Both Beto O’Rourke and Kirsten Gillibrand made things official in the past week – O’Rourke fully jumped in, and Gillibrand ended her exploratory committee and made things official. Meanwhile, Joe Biden offered up perhaps more than he planned to during a speech in Delaware over the weekend, and Cory Booker promised that a woman would be on the Democrats’ ticket in 2020, no matter who wins the nomination.
For those stories and much more, check out this week’s 2020 Democrats Movers & Shakers:
Fmr. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
Beto-mania is officially upon us, as the failed 2018 Senate candidate jumped into the presidential primary on Thursday after Vanity Fair published a lengthy profile Wednesday. Almost immediately, Democratic critics questioned why O’Rourke was benefiting from what they described as glowing press coverage. Others focused on his “rocky” start on the campaign trail, “wobbling on policy, offending women with a joke about child care, frustrating local Democrats with his high-handedness and picking bewildering fights with the press.”
But O’Rourke silenced most of the critics Monday when he posted his fundraising haul from his first 24 hours in the race: $6.1 million, a figure that surpassed Bernie Sanders’ $5.9 million in February. He’s expected to make his first New Hampshire swing this week.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Gillibrand shed her exploratory committee on Sunday and announced she is now officially running for president. The news comes as little surprise given that these exploratory committees provide a distinction without much of a difference. The move earned Gillibrand her first congressional endorsement from Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
But that’s about the only good news for Gillibrand at the moment. She’s polling somewhere between zero and 1 percent in most national and state-specific polls at the moment, and that trend does not show any signs of changing soon. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders lead most polls, but Gillibrand’s Senate colleagues, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, routinely finish far ahead of her in the polls.
Fmr. Vice President Joe Biden
A slip of the tongue over the weekend may have provided political observers with more intel than any background-sourced news story ever could. While delivering a speech on Saturday at the First State Democratic Dinner in Delaware, Biden declared that he has the “most progressive record of anybody running.” Biden quickly backtracked, rephrasing to say, “anybody who would run.” It’s the closest the former vice president has gotten to publicly stating he is running.
But Politico published a story on Monday that questioned Biden’s “Middle-Class-Joe” narrative. Since leaving the Obama administration, Biden has collected big paychecks giving paid speaking gigs and from his book, “Promise Me, Dad.” “[I]f Biden runs, his newfound wealth could give his Democratic and GOP opponents an opening to attack him as disingenuous, or at least less than advertised,” the Politico piece read.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
In her latest book, Harris labeled herself as a “progressive” prosecutor when she served that role in San Francisco and as attorney general of California. The claim drew immediate backlash from those who know her best. They say she instituted harsh punishments for criminals and was involved in false convictions. It’s dominated the conversation regarding her career before joining the Senate in 2017, and now Harris is calling for a moratorium on all executions in the United States. The news comes after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the Golden State would no longer execute inmates. This news came just weeks after Newsom ordered a new DNA test in a case prosecuted by Harris – a case that many believe resulted in a false conviction.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
During a campaign stop in New Hampshire on Friday, Booker promised that Democrats would have a woman on the presidential ticket in 2020. “No matter what — I’m looking you in the eye and saying this — there will be a woman on the ticket,” Booker told the crowd at the Salt Hill Pub in Lebanon.
“I don’t know if it’s in the vice president’s position or the president’s position, but if I have my way, there will be a woman on the ticket,” he added.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
During an interview on CNN on Sunday, Klobuchar stopped short of blaming President Donald Trump for violent acts like the New Zealand shooting, but did say that the president’s “rhetoric doesn’t help.” “He, at the very least, should be giving strong statements, public speeches, defending Muslims in this world,” Klobuchar added.
Meanwhile, some of Klobuchar’s constituents told Minnesota Public Radio that they worry she is not progressive enough to be the Democratic Party’s nominee. “I don’t think that a middle-of-the-road candidate is what we need right now,” one Minneapolis native said. “She falls in the spectrum of being overly cautious,” another said.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Unfortunately, the most noteworthy thing to happen to Sanders this week was that he cut his head on a glass shower door and received seven stitches. His campaign was quick to note that he would not miss any campaign events and is otherwise in good health. But appearing at an event later on Friday, Sanders had a massive bandage on his forehead, which could become a campaign trial mainstay, depending on how long it takes the 77-year-old to heal.
Sanders also announced that a pet project of his wife’s, The Sanders Institute, would be closing down. The project came under criticism that it “blurred the lines between family, fundraising and campaigning.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Warren also joined Harris and Gillibrand is saying she would consider expanding the number of justices on the Supreme Court in order to combat what they view as the conservative ideology of the court’s current make-up. “It’s not just about expansion, it’s about depoliticizing the Supreme Court,” she claimed. “It’s a conversation that’s worth having.”
Bits & Pieces
Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), after failing miserably to answer whether he is a capitalist on “Morning Joe,” refined his answer in a Medium post in which he states that he is, in fact, a capitalist, “but I’m sure not a Trump capitalist.”
Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro upset many Texas Democrats by releasing an endorsement list on the same day Beto O’Rourke jumped in the primary. “I think [the timing] was in poor taste,” on Democrat told Politico. It also largely fell flat, as O’Rourke’s candidacy made a much, much bigger splash than Castro’s.
During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) called the filibuster “a vestige of an Antebellum era,” adding that it’s “an antiquated thing that will stop us from saving the planet.”