A look at what prospective Democratic presidential candidates are up to:
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.
A look at what prospective Democratic presidential candidates are up to:
- Former Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Ohio at the end of June for fundraising events in Cincinatti for Richard Cordray, the Democratic candidate in the Ohio governor’s race; and another event in Cleveland for Democratic senator Sherrod Brown.
- Biden also endorsed Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams in her campaign to become the first Democratic governor of Georgia in 15 years, and the first African American woman to ever be elected governor. Abrams has also been endorsed by other 2020 contenders Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
- Biden also endorsed Jena Griswold, the Democratic nominee running for Colorado Secretary of State.
- Governor Jay Inslee traveled to Iowa in his capacity as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, where he joined the Iowa Democratic ticket Fred Hubbell and Rita Hart at a campaign event. He recorded an interview with Iowa Public Television in which he praised Hubbell as “the perfect candidate.” He will also be the featured speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Celebration in Des Moines on Saturday night. He will also be meeting with Democratic activists in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.
- Senator Jeff Merkley did not rule out a possible presidential run during an interview with The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser: “I’m exploring the possibility.”
- Senator Cory Booker was the headliner at the Blue Commonwealth Gala in Richmond, Virginia, an annual event organized by the Democratic Party of Virginia. In addition to Booker, all Virginia Democratic statewide elected officials and former governor Terry McAuliffe – another possible 2020 contender – spoke at the event.
- Senator Kamala Harris sent out a fundraising email on behalf of Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, according to Kansas City Star reporter Lindsay Wise. Harris also praised McCaskill during her keynote address before the St. Louis County NAACP, which both senators attended. McCaskill is considered one of the most endangered Democratic senators of the current election cycle.
The Los Angeles Times just sent out a news alert announcing Governor Jerry Brown has appointed Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) to be the next attorney general of California, taking over for outgoing Attorney General Kamala Harris who was recently elected to the U.S. Senate.
Becerra, 58, has served 12 terms in Congress and was making a bid to become the ranking Democrat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee when Brown called him unexpectedly to offer the job.
“It’s a phenomenal opportunity,” Becerra said. “It means I get to be home a lot more.”
Becerra, who is the highest-ranking Latino in Congress, would be the state’s first Latino attorney general.
He worked in the Civil Division of the attorney general’s office from 1987 to 1990 before entering Congress. Becerra earned a law degree from Stanford Law School and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University.
He said in an interview Thursday morning he had always wanted to return to the office.
Becerra, if confirmed, would be the first attorney general appointed by a governor since Thomas Lynch, who was tapped by former Gov. Pat Brown in 1964.
The choice will no doubt send political shock waves through California because Becerra was not on any of the widely circulated lists of picks. Before Nov. 8, the conventional wisdom had been that the governor would choose a caretaker, perhaps even a career staffer who would simply carry out the office’s functions through the 2018 elections.
Becerra must be confirmed by the state Senate and Assembly, both handily controlled by Democrats.
The office of attorney general is perhaps second only to the governor in power, with broad authority to file sweeping legal action and defend California law.
UPDATE: Here’s the statement from Becerra:
Because it’s never too early to start speculating for the next presidential election, the Washington Post handicapped the Democrats’ possible field of presidential candidates for 2020. One key observation:
Although this most stunning upset in modern presidential history has produced (and will produce) a thousand aftershocks, one of the most unlikely and important is that the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 is now open.
That opening is made all the more remarkable by the fact that there is simply no logical heir (or even heirs) to President Obama or Clinton — no obvious candidate waiting in the wings to step forward and rebuild the party. Vice President Biden appears to have decided that he is done running for office. As a two-time loser, Clinton is done, too. And after that, the bench is, well, pretty thin.
The outcome of the last election did two things: it postponed the Republican reconstruction most people thought would happen after a Donald Trump loss; and it accelerated the need and timetable for a Democratic reconstruction, which many thought wouldn’t happen until after a Hillary Clinton presidency. To elaborate on the latter point, most Democrats and political observers would probably have assumed that the party would have another four years (or eight) during a Clinton presidency to develop its bench in state and federal government. Needless to say, that plan changed and they’re scrambling to start the rebuilding process, particularly at the state level where the party has suffered many losses during the Obama years.
The good news for Democrats is they have a favorable map and calendar for statewide races for the next two years, not so much for congressional races, particularly the Senate. [Keep in mind, a lot can change in two years. This is the outlook as it stands right now.] This gives them an opportunity to recruit candidates and test new messages and strategies and build up their bench in the run-up for the 2020 presidential election and redistricting. The bad news is they have a lot of catching up to do.