Political News

#2020Vision: Rep. Delaney enters 2020 race; Warren's fingerprints on the Democratic agenda

Posted July 28

Our weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race:

The 2020 Democratic presidential race now officially has its first candidate: Maryland Rep. John Delaney.

The third-term congressman announced his plans to run for president in a Washington Post op-ed Friday afternoon. Delaney, 54, won't run for re-election and is bypassing a run for Maryland governor in 2018.

Let's be honest here: More than anything, this reflects the reality that just about every elected Democrat thinks a couple big things: 1) They can beat Trump, and 2) The best-known Democratic prospects -- former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- all have good reasons they might not run, which could mean a truly wide-open race. After all, another Maryland Democrat, former Gov. Martin O'Malley, also looks likely to run.

Why do even Delaney's allies admit he is an extreme longshot? Beyond his lack of a national profile, Delaney is well to the right of the Democratic primary electorate. He has opposed a $15 minimum wage and supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He has proposed allowing businesses to repatriate money earned overseas without paying taxes in exchange for buying infrastructure bonds.

"I don't really see it, but I think if he does this he will try to be the solutions candidate aimed at making Washington work again," said one Democratic strategist who has worked with Delaney. "He has a record of creating thousands of jobs as the CEO of two publicly traded companies that he built from scratch after being raised in a union household" in New Jersey, the strategist said. Delaney could also spend millions of his own dollars on a race.

News and notes:

Time to talk single-payer?

Democrats won a huge health care victory in the wee Friday morning hours. So what's next? Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders plans to introduce his single-payer health insurance bill -- "Medicare for all," as he'll cast it -- in September, an aide told CNN. The big question is which Democratic 2020 prospects will support it.

Already, Warren and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have embraced single-payer. California Sen. Kamala Harris expressed support for "the concept" in May, when she said health care access should not be "a function of your income," and again in July -- but cautioned the details are key. The Democratic base will demand she and others weigh in on the issue and on Sanders' bill, and it's likely to be a central issue in the 2020 nominating contest. "Single-payer is the absolutely the price of admission for our 2020 nominee both morally and politically," one Democratic operative said. A more skeptical operative said the party's 2020 primary could be "a suicidal litmus test" on single-payer.

Republicans tried to troll Democrats into voting for a single-payer bill that had no hope of passing Thursday. Democrats didn't take the bait.

Warren's fingerprints on Democrats' agenda

Warren was among the Democrats in Berryville, Virginia, to roll out a new agenda for the midterm this week. It was all economic populism, all the time, with a big anti-trust emphasis. Where'd that come from? Read this June 2016 Warren speech at a New America think tank event, and you'll see her fingerprints all over it.

Speaking of anti-trust, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker told Recode the government needs to keep a much closer eye on Amazon and Google. "This consolidation that's happening all over the country is not a positive trend," he said, pointing to Amazon's bid to buy Whole Foods and Google's cable and telecom mergers.

Trump's transgender ban

Gillibrand was among the harshest Democratic critics of Trump's transgender military service ban, saying she was working on legislation to block it. She said on CNN she "can't think of anything less patriotic" and called the ban "outrageous."

Gillibrand has said she's not running in 2020. But many Democrats don't believe her, and see her as a strong contender. Gillibrand's biggest weakness, which some operatives told me they see her actively working to address, is that she was a moderate "Blue Dog" in the House whose previous positions on guns and same-sex marriage could prove problematic with the progressives.

Moulton a 2020 prospect?

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton is profiled by Politico's Michael Kruse as an "insider who's an outsider." Focused heavily on Kruse's military record -- he went to Iraq four times -- Kruse finds those who know him speaking of a White House run as more of a question of when than if. "I'm not running for president, man," Moulton said.

Landrieu keeps his options open

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is tamping down speculation that he might run for president in 2020 -- sort of. At least in the present tense. "The answer to the question is I'm not running for president," Landrieu told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," a podcast from the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN. "You'd never rule out running (for) anything, you never say never about anything, but I'm not running."

An unusual approach to Trump

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is the rare Democrat who almost never says President Donald Trump's name -- a weird tactic for a big-state governor in a party fueled by resisting Trump. He blasted Trump's decision to ban transgender Americans from military service as a "Washington directive," The New York Times' Shane Goldmacher notes. "As a general rule, I haven't found nasty ad hominem attacks on a person whose cooperation is needed to help your state especially helpful," Cuomo told Goldmacher.

Calls for an African-American on the ticket

At the NAACP's convention in Baltimore, organization members said they wanted to see a black person on Democrats' 2020 ticket, per McClatchy's William Douglas and Katishi Maake. Among the people to watch: Harris, Booker, former Attorney General Eric Holder and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

The week ahead:

Tuesday, August 1 -- Minnesota Sen. Al Franken will sit down with NBC's Seth Meyers for a talk about Franken's book at the Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York City.

Wednesday, August 2 -- Polk County, Iowa, Democrats are teasing a 10 a.m. CT announcement about their steak fry. We're watching to see who the featured speaker will be at the Des Moines event that's seen as a must for future presidential contenders.

Expecting they could still be in Washington voting on health care, senators all kept their schedules open for the next week.

Before you go:

Hillary Clinton's forthcoming book "What Happened" is still six weeks away -- but it shot to the top of Amazon's best sellers list with pre-orders when the title and covered were announced this week. ... Michelle Obama was in Denver this week, discussing how she overcame racist jabs. "The shards that cut me the deepest were the ones that intended to cut," she said.

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