An update on Hickenlooper and the Senate; Abrams is definitely not running for President; a look at who might drop out of the Presidential primary soon, and why; some polling on gun safety laws, and Bennet releases a new book on election security.

An update on Hickenlooper

First up today, a quick update on former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and whether he’s maybe going to run for Senate in Colorado, and drop his presidential bid. In yet another article on this topic, The New York Times covered both the good polling Hickenlooper is getting—for Senate—in Colorado, as well as various efforts to woo him into the race. AS I WAS WRITING the show this morning, I actually got a sponsored ad ON TWITTER from a Political Action Committee urging me to sign some petition to get Hickenlooper to run for Senate. So there is some stuff going on there.

Reading from the article by Reid J. Epstein in the Times:

“…Hickenlooper […] is in discussions about ending his presidential bid and entering the race for his state’s Republican-held Senate seat, potentially giving Democrats a strong candidate in a race they must win to have hopes of retaking the chamber in 2021, according to four Democrats familiar with his thinking.
Mr. Hickenlooper, who is mired at the bottom of public polling of the presidential race, hopped into Senator Michael Bennet’s car on Friday night in this Northern Iowa town to discuss his impending decision, said Democrats familiar with the discussion, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential talks.
The two drove around Clear Lake for about 20 minutes ahead of the Wing Ding dinner, a Democratic fund-raiser that drew 21 presidential candidates. Aides and advisers to the two men, who have been both allies and rivals over their careers in Colorado politics, declined to reveal what was discussed.”

So the obvious speculation is that Bennet, who is the other Senator from Colorado and is also having some trouble gaining traction in this presidential race, was talking about what it might be like if the two of them were to team up and be Senate buddies.

For what it’s worth, the polling is kind of mixed, but if Hickenlooper got through the Senate primary in Colorado, he is currently 13 points ahead of Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who would be his opponent. That’s way better odds than what Hickenlooper has in the presidential field today.

The question remains whether Hickenlooper wants that job—and in February, he said he’s, “not cut out to be a senator." So we’ll just to have to see whether he changes his mind on that one.

An update on Abrams

Yesterday, I talked at some length about Stacey Abrams, the almost-governor of Georgia and current activist against voter suppression. As the subject of a major profile in Vogue, the natural question was, you know, might she run for president? And yesterday I presented three paths that I saw for her immediate political future. Reading from my own script from yesterday:

“First, continue doing what she’s doing, which is registering more voters in the South—that’s awesome; second, run for president with a surprise bid around September or October once most of the crowd has left the field; or third, stay out of it until somebody who has the nomination asks her to fill the VP slot.”

Well, after my deadline yesterday, Astead W. Herndon wrote for The New York Times:

“Stacey Abrams, the Georgia politician who captured national attention during her unsuccessful run for governor in 2018, has decided not to run for president after publicly contemplating a bid for months.
Ms. Abrams, a Democrat, will instead focus her efforts on preventing voter suppression with a new initiative called Fair Fight 2020, which takes its name from a group Ms. Abrams began last year after her election loss. It will work with state parties in battleground states to more closely monitor voter protection ahead of next year’s general election.
Ms. Abrams announced her decision Tuesday afternoon at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades convention in Las Vegas. Though she is sidestepping the crowded Democratic presidential field, she is likely to remain atop any Democratic nominee’s vice-presidential wish list.”

So, in summary, Abrams is taking the first path, is definitely not running for president, but is leaving that third path—the Vice President thing—kind of open. So. Just saying, you know, we might very well come back to Abrams once the top of the ticket firms up. Now, the other question is simply about what her specific activities will be in her work with Fair Fight 2020. Again reading from Times:

“The group’s latest initiative will expand beyond Georgia to target 20 states, including across the Midwest and Southeast, and will invest up to $5 million [dollars].
It will work to correct inaccurate voter rolls, address shortages of voting machines and provisional ballots, and standardize the rules around counting absentee ballots, according to aides. There will also be a state-by-state hotline where election irregularities can be reported.”

And here’s the audio from the Fair Fight 2020 launch video, which went up yesterday afternoon. Listen to Abrams explain it in her own words:

[CLIP-ABRAMS]

Speculation on who might drop out of the presidential first, and why

Next up, over at FiveThirtyEight, staffers held a draft to pick who they think will drop out of the presidential primary race next, and why. While I don’t think it’s worth spending a ton of time on reporting about their speculation, there are a few notable things we can pick out of that discussion that help explain why some candidates might choose another option.

The number one pick they started with, for reasons we’ve already discussed, was Hickenlooper.

Moving on, the next interesting pick for me was Washington Governor Jay Inslee. So here’s the thing with Inslee—he’s a sitting governor, and he CANNOT legally be on the ballot in 2020 both for president and governor. That means that by May of next year at the latest, he does have to choose. And it would certainly help if chose a little earlier, so he’d time to campaign and help with down-ballot races and stuff.

It’s clear that Inslee is continuing to campaign pretty hard for president, and the second debate did give him a nice chunk of stage time, including time for the issue of climate change. But he’s got the same polling problems so many other candidates do, and he likely won’t be in the next debates. I’ve also heard a very logical idea about what Inslee’s ultimate position might be. He might end up in another president’s cabinet, dealing with environmental issues. If that were to happen, it might allow him to enact at least part of his major policy goals, while acknowledging the challenge of actually winning the presidency personally.

