Castro qualifies for the next debates

As predicted, Julián Castro has qualified for the September and October debates by picking up his fourth polling result. A new CNN poll gave him the 2% he needs, and he already had the donor numbers, so he will be there—and just in time. There are just eight days left to qualify for September. One technical note, the DNC needs the poll to be RELEASED by August 28th, which is a week from Wednesday, not just a poll COVERING THAT TIME PERIOD.

After that, there are likely two or three more weeks until the window closes for October qualification. We don’t yet know the actual cut-off date for October, because the DNC has not yet announced when the October debate will be.

This poll was also good news for Representative Tulsi Gabbard—it’s her second qualifying poll. She has the required donors, and now needs two more polling results to qualify.

While the poll did provide results for other candidates, it didn’t help anybody in the low-polling group.

At this point, here are the ten candidates who DO qualify for the September AND October debates. They are:

Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Harris, Klobuchar, O’Rourke, Sanders, Warren, and Yang.

My prediction for the next candidate to qualify is Tom Steyer, who currently has three qualifying polls and all the donors he needs. Gabbard is right behind him with two polls and plenty of donors. Then there’s Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who is technically on the board with one poll, but has not yet met the fundraising criteria.

So it seems likely that we will have 11 candidates who qualify, and I would guess that means we do still have a two-night event, but each night has way fewer candidates. That difference is gonna be really interesting.

For the record, here are the candidates who have zero qualifying polls, but varying levels of donor support:

Bennet, Bullock, de Blasio, Delaney, Inslee, Messam, Moulton, Ryan, Sestak, and Williamson.

That’s another TEN candidates—the same number who HAVE qualified for the debates right now. Adding them to the three I just mentioned, we have 13 out, 10 in, and eight days to go.

Inslee and Williamson hit their fundraising goals

Speaking of all that, two more candidates just hit their fundraising goals for the September and October debates. Those are Washington Governor Jay Inslee and author Marianne Williamson.

And as we just discussed, this is great and all, but it’s not going to help them unless something radically changes within the next, say, three-ish weeks?

They both have zero qualifying polls and thus have no real chance of making the September debates. Reminder, for September and October, candidates need to meet BOTH criteria, not just one.

There is a VERY SLIM chance they might make the October debates if the polls suddenly turn in their favor.

Who will attend the CNN climate town hall

Monday morning, CNN announced more details on its upcoming Climate Crisis Town Hall. It will air on September 4th, which is a Wednesday, and it will be moderated by CNN anchors Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo, and Don Lemon. In addition, CNN’s Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir will be in the mix during the Q&A.

So the question arises, who will be at this event? Well, CNN says it will invite anybody who meets just the POLLING portion of the DNC’s criteria for reaching the September debate, as of August 28th. As we’ve discussed so many times, this is the MUCH HARDER goal to reach than the grassroots fundraising thing, so there are currently ten candidates who qualify via polling, but not all those will attend.

The current list of candidates who are CONFIRMED TO ATTEND is:

Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, O'Rourke, Sanders, Warren, and Yang.

I assume they WILL invite Castro, given his qualification today, so that may already be locked in by the time you hear this.

Now, you may note one major candidate who meets the criteria but will not attend. That’s Senator Kamala Harris, whose campaign cited scheduling conflicts that prevent her from attending. On Twitter, ABC News reporter Zohreen Shah figured out what that specific conflict is. Reading from Shah’s tweet:

“Senator [Harris's] top bundlers are hosting fundraisers for her in Downtown LA and Hancock Park... Those fundraisers directly conflict with CNN’s Climate Crisis Town Hall, which Harris is not attending.”

The other big absentee from this event is Washington Governor Jay Inslee, whose campaign is devoted almost entirely to climate change, and who raised the issue of a climate debate in the first place. If you’ll recall, Inslee petitioned the DNC to hold such a debate, and that caused the DNC to go on the record saying it would not hold one—and if any candidate showed up at somebody else’s climate debate, they’d be barred from future DNC debates. The CNN event is not a debate per se, but a town hall, so technically it meets the DNC’s rules, with candidates not directly debating one another.

One interesting note on Inslee and some of the other low-polling candidates is that the way the DNC stated its objection to a climate debate left open an odd possibility. There are now at least 10 campaigns that fit into a scenario where they will likely never qualify for a future DNC debate anyway. If you tie that together with the DNC’s threat to withhold debate participation from candidates who do a non-DNC climate debate…well, who cares? Once candidates are certain they can’t qualify for DNC debates anyway, it might be logical to organize their own debates. Although you’d be missing the higher-polling candidates from those, it may be one last way for some of these lower-polling candidates to get more media attention as they consider what’s next for their campaigns.

Why Steyer is leaving the campaign trail for a week

I got an interesting email from Tom Steyer’s campaign yesterday evening. Steyer will be off the campaign trail this week, because he is up for jury duty in San Francisco. According to the release, he could be called in for duty any time this week, though as of Monday he had not yet been selected. He’s remaining off the trail just in case.

Although I fully support citizens showing up for jury duty, I also think it would be one of the most awesome exemptions of all time to request a jury duty deferral because you’re too busy running for president.

