"Three women have revealed their interest in running for president through the first three weeks of the year, and more are on the way. From Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), the development has female contenders on track to outpace their male counterparts in launching exploratory committees and full-blown campaigns.
"While an unprecedented scenario, it’s one built upon the midterm momentum that propelled women to victory in record numbers last year."
Democratic pollster Celinda Lake: "When a bunch of men announce and it’s one woman, it’s almost like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. But no one knows what it’s like to run in this crowded a field." (National Journal)
BERNIE. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “met on Wednesday with former staff members who conveyed their dismay over the mistreatment of women during his 2016 campaign, in an effort to calm the unrest over sexism that is overshadowing his possible 2020 bid. Mr. Sanders met with roughly two dozen former workers for about an hour in a conference room at a hotel near the Capitol. The meeting was convened in response to a recent letter sent by more than two dozen people who worked on Mr. Sanders’s 2016 campaign, asking to meet with the senator and his leadership team to discuss issues of harassment.”
“Among those close to Mr. Sanders who attended were Jeff Weaver, his 2016 campaign manager, and Ari Rabin-Havt, Mr. Sanders’s deputy chief of staff. There were also some people from his campaign arm, including Arianna Jones, a communications aide. Mr. Sanders’s wife, Jane Sanders, made a brief appearance… There were some signs of trouble even before the meeting began. Some attendees were upset that the draft of the agenda did not directly address specific allegations of mistreatment of women, or say which top Sanders aides would attend. Several women said the travel logistics were poorly handled, with some saying they were not invited until 48 hours before the daylong meeting was scheduled to begin.” (New York Times)
BETO. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) “has left Texas, decamping for a highly anticipated road trip, but his former advisers are quietly sketching the outline of a potential presidential run that would replicate — and on a national scale — the grassroots-driven organizing model O’Rourke employed in his Texas Senate campaign.
“Becky Bond, a senior adviser to Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign and an adviser to O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate run, has been talking with operatives in recent days about potential jobs on a 2020 campaign… O’Rourke is not yet assembling a campaign team...But in talks with Democratic strategists, Bond and David Wysong, O’Rourke’s former longtime chief of staff, have discussed ways for O’Rourke to expand the ‘distributed organizing’ form of field operations used by Sanders in 2016 and replicated by O’Rourke last year—with the campaign training low-level staffers and volunteers to orchestrate their own, phone banking, text and email operations.”
“O’Rourke is leaning toward running for president, according to at least four sources who have spoken to him or his advisers, but he has kept a relatively low profile since leaving Congress earlier this year.” (Politico)
BOOKER. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) “has largely fueled his New Jersey Senate bids with major donors and outside money rather than small donors—a pattern that could be a political liability as he weighs a presidential run… Mr. Booker, who this weekend will attend events in the early primary state of South Carolina, has seen small donors—those who gave $200 or less—account for 11% of his Senate fundraising base, according to Federal Election Commission records… Mr. Booker has the lowest percentage of small-donor funds of any senator thought to be weighing a presidential bid.” (Wall Street Journal)
BULLOCK. Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) “appears to be in no hurry to announce his plans for the 2020 election, even as the Democratic field of presidential candidates grows more crowded by the day.” Bullock: "I am at a great advantage to be able to do the job that I get to do, and that's what I'm focusing on,.. My aspirations are to make sure that we get publicly funded pre-school for our kids and Medicaid expansion." (Missoulian)
BUTTIGIEG. “Mayor Pete Buttigieg is soon releasing the type of book that presidential candidates write, but he still won’t say whether he’ll run. He says he could announce his plans within the next two weeks.” Buttigieg: “For anybody who isn’t already very famous, you really don’t have long, past the end of this month, to make some kind of move” (South Bend Tribune)
GARCETTI. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) announced that “[t]he Los Angeles teachers union and the school district will return to the bargaining table at noon Thursday at City Hall. ... Union leaders had announced earlier in the evening that they were ready to resume talks with the Los Angeles Unified School District on Thursday—the fourth day of their strike—and to take up Garcetti’s offer to mediate.” (Los Angeles Times)
GILLIBRAND. Gillibrand “introduces herself to more Americans this week—a quest that will take her across Iowa this weekend—the 12-year member of Congress and former Manhattan corporate lawyer is presenting herself in a few different ways: the mother of two young boys who knows how to burp a baby (something she demonstrated on national television Tuesday night) and would ‘fight for other people’s kids as hard as I fight for my own.’ The resident of a working-class town who likes dive bars and swearing, has declined campaign donations from corporate political action committees and knows that “a lot of people feel left behind.” A fighter who hasn’t been afraid to challenge members of her own party and will ‘take on the systems of power,’ including drug and insurance companies, and ‘take on institutional racism, which holds far too many communities back.’ And a working woman who has to deal with a male reporter asking her to comment on his assessment of her likability.” (Washington Post)
HARRIS. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA): "A lot of the courage I have comes from my mother. My mother raised us with a belief that we could do anything. Her point was don’t let anybody tell you who you are, you tell them who you are." (ABC News)
INSLEE. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) called for legalizing cannabis nationally after receiving an “A” grade from NORML. (Twitter)
MCAULIFFE. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) may be polling in Iowa. (Bleeding Heartland)
MOULTON. After announcing a trip to New Hampshire, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) “is exploring the idea of running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, a source close to the Massachusetts congressman” said Wednesday. (WBZ 4 Boston)
SWALWELL. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) wrote an op-ed in the Las Vegas Sun titled “Universal health care remains an evasive but noble goal for the nation.” Swalwell: “We will protect the Affordable Care Act however we can, and move to shore up that which the president and his enablers have been intent on undermining… As we do so, we’ll explore the best way to move our nation toward truly universal health care under a Medicare-for-all model.” (Las Vegas Sun)
STEYER. Mega-donor Tom Steyer (D) on Thursday “will travel to New Hampshire to host a town hall to discuss impeachment and the last of his five rights: the right to health. … This is Steyer’s fifth event focused on the 5 Rights, following similar events in Charleston, SC, Fresno, CA, Ankeny, IA, and Las Vegas, NV.” (release)
POLLS. An NPR/PBS/Marist poll released Thursday found former Vice President Joe Biden with the highest favorable rating of potential presidential contenders, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Sanders had the highest unfavorable rating, followed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D). (release)
UNITY TICKET. “As the 2020 presidential campaign kicks into gear, a new poll by Unite America of voters in the first primary state of New Hampshire found that 61% would support their preferred presidential candidate reaching across the aisle to form a bipartisan “Unity Ticket” in 2020.” (release)
STAFFING PROBLEMS. “As more Democratic presidential hopefuls inch closer to entering the 2020 contest, many are running into an early roadblock: There aren’t enough staffers for everyone. In the critical early voting states, there are a limited number of high-level operatives with presidential campaign experience available to the upwards of two dozen potential candidates. And with no clear frontrunner, plus several big names whose intentions remain unclear, some staffers are hesitant to sign on to a campaign right away.” (McClatchy)