CNN DNC Chair Debate Live Blog

Live debate in Atlanta co-hosted by CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Dana Bash:

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DNC Race Endorsement Counts, and Candidates Seeking Endorsements in Wyoming Today

The Wall Street Journal’s Reid Epstein has a good update on the state of the DNC chair race. (Keep in mind this story was written and published before Ray Buckley’s decision to drop out of the race and endorse Keith Ellison). Here are some highlights from the story:

  • Despite Tom Perez’s email to DNC members saying he had secured the support of 180 members, the campaign could only provide the WSJ with the names of 34 members who had publicly endorsed him.
  • Keith Ellison’s campaign provided the WSJ with a list of 56 DNC members who have publicly endorsed him.
  • Key caveat: “Neither campaign agreed to reveal their list of private commitments.”
  • DNC member endorsement counts for other candidates:
    • Sally Boynton Brown: 5
    • Ray Buckley: 8
    • Pete Buttigieg: 6
    • Jehmu Greene: 0
    • Jaime Harrison: 9
  • Sally Boynton Brown, as well as representatives from the Ellison and Perez campaigns, are in Laramie, Wyoming today for an event organized by state Democrats. None of Wyoming’s four DNC members has made a public endorsement in the race.

UPDATE: Since Buckley dropped out of the race, he is encouraging his supporters and the DNC members who endorsed him to get behind Ellison. The assumption is that they will do so, though they are free to get behind another candidate if they wish. 

Ray Buckley Drops Out of DNC Chair Race, Endorses Keith Ellison

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley announced this morning he is getting out of the race and getting behind Keith Ellison.  Here’s the statement:

From the moment I stepped into this race, I made it clear that the top two priorities of the next DNC Chair must be to strengthen state parties and reform the DNC,” said Ray Buckley. “Now, many candidates have spoken about these issues, but Keith’s commitment to the states and a transparent and accountable DNC has stood out. He knows elections are not won and lost in the beltway, but on the ground across the country. His plan, in fact, shared many of the same ideas and principles as my own. We both believe in investing in all 50 states, Democrats Abroad, and the territories, providing support and resources to help state parties succeed, and organizing in every county across this great country. And here’s the thing, we both have a track record of winning elections. While it was a tremendous honor to run for DNC Chair over the past few months, I am proud to throw my support behind Keith so we can ensure that the next Chair of the DNC is dedicated to investing in and strengthening state parties and ensuring that the DNC is an accountable organization. As I’ve talked to the DNC membership, it’s clear Keith has widespread support, and I know as our next DNC Chair Keith will successfully unite and grow our party.”

This is a big get for Ellison for two reasons: first, it removes a potential rival from the race. Second, in his capacity as chairman of the NHDP, Buckley has a vote in picking the next chairman at the party’s winter meeting in Atlanta at the end of the month.

You can read my interview from a few weeks ago with Ray Buckley here.

 

John Kerry Hasn’t Ruled Out Another Presidential Run

Buried in the final two paragraphs of this New York Times article about John Kerry’s new gig at Yale University is this little gem:

While Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, emphasized that the Kerry Initiative is “not a political platform — it’s a teaching platform,” Mr. Kerry, who is also writing his memoirs, has not ruled out a run for president in 2020.

“I haven’t been thinking about it or talking about it,” he said. “I haven’t ruled anything in or anything out.”

Keep in mind, for a time leading up to the 2008 cycle, Kerry left the door open for another possible run. That door closed in no small part because of his poorly chosen comments about troops being stuck in Iraq if they didn’t get an education, the subsequent controversy which neutralized him as a surrogate during the closing days of the 2006 midterms.  In addition to that, he discovered in early 2007 that the money just wasn’t there for him, particularly in a field that included Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Things may be different in 2019, depending on the field of candidates, the state of the country, the results of the 2018 midterms, and public opinion of the Trump administration as it prepares to defend its record and run for reelection. If he has to compete against someone like Elizabeth Warren for the nomination, it could be very difficult. On the other hand, he would also have to stand out and consolidate support from the  establishment wing of the party, in a field that could include Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Andrew Cuomo or John Hickenlooper.

One thing Kerry would have going for him in his second run is his experience as Obama’s secretary of state, which may give him ammunition to criticize the Trump administration on its handling of foreign affairs.

Virginia Poll Results

Quinnipiac University released the results of a new Virginia poll.  Here are the highlights:

  • For the 2018 Senate race, Democrat Tim Kaine leads hypothetical matchups against two Republican women: Laura Ingraham (56-36) and Carly Fiorina (57-36).
  • President Trump has a 38-56 job approval rating in Virginia.
    • Republicans approve 81-11
    • Democrats disapprove 95-3
    • Independents disapprove 57-37
    • Whites approve 46-48
    • Non-whites disapprove 76-20
  • President Trump’s travel ban has a 55-42 percent disapproval rating. (Keep in mind Virginia attorney general Mark Harring has challenged it in court)
  • Virginia voters think Judge Neil Gorsuch should be confirmed to the Supreme Court by a 49-31 margin.
  • Virginia voters think home-schooled students should be able to play on public school sports teams, by an overwhelming 71-23 margin.

