Inslee drops out

First up today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has officially left the race for president. He made the announcement on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show. Listen in:

[CLIP-INSLEE-MADDOW]

In a thread on Twitter, Inslee pointed to various successes from his campaign. He noted that he did reach the 130,000 donor threshold set by the DNC, including donors in every US state. He also wrote, “Many of the campaigns started with little attention to climate, but since our campaign began, we’ve seen almost every serious candidate put out a climate plan; we’ve seen climate come up in both debates; and we now have two networks hosting nationally-televised climate forums.”

And then here’s the kicker. This is something we’ve covered on this show before.

“Most importantly, we have introduced a detailed and comprehensive policy blueprint for bold climate action and transformation to a clean energy economy. We will fight to ensure this gold standard of climate action is adopted and executed by our party and our next president.”

Bingo. Inslee’s climate policies are the best of the bunch, and they are comprehensive almost beyond belief—we are talking literally 200 pages kind of detailed material. In the Maddow interview, he also said he would not claim any copyright on that material and encouraged others to take the plans and use them as “open source.”

As I said back in May, it would make a LOT of sense for another candidate (or a sitting president) to grab these policies and say, hey, these are the best, I will implement them or a subset of them. It would make even more sense for a candidate to then say that as president, they would appoint Inslee as head of the Environmental Protection Agency and have him go ahead and implement a bunch of this stuff himself with a cooperating president.

As with previous candidates, let’s look back at some Inslee highlights. He announced on March 1st of this year, and spent 174 days in the race. Here’s a clip from his announcement speech:

[CLIP-INSLEE-ANNOUNCEMENT]

And here’s a clip from the May 6th show, just after the DNC declared it would not hold a climate debate. This is Inslee on CNN. Listen in:

[CLIP-INSLEE-CNN]

Okay, so what’s next for Inslee? Well, he left his options open there, saying he would wait a few days before announcing his next move. But according to The New York Times, he is running for Governor of Washington state again, which is what we all expected.

Hickenlooper announces his new run

In the ongoing saga of ANOTHER Governor who just dropped out, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has made it official: He is running for Senate in Colorado. That announcement came this morning. He hopes to take on incumbent Senator Cory Gardner.

According to a recent poll, Hickenlooper is 13 points ahead of Gardner in a head-to-head matchup. That poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent, so…yeah, that’s a really strong number, and it’s far less hypothetical than a presidential head-to-head, given that it’s VERY LIKELY these REALLY ARE the candidates who will be running, and everybody in Colorado already knows who both of them are.

Now, in order to get to the general against Gardner, Hickenlooper does have to win a crowded Democratic primary first. At the moment he is by far the front-runner, though, of course, you never know.

And, let me remind you, Hickenlooper just dropped out of the presidential race precisely seven days ago. He already has a slick new campaign ad in which he plays pool in what is either a pool hall or maybe his own brewpub, I’m not sure, and even executes a pretty impressive three-ball sink at the end. Now, listen to this ad, and check out the video in the show notes if you want to see some slightly over-the-top video clips of people looking very mad about drug prices and stuff. All right, listen in:

[CLIP-HICKENLOOPER-SENATE]

Part of why this is important to the big picture is that Democrats NEED to gain a majority in the Senate in 2020 if they intend to get anything done. Like, literally, if the Senate is controlled by Republicans, a Democratic president might be unable to get basic things like cabinet nominees approved through that chamber. So to control the Senate, Democrats would need to flip a MINIMUM of three Republican-held seats, and four or more would be preferable. Right now, Gardner’s seat in Colorado is one of the best bets, and Hickenlooper is the best-polling candidates to take it. Overall, the challenge of taking three or four Senate seats is a tougher bet than the presidency, and to be frank, Democrats really need BOTH.

There are two other Western state Senate seats that Democrats would really love to pick up—one in Arizona and one in Montana. Given all this movement among Governors dropping out of the presidential race, and in this case picking up a Senate run, it is possible that at some point we might hear from Montana Governor Steve Bullock that he’d drop his presidential run in favor of a Senate run. Bullock is term-limited as Governor anyway, though I don’t expect him to drop out for at least a few more weeks. He has been actively scheduling and promoting events out through the end of this month. It’s also unclear whether Bullock could win that Senate race, but he probably has better odds than anybody else.

So, there you have it. Hickenlooper is now on the board, and the bigger picture of 2020 is now coming into focus.

An update on who’s attending CNN’s climate town hall

On Tuesday, I noted that Senator Kamala Harris would NOT attend the CNN Climate Crisis Town Hall on September 4th due to campaign fundraising events that had already been scheduled.

