Friday, February 22, 2019

2020 this week: Berning up

It was a week that few presidential candidates could hope to have: a quiet announcement on Vermont Public Radio that exploded across the country, with a video (see right) and a fundraising ask that shattered every record and expectation.  Six million dollars and six hundred thousand volunteers in the first 24 hours.

For the immediate future, keeping the momentum rolling against the rising pushback is the task.

“(Sanders) is not going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party. He has demonstrated again that he does not understand this situation,” Rep. Donna Shalala, a Miami Democrat who represents Venezuelan exiles, told POLITICO. “I absolutely disagree with his imprecision in not saying (Venezuelan president Nicolas) Maduro must go.” Shalala has filed legislation aimed at helping Venezuelan immigrants.

Even as a conservaDem in a swing district, Shalala is overdoing the drama in a show for her constituents (a quick account of FL-27 and her 2018 election at her Wiki).  At least she's accurate in saying that Sanders has equivocated on Venezuela.  He's certainly not for American hegemony, but he's not entirely for Maduro, either.

Sanders did not embrace Maduro in his Tuesday interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, who quickly touched on Guaidó being declared the interim president of Venezuela by the nation’s National Assembly following Maduro’s questionable election.

But when he was asked whether he recognized Guaidó as the legitimate leader of the country, Sanders answered, “No.”

"There are serious questions about the recent election. There are many people who feel it was a fraudulent election," Sanders added.

In a follow-up question, Ramos asked Sanders if he thought Maduro is a dictator who should step down. Sanders refused to say yes or no.

"I think clearly he has been very, very abusive,” Sanders replied. “That is a decision of the Venezuelan people, so I think, Jorge, there's got to be a free and fair election. But what must not happen is that the United States must not use military force and intervene again as it has done in the past in Latin America, as you recall, whether it was Chile or Brazil or the Dominican Republic or Guatemala.”

So there's that, which is unpleasant for the neoliberal warmongers, and there's this tired crap.

A Democratic congressman says Sen. Bernie Sanders is not a Democrat -- and that he should therefore not be allowed to run to be the party's nominee for president.

Rep. Gregory Meeks made the comments Thursday following news that Sanders will sign a party pledge affirming that he will run for president as a Democrat in 2020 and, if victorious, serve as a Democrat -- highlighting a long-standing divide between the Vermont independent and the party establishment. Sanders caucuses with Senate Democrats.

Meeks told Poppy Harlow on "CNN Newsroom" that "we've asked (Sanders) on a continuous basis" to reconsider running as a Democrat when he is an independent.

"If, in fact, you want to be the Democratic nominee, you should be a Democrat," the New York Democrat said. "If you're not a Democrat, you should not run. He should run as an independent. He's not a Democrat."

On the other hand, some of us are thankful he's not.  But hey, let's call him 'too old'.

Or just stick to the GOP frame: "soshulist".

News flash: whoever the Democrats nominate is going to be called a socialist by Trump.  For that matter, every Democrat running in 2020 is going to be called a socialist by her/his Republican opponent.  Better start getting over that shit NOW, Democrats.  You can own it or you can get blown away by it.

Let's see what the other Democratic challengers did this past week.

Joe Biden:

People close to the former vice president told ABC News this week that they believe Biden will enter the 2020 race. Biden avoided specifically commenting on the 2020 election during an event at the University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday but was highly critical of the Trump administration’s immigration policy, describing “hysteria at the Southern border” and arguing that the president’s beliefs were rooted in xenophobia.

A Biden confidant puts the percentage of his getting in the race at 90% -95%.  He's instantly a top three contender when he says yes, with Bernie and ...

Kamala Harris:

During a visit to New Hampshire, Harris pushed back against the suggestion that she would not focus her attention on the New England state’s first-in-the-nation primary to instead concentrate on South Carolina or her home state of California. She said that she intends to “spend time here” and “shake every hand that I possibly can.”


Harris’s campaign declined to comment on a critical statement made by her father to Jamaica Global Online referencing the senator’s past comments about marijuana and her Jamaican heritage. Donald Harris labeled the linking of the drug to her ancestry a “travesty,” adding that their deceased relatives “must be turning in their graves” over being connected to a “fraudulent stereotype” “in the pursuit of identity politics.”

