Biden Endorses Four Secretary of State Candidates

Former Vice President Joe Biden endorsed four down ballot candidates running for Secretary of State in key states for the midterm and presidential election cycles. He made the announcement in an email sent out to supporters of American Possibilities, his political action committee. He cited protection of voting rights as his reason for the endorsements, writing that one of the best ways to accomplish this goal was “by electing strong Secretaries of State, the folks responsible for overseeing elections, all across the country.”

Biden has maintained his public profile by endorsing several state and congressional candidates across the country in the past several months, fueling speculation about whether he is considering another White House run. Biden told the Washington Post that he did not know what he was going to do.

The four candidates to receive Biden’s endorsement were attorney Jena Griswold in Colorado, former Wayne State University Law School dean Jocelyn Benson in Michigan, Assemblyman Nelson Araujo in Nevada, and State Rep. Kathleen Clyde in Ohio.  All four states have open races for governor because of term-limited incumbents. Only Colorado does not have a Senate race in the current cycle. All four are competitive swing states in presidential elections.

The significance of the secretaries of state who are elected in this cycle is that they will become the top elections officials in their respective states for the 2020 presidential cycle, which will make them responsible for managing primaries, protecting the integrity of the election systems and process, and certifying the results.

Griswold won her party’s nomination in the Colorado primary this evening.

DNC Chairman Heading to Texas Border

Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez is heading to Brownsville, Texas to participate in a rally protesting against the Trump administration’s family separation policy.  The rally will take place on Thursday, June 28 outside of a federal courthouse where many of the separated immigrants were prosecuted.

Update: The DNC announced this morning that Perez and Vice Chair Michael Blake will be visiting a school in the Bronx where migrant children are being held on Tuesday, June 26. Perez and Blake will then join with the National Action Network and local organizations in a protest against the administration’s family separation policy.

Jason Kander Running for Mayor of Kansas City in 2019

Jason Kander, the rising Democratic star who nearly defeated incumbent Republican senator Roy Blunt in the 2016 election, will run for mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, according to the Kansas City Star. The newspaper also reports that Kander hasn’t formally made an announcement, but he could launch his campaign as early as next week.

In the 18 months since the 2016 election, Kander has maintained his national profile through speeches, appearances in early presidential states of Iowa and New Hampshire, founding the voting rights nonprofit organization Let America Vote, and as host of the Majority 54 podcast on Crooked Media.

Kander’s decision to run for mayor next year effectively takes him out of consideration for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.  There are currently eight candidates who have declared for the election, five of which current members of the city council. The primary is scheduled for April of 2019.

The Next Potential Democratic Litmus Test: Abolishing ICE

In light of the national uproar over President Donald Trump’s family separation policy, at least two incumbent House Democrats (Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Rep.  Jim McGovern of Massachusetts) a gubernatorial candidate (Cynthia Nixon in New York) and one possible presidential contender (Kamala Harris in California) has floated the idea of reforming, de-funding or shutting down Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Even the libertarian publication Reason has gotten behind this idea. The most serious move on this issue so far has come from Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), who announced this morning that he would be introducing legislation in the House to abolish ICE.

The agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, has come under new scrutiny for its role and actions in implementing President Trump’s policy, as have its architects.  Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller were heckled by protesters while eating out in Washington DC restaurants last week.

The Republican National Committee hasn’t made much of an issue out of it yet beyond a blog post, although expect that to change if President Trump enters the fray, particularly in close House and Senate races which could make or break the Republican majorities for next year.

Georgia Special Election Headed for June Runoff

Jon Ossoff, the 30-year-old upstart making a run for Tom Price’s former congressional seat representing the Atlanta suburbs, will finish tonight’s jungle primary with approximately 48.6 percent of the vote – 1.4 percent shy of the 50 percent threshold needed to win the seat outright.  He will face off against former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel in a head-to-head runoff election on June 20.

Democrats in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District had coalesced around Ossoff, while the Republican voters were divided among 11 other candidates, with Handel emerging as the leading Republican with 19.5 percent of the vote.

The race was the focus of intense outside spending and activism, particularly on the Democratic side. Outside groups spent a combined $8.2 million in this race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The organization also reported that a staggering 95 percent of Ossoff’s campaign donations came from outside of the district.

This is the second special election for a congressional seat since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency.  Last week, Democrat James Thompson overperformed by 20 points in an ultimately losing effort to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Mike Pompeo. Ossoff, unlike Thompson, was running in a much more competitive district. Donald Trump won the district by 1.5 points, despite the fact that incumbent Republican Congressman Tom Price won reelection by 24 points, as well as the fact that the district has not had a Democratic congressman since 1979.  Though it was viewed as a more winnable seat than the Kansas counterpart up for grabs a week earlier, the concern now for Democrats is if Ossoff can still maintain or even increase his support in a race against a single Republican candidate with unified party support. It was for that reason that Ossoff and Democrats were trying to deliver a knockout punch today by clearing the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff election.

The race continues for another two months.

Kansas Democrat Faces Uphill Battle to Win Congressional Seat

The first congressional election of Donald Trump’s presidency is one week away. Although Republicans are strongly favored to retain the seat formerly held by Rep. Mike Pompeo, the race is seen as the Democrats’ first test of candidates, messages, strategies, and tactics in an effort to win a series of special elections over the course of the next three months, and to prepare for midterm elections in 2018. Kansas Democrats chose James Thompson, a civil rights attorney from Wichita, as their standard bearer to run against state treasurer Ron Estes. Can a Democrat win in a solidly Republican state representing a district that includes Koch Industries? The answer is yes, though it will be an uphill battle based on historical trends and more recent developments in the state. If elected, Thompson would be the first Democrat to hold the seat in more than two decades, and would be the only Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation.

