Top Notes – This Week in Presidential Politics

Each week I curate a set of “Top Notes” of media coverage on the 2020 presidential elections. Read it to keep up to date on latest developments.
– Sarah Lyons, Director of Communications, Independent Voting


CANDIDATE OVERVIEW:  Recap of candidates currently running / exploring and their positions on various issues (does not include Weld). (Uproxx, 3/4/19)



  • Ralph Nader on Schultz – “(His) agenda is simply far closer to the GOP’s agenda. He would be better off registering as a Republican and challenging President Trump inside the party primaries, where he would receive massive visibility… Schultz is no revolutionary. Oppose or support him as you wish. But do not demand he stay out or drop out and still call yourself a small-D democrat. Ultimately, it’s the voters’ fundamental right to choose.” (Time, 2/18/19)
  • Delaney on Schultz – Delaney – “I think the Schultz thing got a lot of attention because he said he was going to run as in independent. I thought it was actually really interesting how it unfolded. I had a lot of conversations with Democrats about it and they were all very upset that he was going to run as independent. They were upset because they’re worried about losing. What I would say to them all at the time is, “Well, why do you think he’s doing this?” They would all ultimately say, “Well, he thinks there’s a lot of people in the middle.” And I always say, “Well, yeah, so why are we giving up on these people? Why has the Democratic party decided that these people are not our target voters? Why are we not trying to build a big-tent party of moderates, progressives, independents and even some Republicans?” I actually think the whole thing has been a positive for what I’m doing. It’s been a wake-up call for Democrats. You ignore the center at your own peril. The grand center in this country, if you will, the center-left and center-right, is still the largest block of voters in the country. I think that United States of America is basically a purple country. We talk about the congressional districts, the red districts and blue districts and purple districts. The U.S. is just one giant purple district. If you want to win that purple district, you’ve got to capture the center. I think that is gong to be the 2020 election. This isn’t going to be a turn-out election; it’s going to be an old-fashioned persuasion election. You’re actually going to have to sit across the table from people in the middle and convince them that you’re the kind of leader that will represent them and actually do what they want to get done, which is to solve problems and make progress. I think that Schultz has helped focus that conversation. One of the problems is that if you listen to the parties, they will literally tell you the other side is entirely wrong about every single thing they believe. Listen, I think Democrats are more right about policy than Republicans are, which is why I’m a strong Democrat. But I’m not walking around saying every Republican I know is a horrible human being who doesn’t have any good ideas or have anything to contribute to our country. It’s ridiculous. But if you listen to the parties, that’s what they’re basically telling us and there’s really been a vacuum of principled leadership.” (Rolling Stone, 3/5/19)

Hickenlooper – Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said on Monday he’s running for president, casting himself as a can-do uniter who is used to overcoming adversity and accomplishing liberal goals in a politically divided state. “I’m running for president because we need dreamers in Washington, but we also need to get things done,” Hickenlooper, 66, said in a video announcing his campaign . “I’ve proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver.” Hickenlooper is expected to focus heavily on Iowa, where many Coloradans come from and a state where his low-key, genial approach could be potent. In previous trips he’s emphasized his record and how he can bring warring parties together. (AP, 5/4/19)

Inslee – Gov. Jay Inslee entered the 2020 presidential race Friday, launching a longshot campaign with a focused message that he’s the only candidate who would make defeating climate change the nation’s top priority. In a short video announcing his candidacy, Inslee repeats what has become his signature slogan in recent years: “We’re the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we’re the last that can do something about it.” He plans to leave the state for national media interviews, and will campaign in Iowa Tuesday and in Nevada later in the week. Inslee’s national ambitions have been evident for more than a year. He spent 2018 as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, traveling the country to help elect fellow Democrats while making valuable connections with national political donors and operatives. Inslee, 68, is an ex-congressman and state legislator who was elected governor in 2012, defeating then-state Attorney General Rob McKenna. He was re-elected to a second term in 2016, with 54 percent of the vote. (Seattle Post Intelligencer, 3/1/19)

  • Inslee is expected to sign bill barring independents from 2020 Prez Primary – A bill moving up the state’s presidential primaryto early March from late May cleared its final legislative hurdle Monday, ensuring Washington voters get a louder voice in determining the Democratic and Republican nominees for president next year. Democrats used their majority in the House to pass legislation which would result in an election March 10, 2020. The bill, which the Senate approved in January, passed on a 54-42 vote. Gov. Jay Inslee, currently one of the Democrats vying for his party’s presidential nomination, is expected to sign it. There is a catch which independent voters are not going to like. Under the bill, if voters want to participate they are going to have to say they are a member of the political party of the candidate they are backing. (Herald Net, 3/5/19)
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he has raised more than $1 million since launching his Democratic presidential campaign Friday. That’s a notable haul for a governor who starts his campaign less widely known than many of his competitors in a field dominated by senators. Inslee disclosed his mark Monday on MSNBC. He’d already announced that he has contributions from all 50 states. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar raised more than $1 million in her campaign’s first 48 hours. California Sen. Kamala Harris topped $1.5 million in her first 24 hours. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders dwarfed the field with a nearly $6 million haul on his first day. (NBC, 5/5/19)

