Being Mike Bloomberg (Presidential Candidate?)

Being Mike Bloomberg (Presidential Candidate?)
By Jacqueline Salit

November 13, 2019
(First appeared on IVN)

I rarely give advice when it is unsolicited. But when you know someone, and you’ve had a history with them, and when the stakes are high and people are asking what you think, you make an exception. Thus, I’ve decided to offer some to Mike Bloomberg, who says he is considering a Democratic Party primary run for the presidency.

I consider Mike a friend, whose campaigns for mayor of New York I helped to engineer—including running the Independence Party segment of his three mayoral bids. He and I (along with others) conspired (unsuccessfully) to bring nonpartisan election reform to the Big Apple. I am among many—from all walks of life—who think he was a great independent mayor. Mike, here’s my advice.

1. Let the public know if you’re serious about running for President this time. No more floating, please. Been there, done that, twice. In 2008, while you were still mayor, your guys had a look at an independent presidential scenario. Of course, the press ate up the rumors. Then, you told the public you wouldn’t run, but that “the forces that prevent meaningful progress are powerful and they exist in both parties.” Good message! Still is! In 2016, you took another look at an independent run. Spent a bunch of money hiring staff, stoking the rumor mill, making ballot access preparations. As a consequence, no other major independent stepped forward. You were The One, no one of mainstream stature could compete. Then, you announced you wouldn’t run, you didn’t want to split the vote and get Donald Trump (or Ted Cruz) elected. You gave a primetime speech at the Democratic Convention and backed Hillary. And then Trump got elected. Now you say you may get in the race, this time as a Democrat. Your prerogative. Sorry to see you leave the independent fold. You filed papers in Alabama—not exactly a Bloomberg stronghold—but the deadline was the deadline. More deadlines coming up soon.  More filings? More speculation? There’s a difference between testing the waters and playing footsie. At least in my book.

2. Let’s say you are serious, that you are really testing the waters for a run. That means you have to offer not just a rationale but a vision for your candidacy. What will that be? If you offer the American people the opportunity to build a new political coalition, you may get somewhere. Don’t fall into the trap of offering up centrism or moderation as an alternative to progressivism or radicalism. Those categories are shallow. If you think you can be a catalyst for fusing progress, pragmatism and independent reform on a national level, then tell the American people that’s what you’re trying to do. You’re not interested in saving the Democratic Party. (All the so-called radicals in the Democratic Party are dedicated to saving the party.) You want to save the country. That’s much more important. And, by the way, much more radical. But don’t demonize Warren, Sanders, AOC, and the like. They are patriots who care deeply about this country, even if you don’t agree with some of their approaches.

Mike Bloomberg’s first press conference after announcing his candidacy was in support of nonpartisan municipal elections and organized by the NYC Independence Party. Jackie Salit at microphone.

3. Be the non-partisan reformer I know that you are. That’s how you governed in New York City. You spent a decade, millions of dollars, and some significant political capital trying to break party machine control of the municipal election process. You knew that there were one million independent voters in the city who were barred from primary voting and you (we) tried to change that system. Shame on those who opposed us. If you get into the presidential primary race, you will be running in states where independent voters—now 45% of the country—will be locked out, turned away, nullified, or forced to join a party in order to cast a ballot. Oh, your home base of New York is one of them! Make that voter suppression an issue in your campaign. Challenge your competitors to stand with you. The DNC could direct every state party with a closed primary to shift to an open system. It’s not too late. And as a practical matter, you need to win 15% of the primary vote in most states in order to win any delegates to the Democratic Convention. If your hope is to go to the convention with enough delegates to influence the direction of the party, you’re going to need those independent voters. Remember, it was independents who gave you your margin of victory for mayor.

4. Talk about how when you were mayor, you worked across the aisle, across communities, across ideologies, across multiple interests. Talk about how you would like to bring that independence to national government. Donald Trump may be a bad guy, a bad businessman, a disgrace to the nation, and all that, but he was willing to take on some sacred cows. Are you? Whoever runs against Trump will have to do that, too. You know how to mix it up. I saw you do it when the New York political establishment mercilessly pressured you not to.

5. Don’t let the liberal media intimidate you. They can be bullies as much as Trump is a bully. Only they package it in a velvet glove. The New York Times just ran a column by Charles Blow arguing that no Black person or ally of Black people should vote for you because of the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk policies while you were mayor. Really? As we know, the courts directed reform of that policing program. But this Times’ editorialist seems to have forgotten that when you ran for re-election in 2005, during which time Stop and Frisk was in full effect, you got 47% of the Black vote. The independents helped you build that relationship and helped you appeal to the dissatisfaction of the African American community with the Democratic Party machine. Will you work to do that again?

6. You better figure out what the hell you’re going to say about Rudy Giuliani. Most partisan political analysts credit him with your win in 2001. I never bought that line. It was a cover-up of what really happened. It was the independents who put you in office. It might be time for you to recast the Rudy story and set the record straight.

Mike, I hope you’re thinking about all of the above. I know it’s unsolicited, but independents don’t always wait to be asked. But you know that. Know this, too. Our door is always open.

