Top Notes – This Week in Presidential Politics (June 1– 7, 2019)

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

June 1– 7, 2019

Candidate Activity Summary (FiveThirtyEight, 6/7/10)

More than half of the Democratic field crowded into San Francisco this past weekend for the California Democratic Convention, where they tried to stand out in the crowded primary as the clock ticks away for the candidates to qualify for the first debates. And with less than a week for candidates to hit the threshold to make the debate stage, the Democratic National Committee announced a rule change that leaves Montana Gov. Steve Bullock on the outside looking in. Bullock had qualified for the first debates, in Miami at the end of June, based on polling, but the DNC said Thursday that two ABC News/Washington Post polls — one of which had put Bullock over the top — would no longer be counted. As of Thursday afternoon, that left 20 candidates who had met thresholds via polling and/or fundraising.  Meanwhile, the mass shooting in Virginia Beach last week brought the issue of gun violence to the fore, and former Vice President Joe Biden seemingly set himself apart from the rest of the crowd when he said he supported the Hyde amendment, which blocks federal funding of abortions. On Thursday, however, he appeared to reverse that position.

Michael Bennet (D) – Bennet met the polling criteria to participate in the first Democratic debate, which is scheduled to take place later this month in Miami. He received 1 percent support in a national CNN poll, the third qualifying poll in which he has earned 1 percent. In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Virginia, Bennet told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on “This Week” that he thinks the president “can make a difference.” The U.S. House “has passed background checks to close the internet loophole,” he said. “This person bought the guns lawfully, as we know. Every single fact pattern will be different. We should pass those background checks — 90 percent of Americans support it.”

The Colorado senator spent the weekend campaigning in South Carolina while many other Democratic presidential candidates were at the California Democratic Convention.

Joe Biden (D) – Biden broke from the other 2020 candidates when his campaign announced Wednesday that he supports the Hyde Amendment but that he would be open to repealing it. Then, on Thursday, he said he no longer supported the policy. “I’ve been working through the final details of my health care plan like others in this race, and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” he said. The Hyde Amendment was first passed in 1976 and says that federal funding cannot be used to pay for abortions. A few years later, Congress made an exemption for cases in which there was a threat to the patient’s life. An exemption for cases of rape or incest was added in the early 1990s. The law largely affects patients who are on Medicaid. Biden also released a $5 trillion climate plan that calls for net zero emissions of carbon pollution in the U.S. by 2050. The plan includes $1.7 trillion in federal spending over 10 years; the rest of the spending would come from the private sector.

Cory Booker (D) – The New Jersey senator unveiled a plan to make housing more affordable by offering a tax credit to people who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. According to researchers at Columbia University, the refundable renters credit would benefit more than 57 million people — including 17 million children — and lift 9.4 million Americans out of poverty.

Booker’s housing plan also includes measures to expand access to legal counsel for tenants facing eviction, reform restrictive zoning laws, build more affordable housing units and combat homelessness through funding grants. At the California Democratic Convention over the weekend, Booker also addressed the issue of gun violence. “We are seeing the normalization of mass murder in our country,” Booker said. “It is time that we come together and stand together and take the fight to the NRA and the corporate gun lobby like we have never seen before. We can lead that fight, and we can win.”

Steve Bullock (D) – On Wednesday, Bullock announced the first official policy of his presidential campaign, designed to keep foreign money out of U.S. elections. His “Check the Box” proposal would require all 501(c)(4) groups that aren’t required to disclose any of their donors and super PACs to “check a box” saying that they are not taking money from foreign actors. Lying “will carry the penalty of perjury,” according to Bullock’s policy. In a Des Moines Register op-ed, the Montana governor wrote: “Trump’s dark money loophole is telling these secretive groups that they don’t even have to disclose the source of their funding to the IRS. It opens the door not only to significantly more spending by corporations and wealthy donors, but also to potential spending by foreign entities.”

 Pete Buttigieg (D) – During a MSNBC town hall on Monday, Buttigieg said he “would not have applied that pressure” for Sen. Al Franken to resign in 2017 over sexual harassment allegations without first learning more about the claims.

