O'Rourke's Entrance a Reset Moment for Democrats

Candidates are rushing to cheer Gavin Newsom's death penalty moratorium.

March 15, 2019, 11 a.m.

If you watched coverage of former Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-TX) presidential campaign debut, “you can forget that the former Texas congressman is not—in any sense of the word—the Democratic front-runner. Dozens of reporters are crammed into coffee houses; live shots are beaming every optimistic word and dramatic hand-chop onto TV screens. Each iteration of his announcement, from a Vanity Fair cover to a text to an El Paso TV station, has been covered intensely.”

“All of this is happening for a candidate who has apparently lost some support in early states since November, when the buzz about a presidential bid began. Last weekend's Iowa poll, conducted for the Des Moines Register and CNN, found O'Rourke falling from 11% support at the end of last year to just 5% now. He has yet to announce something like the donor surge that welcomed" Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) "to the race. Just four House Democrats have endorsed their former colleague, one more than supports" Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro (D), "who is not being swarmed by TV cameras.”

So why the focus on Beto? “His decision actually looks like a reset moment for the Democratic primary—not one that shakes up the order of the field, but one that makes Democrats consider what voters are actually focused on and whether some early ideas about the electorate have been wrong.” (Washington Post)

DEATH PENALTY MORATORIUM. Democrats running for president are “rushing to cheer” California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) “after … [he] signed an executive order to halt further executions in his state.”

“The first two candidates to make public statements on Newsom’s order were California’s own Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), both of whom have focused their campaigns in part on criminal justice reform and the country’s incarceration of people of color. But those senators were far from alone in endorsing the order or condemning capital punishment writ large.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “celebrated the news and once again called for the abolition of the death penalty. An aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)... [said] that she supported the order too, and reaffirmed her position against capital punishment which notably came up when she opposed the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Marie Logsden, a senior adviser to former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s campaign, said he opposes the death penalty and has written about it in a prior memoir. And Glen Caplin, a top aide to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)... [said] that the senator ‘fully supports Governor Newsom's executive order.’ Caplin confirmed that as a matter of principle ‘she is against the death penalty’ too.”

“But there is one likely candidate who has previously taken a different path. As a U.S. senator,” former Vice President Joe Biden “helped write the 1994 crime bill that expanded the application of the death penalty, saying at one point that ‘we have predators on our streets’ who are ‘beyond the pale.’” (Daily Beast)

DNC. The DNC’s chief technology officer “is stepping down from his role, ending a near two-year tenure during which he helped overhaul the party’s data practices and heighten its attention to digital security following the hacks that upended the 2016 election.”

Raffi Krikorian “will return to California to join the Emerson Collective, the philanthropy company founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, a DNC official confirmed on Thursday. He served as Twitter’s vice president of engineering and ran Uber’s self-driving cars project before joining the Democratic Party in the summer of 2017, taking on his first job in politics at a time when the DNC faced an urgent need to reimagine its internal approach to tech and cybersecurity.”

During his tenure, “the DNC moved its data operations in-house for the first time; taught the chair of the DNC, Tom Perez, how to use the encrypted messaging app, Signal; instituted regular simulating phishing drills; pressured state parties to update their own practices; and hired a top Silicon Valley official, former Yahoo executive Bob Lord, to step in as chief security officer.” (BuzzFeed)

NORTH CAROLINA. An Elon University poll (Feb. 20th-Mar. 7th, 914 RV’s. +/- 3.5%) shows North Carolina voters “prefer" Biden and Sanders "over the rest of the Democratic 2020 presidential field.”

“The percentage of N.C. voters with a positive impression of announced and potential Democratic candidates put Biden at 54.4% and Sanders at 44%. No other candidate broke the 30% mark — with" Warren (D-MA) at 30 percent, Harris at 27 percent, and Booker at 24 percent. (Raleigh News & Observer)

NEW HAMPSHIRE. “According to legend, Mark Twain quipped that ‘the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated’ after hearing rumors that he had died. The same could be said today regarding New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.”

"Every four years, some political reporters predict peril in the Granite State, which for a century has held the first primary in the nominating calendar. While such predictions may prove true in the future, it’s not the case in the 2020 presidential cycle. … Declared and potential presidential contenders have been flocking to New Hampshire the past two months. Over the next few days, six White House hopefuls and two possible candidates are slated to hold events in the Granite State.”

New Hampshire Institute of Politics executive director Neil Levesque said that he’s never seen it so busy: “Ten months out from the primary, we have the amount of activity as we usually do four weeks away from the primary. … If people have written obituaries about the primary, they are completely wrong.” (Concord Monitor)

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