Footnotes:

  1.  Bloomberg vote totals on various party lines 2001, 2005, 2009.
  2.  Sampling of black media from 2001/2002 on Bloomberg’s campaign.

Arizona Independents Reach Out to Candidates

Independent voters in Arizona have sent letters to each of the 2020 presidential candidate outlining a looming voting rights injustice in which one third of the state’s voters will be denied the right to vote in the primary election because they are independents.

The letter notes that independents are permitted to vote in every other primary and general election held in Arizona and that exclusion from voting in the Democratic Presidential Preference Election is “punitive and arbitrary.”  It also states that the “exclusion can be corrected by simple action of the Arizona Democratic Party.

It states:

Dear _______:

On March 17, 2020 the Arizona Democratic Party will hold its presidential primary, known as the Presidential Preference Election (“PPE”). The Arizona Republican Party has closed ranks behind Donald Trump and decided not to hold a primary. However, as currently designed, the Democratic PPE will exclude fully one third (34%) of the state’s electorate from participating. These voters (1,267,340 as of July 1, 2019) are registered independents. As you may be aware, independents are permitted to vote in every other primary and general election held in Arizona. Thus, their exclusion from voting in the Democratic Presidential Preference Election is punitive and arbitrary. The good news is that this exclusion can be corrected by a simple action of the Arizona Democratic Party.

We are writing to ask that you call on Arizona Democratic State Chair Felecia Rottelini and the elected State Committee to open the 2020 PPE to independent voters. They have the full authority to do this at their party’s upcoming state committee meeting on September 21st in Prescott, Arizona.

Gallup’s June poll shows that 46% of voters nationwide identify as independents. Among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 49% are independents. Among millennials, the number is over 50%. In Arizona, over 40% of Latino voters choose to be independents. This is a community of voters that should not be marginalized by an obsolete practice. In Arizona, we are taxpayers who are currently forced to fund an election from which we are excluded.

Independents have been determining the outcome of national elections for over a decade. Increased turnout by independents in the 2018 midterms was widely credited with swinging control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the Democratic Party. Standing up for independents’ right to vote in the Arizona presidential primary elections is critical now.

Arizona’s 2016 presidential primary was a debacle that made national headlines when many independent voters, then the largest voting community in the state, came out to vote and were turned away. This became one of the excuses offered by election officials for their failure to provide sufficient voting locations, and independents were blamed for the long lines in which voters waited for up to five hours to cast a ballot. Far from being the cause of problems in the state’s voting system, independent voters are the victims of its defects. Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, a Democrat elected to replace the former Recorder responsible for the debacle, is an outspoken advocate for opening 2020 presidential primary voting to non-aligned voters. He is joined by one of state’s leading civil rights attorneys, Danny Ortega.

We acknowledge that seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party means abiding by the rules of a private organization with associational rights protected by the Supreme Court of the United States. We also rely on the Supreme Court ruling that allows political parties to open their primaries without court or legislative approval. Thus, this exclusion can be solved simply by state party action.

You seek the office of President of the United States. That means standing up for a healthy and inclusive democracy for all Americans, regardless of party or non-affiliation. We ask that you make your support for an inclusive PPE known to your Arizona party leaders at the soonest possible moment.

EYES on 2020 – An Interim Report

Independent Voting has published a 39 page interim report outlining the progress of the EYES on 2020 campaign, which is pressing for the inclusion of independents in the presidential primaries across the country. The report includes state by state updates, a review of the significant inroads made, sample press coverage and organizing materials.

We launched EYES on 2020 in January of this year to address a hidden form of voter suppression in our national election process — the exclusion of close to 26 million independents from the presidential primaries. We wanted to test the willingness of the parties to adapt themselves to a new and permanent set of circumstances in our democracy — namely that upwards of 44% of Americans have become independents. They have no intention of giving up their independents to join a political party.”

Jackie Salit, President

EYES on 2020 – An Interim Report

Results of Independents’ Debate Scorecard

Eighty-seven people in the Independent Voting network took our survey and gave a strong critique of the candidates and moderator performances as they looked for signs of recognition and respect for independent voters and support for political reform. Many were left wanting and with dim impressions of candidates’ views on independents and our concerns.

They all act like if we are watching, we must think Democrats are the heroes.Anonymous

TV ratings for the debates were higher than predicted by NBC executives who said privately they didn’t expect viewership to top 10 million. The first night of debate had 15.3 million viewers and the second had 18.1 million.

Independents, however remained critical of the debate format and the moderators.

Not only did they (moderators) not speak about independent voters, they actively suppressed that information.  By that I mean, they ran the debate as a power contest among conventional front-runner candidates, thus damping down the ability of more creative, less partisan candidates to get their point of view across.— N.L, Cincinnati, OH

I’ve come to the conclusion that the debates are rigged to a certain extent by the media and with the type of topics covered and how much time they gave candidates based on where the response was going.— M.H. Washington, DC

While Gallup’s June figures show that 46% of Americans consider themselves independent, this plurality of voters was never mentioned by any of the 5 moderators and only referenced by 2 of the 20 Democratic Party candidates : Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Yang.

