Friday, April 05, 2019

The Weekly Twenty Twenty Update

Two more entered the race for the White House this week:  Rep. Tim Ryan ...

Ryan, who has represented the Youngstown and Akron areas of Ohio since 2003, had previously drawn national attention during a failed challenge against then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the wake of the 2016 presidential election that left Democrats without any control across the government. 

and Rep. Eric Swalwell.

The California congressman and frequent cable news guest on all things related to President Donald Trump and Russia will announce his presidential plans in an appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. But he won’t be running on Russia, or on the continuing fallout from the Mueller report and the Barr letter. Swalwell will center his campaign on gun control.

Most of the non-touchy/feely conversations this past week were about Charles Kuffner's favorite topic: campaign finance reports.

Money alone can’t win an election; look no further than Beto O’Rourke’s Senate defeat in Texas last November for evidence of that. But an influx of cash can set the tone in the early days of a national campaign, as candidates jet across the country in an effort to make an impression in early-voting states.

In that respect, the numbers revealed this week by O’Rourke, Sens. Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg made an early impact as each demonstrated the fundraising strength they’ll need for an seemingly endless campaign. But even more revealing could be the numbers made public by candidates who have -- so far -- stayed mum. Meager fundraising may prompt questions about the viability of their campaigns in a field that now boasts 17.

I think there's more than that.  Let's see what some of them were doing last week ...

Stacey Abrams

In an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday, Abrams said that a decision on her political future could come as late as this fall, explaining that she is first examining a run for Senate to determine if it is “the right job that I need to hold.”

We won't count her for now.

Michael Bennet

Bennet revealed this week that he has prostate cancer -- a diagnosis he said he received just as he reached a decision to run for president. The Colorado senator told the Colorado Independent that he still intends to run, provided he is cancer-free following surgery next week.

“I’m too busy to really sit back and think about it,” Bennet said. “And that’s probably the best thing.”

This weekend, the senator visits New Hampshire and holds events in Nashua, Concord, Exeter and Dover.

Get well soon, Senator.

Joe Biden

Biden and his team spent much of the weekend responding to claims that he made several women uncomfortable by inappropriately touching them or invading their personal space.

In a video the former vice president tweeted on Wednesday, he said that he has used physical touch as a way of demonstrating that he cares and is listening, but will now change his behavior.

“Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I’ve heard what these women are saying,” Biden said “Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That’s my responsibility and I will meet it.”

On Friday, Biden is scheduled to speak at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction and Maintenance Conference in Washington.

This development merits a separate post, forthcoming.

Cory Booker

A leaked recording of Booker saying that he and the president of AIPAC "text back and forth like teenagers" was another brick in the wall between the New Jersey senator and his so-called progressivism.

In a closed-door meeting with activists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee on ,  presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., spoke about working closely with the organization and his desire to create a “unified voice from Congress” against the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, or BDS.

Booker spoke to AIPAC members from New Jersey at the organization’s annual policy conference in Washington, D.C., a gathering of thousands of activists from around the country, culminating in a lobbying effort on Capitol Hill. Booker’s appearance came at a contentious time; last week, the progressive advocacy group MoveOn called on 2020 candidates to skip the conference, and at least five of the Democrats declined to attend.

Booker’s remarks, some of which were first reported by the Jerusalem Post, did not appear on a schedule of on-the-record events for journalists covering the conference. The Intercept obtained a 35-minute audio recording of the session from a conference attendee and is publishing the recording in full here.

AIPAC did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A spokesperson for Booker reviewed a transcript of the audio and confirmed that it matched what was said, but declined to comment further.

Booker began his remarks by thanking AIPAC president Mort Fridman for his “leadership and his friendship,” telling the crowd that he and Fridman “talk often” and “text message back and forth like teenagers.”

Pete Buttigieg
Thursday morning, Buttigieg released a video inviting supporters to join him for an event next weekend in his native South Bend, Indiana-- widely expected to be the official kick-off of his presidential campaign. He launched his exploratory committee in January.

In a subsequent appearance on “Good Morning America,” Buttigieg defended his ongoing criticisms of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, arguing “we do need to call out hypocrisy when we see it … but we need to be factual and we need to be honest and we do, in resolving all of this disagreement, need to be decent as well.”

Buttigieg raised $7 million in the year’s first quarter, he announced Monday.

On Friday and Saturday, the South Bend mayor stops in Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire, respectively, for events, and on Sunday he is scheduled to headline the LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch in Washington.

Socratic Gadfly has posted the definitive takedown of Mayor Pete's faux progressivism.

Julian Castro
In a blog post Monday, Castro called for a pathway to citizenship for young, undocumented immigrants, arguing that they “aren’t a threat to national security” and that “migration shouldn’t be a criminal justice issue.”

He expanded on the topic of immigration Tuesday night on MSNBC, saying that the U.S. “should decriminalize people that are coming here and go back to the way we were treating it before 2004 -- as a civil matter.”

“We need to end detention. I don’t think we should be putting people in cages,” Castro said. “We need to increase the number of refugees we are letting into this country.”

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary will hold a rally in Los Angeles on Saturday.

This is a good policy statement by Castro, and it's the issue he should have the most credibility on.  If he's right that his vote is being undersampled in the polling, then if he makes to next March, he could be a force.  But if he can't raise money and he can't get on the debate stages, then it's all moot.

Which reminds me:

The second 2020 Democratic primary debate will be held in Detroit on July 30 and 31, the Democratic National Committee announced Tuesday.

The debate, which CNN will broadcast, will be in the battleground state of Michigan, which Democrats lost in 2016 to President Donald Trump. There will be a total of 12 presidential primary debates during the 2020 cycle.

