be updated.
Next week, Yang will hold a rally in New York City’s Washington Square Park, for which his campaign claims over 5,000 people have already RSVP’d.

Marianne Williamson

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