We were not mentioned in any way that includes us as who we are in the body politic.” — D.B, New York, NY

Political reform was a topic on both nights of the debate, as several candidates referred to the need to address issues such as political corruption, gerrymandering, automatic and same day voter registration, a new voting rights act, and campaign finance reform.

Here are additional results:

  • 69% said one or more candidate struck them as being other than a politician
  • 72% said one or more candidate expressed values that they felt close to
  • 48% said they lived in a state where the DP did not permit them to vote
  • 18% didn’t know if they could vote in the DP primary
  • 31% said they were permitted to vote in the DP primary

The next set of debates takes place July 30-31 in Detroit and will be sponsored by CNN with Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper moderating.

PA Senate Passes Bill to Give Independent Voters a Voice

                  PennLive (6/25/19)

 

The days of independent voters sitting on the sideline during Pennsylvania’s primary elections could be coming to an end. The Senate voted 42-8 to open primaries to allow the 785,000 unaffiliated voters to cast votes on either the Republican or Democratic ballots, starting with next year’s primary.

This is the first time this landmark bill that would move away from closed primaries ever got this far in the legislative process.

The measure, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, now goes to the House for consideration. But it could get folded into a broader election reform bill that includes a number of voting-related measures that are still being negotiated between the House, Senate and Gov. Tom Wolf as part of the overall budget package.

Wolf has signaled his interest in supporting open primaries.

“We’re thrilled to see the tremendous progress made on primary reform” said David Thornburgh, president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan better government advocate. “Our closed primaries were never fair to the voters who were shut out of these important elections, and the consequences of partisan bases gaining a disproportionate impact on who enters public office and their agendas has also been harmful to the effectiveness of government as a whole.”

Pennsylvania would join 16 other states that open their primaries to unaffiliated voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-Chester County, noted that the number of independent voters is the fastest growing segment of Pennsylvania’s voters.

“We need to respect those voters,” he said. “This is the great middle in both parties including the independents feel they’ve been left out of the political process and that the extremes have taken over. This bill gives a voice to that great middle.”

Right now, independent voters can only vote on ballot questions in primaries and so many don’t turn out to the polls.

Sen. Lisa Boscola, D-Lehigh County, said she has been calling for this change for over 20 years.

“Frankly, our democracy doesn’t work if our citizens can’t participate,” she said. “We need to do all we can to encourage voting. Our election law often does the opposite.”

Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery County, failed in her attempt to allow third-party voters to cast votes in primaries as well. Scarnati said those voters have made a choice as to which party they want to be affiliated with and have a voice in picking their party’s nominee.

Among those voting against the move to open primaries were five Republicans and three Democrats. Sens. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York County, said she opposed it because her constituents told her it made them uncomfortable. Sens. Pat Stefano, R-Westmoreland County, said it would make primary elections more costly for candidates because they would have to reach out to a broader audience to ask for their vote.

In a separate measure, the Senate voted 30-20 on a bill Boscola sponsored to eliminate straight party voting. She said over the last decades, nine states have removed this option from their ballot and now Pennsylvania is one of only eight states to still allow straight-ticket voting.

“Straight ticket voting promotes the election of a party not the election of a candidate,” Boscola said. “Straight ticket voting makes it more difficult for independent and minor party candidates to complete against the two major parties and I think that’s bad for our democracy.”

Several of her Democratic colleagues, however, opposed the bill, including some that supported it when the Senate State Government Committee considered the legislation. Senate Democratic spokeswoman Brittany Crampsie said her caucus is committed to modernizing elections but “election reform is a broad umbrella; open primaries and ending straight party voting are just two issues where our members aren’t all in the same place philosophically.”

Wolf spokesman J.J. Abbott said the governor is still evaluating the elimination of a straight-party voting option.

The chamber also voted to approve a bill to reduce the number of ballots that have to be printed to at least 10 percent of the highest number of ballots cast in any of the three previous like election.

Independent’s Scorecard for the June 26 – 27 Presidential Primary Debates

Print out the scorecard for independent voters and use it to measure the appeal of each of the 20 candidates participating in the first Democratic Party presidential primary debates sponsored by NBC/MSNBC and Telemundo on June 26th and 27th.   Once you’ve completed the scorecard, scan it and send your results to [email protected] or use the online scorecard to enter your results.

We will tabulate your responses and release the results of the “independents’ scorecard” to the media.

Twenty candidates vying for the Democratic Party nomination will appear in the first televised debates on Wednesday, June 26th and Thursday, June 27th.  By lottery the candidates were divided by NBC into two groups of ten.  The five debate moderators are:  Rachel Maddox, Lester Holt, Savannah Guthrie, José Diaz-Balart and Chuck Todd.

You can send a debate question to NBC here.

Democrats’ support among independent voters has declined over the last three presidential elections.  In 2008, Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama received 52% of the independent vote to John McCain’s 44%.  In 2012, independents broke for Republican Mitt Romney over Obama 50% to 45% and in 2016, for Trump over Clinton by a margin of 46% to 42%. Independents share of the electorate grew over the same period, from 29% in the 2008 and 2012 elections, to 31% of the electorate in 2016. While current polling shows a majority of independent voters inclined towards supporting a Democrat for President, the primary process is just getting underway.  In approximately half the states, including the early primary states of NH and SC, local Democratic Party organizations permit independents to vote in presidential primary elections.

