Gillibrand Takes Multiple Steps Toward 2020 Run

The New York senator is planning a trip to Iowa, hired a few top staffers, and has secured office space.

Jan. 11, 2019, 10:36 a.m.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) “is pursuing a trip to Iowa next weekend. The New York Democrat, who just won reelection to her Senate seat last November, is planning events in Iowa as well as courting on-the-ground staffers in the first presidential caucus state.” (Politico)

Gillibrand “has hired a communications director for an expected presidential campaign, a sign that she is all but certain to join the race against President Trump and that her entry may be imminent. Ms. Gillibrand has recruited Meredith Kelly, formerly the top spokeswoman at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as a senior aide to her prospective 2020 campaign, two people familiar with the decision said. Ms. Kelly was part of the team at the House committee that helped the party capture the majority in 2018, overseeing the group’s media strategy during the midterm elections. Emmy Bengston, the former digital director for Gov. Gavin Newsom of California in his 2018 race, has signed on as Ms. Kelly’s deputy. Ms. Bengston, who also worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, will lead Ms. Gillibrand’s digital operation. And Dan McNally, a former political director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is expected to become a senior adviser with the title of campaign director.” (New York Times)

Representatives for Gillibrand “signed a lease for a 5,000 square foot space in downtown Troy.” (Albany Times Union)

BERNIE. As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “weighs a possible second bid for the White House, his political standing has grown shakier amidst an account of alleged sexual assault and accounts of alleged misconduct by staffers on his 2016 campaign.

“Some former aides to that campaign had already balked at joining another run. And while outside groups are actively drafting him again—with meetings scheduled across the country this weekend—Sanders remains notably behind some of his Senate colleagues in the process of launching or preparing to launch a presidential bid. Even some of his former aides acknowledge the worsening political conditions.”

“None of the hurdles facing Sanders are impossible to overcome, especially considering the deep reservoir of support the senator enjoys among progressives and the robust political infrastructure he still possesses from 2016. But they all do present thorny problems, none more so than the various allegations of staff misconduct that have recently surfaced.” (Daily Beast)

BETO. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) “went to the dentist, and in the style of social media stars all over, he turned on his camera to broadcast the seemingly personal moment.” (Washington Post)

BROWN. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) “is preparing the biggest step yet toward a potential presidential campaign: a trip to Iowa in the coming weeks, which is in the final stages of planning and will soon be announced, according to four people with knowledge of the trip.” “Going to Iowa would be the latest signal from Brown and his wife, Connie Schultz, that he is considering a White House run organized around the ‘dignity of work,’ the theme of his reelection campaign last year. But preparations go beyond public statements as Brown’s longtime aide and current chief of staff, Sarah Benzing works backstage to set up a campaign—with a particular focus on Iowa, where she grew up and worked on a series of congressional, Senate and presidential efforts earlier in her career. Benzing, who was the top staffer on Brown’s 2012 Senate campaign, is in line to manage Brown’s presidential campaign, should he pull the trigger, according to people with knowledge of the planning. And she has spent the weeks since Brown's reelection to the Senate—casting his win as a ‘blueprint for America for 2020’ before supporters in Ohio—calling her Iowa network, seeking advice and operatives to staff a Brown presidential bid.” (Politico)

BULLOCK. “A Republican lawmaker wants Montana to give more than $8 million to help build President Donald Trump's proposed wall on the Mexican border. … Scott Sales, a fiscally conservative Republican who leads the state Senate, says his proposal is a "small token" to show border security "is of vital interest to all citizens regardless of what state they live in." Bullock: I don't know that he has ever strongly advocated for or supported infrastructure investments in Montana, so it's a little bit of a puzzle for me why he would even consider spending taxpayer dollars on construction projects in California."

In the meantime, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), when asked if Bullock would run for Senate instead of President: “You've got to have the fire in your belly to do either one. ... And I think [Bullock’s] fire in the belly is to run for president.” (Helena Independent Record)

BUTTIGIEG. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s (D) new book, Shortest Way Home, is now available for pre-order. (release)

HARRIS. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: “‘Are you gonna run for president?’ he asked the grinning senator. The crowd cheered as she paused. ‘I might,’ she replied with laughter. ‘Alright, there you go,’ Colbert said. ‘There’s your headline right there.’” (The Hill)

MCAULIFFE. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) told Andrea Mitchell that he will make a decision on running against Trump by the end of March. (Twitter)

McAuliffe: “I will put my progressive credentials up against anybody in this country. I have fought for this party for many years.... "I haven't decided whether I'm going to run, but I will tell you this: I think that federal money is the most important thing… I don't think these super PACS, I know some candidates are talking about doing big super PACS, I'm not a fan of that. I think you have to show federal money, that you can actually raise money." On Beto’s visit to the dentist: "I'm not doing that in a dentist chair… Well, first of all, my father was so cheap, he would not let us have Novocaine as kids when we had our teeth drilled." (Washington Examiner)

INSLEE. “Despite adding trips to New Hampshire and Nevada to his January schedule, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) pushed back Thursday against suggestions he won’t have his full attention on Washington when the Legislature starts next Monday.” Inslee: “I have a fantastic story to tell, and that’s the story of Washington state.” (Spokane Spokesman-Review) On Jan. 22, Inslee will discuss “the need to confront climate change - his key issue” with college students at Saint Anselm and Dartmouth (WMUR)

YANG. Andrew Yang, a businessman and venture capitalist running for President, wants to establish a Universal Basic Income of $1,000 a month. “To demonstrate the potential benefit of distributing cash, Yang is personally funding a pilot for cash payments, which he calls the Freedom Dividend… Jodie Fassi and her family were selected from ‘dozens of nominations’ … Charles Fassi, 49, his wife Jodie, 47, and their daughter Janelle, 20, received their first $1,000 check from Yang at a New Year's Eve party in New York City.” (CNBC)

MIAMI. “Miami commissioners have sent a message up to the Democratic National Committee in Washington: We’re ready to make a deal. On Thursday, commissioners unanimously gave the city administration permission to work out an agreement for the city to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The resolution preemptively gives Miami’s administrators the blessing to get to work right away—if Miami is chosen. Miami Beach commissioners passed a similar resolution last year.” (Miami Herald)

MEGA-DONORS. “As three dozen Democrats consider a 2020 run, potential candidates are taking populist positions on capitalism, income inequality, taxes and health care and embracing the favored label of the moment: ‘progressive.’ Many of them have little interest in the pragmatic politics and big-donor appeal of Hillary Clinton, the 2016 nominee. But with Democrats needing to define themselves in what will likely be a crowded field, the most liberal candidates are making an issue of wealth even though some of these billionaires have liberal policy views themselves.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) “has moved out front quickly to use wealth as a cudgel against potential opponents and try to establish herself early with voters as a vanguard of middle-class and working-class concerns—a kind of ‘people-not-the-powerful’ message that Democrats like Al Gore tried in the past. If they run, liberals like Mr. Sanders, Mr. Brown and ... O’Rourke are likely to advance similar arguments as well.” (New York Times)

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