You will be unsurprised by Trump’s pick for VP

In what I am sure is a surprise to literally no one, President Trump confirmed on Sunday that Vice President Mike Pence will remain on the ticket for 2020 as Trump’s VP. I wasn’t even sure that had to be said, but apparently it did, and Reuters reported on the news in a two-paragraph report that required bylines by both a reporter AND an editor.

In that report, Reuters cited what Trump told reporters before he boarded Air Force One on Sunday, “I’m very happy with Mike Pence.”

Well, now that we’ve cleared that one up, let’s move on.

Warren visits a Native American issues forum

On Monday, Senator Elizabeth Warren visited the Frank LaMere Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa. Very early in her remarks she said this. Listen in:


The context there has to do with Warren’s history around Native American heritage or lack thereof. Long story short, Warren was raised with a family story that she was descended in part from Native Americans, and she used that identity—claiming she was Native American—during her professional career. This drew criticism from pretty much all sides, including drawing mockery from President Trump. Let me read a summary from Adam K. Raymond, writing for New York Magazine:

“The Massachusetts senator was no doubt referring to her 2018 decision to take a DNA test in an attempt to prove her Native American ancestry. Critics on the left took issue with the decision, saying she was “playing Trump’s game,” while the Cherokee Nation called her out for “undermining tribal interest.”
Warren has apologized for the test before. Prior to launching her presidential campaign this year, she spoke to Cherokee Nation leader Bill John Baker on the phone. She later said she apologized for the DNA test and her longtime identification as a Native American.”

Okay, so moving on from that, Warren on Friday last week released a proposal titled “Honoring and Empowering Tribal Nations and Indigenous Peoples.” It is extraordinarily long, and if printed is anywhere from 25 to 30 pages, depending on font sizes. It’s more than 9,000 words long. This is more than twice as long as any other plan we’ve seen from Warren.

And because of the incredible scope of this plan, it’s kind of hard to summarize what’s in it specifically, without, you know, getting into a 20-minute reading of all the sub-headings. Broadly, I’d say the proposal suggests that the US government needs to actually honor its existing promises under treaties with Native American tribes, as well as expand access to public services that other communities can use. Reading here from a summary of the plan by Alex Thompson in Politico:

“Warren’s exhaustive plan makes no mention of her fraught history on the issue but it does address seemingly every other topic, including past treaties, criminal jurisdiction, the Dakota Access pipeline, banking access, roads, Native American contractors, housing, the Indian Health Service, the Bureau of Indian Education, violence against indigenous women, and many more issues.
The Warren team highlighted that she is the first presidential candidate to call for an “Oliphant fix,” a reference to a 1978 Supreme Court decision that says non-natives on tribal land aren’t automatically subject to tribal government criminal jurisdiction.”

Just to be clear, the Oliphant thing means that tribes have limited jurisdiction over non-tribal members committing crimes on their land. This, combined with an increase in violence against native women and an increase in native women who are currently missing, means that tribes don’t have the legal ability to police many of the crimes that affect them most. Warren proposes fixing that.

In addition to the plan, Warren is working with New Mexico Representative Deb Haaland, who is one of the first two native women elected to Congress. They have teamed up to introduce a legislative framework called the Honoring Promises to Native Americans Act. That’s essentially the beginning of a series of new legislation, which will be created with, “feedback and input from Tribal governments and citizens, Tribal organizations, urban Indian organizations, experts, and other stakeholders.” And by the way, Haaland has also endorsed Warren for president.

And one side note, Warren is not the first candidate to release a detailed plan for native people. Julián Castro released his People First Indigenous Communities Policy more than a month ago, and it didn’t get much coverage—including here on the show. There’s a link in the show notes to that. It is NOT 9,000 words long, but it’s a comprehensive policy too.

Okay, here’s one more quote from Warren that explains some more from her policy and where she’s coming from. There are a ZILLION links in the show notes if you want to dig into those details. Listen in:


Now, one last thing. As with all policy, I ask how much will this cost and how does the candidate intend to pay for it? For a change, Warren does not specify either in this proposal.

Having said that, there is a clear theme throughout the proposal, which is that many of Warren’s existing plans already cover native people explicitly. So, for example, her free public college plan, her veterans plan, her Green Manufacturing plan, her housing plan, her rural investment plan, her opioid abuse plan, her universal childcare plan, her public lands plan—anyway, you get the point—all of those have components within them that already address the needs of native people. So it’s a reasonable argument that each of THEM has a cost and funding section, so MOST of Warren’s latest plan is not new spending, it’s more of an organized one-stop shop to see how those plans would benefit this specific group.

However, there are still new proposals in here, like Warren’s nationwide Missing Indigenous Woman Alert System, which would have some kind of cost, but that is not estimated in her plan.

Well, that is all for one more episode of the Election Ride Home. I have been your host, Chris Higgins. You can always find me on Twitter @chrishiggins. Okay, I have news. I have been gifted a drill. I did not mean for this to happen. I was told on Twitter by kind Portlanders that I can just go borrow a drill for free from a tool lending library, which is frankly the right thing to do, given my incredible lack of need for a grownup drill just lying around. But. I now have a drill. A big drill. And I have a stump. So. I think you know what happens next. It’s also kinda blazing hot today, which ain’t great, but at least I should be able to see the destruction as it happens. As always, thanks for listening, and I will talk to y’all tomorrow.