Candidate Scorecard Questions:

  • Did any of the candidates mention independent voters?
  • Did any of the candidates give any indication that there is massive distrust with both parties, not just Trump and Republicans?
  • Did any of the candidates offer a critique of the parties?
  • Was political reform mentioned?
  • Were there any advocates for political reform among the candidates?
  • Did any of the candidates mention that 40% of the American people are independents?
  • Did any of the candidates strike you as being other than a politician?
  • Did any of the candidates express values that you felt close to?
  • Did any of the candidates put the interest of people before the interest of the parties?
  • Did any of the moderators speak about independent voters?
  • As an independent does the Democratic Party allow you to vote in the presidential primary in your state?

Last summer, over 5,000 independents participated in a summer survey conducted by Independent Voting. The survey asked unique questions about how independents view their place within the political system, their relationship to the parties and the rules of the electoral game. Survey Results – PDF

Independents are now the largest voting bloc in the American electorate according to Gallup, which has tracked voters by party affiliation for decades. This year the percentage of Americans who self-identify as independent has fluctuated between 41% – 45%, far outpacing both Democrats (27% – 32%) and Republicans (22% – 28%).

# # #

 

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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Top Notes – This Week in Presidential Politics (May 25– 31, 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

May 25– 31, 2019

Candidate Summary: (Source: Five Thirty Eight)

Michael Bennet (D) – It isn’t clear whether Michael Bennet will qualify for the first debate in June. He has yet to reach the 65,000-donor threshold and still needs to crack 1 percent in another qualifying poll in the next month. He stated this past week, however, that he will keep going even if he does not qualify for the first debate and will hold out until the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary next year. This weekend, he is making his first stop in South Carolina since launching his presidential bid.

Joe Biden (D) – Biden released the first major policy proposal of his campaign, on public education. His plan would boost federal funding for low-income school districts, increase teacher pay, make preschool universal and increase investment into mental health services for K-12 students. Biden will make his second campaign trip to Iowa on June 11 — the same day Trump is scheduled to visit the state for a fundraiser.

Cory Booker (D) – After Mueller’s public statement, Booker called for impeachment proceedings against Trump for the first time. “Robert Mueller’s statement makes it clear,” Booker tweeted. “Congress has a legal and moral obligation to begin impeachment proceedings immediately.” The senator has previously expressed hesitation in calling for impeachment, even as other Democratic presidential contenders approved of such a step. This week, Booker made his third trip to Nevada to appeal to swing voters.

Steve Bullock (D) – The Montana governor who declared his candidacy earlier this month is working to catch up to other campaigns, especially in Iowa. This past week, Bullock hired 10 more staffers in the first-in-the-nation caucus state to help build grassroots support.

Pete Buttigieg (D) – On ABC’s “This Week,” Buttigieg told Martha Raddatz that “there is no question” that the president used bone spurs as an excuse to avoid service. “I think to any reasonable observer that the president found a way to falsify a disabled status, taking advantage of his privileged status in order to avoid serving,” he said. Buttigieg also criticized Trump for meeting with Kim Jong Un, saying that it gave the North Korean government “legitimacy.” “The way diplomacy works, the way deals work, is you give someone something in return for something … it hasn’t worked at all,” he said. After Mueller’s statement, Buttigieg tweeted: “This is as close to an impeachment referral as it gets. Robert Mueller could not clear the president, nor could he charge him — so he has handed the matter to Congress, which alone can act to deliver due process and accountability.”

Julian Castro (D) – In a tweet last Thursday, Castro pledged to refuse contributions from oil, gas and coal industry executives. “Since day one, my campaign refused contributions from PACs, corporations, and lobbyists,” he said. “Today I announced we’re also refusing contributions from oil, gas, and coal executives — so you know my priorities are with the health of our families, climate and democracy.” The former secretary of housing and urban development is also set to participate in a Fox News town hall on June 13. Many Democratic presidential contenders have wrestled with the decision to participate in events hosted by the news network, but Castro will be the fifth to do so.

Bill de Blasio (D) – During CNN’s “State of the Union,” de Blasio said that the 1994 crime bill, which Biden helped pass when he served in the Senate, was a “huge mistake.” “That crime bill was one of the foundations of mass incarceration in a very painful era in our nation’s history,” de Blasio said. “The [former] vice president and anyone else has to be accountable for every vote they take and what’s on their record, and I think that was a huge mistake.” De Blasio also said that he understands Trump’s tricks and strategies better than other Democratic candidates and can “get under his skin.” “I know something about Donald Trump that’s different from the other candidates because I watched him for decades,” the New York City mayor said.