Continue reading “Kansas Democrat Faces Uphill Battle to Win Congressional Seat”

Tom Perez Cleans House at DNC, Asks for Resignation Letters from Staffers

Scoop from NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has launched a major overhaul of the party’s organization, which has been stung by recent crises — and the DNC has requested resignation letters from all current staffers.

Party staff routinely see major turnover with a new boss and they had been alerted to expect such a move. However, the mass resignation letters will give Perez a chance to completely remake the DNC’s headquarters from scratch. Staffing had already reached unusual lows following a round of post-election layoffs in December.

Immediately after Perez’s selection as party chairman in late February, an adviser to outgoing DNC Interim Chair Donna Brazile, Leah Daughtry, asked every employee to submit a letter of resignation dated April 15, according to multiple sources familiar with the party’s internal workings.

A committee advising Perez on his transition is now interviewing staff and others as part of a top-to-bottom review process to decide not only who will stay and who will go, but how the party should be structured in the future.

Major staffing and organizational changes will be announced in coming weeks, one aide said.

“This is longstanding precedent at the DNC and has happened during multiple Chair transitions,” said DNC spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa. “The process was started before the election of the new Chair. From the beginning, Tom has been adamant that we structure the DNC for future campaigns. Current and future DNC staff will be integral to that effort. Over the last few months, the DNC staff has done incredible work under immense pressure to hold Trump accountable.”

Perez is the party’s third leader in the past year, which was one of its most difficult on record.

Bernie Sanders Group Endorses Democratic Candidates in Kansas and Montana

Our Revolution, the political organization that emerged in the aftermath of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, endorsed James Thompson and Rob Quist, the Democratic candidates in the upcoming special elections in Kansas and Montana.

This will be an early test on whether the movement Bernie Sanders inspired in 2016 will turn out to elect other candidates in elections where he is not on the ballot. President Obama found out in 2010, 2014 and 2016 that it wasn’t a sure thing to turn out his supporters during elections when he wasn’t a candidate.  Quist supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primary, and Thompson said he was inspired to run for office by Sanders. Sanders won both states in the 2016 Democratic primaries. If Quist or Thompson can win these seats in red states, Sanders would probably become an even bigger kingmaker in Democratic politics, especially if he is getting political and ideological allies elected to Congress. Wins or narrow losses in these races would also hit the brakes on any fears of #DemExit becoming anything more serious than a social media hashtag, because progressives would show signs of being committed to staying within (and, perhaps in the long term, taking over) the Democratic Party.

Our Revolution has not endorsed candidates in the Georgia, South Carolina, or California special elections presumably because all three races are in the middle of ongoing primaries.  Quist and Thompson have already locked up their respective parties’ nominations. The Kansas general election is the first special election of the year, scheduled for April 11. The Montana general election is set for May 25.

Special Election Voter Registration Deadlines Approaching

There are five special elections to fill vacant congressional seats over the course of the next three months.

  • Kansas: (21 days before the election: March 21, 2017). Election Day: April 11
  • Georgia: March 20. Election Day: April 18, June 20 (if necessary)
  • Montana: (30 days before the election: April 25, 2017) Election Day: May 25
  • South Carolina: April 2 for primary, May 21 for general) Election Day: June 20
  • California: (March 20 for primary, May 21 for runoff) Election Day: April 4, June 5 (if necessary).

DNC Announces Transition Advisory Committee

The Democratic National Committee has announced the creation of a Transition Advisory Committee, which is described as a team “charged with providing concrete suggestions and advice on building a Party that reaches into and represents every corner of America.”

Here’s the full list of members. Names with an asterisk are candidates who ran for DNC elected leadership positions in the most recent election:

Mark Begich (Former mayor of Anchorage, former Alaska senator)
Gus Bickford (Chairman, Massachusetts Democratic Party)
Sally Boynton Brown * (Executive Director, Idaho Democratic Party)
Pete Buttigieg * (Mayor of South Bend, Indiana)
Leah Daughtry, co-chair (CEO of 2016 Democratic National Convention)
Bill Dempsey (Chief Financial Officer, SEIU)
Akilah Ensley (Co-chair, DNC Youth Council)
Don Fowler (Former DNC chairman)
Jennifer Granholm (Former governor of Michigan)
Jehmu Greene * (Former Fox News pundit)
Luis Heredia (Arizona Democratic Party National Committeeman, Arizona 2016 DNC Superdelegate)
Pramila Jayapal (Representative, Washington 7th Congressional District)
Latoia Jones * (Former executive director, College Democrats of America)
Rebecca Lambe (Former executive director, Nevada Democratic Party, Former Harry Reid campaign manager)
Bel Leong-Hong (DNC Asian American and Pacific Islander Caucus Chair)
Terry Lierman (Former chairman, Maryland Democratic Party)
Chris Lu, co-chair (Former Deputy Secretary of Labor, former Executive Director of Obama-Biden Transition)
Mary Beth Maxwell (Senior Vice President, Human Rights Campaign)
Zerlina Maxwell (Former Director of Progressive Media, Hillary Clinton campaign)
Deray McKesson (Black Lives Matter activist)
Ademola Oyefeso (Political and Legislative Director, RWDSU Union)
Rick Palacio * (Former chairman, Colorado Democratic Party)
Ai-Jen Poo (Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance)
Rion Ramirez (Chairman, DNC Native American Council)
Astrid Silva (DREAMer, Director, Dream Big Vegas)
Rick Wade (Former South Carolina U.S. Senate candidate)
Simone Ward (Former National Political Director, DSCC.  Florida State Director, Hillary Clinton campaign)
Brian Weeks (Political Director, AFSCME)
Jenny Wilson (Utah Democratic Party National Committeewoman)