Julián Castro’s plan to torpedo Beto backfires


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Julián Castro welcomed home-state colleague Beto O’Rourke into the crowded Democratic presidential primary field Thursday by releasing a list of more than two dozen elected and appointed Texas officials endorsing the former San Antonio mayor over the ex-El Paso congressman.

The attempted show of force on O’Rourke’s launch day, however, may have fallen a little flat.

The timing of Castro’s brushback pitch was viewed by some Democrats as unsportsmanlike. To make matters worse, some of the endorsers were surprised to learn that their names would be released on the day a fellow Texan announced his candidacy. And at least one official on the list said he was actually neutral in the 2020 race.

“That list is not ready for primetime,” said Colin Strother, a Texas Democratic strategist who once advised Castro, asserting that it was a “petty” move by an ordinarily classy candidate. “I think [the timing] was in poor Continue reading “Julián Castro’s plan to torpedo Beto backfires”

Hickenlooper launches presidential campaign


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John Hickenlooper announced Monday he’s running for president, drawing on 16 years of executive experience as Denver mayor and Colorado governor.

“I’m running for president because we need dreamers in Washington, but we also need to get things done,” Hickenlooper says in a video announcing his candidacy. “I’ve proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver.”

After a kickoff rally in Denver on Thursday, Hickenlooper’s next stop as a presidential candidate will be a two-day tour through Iowa, an early state that will be pivotal to his fortunes in a crowded Democratic field.

The former Colorado governor begins at a disadvantage there, with low name recognition and a smaller campaign infrastructure than most rivals. While his name is a familiar one to older Iowa voters — a cousin, the late Bourke Hickenlooper, served as a Republican governor in Continue reading “Hickenlooper launches presidential campaign”

Hickenlooper: ‘I’m not cut out to be a senator’


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CARROLL, Iowa — Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, campaigning Saturday in Iowa ahead of a possible presidential run, dismissed the idea that he might end up running for Senate instead in 2020.

“I’m not cut out to be a senator,” said Hickenlooper, who added that he loves putting administrative teams together. “Senators don’t build teams. Senators sit and debate in small groups, which is important, right? But I’m not sure that’s my — I’m a doer. That’s what gives me joy.”

Senate Democratic leaders have approached Hickenlooper about running against Colorado Republican incumbent Cory Gardner, the former governor told reporters.

“Are you kidding me?” Hickenlooper said when asked if Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) had spoken to him about a potential Senate run. “Of course. Senator Schumer is one of the more persuasive people in my acquaintance.”

Continue reading “Hickenlooper: ‘I’m not cut out to be a senator’”

Democrats don’t bite on Booker vegan flap


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When an interview surfaced this week that brought Sen. Cory Booker’s vegan lifestyle to the forefront, it seemed like the New Jersey senator would be forced to do the first damage control of his nascent presidential campaign.

Iowa ranks as theNo. 1 pork-producing state in the nation, after all, and the state Farm Bureau reports that 95 percent of Iowans eat meat at least weekly.

But it turns out Democratic voters aren’t biting on the controversy. Despite Booker’s remarks about the unsustainability of “billions of people consuming industrially produced animal agriculture” and much mocking on the right about his out-of-the-mainstream diet — a Fox News panel discussed “Booker’s beef” with plates of burgers and ribs on set — Iowans seem to be greeting the revelation with a shrug.

“There have been vegans and vegetarians in Iowa for decades now,” said Sean Bagniewski, chairman of the Polk County Democrats, who host Continue reading “Democrats don’t bite on Booker vegan flap”

Why is the Hispanic Caucus ignoring Julián Castro?


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Julián Castro is the lone Latino candidate in the crowded 2020 Democratic primary field. He’s uniquely positioned to capture the support of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which has more members than ever and more clout.

Yet so far, he’s come up dry.

Just one of the 38-member group has publicly endorsed Castro’s bid since his campaign announcement last month — his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), who chairs the CHC and also serves as chairman of Julián’s campaign.

It isn’t personal, according to interviews with CHC members. The reluctance so far to commit to Castro, they say, is largely due to home-state loyalties or political caution in a race that’s still taking shape.