Another tidbit has to do with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. The FiveThirtyEight staffers noted that one possible reason for him to drop out would be that he might be out of money. In the chat, Geoffrey Skelley pointed out that, “de Blasio only raised $1.1 million [dollars] by the end of June, and had just 6,700 donors.”

Okay, last up is another sitting Governor. Nathaniel Rakich laid out this logic for choosing Montana Governor Steve Bullock to drop out:

“Bullock will continue to face a lot of pressure from party elders (and even in his Twitter replies!) to switch to the Senate race.
He’s similar to Hickenlooper in that regard, although frankly I think Democrats’ chances in Colorado’s Senate race don’t change that much if they nominate Hickenlooper vs. someone else. Whereas in Montana, Bullock is legitimately the only candidate who can probably put that Senate seat in play.
Now, like Hickenlooper, Bullock has denied any interest in the Senate. But maybe, if he doesn’t make the September or October debates, that will change. He is term-limited as governor, so the alternative is basically to go home and retire.”

Yeah. So be aware that for Bullock, it’s President, or Senate, or bust.

Some polling on gun safety laws

Yesterday we dug into the details of what gun safety bills are currently on the table in Congress. Today, an Economist-slash-YouGov Poll gives us some more data about where Americans are on this issue. There are two questions that I think are broadly pertinent, but first I have to give you the methodology. It’s a poll covering 1,500 US adults—that’s not necessarily voters, it’s just adults. It was conducted online, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent, and the poll was conducted between August 10th and 13th. Okay, so let’s get into some questions.

First up, the question was: “In general, do you feel the laws covering the sale of handguns should be made more strict than they are now?”

Respondents had these choices: Make guns laws MORE strict, no change, make gun laws LESS strict, or not sure.

OVERALL, including EVERYBODY, 61% said they think laws covering the sale of handguns should be MORE STRICT. This majority position held up across ALL subgroups of age, gender, and race, though there was a difference based on political party. If you look at people identifying as Democrats, 83% of them want stricter handgun laws, versus 54% of Independents and 45% of Republicans.

Okay, now a few more of the OVERALL numbers, since I think those are also most salient. 20% said there should be no change to handgun laws, 8% said they should be LESS strict, and 11% said they were unsure.

Now, the very next question ties in, in an interesting way. The question was, “Do you think that stricter gun laws would or would not have prevented any of the recent mass shootings?”

34% said that stricter laws WOULD have prevented some of those shootings, but 41% percent said they WOULD NOT, and 25% said they were not sure. Again, there is a major split based on party identification here, but it’s interesting overall to me that the PLURALITY of people said that stricter handgun laws WOULD NOT HAVE PREVENTED these most recent shootings. And depending on which laws they’re talking about, they’re probably right. But even though that plurality believe stricter laws would NOT have prevented these specific acts, THE MAJORITY WANT INCREASED GUN SAFETY LAWS ANYWAY.

Now THAT is why this is actually a winning political issue. Whether you understand the laws or not, and whether you even think they would matter for the recent shootings, it is a winning position nationally to advocate for stricter gun safety measures.

Oh, and by the way, in the same poll, 59% of people overall favored banning semi-automatic weapons, versus 30% who wanted to keep them legal, and 10% who were not sure. So again, as Joe Biden just said in his Sunday op-ed for the Times, the majority of Americans do support SOME gun safety laws, including banning semi-automatic weapons.

Bennet releases a new book

Many of the presidential candidates have written books. And one of them just released his latest book today. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet’s new book is titled “Dividing America: How Russia Hacked Social Media and Democracy.”

Bennet wrote in a tweet announcing the book:

“Russia meddled in our 2016 election. They continue now [and] will in the future. My book lays out how in graphic detail.
[Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell] doesn’t care — or doesn’t mind a foreign nation interfering in our democracy.
Demand action now: send him a copy at RussiaHackedOurDemocracy.com.”

If you visit that website, you’ll find that you can donate as little as $1 dollar and Bennet promises to send a copy of the book to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If you give a little more, you can get your own print copy. Or you can pop in your email address and ZIP Code to get a digital copy for free. By the way, if you’re an American living overseas, I guess no free book for you because you do not have a ZIP Code, though maybe you can think up a faux ZIP Code to toss in there.

Also, it’s worth mentioning, if you’re into reading about this stuff, The Mueller Report is free, at least in digital editions, and it is surprisingly readable, so think about that one too—but the Bennet book does have way more pictures.

Here’s a clip of Bennet on CNN talking about the book. Note that he appears to have inserted two small edits to cut three different responses together, and, in what is sort of a weird trend, this clip also ends abruptly, in the middle of a word. Sorry about that, but I can’t add words when they aren’t there. Anyway, listen in, and CNN anchor Poppy Harlow speaks first.

[CLIP-BENNET]

Okay, and one more partial clip from an MSNBC interview Bennet did early this morning. Listen in:

[CLIP-BENNET-MSNBC]

So yeah, if you want to get it on this, go check out that website. I have NOT read this book yet, but I guess I’m gonna put it on the ol’ reading list.

Well, that is it for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. All right, I’ll keep this quick on the outro. Long story short, the auger bit arrived, and it is far too large, COMICALLY TOO LARGE, to fit into my perfectly decent electric drill that my parents so generously bought for me in 1996, with the intent that I would do normal thing with it instead of trying to attack trees. So, um, I guess now I need another drill too. So you’re gonna have to wait at least another few days for those impressive stump drilling Instagram pics that will 100% happen. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all tomorrow.

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