Washington Attorney General Scores Legal Victories Against Federal Government and Florist

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson scored two big legal victories today. The one that got the most attention is his lawsuit regarding President Trump’s travel ban, which has already been ruled in his favor on two separate occasions by four judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Department of Justice filed a 61-page document this morning with this crucial sentence:

Rather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns.
President Trump confirmed this himself during his press conference today, telling reporters, “The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision.”
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson – who filed the initial lawsuit on behalf of the state, before being joined by his Minnesota counterpart Lori Swanson – said in a statement:
“Let’s be clear:  Today’s court filing by the federal government recognizes the obvious — the President’s current Executive Order violates the Constitution,” Ferguson said. “President Trump could have sought review of this flawed Order in the Supreme Court but declined to face yet another defeat.”
The question that remains now is what will the new executive order look like, and will there be further litigation surrounding that as well.
Ferguson’s other victory today was in the case of State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers. (Read the PDF here) At issue was a Richland florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding because the owner didn’t believe in marriage equality. Ferguson’s office sued the florist arguing that by doing so, it was violating the state’s Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.  The Washington Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the state’s favor. According to state law, businesses are not required to provide a particular service. However, if it does so for heterosexual couples, it must provide that service to same-sex couples.
In the bigger picture, this case provides a potential precedent for future litigation involving state or federal religious freedom bills that allow people to deny services if they conflict with their religious beliefs – for example, opposition to gay marriage.

DNC Race Home Stretch

The four regional forums are done, and in eight days, the 447 voting members of the Democratic National Committee will pick the party’s next chairman (or woman) and senior leaders.

The big drama in the past few days: Tom Perez sent out an email to DNC members saying he had locked up 180 votes – a claim which can’t be independently verified – out of the 224 votes necessary to win the chairmanship. This prompted Keith Ellison to send out his own email to DNC members accusing Ellison – without naming him – of misleading or misrepresenting his lead in the state of the race.  Young Turks reporter Nomiki Konst created a bit of a stir when she tweeted a series of photos showing Perez and Ellison having dinner together at a Dupont Circle restaurant after a candidates’ forum organized by the Woman’s National Democratic Club. Perez and Ellison subsequently tweeted that they were just friends, and in a statement pledged cooperation regardless of who won the chairmanship at the election later this month.

NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald reported that Ellison had offered New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley “a role leading DNC operations” in exchange for his endorsement in the race. Asked to comment on this report, a source close to Buckley responded, “The Chairman is still in the race and is keeping all options on the table right now. He wants to make sure whatever he does is in the party’s best interests.”

Beyond that, here is the list of all the endorsements that have been announced by the various candidates over the past several days:

Sally Boynton Brown:

Pete Buttigieg:

Keith Ellison:

Jaime Harrison:

Tom Perez:

Candidates Named for Kansas Special Election

After Mike Pompeo’s resignation from Congress to take the job of CIA director, there will be a special election to fill his former seat, which represents Kansas’s 4th congressional district. The Kansas Democratic Party held a convention today in the 4th CD to pick their nominee for the race. narrowing down a field of five candidates before finally choosing civil rights attorney James Thompson after two rounds of voting

Republicans chose state treasurer Ron Estes as their candidate. The election will take place on April 11.  According to the Wichita Eagle, Democrats will try to tie Estes to President Donald Trump and Kansas governor Sam Brownback, while Republicans will try to tie Thompson to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi. According to the Cook Political Report, the 4th CD has a R +14 Partisan Voter Index. Presidnet Trump won Kansas 56-35 in the 2016 election.

DNC Forum Baltimore Liveblog

Moderated by April Ryan, Urban Radio Networks

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Obamaworld Update: Book and Speech Negotiations, Citizen 44

According to The Hill, the Obamas have signed on with the Harry Walker Agency, which will represent them and arrange their post-White House speaking gigs.  The publication also reports that Washington D.C. lawyers Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell will represent them in negotiations for potential book deals.  There are no book releases or speaking engagements currently planned.

There’s also this bit of news from Politico Playbook:

Allison Zelman, a Clinton and Obama alum, and Paulette Aniskoff, a former director of the Office of Public Engagement at the Obama White House, have launched Citizen 44 LLC, which will “oversee President Obama’s engagement with political and progressive organizations and major supporters around the country to defend his legacy. They will also run his alumni network.” FROM ANITA BRECKENRIDGE, OBAMA’S CHIEF OF STAFF: “Paulette is someone who the President has relied on, and who countless allies and activists partnered closely with during our time in the White House. During her ten years on the campaign and inside the administration, she ran point on some of the most important fights we had and was a trusted senior strategist. We are thrilled to have her as a key member of the post presidency team.”

I don’t suppose anyone told them that Citizen 44 sounds very close to Citizenfour, the Oscar-winning documentary about Edward Snowden…

UPDATE: Reaction from Paulette Aniskoff