The Hill’s Campaign Report: Bloomberg looks to upend Democratic race

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Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your weekly rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching this week on the campaign trail. 



2020 SHAKEUP: Former New York City Mayor Michel Bloomberg is signaling he is seriously considering a 2020 presidential run after dismissing the idea earlier this year. Bloomberg’s spokesperson told CNN on Thursday that the businessman is expected to file paperwork for the Democratic presidential primary in Alabama this week, but emphasized that he had not yet made a final decision on whether he will run. 

{mosads}The news comes as former Vice President Joe Biden falls behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in early contest states, and as state-level polling shows Warren losing in head-to-head general election matchups with President Trump. Bloomberg could see himself as a viable alternative to Warren and Biden. Supporters argue that Bloomberg’s wealth could help him catch up in the primary and compete with President Trump’s own ample war chest in fundraising. Bloomberg, who was formerly a Republican and independent, is also seen as a moderate, which he could use to attract a broad swath of Democrats and independent voters. 

But critics are asking whether America needs another billionaire running for president. Bloomberg would be the second billionaire businessman to enter the Democratic primary behind Tom Steyer, who has spent millions on advertisements but has failed to gain traction in the polls. Bloomberg’s entrance could also pose a challenge to Democrats who have repeatedly slammed Trump’s billionaire status, labeling him as out of touch with the majority of Americans. 

Warren and her fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have already launched attacks on Bloomberg. 

“The billionaire class is scared and they should be scared,” Sanders said in a tweet, suggesting Bloomberg’s entrance in the race was a reaction to his progressive proposals. 

Meanwhile, Warren welcomed Bloomberg into the race and linked to her new calculator for billionaires. 

For reference, the calculator allows voters to see how much some of the country’s most prominent billionaires would pay in taxes under Warren’s new tax plan. 

One person we haven’t heard from is Bloomberg’s fellow billionaire, President Trump. We’ll be watching for that reaction, and any official word from Bloomberg on his decision in the coming days.



Senior members of President Trump’s 2016 campaign are sounding the alarm, warning that Democratic enthusiasm for impeachment and Republican weakness in the suburbs could spell trouble for the president as he embarks on his reelection campaign. The Hill’s Jonathan Easley spoke with former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, former Trump campaign senior adviser David Urban and former campaign spokesman Jason Miller about the political landscape Trump will face heading into 2020.

The Hill: Trump’s 2016 team sounds the alarm as Democrats make gains.


Allies of Joe Biden say that Tuesday’s election results bode well for the former vice president, pointing to a number of wins by moderate Democrats in states like Virginia and Kentucky, The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Niall Stanage report. Those wins, they argue, suggest that Biden, the leading moderate in the Democratic presidential primary contest, is better positioned to win in 2020 than any of his more-progressive rivals. “No one is running on ‘Medicare for All’ and winning,” one Biden ally said. “Voters clearly want a moderate, not someone who appeals to just the fringes of one party.”


Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) broke with her fellow “Squad” members on Wednesday, offering her endorsement to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), The Hill’s Zack Budryk reports. The Squad’s three other members – Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) – are backing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primary contest.


Sanders’s aides and allies say the Vermont senator is being written off by pundits and the media, despite strong showings in a handful of recent polls, Jonathan and Max report. But the surveys are a mixed bag for Sanders, and his relative steadiness has been overshadowed by Warren’s ascent to frontrunner status and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s recent bump. Meanwhile, some Democrats are questioning whether Sanders has done enough to broaden his base of support beyond the progressive and liberal voters that supported him in 2016.


Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said Wednesday that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has reaffirmed her commitment to run only for president as a Democrat amid suspicions from some in the party that she’s thinking about launching an independent or third-party bid. Jonathan reports.



Kodiak Hill Davis: A wish list from Republican women.

B.J. Rudell: The GOP’s tenuous grip on blue and purple state legislatures.

Jessica Tarlov: The media’s 2020 election coverage correction.

Bill Schneider: Americans are voting with values, not on the economy. That’s bad for Trump.

Raoul Lowery Contreras: Will Florida Hispanics end Trump’s presidency?

Sarah Chamberlain: The GOP should follow the example of Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.).

Michael Starr Hopkins: The rocky road ahead for both parties in 2020.

Brad Bannon: The Democrats face a generational battle.



Senate Republicans are giving Warren’s Medicare for All proposal the cold shoulder (The Hill) … Sanders vows to ends Trump’s immigration policy with a broad new proposal of his own (The Hill) … Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has released a plan to provide economic opportunity in distressed communities (The Hill) … South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a new plan to invest in affordable housing and child care (CNBC).



Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions officially announced a bid for his old Alabama Senate seat on Thursday, entering a crowded primary in the race to challenge vulnerable Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.). Sessions has had a tumultuous relationship with Trump, but he embraced the president in his launch ad, noting that he didn’t say a “cross word” about the president, didn’t write a tell-all book about his time in the administration or go on CNN to bash Trump. Sessions joins a field of Republicans vying to take on Jones that includes Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.), former Auburn football Coach Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, businessman Stanley Adair, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney. The Hill’s Juliegrace Brufke reports.


ELECTION 2019: Democrats took control of both chambers of Virginia’s state legislature for the first time in a generation. And in Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear narrowly bested Gov. Matt Bevin in the race for governor. The local and state elections this week underscored the widening geographic divide in the nation’s politics, as voters in the suburbs continued to flock towards Democratic candidates and those in rural areas moved further into the Republican corner.


Democrats in Virginia won at least 54 seats in the 100-member House of Delegates and 21 seats in the 40-member state Senate. Those wins were driven largely by voters in the suburban areas outside of Washington, D.C., Richmond and in Hampton Roads, and are likely to harden perceptions of Virginia as a blue state.


Meanwhile, Beshear narrowly defeated Bevin in Kentucky after notching key wins in two suburban counties outside of Cincinnati, as well as in Jefferson County, where Louisville is located, and in Fayette County, where Lexington is. The race hasn’t been formally called; Beshear leads Bevin by a little more than 5,000 votes. Bevin is also refusing to concede the race, alleging without evidence that “irregularities” in the voting process may have tainted the outcome of the election. He has requested a recanvass of the votes.


The GOP scored one crucial win on Tuesday in Mississippi, where Republican Tate Reeves defeated Democrat Jim Hood in the race for governor, a victory that serves as a reminder of the deeply conservative makeup of parts of the South.



Trump’s 2016 team sounds alarm as Democrats make gains, by Jonathan.

Democrats score suburban wins in warning sign for GOP, by The Hill’s Reid Wilson.

Trump allies downplay Republican loss in Kentucky governor’s race, by Max.

Bevin requests recanvass in Kentucky gubernatorial race, by Max.



Sanders is planning to spend big on advertising in the early primary and caucus states. The New York Times’ Reid Epstein and Sydney Ember reported on Thursday that the Vermont senator’s presidential campaign is looking to drop upwards of $30 million on ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. The plan marks an effort by Sanders to reach an older bloc of voters as he seeks to expand his support beyond his core base of young progressives.


Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign is dropping $1 million to air its first TV ad in Iowa, The Hill’s Rebecca Klar reports. The ad talks up the former tech executive’s credentials as a political outsider and draws on his experience as a first-generation American. Notably, it was produced by Devine, Mulvey and Longabaugh, the consulting firm used by Sanders during his 2016 presidential bid. The firm parted ways with Sanders’s campaign earlier this year.


Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) unveiled his first two television ads in Iowa on Wednesday as the White House hopeful seeks to gin up support for his presidential bid in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, The Hill’s Tal Axelrod reports. The ads seek to promote Bullock’s electability by touting his ability to win in a rural state that backed Trump in 2016. The ads cost about half a million dollars and are slated to air over the next few weeks.


A top Iowa aide to Tom Steyer privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, the Associated Press’s Alexandra Jaffe reports.



A couple of polls show a log jam at the top of the Democratic primary…

MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY: Biden, Warren and Sanders are in a statistical tie atop the field nationally.

QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY: Warren, Buttigieg, Sanders and Biden are bunched at the top with no clear leader in Iowa. The caucuses are less than three months away on Feb. 3.



There are 87 days until the Iowa caucuses, 95 days until the New Hampshire primary, 106 days until the Nevada caucuses, 113 days until the South Carolina primary and 116 days until Super Tuesday. 



VOTING SQUAD: Former first lady Michelle Obama is recruiting a number of high-profile celebrities for her “When We All Vote” campaign.

The “voting squad” is made up of famous faces including Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shonda Rhimes, Megan Rapinoe, Faith Hill, Selena Gomez and Janelle Monáe.

“Last year, we went big. Millions of new voters made their voices heard for the first time. Now the stakes are even higher,” Obama says in a video released Thursday as part of her When We All Vote campaign.

“It all starts with you. You’re the only person that can have that conversation with your family and your friends and your girlfriends and even with your community to get them registered and ready to vote,” the celebrities tell viewers.

You can watch the video here:

We’ll see you all next time for more campaign news coverage!  

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Andrew Yang Ayanna Pressley Bernie Sanders Bradley Byrne Cory Booker Donald Trump doug jones Elizabeth Warren Greg Walden Ilhan Omar Jeff Sessions Joe Biden Michelle Obama Pete Buttigieg Rashida Tlaib Steve Bullock Tom Perez Tom Steyer Tulsi Gabbard

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