Nearly three-quarters of the CHC’s 38 members are concentrated in just four states — California, New Jersey, New York and Texas. And each of those states happens to have an announced or possible presidential contender.

In

Continue reading “Why is the Hispanic Caucus ignoring Julián Castro?”

Democratic presidential candidates urge Northam to resign


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A pair of Democratic presidential candidates quickly called on Ralph Northam to resign Friday following a report that showed the Virginia governor appearing in a racist yearbook picture.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro was the first to urge Northam to resign. “It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat,” Castro tweeted. “This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.”

“Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). “The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.”

The conservative website Big League Politics first reported that Northam’s 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook includes an image of one person wearing blackface and another a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood. Northam confirmed he is pictured Continue reading “Democratic presidential candidates urge Northam to resign”

Booker holds court in Newark — and breaks with Harris, Sanders


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NEWARK, N.J. — Cory Booker distanced himself Friday from the rhetoric and policy of a pair of his Senate colleagues and addressed two of his potential vulnerabilities.

Speaking to reporters outside his home here on his first day as a presidential candidate, Booker distinguished himself from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a potential primary opponent who explicitly called President Donald Trump “a racist” on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He also broke with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who embraced eliminating private health insurance during a CNN town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday.

Booker said Trump has said bigoted things but declined to call the president a racist. “I don’t know the heart of anybody,” said Booker, who stammered and paused before answering. “I’ll leave that to the Lord.”

But his White House bid isn’t so much about who sits in the Oval Office as it Continue reading “Booker holds court in Newark — and breaks with Harris, Sanders”

Booker holds court in Newark — and breaks with Harris, Sanders


This post is by (Nolan D. McCaskill) from Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories


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NEWARK, N.J. — Cory Booker distanced himself Friday from the rhetoric and policy of a pair of his Senate colleagues and addressed two of his potential vulnerabilities.

Speaking to reporters outside his home here on his first day as a presidential candidate, Booker distinguished himself from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a potential primary opponent who explicitly called President Donald Trump “a racist” on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He also broke with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who embraced eliminating private health insurance during a CNN town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, on Monday.

Booker said Trump has said bigoted things but declined to call the president a racist. “I don’t know the heart of anybody,” said Booker, who stammered and paused before answering. “I’ll leave that to the Lord.”

But his White House bid isn’t so much about who sits in the Oval Office as it Continue reading “Booker holds court in Newark — and breaks with Harris, Sanders”

Bloomberg rips Trump: ‘Totally incompetent’


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McLEAN, Va. — Michael Bloomberg came to Virginia on Friday to deliver a message to Democrats: I told you so.

The former New York City mayor delivered his most scathing remarks about Trump since he called then-candidate Donald Trump a “dangerous demagogue” and knocked his business credentials in a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

“I said then that he was just not suited,” Bloomberg said Friday morning in a speech at the Democratic Business Council of Northern Virginia event. “He did not have the skills, the temperament, the work ethic to be president of the United States.”

Though both are New York billionaires, Bloomberg said he knew Trump in their former lives only “casually" through interactions at ceremonial events. He assailed the former real estate mogul for what he called “a complete failure of presidential leadership" and "totally incompetent management" as some federal agencies remain shuttered amid Continue reading “Bloomberg rips Trump: ‘Totally incompetent’”

Kamala Harris’ hidden army


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COLUMBIA, S.C. — When Kamala Harris makes her first trip this year to South Carolina on Friday, she’ll be surrounded by thousands of potential voters at a fundraiser hosted by a group of the state’s most powerful voting bloc: black women.

The California senator won’t have to make a hard sell at the annual “Pink Ice Gala” — as a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, she already has a powerful connection to the organizers.

Harris pledged the sorority — the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college-educated women — as a student at Howard University. Now, more than three decades later, she is leaning on the group’s influential network to advance her prospects in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

In South Carolina, where there are eight historically black colleges and universities and nearly 4-in-10 Democratic primary voters are black women, according to 2016 exit polls, the AKA Continue reading “Kamala Harris’ hidden army”

Clyburn might sit out Democratic primary


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COLUMBIA, S.C. — House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said he won’t endorse a presidential candidate until close to South Carolina’s Democratic primary date, if at all.