“I think it was his decision to make,” the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said. “But I think the way that we basically held him to a higher standard than the GOP does their people has been used against us.” At the California Democratic Convention, Buttigieg leaned into his position as a Washington outsider and said the country needs “something completely different.” “Why not a middle-class millennial mayor with a track record in the industrial Midwest? Why not a mayor at a time when we need Washington to look more like our best run cities and towns, not the other way around? And why not someone who represents a new generation of leadership?” the 37-year-old mayor said.

Julian Castro (D) – The former secretary of housing and urban development unveiled a sweeping police reform plan Monday, with the goals of preventing officer-involved shootings, increasing transparency and ending “police militarization.” “Even though we have some great police officers out there, and I know that because I served as mayor of San Antonio, this is not a case of just a few bad apples,” Castro said on CNN. “The system is broken.”  Included in the proposal are restrictions on the use of deadly force, the increased adoption of technology such as body cameras, an end to stop-and-frisk tactics and expanded bias training.

Bill de Blasio (D) – De Blasio earned his first union endorsement since launching his presidential campaign. The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council announced their support on Wednesday and said it would campaign for the New York City mayor in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

 John Delaney (D) – Delaney criticized the DNC guidelines which include a 65,000 donor threshold as one criteria to qualify for the presidential debates. He argued that the criteria leaves voters excluded from the process. “I don’t think we should have a donor standard, I absolutely don’t think the Democratic Party should be about money. Fifty percent of the American people can’t afford basic necessities, I’m running for those people,” he said on MSNBC. On health care, the former congressman from Maryland was aggressively booed at the California Democratic Convention for denouncing Medicare for all as “bad policy.” His proposed health care plan would keep private insurance as an option.  After New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed Delaney’s health care plan over Twitter, urging the candidate to “sashay away” from his presidential run, Delaney responded by asking her to a debate, but Ocasio-Cortez declined. “I think that’s too bad because I think health care is the most important issue facing the American people and she obviously has an issue with my plan, based on that she tweeted that thing at me, and I would have loved to debate it because I think these things should be a battle of ideas,” Delaney said in a phone interview with ABC News.

 Tulsi Gabbard (D) – The Hawaii congresswoman reacted to the House passing the “DREAM and Promise Act” which would protect young undocumented immigrants and immigrants with temporary status who were once covered by the Obama-era DACA program. She said on Fox News, “The hyper-partisanship around this issue has gotten in the way of delivering a real solution. This legislation and finding a solution for these Dreamers is something that has had bipartisan support.”

 Kirsten Gillibrand (D) – Gillibrand released a plan to legalize marijuana, which called for expunging all non-violent marijuana convictions. Gillibrand said that under her plan, tax revenue from recreational marijuana would be put “towards programs that help repair the damage done by the War on Drugs.” The New York senator also participated in a town hall on Fox News, where she attacked the network for its coverage of abortion. Gillibrand was asked about her position on “late-term abortion” and she began her response by reiterating her stand that “when it comes to women’s reproductive freedom, it should be a woman’s decision.” She then criticized Fox News for creating “a false narrative” on the issue. Gillibrand was cut off by moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who said, “Senator, I just want to say we’ve brought you here for an hour.” Wallace continued, “We have treated you very fairly. I understand that, maybe, to make your credentials with the Democrats who are not appearing on Fox News, you want to attack us. I’m not sure it’s frankly very polite when we’ve invited you to be here.” Gillibrand said that she would “do it in a polite way,” but she was interrupted by Wallace again who said “instead of talking about Fox News, why don’t you answer Susan’s question?” referring to the question asked by the member of the audience. Still, Gillibrand attacked the network for their use of the word “infanticide,” calling it “illegal” and “not a fact.” She added, “I believe all of us have a responsibility to talk about the facts.”

Kamala Harris (D) – Harris was rushed off the stage Saturday while speaking at the MoveOn #BigIdeas forum in San Francisco after an activist rushed at her and grabbed the microphone out of her hand. Harris returned to the stage, about a minute later, to chants of “Ka-ma-la” from the audience. An animal activist group claimed responsibility for the man rushing the stage. He was identified by the group as Aidan Cook. The group’s spokesperson, Matt Johnson, told ABC News that Cook was not detained or arrested; he was simply kicked out.