Well, that was the case at the time, but her campaign quickly pivoted and said she will in fact attend the climate event. Zohreen Shah, the ABC News reporter and friend of this show, who broke the initial news posted an update on Tuesday afternoon. She wrote:

“[Kamala Harris] now says she will be attending CNN’s climate crisis town hall on September 4th. She previously had fundraising events in Los Angeles scheduled on this day.”

CNN also updated its initial story with this clarification, as well as confirmation that Julián Castro will attend, after qualifying and accepting CNN’s invitation. That means there will be ten candidates in all, and there’s the possibility that Steyer or others might qualify and jump in there at the last minute. CNN also noted how the town hall will be structured:

“The candidates, who will make back-to-back appearances, will take questions directly from a live studio audience in New York and a CNN moderator. The audience will be drawn from Democratic voters interested in the issue. The town hall will air live on CNN platforms around the world.”

New details emerge on the September debate

Next up, ABC News has released more details on how the September DNC debate will work. It will have four moderators. Reading from the ABC News story by Kendall Karson:

“Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, "World News Tonight" Anchor David Muir, ABC News Correspondent Linsey Davis and Univision Anchor Jorge Ramos will moderate the debate on Thursday and, if necessary, Friday.”

The debate will be held at Texas Southern University in Houston, but we already knew that. ABC also gave us some details on how to watch. The good news? It’ll be streaming. The even better news? That streaming includes YouTube, along with a TON of other options. Reading again from ABC News:

“[The debate] will air across ABC, Univision with a Spanish translation, locally on KTRK-TV and on ABC News Live. The streaming channel is available on the ABCNews.com website and apps, as well as Hulu Live, The Roku Channel, Facebook Watch, AppleTV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube, Apple News and Twitter.”

I am genuinely curious what the heck a live streaming video is doing on Apple News, but hey, I’ll take it.

ABC also clarified that the debate will be split into two nights IF more than 10 candidates qualify. Right now, precisely 10 candidates do qualify, and I would be surprised if Tom Steyer doesn’t qualify by the deadline—and maybe, just maybe Representative Tulsi Gabbard or Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as well. So now we know for sure what the criteria is for splitting up the nights: ANY 11th CANDIDATE WILL DO IT.

Okay, as for how they’ll assign the candidates to their nights, and what the rules will be, let me read one last time from ABC News:

“For the two-night scenario, ABC News in accordance with the DNC will hold a selection event on Aug[ust] 29[th] to randomly assign the candidates to a night. The format of the debate will be one minute and 15 seconds for direct responses to questions and 45 seconds for rebuttals.”

So that’s fifteen seconds tacked on to the previous rules for each kind of response, which is…I guess…something. Also, with fewer people on stage, it’ll be interesting to see whether the moderators will allow or even encourage longer back-and-forth rebuttals, given that they should have way more time for those to happen.

So that’s what we know right now, and when we know ANYTHING AT ALL about October, I will pass that along too.

Yet another possible Republican primary challenger appears

In the ongoing mini-saga of the Republican presidential primary, we have another potential candidate. Radio show host and former Representative from Illinois Joe Walsh is apparently considering a run. Reading here from a Politico story by Natasha Korecki:

“Walsh told POLITICO on Wednesday he is confident he could secure the resources and support to mount a challenge against the president, and that if he ran, he would announce in short order. While Walsh would not confirm he would enter the primary, two sources who spoke to him said he was privately confirming he would announce his presidential bid this weekend.
“If I’m to do it, it’s going to happen soon,” Walsh told POLITICO on Wednesday. “I’ve been really surprised by the amount of anxiousness from people across the spectrum who want this president to have a challenge, because there’s just a real concern that he’s absolutely unfit.””

And then Politico goes on to note that Trump has immense advantages in fundraising and platform and control over the primary in general and all that stuff, whereas Walsh served for one term in the House during the Tea Party wave in 2010. So. This is again kind of interesting, because we have the second candidate in ONE WEEK—the other was Mark Sanford, who I talked about on Monday—publicly pre-announcing that they might maybe run.

I’m really not sure what the strategy is here, or whether there is one, but it does seem like an odd coincidence. My guess is that these potential candidates are putting out public statements in the hope of getting private support from people in the Republican party—or even other parties who just want to see a Republican primary actually go forward.

If that’s the case, then, I don’t know, maybe this weekend we’re going to see Walsh and maybe Sanford actually announce their runs. I will keep you posted.

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. So, I want to thank all of you who congratulated me on my victory against the tree stump. I will continue to post pictures as I continue to hollow it out and otherwise attack a piece of wood that offends me. Meanwhile, my next challenge right after this show is a visit to the dentist. Wish me luck, and if I sound a little different tomorrow, that might be why. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all tomorrow.

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