“I’m not gonna take sides,” Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American Democrat in the House, told POLITICO. “It’ll be a long time before I take sides in this race.”

The South Carolina primary isn’t until late February 2020. But Democratic candidates — both declared and undeclared — have already begun making stops in the critical early state.

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were here in Columbia on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day events, with Sanders staying through Tuesday. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will visit on Wednesday, followed by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who will make her first South Carolina stop on Friday.

Clyburn’s presence looms so large over his state’s primary that in the Continue reading “Clyburn might sit out Democratic primary”

‘Heart of the Democratic Party’: Black voters in S.C. see first candidate push


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COLUMBIA, S.C.— When Sens. Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders make their first early primary state appearances of 2019 on Monday, the location won’t be by chance.

As the first Southern state to vote in 2020 — and, more important, the first state where African-Americans will cast a majority of the primary vote — South Carolina looms as a crucible for both potential presidential candidates. Each has something to prove here, though for entirely different reasons.

For Booker, the state presents an opportunity for an early show of strength next year with the Democratic Party’s most loyal bloc of voters. As one of the few African-American candidates likely to run, he’ll have a moment to break out of the crowded field after voting takes place in overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire.

For Sanders, it’s an opening to move beyond his dismal 2016 performance with black voters here, when Continue reading “‘Heart of the Democratic Party’: Black voters in S.C. see first candidate push”

‘They heard the message’: Castro makes a play for the Obama coalition


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When Julián Castro laid out his vision as a presidential candidate Saturday, the language was subtle but unmistakable. The same held true for the optics of his 2020 campaign launch.

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary’s bid is a play for the Obama coalition, the amalgamation of diverse constituencies — young, African-American, Latino, Asian — that the party sees as its future in a demographically changing America. As a Mexican-American and one of the youngest candidates in the crowded Democratic field, Castro’s potential appeal to the voters who elected Barack Obama to two terms is obvious, even if his path to victory is harder to envision.

Castro’s announcement speech "felt, to me, like the one I witnessed Obama [give], when he launched in 2007,” said Henry Cisneros, a Castro family friend who served as San Antonio mayor and President Bill Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development. “It was Continue reading “‘They heard the message’: Castro makes a play for the Obama coalition”

Castro launches 2020 bid with nod to party’s future


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SAN ANTONIO, Texas — When 44-year-old Julián Castro officially launches his presidential campaign Saturday, he’ll be one of the youngest candidates in the prospective 2020 Democratic field. And he’ll be first — and likely only — Latino candidate.

That could give Castro an edge in a key early presidential state — Nevada has the highest percentage of Hispanic voters of the four early voting states. And it’s likewise an asset in California, which stands to cast a long shadow over the Democratic presidential primary now that its primary has been moved forward to early March.

Together, the former San Antonio mayor and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development’s youth and background offer a profile built to appeal to the Democratic Party’s diverse and ascendent Obama coalition.

Castro, a longshot who lacks widespread name recognition or an extensive campaign infrastructure, will need every advantage he can get. That helps explain Continue reading “Castro launches 2020 bid with nod to party’s future”

House Dem majority welcomes first black female floor director


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A veteran House Democratic staffer is set to break racial barriers once the House Democrats take power this week.

Shuwanza Goff will be the first African-American woman to serve as floor director, a low-profile but hugely important position in incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) office.

“It’s a little daunting, but it’s also exciting,” Goff said.

In her current role as director of legislative operations for the minority whip, Goff communicates across the aisle on what legislation can and can’t pass and what Democrats will and won’t accept in bipartisan legislation, such as a bill to end the partial government shutdown.

When Democrats take the majority this week, however, her role will shift from counting votes to managing the floor. She will provide Hoyer with options on what bills will come to the floor, while incoming House Majority Whip James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) office will make sure Continue reading “House Dem majority welcomes first black female floor director”

O’Rourke and Castro on collision course in Texas


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The Democratic Party’s dream of a resurgence in Texas has long run squarely through San Antonio and the Castro brothers — Joaquin, the third-term congressman, and Julián, the city’s ambitious former mayor.