John Delaney (D) – Delaney has made the cut to participate in the first debate, having met the polling threshold for qualification. But he has not met the 65,000-donor threshold. This could complicate his chances to participate if more than 20 candidates qualify because candidates who meet both thresholds will have their spots secured first. On ABC News’s “The Briefing Room,” he said the debates are “really important” to his campaign’s ability to gain traction and blasted “the crazy DNC methodologies” that might keep him off the debate stage. Delaney also released a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that would create seven new infrastructure funds and increase the size of the highway trust fund.

Tulsi Gabbard (D) – Earlier this week, Gabbard, who served in a medical unit of the Hawaii Army National Guard, criticized some politicians who she said, in a statement to ABC News, exploit the real meaning of Memorial Day. “Nothing angers me more than the hypocrisy exhibited every Memorial Day by warmongering politicians and media pundits feigning sympathy for those who paid the ultimate price in service to our country while simultaneously advocating for more counterproductive regime-change wars and the new Cold War and arms race,” she said. The Hawaii congresswoman has made foreign policy a centerpiece of her agenda, highlighting her credentials as a veteran. She also recently signaled during an interview with Fox News that if she were to win the presidency, she would re-enter the Iran nuclear deal. Gabbard heads to the West Coast this weekend for the California Democratic Party convention and other events.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D) – Mueller’s public statement Wednesday moved Gillibrand to explicitly support steps to remove the president. “It’s time for Republicans and Democrats to begin impeachment hearings and follow the facts wherever they may lead,” she said in a statement. “We cannot let this president defy basic accountability measures built into our Constitution.” The New York senator also landed her first New Hampshire endorsementthis week, from state Rep. Sue Ford, who said she’s “the best person” for the White House.

Kamala Harris (D) – Harris stopped by Wofford College in South Carolina for an MSNBC town hall to outline her plan to confront the spate of anti-abortion laws sweeping across the country. “Are we going to go back to the days of back-alley abortions? Women died before we had Roe v. Wade in place. On this issue, I’m kinda done,” she said. Harris also joined Booker and Gillibrand in calling for impeachment, tweeting: “Now it is up to Congress to hold this president accountable. We need to start impeachment proceedings. It’s our constitutional obligation.” Harris returns to her home state this weekend for the California Democratic Party convention and the MoveOn Big Ideas Series.

John Hickenlooper (D) – Hickenlooper unveiled a proposal to “protect the reproductive rights” of women by expanding access to contraception. “I think that it’s a fundamental inalienable right that women should have control over their own bodies,” Hickenlooper told MSNBC. “What’s going on in Indiana and even Missouri now, I mean so many states, is horrific.” On Thursday, after Mueller’s statement, Hickenlooper called for impeachment proceedings, telling CNN: “After listening to Mueller, and I wanted to hear what he had to say, I think of myself as an extreme moderate. But I think he laid the responsibility clearly at the doorstep of Congress.” “I think we have to begin an impeachment inquiry,” he said.

Jay Inslee (D) – Inslee announced this week that he had crossed the 65,000-donor mark, virtually assuring himself a spot on the debate stage next month. At a campaign stop in Nevada, the Washington governor endorsed Marie Newman, who is staging a Democratic primary challenge in Illinois’s 3rd Congressional District to oust one of the few pro-life Democrats still left in Congress. Inslee joins Gillibrand as the only other 2020 Democratic candidate to weigh in on the race. Gillibrand endorsed Newman in April. Inslee is set to address the California Democratic Party’s state convention this weekend.

Amy Klobuchar (D) – At a campaign stop in Iowa over the weekend, Klobuchar recounted to a crowd the day of Trump’s “dark inauguration,” when she was sitting between Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain. “John McCain kept reciting to me names of dictators during that speech because he knew more than any of us what we were facing as a nation,” Klobuchar said. “He understood it. He knew because he knew this man more than any of us did.” This prompted a response from McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, who asked Klobuchar to leave her “father’s legacy and memory out of presidential politics.”

Wayne Messam (D) – Messam reiterated his call for impeachment on Wednesday, writing in a tweet that “Congress must now do its job of oversight and do what Mueller wasn’t allowed to.”

Seth Moulton (D) – Moulton, a former Marine Corps officer, disclosed this week that he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Iraq in 2008 — as he announced a new plan to expand military mental health services for active-duty members of the military and veterans. “I had some particular experiences or regrets from the war that I just thought about every day, and occasionally I’d have bad dreams or wake up in a cold sweat,” Moulton told Politico in an interview. “But because these experiences weren’t debilitating … it took me a while to appreciate that I was dealing with post-traumatic stress and I was dealing with an experience that a lot of other veterans have.” Moulton unveiled his plan as part of a “Veterans Mental Health Tour” on Tuesday in Massachusetts and will continue his tour in Nevada this weekend.

Beto O’Rourke (D) – The former Texas congressman rolled out a sweeping immigration policy proposal this week that would, among other things, establish a pathway to citizenship for the roughly 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S., invest $5 billion in foreign aid to “Northern Triangle” countries in Central America, and increase the number of immigration lawyers at the southern border. “The current administration has chosen to defy this American aspiration, drafted into our Declaration of Independence, welded into the welcome of our Statue of Liberty, and secured by the sacrifices of countless generations,” a memo from the campaign read. “Instead, the current administration is pursuing cruel and cynical policies that aim to sow needless chaos and confusion at our borders.”

