Former VP Joe Biden has kicked up speculation with his travel schedule
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has a colorful metaphor for a 'Medicare for all' litmus test
Our weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race:
What does a California Senate primary in 2018 have to do with a Democratic presidential race in 2020? Potentially a lot.
State Senate leader Kevin de León is the first Democrat to decide to run against Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Billionaire environmentalist and megadonor Tom Steyer is considering doing it too. While it’s too soon to know if they are viable, what’s already clear is that Feinstein – who’s been criticized for not being aggressive enough against President Donald Trump – is facing a real challenge from the left.
This could pit her against many of the progressives who backed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign. And though Sanders himself is largely staying out of Democratic primaries, figures popular with the “Berniecrat” crowd, including California Rep. Ro Khanna, are lining up against Feinstein.
Both Sen. Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti are strongly supporting Feinstein. If she ends up in serious jeopardy, that support could cause both of them problems with progressives. Out-of-state Democratic 2020 prospects, meanwhile, could see wading into a nationalized, marquee contest as a way to elevate their own profile ahead of a presidential race in which California is now slotted early on the calendar, right after Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
News and notes:
WARREN’S BIG FUNDRAISING HAUL: Here’s the first number to consider when weighing Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s future: $13 million. It’s how much she has in the bank after a $3 million third quarter fundraising haul, headed into a re-election campaign where, as of now, she doesn’t have a serious challenger.
– Warren heads to Ohio next Friday for a joint fundraiser with Sen. Sherrod Brown in Cleveland. Also attending the Butcher & the Brewer lunch will be Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Joe Kennedy.
MURPHY’S PRESENT-TENSE DENIAL: Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy was asked twice this week, by CBS and then by ABC, whether he is considering a run for president in 2020. Both times, Murphy went with a familiar dodge: the present-tense denial, focused on what he’s doing right now. “I am thinking about one thing and one thing only right now, and that is my re-election in 2018,” he told ABC. To CBS, he said, “I am not running for president. I am running for re-election to the Senate.” Murphy later added: “Here you go, I will rule it out for you. I’m running for re-election.”
JOE BIDEN’S BIPARTISAN WEEK: Former Vice President Joe Biden has been kicking up 2020 speculation with his aggressive political travel schedule, including stops for 2017 gubernatorial candidates on Thursday for Phil Murphy in New Jersey and on Saturday for Ralph Northam in Virginia – make sure you don’t miss our new story on that. But next week, he’ll be crossing the aisle twice. Biden is set to award Arizona Sen. John McCain with the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal on Monday in Philadelphia. The next day, he’ll join Ohio Gov. John Kasich for a discussion about bipartisanship in Delaware. Both Republicans have been sharp critics of President Donald Trump and have called for more bipartisan cooperation – making them natural allies for Biden’s brand of politics.
– Biden will be honored at the United Nations Day Humanitarian Awards Gala Dinner in New York on November 3.
GILLIBRAND ON DC: Here’s what New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told Vogue in the magazine’s latest feature on her: “It’s a heavy feeling being in Washington. There are so many important issues at risk. You’re in a fighting stance every day. Because the stuff that comes over Twitter is so horrible. The attack on the transgender troops: disgusting, disgraceful, outrageous. It’s just endless. And then you try to do your day job of finding good bipartisan work across the aisle. You’re doing both all the time. I guess I would describe it as intense. Everything is very intense.”
– An interesting quote about Gillibrand’s 2020 prospects that Vogue included from New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, another potential 2020 candidate: “I have no idea what she wants, but would she be an amazing president? Absolutely. I say it all the time: You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people – and she will go above and beyond for folks. I don’t know if America could hope for a president that cares and loves and works and fights for them more than she would.”
CUOMO’S WEINSTEIN REVERSAL: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday reversed his initial decision to give only $50,000 of the $111,400 that Harvey Weinstein had donated to his campaigns, saying he will give away all of it – even the money Cuomo had initially said was for previous races and had already been spent.
DELANEY IN IOWA: Maryland Rep. John Delaney, the only declared 2020 candidate, is in Iowa for a three-day, 10-event swing starting Saturday. It includes the Third District Hall of Fame Dinner in Des Moines on Saturday night, the Central Iowa Democrats’ Fall Barbecue in Ames on Sunday and meet-and-greets in Charles City, Saint Ansgar, Mason City, Hampton and Fort Dodge on Monday.
BULLOCK ON PURITY TESTS: Politico’s Gabe Debenedetti went to Montana to profile Gov. Steve Bullock. Among the interesting tidbits is Bullock on Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for all” single-payer proposal. “I think of the late ‘80s, when (former congressman) Mo Udall said getting Democrats together is like organizing a firing squad in a circle,” he said. “We’re going to make a litmus test on that in August of 2017? I think, in some ways, Democrats are repeating their same mistakes.”
The week ahead:
– Sunday, October 15: The Central Iowa Democrats’ Fall Barbecue features Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Maryland Rep. John Delaney. It starts at 12:30 p.m. CT.
– Monday, October 16: Former Vice President Joe Biden awards Arizona Sen. John McCain the National Constitution Center’s Liberty Medal. The ceremony is at 7 p.m. ET on Independence Mall.
– Tuesday, October 17: Joe Biden and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, hold a joint discussion about bipartisanship at the University of Delaware, starting at 1 p.m. ET.
– Thursday, October 19: Former President Barack Obama makes his first appearance on the campaign trail since leaving office, campaigning in Richmond with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam.
– Friday, October 20: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren headlines a joint fundraiser with Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown in Cleveland. The 11:30 a.m. event’s cheapest tickets are $100 per person.
Before you go:
To win the 2020 race, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti would have to do something no one’s done before. … The headliner of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Fall Gala on November 27 is Alec Baldwin. (Yes, really. We’re told he’s a hot ticket for state parties.) … In Des Moines for a New Democracy event Friday on winning back Midwestern voters: Jason Kander and John Delaney.
CNN’s Jennifer Hansler, Greg Krieg, Caroline Kenny, Sophie Tatum, Ashley Killough, Betsy Klein, Miranda Green and Saba Hamedy contributed to this memo.