But that was before Beto O’Rourke catapulted himself into the party’s national consciousness this year.

Now, O’Rourke and Julián Castro are both inching toward presidential campaigns, an unlikely bounty for Texas Democrats accustomed to near-irrelevance at the statewide and national levels. O’Rourke and Castro would likely run on different platforms and rely on different donors, limiting the likelihood of direct combat.

But assuming they both run and don’t flame out, the presence of the two Texans in the race would test the allegiances of state Democrats in a way that could be a significant factor in the fight for the nomination. Texas will hold its primary relatively early in the 2020 calendar, timing that will likely make the Continue reading “O’Rourke and Castro on collision course in Texas”

Pelosi and Fudge meet amid speaker drama


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Nancy Pelosi sat face to face with her potential challenger, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, on Friday as the California Democrat continued her fight to reclaim the speaker’s gavel.

The two women met at the behest of incoming House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, a key Pelosi ally and senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus who is also close with Fudge, the CBC’s former chairwoman.

Fudge has not formally announced her candidacy. But floating herself as a challenger has scrambled the race as Pelosi seeks to lock down 218 votes needed to win. Fudge would be the first black woman in leadership and first African-American speaker.

In an interview before her meeting with Pelosi, Fudge suggested she might take a few weeks to decide whether to run. Democrats are set to nominate a speaker in a closed-door caucus meeting on Nov. 28, after they return from the Thanksgiving Day recess.

Continue reading “Pelosi and Fudge meet amid speaker drama”

Black caucus members back Pelosi for speaker over their former chair


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Lawmakers in the Congressional Black Caucus back Nancy Pelosi for speaker over one of their own members, Rep. Marcia Fudge — a bad sign for the former CBC chair who’s considering a challenge to the California Democrat.

The CBC has been spoiling to elevate a group member into one of the top two positions in Democratic leadership for years, with current CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond writing as recently as two weeks ago that having a black speaker or majority leader was a top priority.

But in interviews with eight CBC members about a potential Fudge bid for speaker, all but two members said they would back Pelosi over Fudge. Other CBC members on Thursday tweeted or put out statements of support for Pelosi, including Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), the most powerful African-American in the House and a close Fudge friend and ally.

"She knows that, she knows that, Continue reading “Black caucus members back Pelosi for speaker over their former chair”

Here are the possible replacements for Jeff Sessions


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President Donald Trump Donald Trump requested Attorney Jeff Sessions’ resignation Wednesday, tapping the former Alabama senator’s chief of staff Matthew Whitaker to succeed him in an acting capacity.

Trump said he will nominate a permanent replacement “at a later date.” It’s unclear who the president will tap to lead the Justice Department on a permanent basis, but here are potential candidates who have been floated over the past few weeks:

Matthew Whitaker

Whitaker “will serve our Country well” as acting Attorney General, Trump announced. But it’s also possible — though unlikely — he could permanently succeed his boss. The president spoke to Whitaker earlier this year about replacing Sessions, according to The Washington Post, but it was uncertain whether Whitaker would simply be a placeholder or be nominated to permanently succeed Sessions.

Whitaker has allies and critics in the White House, and his skepticism as a CNN commentator Continue reading “Here are the possible replacements for Jeff Sessions”

Meadows: Papadopoulos’ House interview shows weakness of Mueller’s probe


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House Republicans framed Thursday’s private interview with a former Trump campaign adviser as further evidence that there’s no solid justification for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, began an hours-long meeting with members of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees behind closed doors Thursday morning. With Congress in recess until after the midterm elections, however, only three members were present: Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).

Meadows called Papadopoulos a “critical witness,” noting that he’s “the person who supposedly was the whole reason we have this Russian collusion investigation going on.” Papadopoulos’ loose talk overseas about Russians having “dirt” on Democrat Hillary Clinton prompted an FBI investigation into election interference.

“What we’re finding without talking about specifics of what’s going on is that the whole reason that this Continue reading “Meadows: Papadopoulos’ House interview shows weakness of Mueller’s probe”