Tim Ryan (D) – Ryan tiptoed closer to calling for impeachment proceedings, without explicitly calling on Congress to open an inquiry. “The President, no President, is above the law,” Ryan wrote on Twitter. “And it’s Congress’ job to make sure we are true to our founding principle that the President is not a King and must answer to the American people.”

Bernie Sanders (D) – Before a series of negative headlines about the senator’s second attempt to capture the presidency, Sanders returned to his home state of Vermont for a rally in Montpelier and went on the offensive, turning his attention to taking on Trump. “The underlying principles of our government will not be racism, will not be sexism, will not be xenophobia and will not be religious bigotry — and all the other mean-spirited beliefs of the Trump administration,” Sanders told the crowd. Sanders’s campaign also took on Biden in emails to supporters. Sanders’s campaign manager Faiz Shakir had previously attacked the Biden campaign for their “high-dollar” fundraisers and did so again. “These are not grassroots fundraising events. These are high-dollar functions hosted and attended by corporate lobbyists, health care executives, a Republican casino-CEO, and a union-busting lawyer among others,” the email reads. “We can win elections without begging those people for money. And, indeed, we are more likely to win with a candidate who does not.”

Eric Swalwell (D) – Swalwell said that as a white man, he understands when to promote the voices of others. In a video interview with Vice News, Swalwell said: “A white guy who doesn’t see other identities or understand other experiences should not be president.” “I do,” Swalwell continued. “And where there would be gaps in my knowledge or my experience, I will pass the mic to people who do have that experience.” And after Mueller’s public statement Wednesday, Swalwell told MSNBC that he warned other House members to be prepared for impeachment proceedings, without explicitly calling for the start of a probe. “‘Prepare for impeachment.’ That’s what I’ve told my colleagues,” he said.

Elizabeth Warren (D) – Asked whether she believed Mueller might be convinced to testify before Congress or be drawn to speak out against comments from the president, Warren said on ABC’s “The View” on Thursday that she didn’t take Mueller for someone who would act on impulse. “I think Mueller’s got a slow pulse. He knows what he’s doing. I don’t think rage is how he rolls,” she said. “I think he’s one of those people who says read the footnotes.” Warren added that she thought this wasn’t about politics for Mueller, saying: “It’s about the Constitution. It’s not only about this president, but it’s about what are the rules for the next president and the next president?” The Massachusetts senator has not shied away from her proposal to break up big tech companies ahead of her visit to the Bay Area this weekend for California’s Democratic convention. On Thursday, Warren unveiled a billboard that her campaign put up in San Francisco. It says “BREAK UP BIG TECH” next to a photo of her.

Andrew Yang (D) – On Tuesday, Yang signed a pledge to end the “Forever War,” which calls for the end of U.S. involvement in military conflicts overseas in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. “We’ve continued in a constant state of war for the last seventeen years, and it has cost us tremendously in American lives as well as billions of dollars that could have been used to help families here at home,” Yang said in a statement. The tech entrepreneur joined fellow 2020 hopefuls Warren, Sanders and Mike Gravel in signing onto the pledge.

Debates –  (USA Today, 5/29/19) It’s going to be more difficult for Democratic presidential candidates to the make the stage of the third and fourth debates, according to new qualifying rules released by the Democratic National Committee Wednesday. For debates scheduled for September and October, candidates will have to hit 2% in four qualifying polls and tally at least 130,000 individual donors, according to the DNC guidance.  For the first and second rounds of debates, the DNC is requiring candidates to either hit at least 1% in three polls or receive campaign contributions from at least 65,000 donors. The higher polling threshold could certainly narrow who from the nearly two dozen candidate field will make it to the stage. So far, eight candidates have hit received 2% or more support in four national or early-state voting polls: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris,  Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg and Beto O’Rourke.  The DNC also announced Wednesday that the third debate will be hosted on Sept. 12 by ABC News, in partnership with Univision. A second night of debating will be held to accommodate a large field if necessary, according to the DNC.

(The Hill, 5/26/19)- A crowded field of two dozen Democrats are jostling for one of the 20 spots in the debates set to kick off next month, in what could provide a make-or-break moment for the campaigns. The DNC has said it will prioritize candidates who meet both thresholds if more than 20 contenders hit at least one of the qualifications and could then use a series of tiebreakers to further narrow down the field.

Met both fundraising and polling thresholds

Met only polling threshold

Met only fundraising threshold

  • None

Met neither threshold

Poll on Fox News Appearances – (The Hill, 5/30/19)  The vast majority of Democratic voters say presidential candidates from their party should participate in Fox News town halls, despite opposition from some high-profile White House hopefuls, according to a new poll. In a Hill-HarrisX survey released Thursday, 78 percent of registered voters who identified as Democrats said candidates for the party’s 2020 nomination should appear in the televised events hosted by the cable network. Independent and Republican voters also backed the idea of Democrats appearing on Fox News — 75 percent of independents were supportive, as were 79 percent of Republicans. Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez in March ruled out partnering with Fox News for a candidate forum, citing a news reports alleging close ties between President Trump and several network employees. A month later, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) brought Fox News back into the Democratic conversation by participating in a town hall discussion hosted by the network. He received higher ratings than similar events hosted by CNN.

