The 2020 Democratic presidential field added two more names this week as Gov. Jay Inslee and former Gov. John Hickenlooper formally announced their candidacies. Inslee promised to focus on climate change and make it his top priority, while Hickenlooper touted his executive experience and pragmatism.
Meanwhile, fact checkers blasted Kamala Harris for a 2008 policy she mischaracterized, Bernie Sanders is on the rise in New Hampshire, and Elizabeth Warren’s polling numbers are stagnant.
For those stories and much more, keep reading AR Intel’s 2020 Movers & Shakers:
Fmr. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
The former Colorado governor made his intentions known Monday after months of speculation: he’s running for president. Term-limited out of office earlier this year, Hickenlooper has made visits to Iowa and New Hampshire in recent weeks. From the start, the former Denver mayor made his strategy clear: play up his executive experience in a field that is decidedly lacking it, and tout a record of pragmatism. “I’m running for president because we need dreamers in Washington, but we also need to get things done,” he said in his announcement video.
But an ethics cloud hangs over Hickenlooper and likely will for a few more months at least. Last month, the Denver Post reported that the state’s ethics watchdog committee unanimously voted to proceed investigating a complaint filed against Hickenlooper that he “accepted free jet rides in violation of state rules.” The commission “typically takes months to conclude investigations,” the Denver Post reported. That could trip up Hickenlooper before he gets out of the starting blocks.
Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Unlike many of the other candidates running in 2020, Inslee makes clear that he’s essentially a one-issue candidate. The Washington governor’s top priority is reversing the human impact of climate change, and he’s staking his political career on the issue. I’m Jay Inslee and I’m running for president because I am the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s number one priority,” he said in his announcement video, released on Friday.
Inslee’s candidacy was already a longshot, but some strategists are questioning the governor’s single-minded focus on climate change. “That’s not necessarily a reliable enough path because every Democratic candidate who is seriously running and is a top-tier contender is going to address climate change,” one strategist told Axios.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Fact-checkers let Harris have it this past week after she tried to “rewrite history” regarding a controversial policy implemented by the city of San Francisco when she served as district attorney. Harris attempted to say that handing over arrested, undocumented youth to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents “was an unintended consequence” of the city policy. But experts vehemently disagreed, arguing that was, in fact, “the purpose of the troubling policy.” Politifact gave Harris a “False” rating for the claim. They weren’t alone, either. CNN, the outlet that originally reported on Harris’s controversial policy, said Harris “mischaracterize[d]” the policy during a campaign trip to Iowa.
Fmr. Vice President Joe Biden
Liberals were quick to pounce on Biden when he said last week that he thought Vice President Mike Pence was “a decent guy.” In a back-and-forth on Twitter, Biden explained to failed gubernatorial candidate and actress Cynthia Nixon that the remark was made in a foreign policy discussion. Still, he relented, “[T]here is nothing decent about being anti-LGBTQ rights, and that includes the Vice President.” The explanation appeared to fall short for Nixon, who further elaborated on her anti-Pence views.
National Journal reporter Hanna Trudo tweeted that “multiple credible sources” told her that Biden is beginning to staff up in New Hampshire.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sanders appears to be riding a bit of announcement momentum, particularly in New England. Prior to his announcement, most polls showed Biden leading the Democratic field, but two polls conducted and released after Sanders officially jumped in the race showed the Vermont resident taking the lead. A University of New Hampshire poll put Sanders at 26 percent, followed by Biden at 22 percent. Similarly, an Emerson poll put Sanders at 27 percent, but Biden trailing closely at 25 percent.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Whereas Sanders’ polling is on the rise, Warren’s remains stagnantly low for the time being. A CNN headline from Saturday read, “Elizabeth Warren continues to underperform among voters who know her best.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. The University of New Hampshire poll that showed Sanders in the lead last week put Warren at just 7 percent. An average of the February 2019 New Hampshire polls showed Warren earning just 8 percent. While it’s far too early to be worried about polling, Warren’s team had better have a strategy to get their candidate out of the basement, particularly in her home region.
Bits & Pieces
Following her bizarre salad-comb story, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) showed her sense of humor at the annual Gridiron Dinner last weekend, asking the audience, “How did everyone like the salad? I thought it was OK, but it needed just a bit of scalp oil and a pinch of dandruff, would be a little better.”
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced he would not seek the Democratic presidential nomination. The announcement puts to bed months of speculation. Instead, Holder will continue his work at the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) also announced he would not join the presidential field.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) traveled to Selma, Alabama over the weekend to commemorate the anniversary of the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” march. Booker was joined by fellow 2020 Dem Bernie Sanders and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.