The DNC last week announced that the first primary debate would be held in Miami on June 26 and 27, and be broadcast on NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo. Miami was in the running to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which instead went to Milwaukee.

As with the first debate, the lineup for the two-night event will be chosen at random and announced at a later date. To qualify for a spot on the debate stage, candidates must draw the support of 1 percent or more of those surveyed in at least three polls, or receive donations from at least 65,000 individual donors and a minimum of 200 individual donors per state in at least 20 states, the DNC announced in February.

Tulsi Gabbard

In a video posted to her Twitter page, the Hawaii congresswoman criticized Trump’s decision to allow American companies to engage in nuclear-related work with Saudi Arabia, calling the move “mind-blowing and inexplicable.”
 “President Trump needs to answer this question: How does it serve our interests to help Saudi Arabia develop nuclear weapons?” she said. “It doesn’t.”

This indeed was an unsettling development that seemed to fly underneath all of the "he said/she said" bullshit about inappropriate touching.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand, who continues to receive questions about her role as the first U.S. senator to call for former Sen. Al Franken’s resignation in late 2017 over sexual misconduct allegations, took a stance similar to that of nearly every other presidential candidate in the wake of the accusations of inappropriate touching against Biden.
 “If Vice President Biden becomes a candidate, this is a topic he’ll have to engage on further,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

Later, during an MSNBC appearance, she said that “voters will have to decide.”

This weekend, the New York senator visits New Hampshire for events in Dover, Laconia and Concord.

Gillibrand caught too much blowback for her role in Franken's removal and doesn't want to make the same mistake twice.

Kamala Harris

Harris raised $12 million from 218,000 individual contributions in the first quarter of 2019, her campaign announced Monday, touting that 98% of contributions were less than $100 and $6 million of the total came via online fundraising where the average contribution was $28.
 Next week, the California senator campaigns in Iowa on Wednesday and Thursday, with a focus on her recently unveiled proposal to raise teacher salaries nationwide.

John Hickenlooper

In a Politico Magazine profile last weekend, Hickenlooper discussed the challenge of running as an “extreme moderate,” explaining that his background as a scientist taught him not to “jump to snap judgments” on issues.
 “You try to make sure you get all the facts, and think it through, then make better decisions,” he said.
Friday, the former Colorado governor has an event in Montgomery, Alabama and this weekend, he is scheduled to meet with survivors of the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina church shooting and will also make stops in Okatie and Charleston.

Jay Inslee

The Washington governor released 12 years worth of tax returns earlier this week, with his 2018 version showing that he and his wife earned just over $200,000 and paid nearly $30,000 in federal taxes.
 Inslee, who has made climate change the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, testified before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Wednesday where he expressed concern about the consequences of global warming and criticized the Trump administration’s rollback of environmental regulations.

Amy Klobuchar

Klobuchar posted 12 years of tax returns to her website Monday, revealing that she and her husband made $300,000 in 2017, the most recent year disclosed, and paid about $62,000.
 Last weekend, the Minnesota senator visited Iowa, where she spoke about her $1 trillion infrastructure plan, while touring areas devastated by recent flooding. At a rural issues forum, she argued that it was “important to have a candidate from the Midwest who can talk about these Midwestern issues.

She earlier told a group in southwestern Iowa that she was “really focused on improving access to the internet in rural areas and small towns” and “want[ed] kids who grow up in small towns to be able to stay here, and they can’t do that without the internet.”

Tax returns are going to become an issue for Bernie Sanders, as the mob of #NeverBernies keeps clamoring for his.

Beto O’Rourke

O’Rourke raised $9.4 million in the first 18 days of his campaign, he announced Wednesday, a total that resulted from 218,000 contributions, with an average of $43 donated.
 At the National Action Conference convention on Wednesday, the former Texas congressman discussed the legalization of marijuana as a criminal justice reform issue and an end to both the cash-bail system and for-profit prisons. He added that, as president, he would sign a bill proposed by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, creating a commission to study reparations.

This weekend, O’Rourke makes his second trip to Iowa as a presidential candidate for 11 events across the state Friday through Sunday.

Bernie Sanders

In the 40 days from the launch of his campaign through the end of March, Sanders raised over $18 million, the largest sum among candidates who have revealed their first quarter fundraising totals. Aides to the senator told reporters Tuesday that the total came from 900,000 individual donations, with an average donation of $20 and that 99.5% of donations were $100 or less.
 Sanders’ campaign put out a call to its claimed 1 million volunteers to host events on April 27, as it launches its organizing program.

The senator will spend the forthcoming weekend in Iowa, with events in Davenport on Friday, Muscatine, Burlington and Fairfield on Saturday and Oskaloosa and Malcolm on Sunday.

Elizabeth Warren

Warren captured headlines with the announcement of the Corporate Executive Accountability Act, her plan to hold company leaders liable for their firms’ potential misdeeds. Violations could lead to punishments including multiple years in prison.
 On Thursday, the Massachusetts senator sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general calling for an investigation into access to Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club, in the wake of an arrest of a Chinese woman who allegedly bypassed security at the club in late March.

Yet another disturbing news item that got lost in the crap of Trump's Tweets and threats about border shutdowns and the Obamacare repeal-and-replace that wasn't this week.

Andrew Yang

Yang raised $1.7 million in less than two months across February and March, his campaign announced Tuesday, with 99% of donations arriving in denominations less than $200 and an average donation of less than $18. The campaign added that over $250,000 was raised in the last four days of March.

The entrepreneur released an ambitious travel schedule for the month ahead, with events taking him to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Georgia, California, Nevada and Iowa before then end of April.

Thanks again to Adam Kelsey at ABC News and for about 90% of this post.

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