  • Fox Newswill host 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary, for a town hall on June 13 at 6:30 p.m. ET. “Special Report” host Bret Baier and “The Story” host Martha MacCallum will moderate the one-hour event live from Phoenix.

Nevada – (The Hill, 5/27/19) … is lining up to the be the wild card in the Democratic presidential primary. The Silver State, which is third in line to vote in the 2020 nominating process, has largely been ignored by the candidates in the rush to lavish attention on Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. So far, only seven of the 24 Democrats running for president have paid staff on the ground in Nevada, making it anyone’s ball game and a potential launching pad for a dark horse candidate trying to break out from the pack. Nevada has the fastest growing AAPI population in the country and the state party has added Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, to the voter preference ballots, alongside English and Spanish. On her last trip, Harris met with an AAPI advocacy group and separately with a Latino organizing association…Her state director is Ernesto Apreza, who was featured in Spanish-language ads that ran in Nevada for President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012. More than a quarter of Nevada’s population is Latino. “We’re talking to every voter, we think everyone is within reach,” said a Harris campaign aide. “But a big part of what we’re doing is organizing with communities of color. Latinos, AAPI and African-Americans are a big part of the vote out here.” The working-class population in Nevada is transient and the labor movement, led by the culinary workers, is a political force. Rural voters can be tough to reach in a state where 13 percent of the population does not have internet access.

Food and Farming(Civileats, 5/29/19) Food and Farming haven’t been high on the list of campaign priorities in recent decades, except maybe in Iowa. But this year, that appears to be shifting. With the pivotal role that rural voters played in the 2016 election firmly in mind, many presidential candidates are zooming in to address the challenges that abound in today’s farm country. And a number of them are connecting agriculture to other pressing issues—notably climate change, food insecurity, economic development, and more. We first published this article on May 29, 2019; throughout the 2020 campaign, Civil Eats will be tracking how each candidate approaches food and farming, and we’ll update the information as their platforms develop.

Independent Candidate PAC(Seattle Times, 5/30/19) Eighteen months ago, a former Washington state Republican Party chair and a former Democratic congressman came together to launch Washington Independents, a new political-action committee dedicated to supporting centrist, independent candidates for office. “The American people are hungry for an alternative to the status quo, to the dysfunction and the gridlock in the two political parties,” former state Republican Party Chair Chris Vance said at the time. Not that hungry, it turns out. Vance and former Democratic Rep. Brian Baird announced Tuesday that they were suspending all operations of Washington Independents after the national group they partnered with, Unite America, chose to focus on electoral reforms rather than supporting independent candidates.

Progressive Agenda – (NYT, 5/30/19)  After months of liberal senators dominating the Democratic presidential primary, and leftist ideas such as the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All” getting significant national attention, Mr. Biden’s entrance into the race last month has swung the conversation back toward the center. The result: rising tensions within the Democratic electorate between liberal activists who don’t want their policy ideas and favored candidates to lose ground, and some party officials and voters who hope to see moderate candidates gain even more momentum…Neil Sroka, a spokesman for Democracy for America, said it would be a mistake to view the [Democratic] primary as a referendum on progressives. “The establishment is the establishment because they have the lion’s share of the power within the Democratic Party,” he said. Maria Svart, the national director for the Democratic Socialists of America, said her organization views its insurgency against Democrats as a long-term struggle, and that it exists outside of any particular candidate or election cycle. “People are sick and tired of being ignored by both parties, in all states in this country, and are looking for a way that they can make an impact,” Ms. Svart said. “That’s why we focus on grass-roots organizing.”

California – (WKZO, 5/31/19) Fourteen Democratic presidential hopefuls seeking money and support in California, the most liberal and populous U.S. state, will descend on San Francisco this weekend for a state party convention – with front-runner Joe Biden notably absent. Appearances by U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and other candidates highlight California’s growing importance in the Democratic nominating process. Its 500 delegates are up for grabs three months earlier than in prior years, which could set the tone for the rest of the 2020 race. Sanders, Harris and the dozen other candidates attending the convention will speak in brief appearances on Saturday and Sunday to about 5,000 delegates, guests and journalists gathered in San Francisco. Most of the contenders also plan to address a nearby event by the progressive group MoveOn.org.

Atlanta, GAAn Atlanta fundraiser next week may look a lot like a warmup to the first Democratic presidential debate. That’s because four top-tier candidates have now signed up to appear at the June 6 event. Former Vice President Joe Biden has joined a trio of other White House hopefuls who were already planning to headline the IWillVote Gala and African American Leadership Summit: Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg. They’ll attend along with Stacey Abrams, the runner-up to last year’s gubernatorial race who has not ruled out her own bid for president.