The California senator stops in Iowa for six different events this weekend and then travels to Nevada.

Here's another way-too-early prediction: a year from now, Harris will have become the focus of the 'not Bernie', 'no old white guys', Identity Politics Caucus, which is considerable.  She'll coalesce POC and women -- or should, despite her lousy record as a prosecutor.  That's going to leave very little oxygen for the other women in the field save Liz Warren.  After the first contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada next February -- the Bernie vs. Warren faceoff in the Granite State is supposed to be the bellwether for progressives --  the race moves to "Super Duper Tuesday" on March 3, 2020, with voting in Texas, California, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Vermont.

Look at all the favorite son/daughter delegates up for grabs.  If Beto and Castro are still in the hunt, we'll have something fun to gamble on.  Unless I'm very wrong, one is all but certain to be squared off against John Cornyn.

Those first four states will test the campaigns' organization as well as candidate enthusiasm.  Some of the low pollers will have dropped out, perhaps endorsed a front-runner.  Competing in California and Texas just to finish in second place will take serious money, and campaigns without an ability to raise it in a still-large field will be done.  Over.

At that time you'll have four or five left standing, and today my slate is: Sanders, Harris, Biden, Warren, and ... let's say Beto.  It's time to recap last week for those last two.

Elizabeth Warren:

The Massachusetts senator announced a plan Tuesday to make child care and early childhood education from birth through school age more affordable, with prices capped at 7 percent of a family’s income. “Today, more than half of all Americans live in child care ‘deserts’ — communities without an adequate number of licensed child care options,” Warren wrote in a Medium post outlining her plan. “We shouldn’t be denying our kids the kind of care and early learning they need to fulfill their potential.”

This weekend, Warren once again visits New Hampshire, where she will headline the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s 60th McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner and attend a house party, an organizing event and a meet-and-greet in Laconia, Plymouth and Nashua, her campaign announced.

She had a good week because there were no stumbles.  She's good on domestic policy and she keeps showing it.  If establishment Democrats succeed a second time in ruining Bernie's chances, there'll be plenty of opportunities for her to pick up -- or squander, for that matter -- a base of votes and fundraising that could make her the nominee.

Beto O'Rourke:

As he accepted an 'El Pasoan of the Year' award from a local newspaper Tuesday, O’Rourke said that he is still “trying to figure out how I can best serve this country” and “where I can do the greatest good for the United States of America.”

Although the former Texas congressman described a desire to reach a decision on his future by the end of February, he gave himself leeway to continue his deliberations about a potential White House run or challenge to Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

Responding to a question from a reporter, O’Rourke did not rule out serving as the eventual Democratic presidential nominee’s running mate. “I’m going to consider every way to serve this country,” O’Rourke responded in Spanish. “And, yes, that will include anything.”

So while Hamlet ponders his future, my reading of the tea leaves remains that he will be the guy at the top of your Texas ballot 53 -- 54? -- weeks from now.  As the Spanish-speaking conservaDem/ centrist with millennial appeal and fundraising heft, he has the potential for a stronger Super Duper Tuesday in those southern states listed above.  Even if he eventually konks out, he goes to the convention -- hopefully here in Houston but probably Milwaukee -- with big leverage for the #2 spot on somebody's ticket (certainly as balance for Harris or Warren, much less so Sanders).  Beto's already been rumored as Biden's veep, but that just seems like a too-white and -male ticket for Democrats not to whine loudly about.

More at 538 if your candidate didn't make my cut this week.  There's obviously a year's worth of unforeseen, unpredictable things that could happen that could make us all look back at this post next year and laugh.  But if I'm right and it sort of boils down to Bernie and Liz and Kamala and Joe, left to center-left, with Howie Schultz standing around waiting to throw down against the left ... it's going to be a very interesting cycle.

Update:  Ted is still being Ted.  Meanwhile Aaron Blake at the WaPo ranks the top 15, and his top 6 in order are: Harris, Sanders, Warren, Cory Booker, Biden, and Beto.

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