A new Emerson poll finds Joe Biden leading the Democratic presidential race with 30%, followed by Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren all tied at 15%.
They are trailed by Pete Buttigieg at 5%, Beto O’Rourke at 4% and Andrew Yang at 3%.
“Former Marine Corps fighter pilot Amy McGrath announced Tuesday that she wants to challenge U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in November 2020, ending months of speculation about whether she’d try to take out one of the most powerful political figures in the country,” the Lexington Herald Leader reports.
Said McGrath in an announcement video: “Everything that’s wrong in Washington had to start someplace. How did it come to this, that even within our own families, we can’t talk to each other about the leaders of our country anymore without anger and blame? Well it started with this man, who was elected a lifetime ago and who has, bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.”
Roll Call: “The highly anticipated announcement keys up what is likely to be one of the most closely watched and well-funded matchups of the 2020 congressional campaign cycle, although even Democratic supporters have acknowledged that McGrath faces long odds to unseat one of the most powerful members of the GOP.”
Jamelle Bouie: “It’s striking to see how far the president is from the center of American politics. The most expansive Democratic proposals for strengthening the social safety net are far closer to the political mainstream than the great majority of Trump’s actions as president. And he shows no sign of changing course. Trump is still committed to his base, still obsessed with mobilizing his strongest supporters. This may get big crowds in friendly territory, but it might not be enough to win a second term in 2020.”
“A majority of the American electorate — liberals, moderates and even some conservatives — want a greater government role in health care, a higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich and less punitive border policies. If Trump isn’t going to move to the center, then their only choice should be the party that, no matter its nominee, backs each item on that list.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced Monday that she had raised $19.1 million over the past three months, more than triple what she brought in over the first quarter of the year, CBS News reports.
Politico: “The eye-popping total is a validation for Warren after months of second-guessing from Washington strategists who questioned the wisdom of publicly vowing not to hold fundraisers or do “call time” with wealthy donors during the primary.”
“Donald Trump’s campaign is injecting itself into a battle to lead Pennsylvania’s Republican Party — a race with serious implications for the president’s reelection hopes that has badly divided the GOP in the battleground state,” Politico reports.
“The fight for the state’s vacant Republican chairmanship was triggered when Val DiGiorgio resigned from the position two weeks ago amid a scandal involving racy texts and allegations of sexual harassment. The episode set off fierce jockeying and backbiting within the state GOP, as Trump’s team tried to close ranks behind Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Comfort, the party’s vice chairwoman for the past two years.”
“But the Trump campaign’s involvement has not gone over well with some Pennsylvania Republicans, especially supporters of Comfort’s rival, attorney Lawrence Tabas. They argue that Trump’s advisers are unnecessarily taking sides in a local feud and could exacerbate longstanding power struggles within the state GOP.”
Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack “plans to welcome Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to his home next week for a campaign event in Iowa,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
However, Vilsack said in an email that he and his wife will not be endorsing a 2020 Democratic candidate “until later in the process.”
Politico: “The campaign has gone without an outside polling firm, and says it has no plans to hire one, even though it is standard operating procedure for most serious candidates. Instead of initially stockpiling resources for a home-stretch TV ad blitz, she’s amassed a payroll of 300-plus staffers in the early months of the campaign — overhead that could overwhelm her coffers if her fundraising ever falters.”
“And now, the campaign… is shunning the typical model for producing campaign ads, in which outside firms are hired and paid often hefty commissions for their work. Instead, Warren’s campaign is producing TV, digital and other media content itself, as well as placing its digital ad buys internally.”
“Taken together, Warren’s approach is a rebuke of the consultant-heavy model of campaigns — an often lucrative arrangement in which the people advising campaigns invariably tell candidates that the best political strategy is to buy what they sell, namely TV ads and polling.”
“Billionaire activist Tom Steyer declared his candidacy for the presidency in a video, reversing an earlier announcement several months ago that he intended to sit out the 2020 Democratic primary race,” NBC News reports.
“While he is not well known and the candidate field is already overstuffed with two dozen candidates, Steyer’s money could give him an edge, as could the extensive email list of 8.3 million names compiled by a group he founded to push for the impeachment of President Trump.”
The New York Times reports Steyer will spend $100 million on his primary bid.
Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D), who served as Health and Human Services secretary in the Obama administration, confirmed to Politico that she will not be jumping into the race for the Senate seat soon to be vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS).
Washington Post: “The majority of Democratic hopefuls have yet to experience a moment like the surge of interest in Mayor Pete or Beto or Elizabeth Warren, let alone the preexisting support afforded the two candidates approaching their 80th birthdays. But Gillibrand’s lack of anointing seems conspicuous. After all, on paper, she’s set herself up to succeed.”
“Maybe it’s that her recalibration on guns and immigration is often framed as pandering. Maybe it’s because her role in Al Franken’s Senate resignation has been cast as inconvenient for Democrats and convenient for her. Maybe it’s sexism.”
“Or maybe it’s all these things, with one other factor thrown in: At a time when our national cortisol level is tied to the president’s Twitter feed, and when candidates are live-streaming and clapping back and eating salads with hair equipment, it has become unforgivable to be boring… Gillibrand’s brand — motherly, responsible, pragmatic, experienced — is going to be a tough sell if what we really want, at some level, is for our politicians to entertain us.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “Was Swalwell’s campaign a mistake by a candidate who never had a chance? I don’t know. Currently, there’s a small-town mayor with what appears to be a fairly viable presidential campaign. Maybe there’s something objective separating Swalwell and Pete Buttigieg. But even if there is, it’s not clear anyone could’ve predicted it six months ago. Really, I’m not going to criticize anyone with plausible qualifications for seeking the job. They’re politicians. They should be ambitious.”
“All that said, I wouldn’t look too hard for lessons from Swalwell’s early exit about how the rest of the cycle will play out. It doesn’t really matter whether the also-rans exit now, after they fail to qualify for the next debates, or after they fail to find any support in Iowa. We can’t really say whether the party will winnow its way to a candidate by the end of the primaries and caucuses yet. But we can say that at least one candidate responded to the incentives to drop out by actually exiting. As long as that holds up, the Democrats shouldn’t have a problem producing a nominee.”
Washington Post: “As one of two dozen Democrats vying for the party nomination, Hickenlooper’s struggle to make a dent is emblematic of how difficult it is for a candidate — even a well-regarded former governor of a pivotal state — to break through in a historically large field in which being a mild-mannered 67-year-old white man hasn’t been the best selling point.”
“In 2016, the buzz around Hickenlooper was loud enough that Hillary Clinton vetted him to be her running mate. But three years later, Hickenlooper often finds himself talking to voters who have no idea who he is.”
Ohio Republicans inserted an item in the budget bill that would move the state’s presidential primary from March 10 to March 17, the Dayton Daily News reports.
But Democrats are worried about the impact on voter turnout if the primary is held on St. Patrick’s Day.
A new Public Policy Polling survey finds soccer star Megan Rapinoe would beat President Trump in a general election match up, 42% to 41%.
Before you scoff at the poll, an important takeaway: “Trump’s 41% standing is familiar territory. On PPP’s last public national poll we tested 8 of the actual Democratic candidates against Trump, and his standing was in the 40-42% range against all of them. His performance against Rapinoe fits with that general trend.”