Harris – Since announcing she was running for president of the United States, California Sen. Kamala Harris has been busy. On Thursday, Feb. 21, she had lunch with the Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia’s Restaurant, the famed soul food eatery in Harlem. Last month, she held a rally in her home state, a CNN town-hall event in Iowa and another town-hall like event in New Hampshire. They discussed criminal justice, voting rights and economic policies—all issues that are of concern to the Black community. (Amsterdam News, 2/28/19)

Warren – In Iowa, Warren underscored her campaign theme that the United States must seek large, structural transformation in government in lieu of incremental changes. The senator wrapped up a six-stop swing through northeast Iowa on Saturday afternoon. “This really is our moment and the need for us to get this right couldn’t be more urgent,” Warren said. “And let me also say I’m going to support our Democratic nominee all the way.” (DesMoines Register, 3/2/19)

Sanders – Needing to distinguish himself within a crowded field of Democrats, Bernie Sanders launched his 2020 presidential campaign Saturday near the Brooklyn, New York, neighborhood where he grew up in a quest to add a personal narrative to the liberal economic platform for which he’s known.  Sanders energized his loyal progressive followers with a nearly 40-minute  speech that leaned on a familiar populist message from his 2016 bid – a call to “no longer tolerate the greed of corporate America and the billionaire class.” But there was a heavier dose of biography than three years ago as he rolled out his new bid for the Democratic nomination. Sanders was introduced to the stage by his wife, Jane Sanders, Scott Slawson, president of the Erie, Pennsylvania chapter of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of American, and a trio of black leaders: Democratic South Carolina state Rep. Terry Alexander, Democratic Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, and social justice activist Shaun King. The three each painted Sanders as a lifelong fighter for the working class and underprivileged. (USA Today, 3/2/19)

Castro – Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro has said the first thing the United States needs to do is to make sure it is the smartest nation on earth. The way to be the smartest, the former San Antonio mayor and Obama administration housing secretary has been saying in Iowa and other states, is for the nation to start early by investing in pre-K education. Having made Pre-K 4 San Antonio (known as Pre-K 4 SA) happen, Castro pledged at his Jan. 12 speech announcing his 2020 run that as the nation’s chief executive, he would make “pre-K for the USA” happen. Trying to hit that nerve, Castro told the Democratic crowd at the Story County Soup Supper Fundraiser in Ames, Iowa on Feb. 24, “We’re good in investing in things — in roads, in bridges, in airports, in stadiums, but not oftentimes investing in people.” (NBC, 3/1/19))

Booker – About 500 people came to Reedy Fork Baptist Church on the outskirts of Simpsonville Friday to see and hear from Cory Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Booker, who will attend another campaign event in Charleston on Saturday, told reporters after Friday’s event that he intends “to go places where you often don’t see candidates.” (The State, 3/1/19)

New Hampshire

  • Sanders – Bernie Sanders is returning to New Hampshire this weekend for the first time as a 2020 White House contender. The Monitorlearned on Tuesday that the independent senator from Vermont will hold an event Sunday at noon at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. This event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required, but anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP in advance. (Concord Monitor, 3/5/19)

NOT running

  • Bloomberg – I’m not running for president, but I am launching a new campaign: Beyond Carbon. I know what it takes to run a winning campaign, and every day when I read the news, I grow more frustrated by the incompetence in the Oval Office. I know we can do better as a country. And I believe I would defeat Donald Trump in a general election. But I am clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field. (Bloomberg, 5/5/19)
  • Hillary Clinton definitively declared on Monday “I’m not running” in the 2020 presidential election, again throwing cold water on the still smoldering rumors that she might go for a 2016 rematch against President Donald Trump.  “I’m not running, but I’m going to keep working and speaking and standing up for what I believe,” she said in an interview with News 12, a regional cable news network in New York. “I’m not going anywhere.”
  • Merkley – S. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon has decided not to enter the increasingly crowded race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination after months of consideration. Merkley, who planned to formally announce his intentions on Tuesday, said in a telephone interview that he decided he would be more effective running for his third term in the Senate than being a candidate for the presidency. He aims to fight anti-democracy moves including voter suppression, gerrymandering and dark money.
  • Holder – Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday he would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, but will work to help the party recapture the White House and make gains in state legislatures ahead of the next round of congressional redistricting.


Mark Cuban – Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban has not ruled out the possibility of a presidential run in 2020, and that it “would take the exact right set of circumstances,” he said in an interview with New York Daily News. Cuban did not answer what the exact circumstances would be for him to run in 2020. However, he isn’t worried about running as an independent. “It’s not a question of reach, that’s the easy part. If you have a message that people want to hear and will grab onto, it doesn’t matter if you’re an independent or in one of the two main parties,” he said.(CBS Local, 5/5/19)