“First Michael Avenatti imploded, announcing he will not run for president in 2020. Then came Deval Patrick, who told allies that he, too, is out, despite spending the fall campaigning with candidates across the country. Joe Biden, meanwhile, was declaring himself 'the most qualified person in the country to be president,' edging closer to a full-on campaign.
“In just one convulsive 24-hour period, Democrats got a glimpse of the primary election to come, a precursor to a year of volatility in the party’s historic, sprawling 2020 presidential field.
“Yet the departure of two candidates—and another seeming to suggest his intention to run—failed to provide any more clarity or definition to the field on the eve of a period in which many candidates have said they will announce their intentions.”
“The Democratic primary field is shaping up to be so large and fluid that the loss of one former governor, Patrick, barely makes a dent—there are still six other current or former governors in the mix. Avenatti‘s exit Tuesday removes an outsider and a ferocious Trump critic, but that’s also a lane that few expect will be unoccupied when the field is set. As for Biden, the former vice president and early frontrunner in national polls, his tease generated heat but without providing much light on his thinking about entering the race.” (Politico)
DEVAL'S STATEMENT. Patrick: "After a lot of conversation, reflection and prayer, I’ve decided that a 2020 campaign for president is not for me. I’ve been overwhelmed by advice and encouragement from people from all over the country, known and unknown. Humbled, in fact. But knowing that the cruelty of our elections process would ultimately splash back on people whom Diane and I love, but who hadn’t signed up for the journey, was more than I could ask." (release)
BERNIE. “A new group called Organizing for Bernie launched this week to draft Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to run for president. The group's goal is to build an organizational structure for Sanders so he can begin campaigning immediately if he declares his candidacy.” (The Hill)
BIDEN. Former Vice President Joe Biden “delivered a blistering critique of ... Trump’s administration on Wednesday night, but without mentioning it by name.
“Biden told guests at the Lantos Foundation annual gala that ‘we are in a battle for the soul of this nation’ and ‘have to recognize trend lines are moving in the wrong direction.’ He then cited an Anti-Defamation League report, released earlier this year, that showed how ‘anti-Semitic incidents had rose nearly 60 percent alone in 2017.’” (HuffPost)
BOOKER. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) “pressed for long-overdue reforms to the nation’s criminal justice system on Tuesday, urging Americans not to lose faith in the ongoing fight for civil rights despite fears that a bipartisan prison and sentencing reform bill may be on the cusp of defeat in Congress.
“In an impassioned speech to a gathering of civil rights advocates and activists in Washington, D.C., Booker drew directly on his experiences in an inner-city community to address the dramatic disparities in how minorities and white Americans are treated by the U.S. criminal justice system, which he called a “crisis in our whole body politic.” The senator tied his personal story as a young black man living in Newark to the devastating problem of gun violence, which claims thousands of lives across the country each year.” (HuffPost)
HARRIS. “A longtime top staff member of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D) resigned Wednesday after The Sacramento Bee inquired about a $400,000 harassment and retaliation settlement resulting from his time working for Harris at the California Department of Justice.
“Larry Wallace, who served as the director of the Division of Law Enforcement under then-Attorney General Harris, was accused by his former executive assistant in December 2016 of “gender harassment” and other demeaning behavior, including frequently asking her to crawl under his desk to change the paper in his printer.
“The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 30, 2016, when Harris was still attorney general but preparing to be sworn in as California’s newly elected Democratic senator. It was settled less than five months later, in May 2017, by Xavier Becerra, who was appointed to replace her as attorney general.” (Sacramento Bee)
HICKENLOOPER. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) “and his allies are taking new steps toward launching a presidential campaign, including interviews with dozens of potential staffers and hiring a pollster and national fundraiser, according to a person close to the Democrat.
“He’s already launched a political action committee that allows him to raise money nationally and hired his 2014 campaign manager, Brad Komar, to run it. Since the PAC was formed in September, Komar has done 80 interviews with possible campaign staffers, the person said. Of those, Hickenlooper has conducted or participated in 30 interviews.” (AP)
STEYER. Mega-donor Tom Steyer (D) said “he will make a decision about a future 2020 presidential bid in the next few months but he already seems more than comfortable with the idea. ‘I am willing to do anything,’ Steyer said … in Charleston. ‘This is not about me. This is not about my personal ambition. I am extremely ambitious to be part of the group of people to get this country back on a decent path: prosperous, equitable and safe.’” (Post and Courier)
WARREN. “The plan was straightforward: After years of being challenged by President Trump and others about a decades-old claim of Native American ancestry,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “would take a DNA test to prove her stated family origins in the Cherokee and Delaware tribes.
“But nearly two months after Ms. Warren released the test results and drew hostile reactions from prominent tribal leaders, the lingering cloud over her likely presidential campaign has only darkened. Conservatives have continued to ridicule her. More worrisome to supporters of Ms. Warren’s presidential ambitions, she has yet to allay criticism from grass-roots progressive groups, liberal political operatives and other potential 2020 allies who complain that she put too much emphasis on the controversial field of racial science—and, in doing so, played into Mr. Trump’s hands.
“Advisers close to Ms. Warren say she has privately expressed concern that she may have damaged her relationships to Native American groups and her own standing with progressive activists, particularly those who are racial minorities. Several outside advisers are even more worried: They say they believe a plan should be made to repair that damage, possibly including a strong statement of apology.
“The advisers say Ms. Warren will have to confront the issue again if she announces a presidential campaign, which is expected in the coming weeks, and several would like her to act soon.” (New York Times)
VOTER DATA. “Democrats are at war over the party’s most precious commodity—voter data—and it’s threatening their chances of beating ... Trump in 2020.
“The fight involves a trove of Democratic voter information splintered among state parties, outside groups and the Democratic National Committee. The DNC wants to pool all of it into one massive database that could be leveraged to the benefit of the party’s eventual presidential nominee. But state parties are accusing the national party of mounting a power grab that could enrich a handful of elite party figures.” (Politico)
MIAMI. DNC Chairman Tom Perez “is visiting Miami-Dade on Friday to evaluate the county’s bid to host the 2020 national convention, a trip timed to coincide with Art Basel.” (Miami Herald)
TENNESSEE. Mary Mancini says she will seek a third term as chairwoman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, one month after Tennessee Democrats suffered crushing losses in races for U.S. Senate and governor. (Nashville Tennessean)