Our weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race:
It was a tale of two votes for Democrats last week. While the party celebrated its showing in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, a vote to dial back bank regulations exposed cracks in the blue wall on Capitol Hill — and the limits, for now, of progressive activist power.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the legislation’s loudest critic, offered this big picture criticism soon after the vote:
“The American people aren’t going to stand by while big banks and giant corporations run this economy and this Congress for their own benefit,” she tweeted. “Soon – maybe not today, or next week, or even in the next election – but soon, they will demand a government that works for the people.”
Warren clashed with moderate Dems who supported the bill, like North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who told The Atlantic of Warren, “She doesn’t live where I live.” So, yes, this was in part a regional thing. (See Nevada, one of the states hit worst by the housing crisis, where Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto — hardly a hardline lefty — touted her vote against the bill and state Democrats immediately hit GOP Sen. Dean Heller over his vote for it.) But it also exposed, or reminded us of, the ideological split within the party — one that isn’t going away in the coming year.
News and notes:
SANDERS AND WARREN TOGETHER ON MONDAY NIGHT: Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, along with filmmaker Michael Moore and others, will host a town hall “focused on inequality in the United States” on Monday night, in partnership with The Guardian, NowThis, The Young Turks and Act.tv. It’s a follow up to a “Medicare for all” event Sanders hosted and was streamed by progressive groups back in January. The first time out drew, according to Sanders’ office, 1.6 million viewers.
HICKENLOOPER LAYING GROUNDWORK FOR A 2020 RUN? Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is the subject of a deep dive from The Denver Post that details his meetings with key unions, an undisclosed Paris trip in December for a major climate-change summit, and recently a lunch meeting in New York with Vernon Jordan. “He was very gracious and asked me about 2020, and I said, ‘Well, you know, my wife and I hadn’t made up our minds,’” Hickenlooper told the newspaper about the lunch meeting.
— Also worth noting: The newspaper reports Hickenlooper “may not be the only Democrat from Colorado with eyes on the White House. Many of the same Democratic insiders who described Hickenlooper’s thinking said former Sen. Ken Salazar and current Sen. Michael Bennet are at least considering a run.”
THE QUIET CAMPAIGN: It’s still a bit early to expect to learn too much from staffing moves, but as Politico’s Gabe Debenedetti wrote on Sunday, “At least a dozen possible Democratic presidential candidates have begun bolstering their teams by adding aides with campaign experience to their Senate staffs, personal offices or 2018 reelection payrolls.” Again, though, careful about reading too much into these:
—”Barack Obama’s former top digital strategist, Joe Rospars, for example, has been helping Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s team.”
—”Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s longtime aide Michael Halle is now running (Richard Cordray’s) gubernatorial campaign in Ohio.”
—”New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker recently hired Tamia Booker (no relation) — Hillary Clinton’s national African-American outreach director in the 2016 general election and a veteran of the Obama administration and the 2016 Democratic convention — as his deputy chief of staff.”
…to name a few. Money/funny quote from an anonymous Dem strategist: “My biggest terror right now is that three or four of my clients might get into this thing.”
LAMB’S SURROGATES: Pennsylvania’s Conor Lamb made huge news this week as a Democrat winning a House special election in a district President Donald Trump carried by 20 percentage points. It’s revealing — both of where they’re popular and where they might see a path for a Democratic resurgence — to note the 2020 prospects who campaigned for him: Former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
2020 MADNESS, IN A BRACKET: If there’s one thing that we know for sure about the 2020 Democratic primary, it’s that there will be a lot of candidates. So, in time with March Madness, we tried to come up with a way to visualize how the competition might play out. Not all of the folks named below will run (e.g., the “Lefties” bracket might empty if Warren or Sanders go forward) and there’s certainly some overlap in terms of what brackets that might belong in … but have a look — and make your pick! (Complaints and picks to @gregjkrieg.)
From the right:
FLAKE TALKS TRUMP CHALLENGE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: Retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was in New Hampshire on Friday, stoking chatter that he could challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 GOP primary.
“I hope that someone does run the Republican primary, somebody to challenge the President,” Flake said, per CNN’s Ashley Killough, after a man in the audience asked if he’d make a White House run. “I think the odds that I will are long, but I’ve not ruled it out.”
TRUMP’S 2020 ENFORCER: Brad Parscale, the digital strategist recently named Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, is already flexing his muscles. From Eric and Manu Raju this weekend on his intervention to help Sen. Dean Heller in a Nevada GOP primary: “(Heller challenger Danny) Tarkanian told CNN that Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale called Wednesday night – less than two days before Nevada’s filing deadline – to say that Trump wanted him out of the Senate race. ‘He said it’d be best for party unity, best chance to get his ‘America First’ agenda passed,’ Tarkanian said. … Tarkanian called Parscale back later Thursday and told him he needed a public indication that Trump would have his back if he exited the Senate primary and ran for the 3rd District House seat instead.” (The tweet came the next day.)
Before you go:
The biggest Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA, plans to sit out the 2020 Democratic primary and instead focus on attacking Donald Trump until the party has a nominee, NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald reports. … Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley hit the midterm stump for Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen, who’s running to unseat Sen. Dean Heller, on Saturday, joining her for a roundtable with the Nevada Conservation League.
CNN’s Ashley Killough, Sophie Tatum, Betsy Klein, Saba Hamedy and David Siegel contributed to this memo.