Education(US News, 5/29/19)  “Putting in the stake of ‘I value public education,’ is the starting point they [presidential candidates] all have to take,” says Jeffrey Henig, a professor of political science and education and director of the Politics and Education Program at Columbia University’s Teachers College. “Then they’re trying to figure out how to do that in ways that can win the support of, say, the teachers unions, which are important in the democratic primary, without falling into the possible trap of seeming to be catering too much to the teachers unions in particular.”  As the two national teachers unions begin their presidential endorsement vetting process and educator unrest that’s prompted strikes, protests and walkouts in nearly a dozen places this year continues to unfurl, the candidates that make up the Democratic field of 2020 hopefuls have been jockeying to prove who is the biggest defender of public education.

Former Vice President and 2020 contender Joe Biden stood alongside American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on Tuesday evening in Houston and outlined the first major policy platform of his campaign – supercharging the federal investment in the country’s public schools in order to level the playing for poor students, students of color and those with disabilities and boost teacher pay, among many other things. Biden is in good company with his grand gesture to K-12 education.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California was the first with a splashy education campaign pledge: If elected president, she said in March, every public school teacher will get a $13,500 raise by the end of her first term – that’s more than a 20% increase in base pay for the average educator.

Two months later, Julian Castro, the former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, unveiled a sweeping reenvisioning of the country’s public K-12 system. The “People First Education Plan,” as he calls it, covers everything: universal pre-kindergarten, a $150 billion school infrastructure investment for public schools, the elimination of tuition at public colleges and universities, an additional $3 billion for historically black colleges and universities, a boost in teacher pay up to $10,000 a year and a plan to combat school segregation by overhauling housing and zoning policies – to name just a few proposals in the plan.

On the same day, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts pledged that if elected she would tap a public school teacher to be her secretary of education – this, on top of a major pillar of her campaign she had already outlined that includes universal child care and pre-kindergarten, tuition-free public colleges and universities, a major injection of funding for HBCUs and the cancelation of student loan debt for 95% of borrowers.

Then it was Sen. Bernie Sanders’ turn, and the Vermont independent did not hold back. His “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Education” would triple federal funding for poor students, significantly increase federal dollars for students with disabilities, boost teacher pay, impose a moratorium on federal funding for charter schools and ban for-profit charter operators, provide school lunch for every public school student and set a minimum starting salary for teachers at $60,000. The list goes on, and it’s in addition to his already well-laid plan to provide free tuition at all public colleges and universities.

Sanders’ recent pledge to halt federal funding for charter schools until the federal government can perform an audit, combined with a full ban on for-profit charter operators, is rooted in the evolving position of the NAACP over the last few years, which has seen its governance vote to place a moratorium on all new charters, arguing their proliferation has trounced community input. Sanders’ pitch, for example, comes at the same time as two recent polls show that white Democrats are strongly opposed to charters, while black and Hispanic Democrats are modestly in favor.

Newly Announced – (WBAI, 5/26/19) – Howie Hawkins announced the start of his campaign for the Green Party nomination for President today in Brooklyn. He co-founded the Green Party back in 1984 and first campaigned for the Green New Deal when he ran for Governor of New York State in 2010. Hawkins says the Greens are the original Green New Dealers and while AOC and the Sunrise Movement succeeded in putting the Green New Deal in the spotlight, they watered down the content of the deal. And he says the best way to counter Donald Trump and his policies is to “impeach his sorry ass!” Please click the arrow above to hear our report.

GOP Primary – (The Hill, 5/21/19) There is growing buzz that Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) will leave the Republican Party to mount a challenge against President Trump as the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate. If he were to switch parties, Amash would be the first-ever member of the Libertarian Party in Congress. Libertarians will nominate their presidential candidate at the party convention next May in Austin, Texas. Johnson’s 2016 campaign was hamstrung by his own gaffes and panned by Washington insiders, but he still managed to post the best showing by any Libertarian presidential candidate ever, receiving nearly 4.5 million votes, or three times as many as the party’s prior best showing. In his home state of New Mexico, Johnson received 9.3 percent of the vote, raising questions about whether Amash could play spoiler for Trump in his home state of Michigan, which is a lynchpin of the president’s reelection hopes. “I don’t think Trump can win Michigan if Amash is running,” said Sarwark. “They’d have to take it off the board.”

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Missouri Bill to End Open Primaries Dies

Good news: the bill introduced by Republican lawmakers to close the primaries and force partisan voter registration has died!

Independent Voting activists in the state lobbied against the bill, including writing letters to the
editor.

Kim Wright, Eyes on 2020 cabinet member, lent her voice to a robocall sponsored by Open Primaries that reached out to voters in Wright’s hometown of Joplin. Said Wright:  “Thankfully, HB922 did not make it out of committee this year.  It will be important to continue our efforts to educate all Missouri voters about this introduced legislation for future reference.  Registering to vote without party affiliation in Missouri is a tradition that allows all voters to participate — we must preserve that process.”  Wright’s letter to the editor, “Open Primary Process is Working,” was published in the Joplin Globe.

In his letter to the editor, independent Mark O’Bryan of St. Louis wrote:  “Since primary elections are taxpayer funded, the change made by HB 26 is an infringeme​​nt on voters’ rights.  If parties want to hold primaries which exclude voters then they should pay for these primary elections out of their campaign funds OR NOT be allowed on the ballot at all.”