John Hickenlooper (D) – The former Colorado governor has struggled to gain traction so far. He faced a disruptive crowd at the California Democratic Convention when he said, “If we want to beat Donald Trump and achieve big progressive goals, socialism is not the answer.” The crowd of Democratic activists responded to his message with a chorus of boos and a massive display of waving “Bernie” signs. Hickenlooper responded to the boos by saying, “You know, if we are not careful we are going to help re-elect the worst president in American history.”

 Jay Inslee (D) – The Washington governor has been pushing hard for the DNC to dedicate one of its presidential primary debates to the topic of climate change. DNC spokeswoman, Xochitl Hinojosa, responded in a statement saying, “the DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters.” Inslee called the DNC’s decision to not host a climate debate “deeply disappointing.” “The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time. Democratic voters say that climate change is their top issue; the Democratic National Committee must listen to the grassroots of the party,” Inslee’s campaign said in a press release.

 Amy Klobuchar (D) – Klobuchar secured her first Iowa endorsement from State Rep. Ruth Ann Gaines. Gaines said she’s endorsing Klobuchar because of the senator’s “commitment to addressing and prioritizing mental health.”

Seth Moulton (D) – Moulton said in a CNN town hall that if elected, he would seek to change current Department of Justice guidelines which prevent a sitting president from being indicted. The comment came after former special counsel Robert Mueller said that a “longstanding” department policy prevents a sitting president from being charged with a federal crime.

Beto O’Rourke (D) – O’Rourke released a voting rights plan which called for term limits for members of Congress and for Supreme Court justices. O’Rourke is calling for members of the House and Senate to serve for no more than 12 years, and for justices to be capped at one 18-year term. O’Rourke said that after a justice completes their term, they would be permitted to serve on the federal courts of appeals. The former Texas congressman’s plan also includes measures to increase voter participation, including by making Election Day a federal holiday and by allowing automatic and same-day voter registration.

Tim Ryan (D) – Ryan flipped his position on impeachment, this week, saying he believes Congress has to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump. The Ohio congressman made his announcement during a CNN town hall, saying that Mueller’s statement last week made him support impeachment.

 Bernie Sanders (D) – Sanders spoke at Walmart’s annual shareholders’ meeting on Wednesday, directly criticizing the company for paying its employees low wages and lobbying for a resolution that would give hourly workers representation on the company’s board of directors. As many Democratic candidates spoke out on abortion rights this week, comments by Sanders in 1972 — prior to the Roe v. Wade decision — resurfaced via Newsweek. He told a Vermont newspaper at the time that it struck him as “incredible” that the male-dominated state legislature, and politicians in general, “think that they have the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body.” This weekend, Sanders visits Iowa to speak at the Capital City Pride Candidate Forum in Des Moines, he will march with McDonald’s workers who are seeking higher wages and attend the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids, among several other events.

 Eric Swalwell (D) – Swalwell talked about his assault weapon ban and buyback plan on ABC’s “The View.” He said that he’s the only candidate calling to “ban and buy back every single assault weapon in America.” The California congressman also left the door open to drop out of the presidential race and run for re-election for his House seat. Swalwell said he is open to running for a fifth term in Congress, but said he wouldn’t make that decision until December.

Elizabeth Warren (D) – Warren announced on Thursday that her campaign staff has unionized. “My campaign has submitted their support to join IBEW 2320,” Warren tweeted. Her campaign joins a growing number of others that are showing support for unions and unionizing themselves. The Sanders and Castro campaigns have also unionized and the Swalwell campaign had previously said they were unionizing.

Andrew Yang (D) – During Pride Month, Yang tied his signature universal basic income proposal to the LGBTQ community, noting in a BuzzFeed interview that he’s heard from many people who say they’ve been kicked out of housing and fired from jobs over their sexual orientation. He said it is his plan to give all American adults $1,000 per month, which could help them “adjust if they’re economically singled out.” Yang will be among the speakers at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration in Cedar Rapids on Sunday.

2020 question continued: Aside from who wins DP nomination, who will emerge as the leader of the progressive movement?

Progressives Who Prefer Trump to Biden – By Ted Rall (WSJ, 6/4/19 – full article)

Bernie Sanders’s 2016 challenge to Hillary Clinton revealed a deep division in the Democratic Party—one that promises to get nastier as Joe Biden consolidates his status as 2020 front-runner. The clash revolves around “electability,” which those of us on the left regard as a chimera.

Centrists equate it to moderation, and they once had a point: Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton both reached the White House as middle-of-the-road Southern governors while classic northern liberals like Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry were defeated. But although Barack Obama was decidedly pro-business—Occupy Wall Street never forgave him for the bank bailouts—he marketed himself as a progressive via his hope-and-change rhetoric.

Today, centrism’s credibility lies dashed on the rocks of #ImWithHer. All Hillary’s dead-enders can do is insist that she “won the popular vote.” But she was supposed to win in a landslide. Some of her supporters blame recalcitrant progressives for her loss. They’re probably right.

Mrs. Clinton’s hawkishness and Wall Street ties were anathema to the left. After clinching the nomination, she pivoted right, even trying to create a Republicans for Hillary group. A stolen email from campaign chairman John Podesta listed Mr. Sanders 39th on a list of 39 vice-presidential prospects.

She shouldn’t have taken progressives for granted. More than 1 in 4 Sanders primary voters didn’t support Mrs. Clinton in November, according to a February 2019 FiveThirtyEight analysis of data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study. Twelve percent voted for Donald Trump; the rest backed minor-party candidates or stayed home. That amounts to at least 800,000 votes—10 times Mr. Trump’s combined margins in the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Kim McKinney Cohen, a leftist Democrat, told Politico her vote for Mr. Trump was “my primal scream” to the Democratic Party. “I wanted it burned down,” she said, “so that we could build a new, hopefully more equitable one that meets the needs of all, not only the superrich.”

Winning the next election isn’t necessarily more important than the long-term objective of winning over the Democratic Party. Progressives’ broader aim is to move the 50-yard-line of American politics to the left. In the Trump era they feel ascendant. The leftward surge in 2018 gave us Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other celebrity progressives. Most of the major Democratic presidential candidates—Mr. Biden notably excepted—at least pretend to be progressive by endorsing measures such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.

But centrists are coalescing around the idea that Mr. Trump is so dangerous that the Democrats must unite behind the most “electable” candidate to save the country from him—never mind that in 2016 that approach gave us Mr. Trump.

Hard as it is for centrist Democrats to fathom, many progressives would rather see a second Trump term than a President Biden, who would govern through Clintonian triangulation. And all those progressives have to do to win is sit on their hands.

Biden / Sanders / Independents (Emerson Polling Report) – a trend of Biden and Sanders primary voters is beginning to emerge: among other variables, a Biden voter is more likely to be a registered Democrat as compared to the Sanders voter who is more likely to be Independent.” Kimball adds, “if this trend holds, those states that have closed primary/caucuses will present a distinct advantage for Biden, as Independents won’t be able to vote in those contests”. Among those registered as Democrats, Biden leads Sanders 42% to 19%, but among Independent voters, Sanders leads Biden 34% to 26%. According to the NC Secretary of State office, about 37% of the state is registered as Democrat, and 32% are registered as unaffiliated (aka independent voters).

Incumbency Protection Scheme DP Congressional Races in 2020 (NYT, 6/2/19) – A move by House Democratic leaders to thwart party members from mounting primary challenges to incumbents, even in safe Democratic districts, could have the unintended consequence of arresting the party’s shift toward a more female and racially diverse caucus, one of its most striking achievements of the last election.  Last week, a Democratic political consultant with longstanding ties to the party’s campaign committees quit a senior-partner position at the firm Deliver Strategies after it, like most dominant campaign outfits, agreed to comply with a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee policy barring it from conducting business with a primary opponent of a sitting Democrat.

NOT running

Hogan – (The Atlantic, 6/3/19) Larry Hogan presents a drastic contrast to Donald Trump: He’s a generally popular Republican governor of a blue state with a low-key demeanor, sitting barely 30 miles down the road from Washington in Annapolis. And there he’ll stay. Though Hogan had been recruited to run against Trump in the 2020 Republican primary, he told The Washington Post on Saturday that he would not, citing both unfinished work in Maryland and Trump’s seeming invincibility among GOP voters.

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