The Hill's Campaign Report: Four-way sprint to Iowa finish line

The Hill's Campaign Report: Four-way sprint to Iowa finish line
© Getty Images

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. 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

LEADING THE DAY:

BREAKING: Former Maryland Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyEurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer says Trump right on China but wrong on WHO; CDC issues new guidance for large gatherings The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what 'policing' means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight Minnesota AG Keith Ellison says racism is a bigger problem than police behavior; 21 states see uptick in cases amid efforts to reopen MORE ended his presidential bid ahead of Monday's Iowa Caucuses, telling CNN's New Day that he did not have sufficient support to hit the 15 percent viability threshold needed in the Hawkeye State. Delaney also said he did not want to risk peeling away support from other moderate candidates like former vice president Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden campaign raised M more than Trump in the month of June RNC, Trump campaign raised 1M in June Michigan shuts down most indoor bar service in bid to prevent virus resurgence MORE, former mayor of South Bend, Ind., Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegDemocratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights Democrats debate Biden effort to expand map against Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote MORE and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Stagwell President Mark Penn says Trump is losing on fighting the virus; Fauci says U.S. 'going in the wrong direction' in fight against virus Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Democrats, voting rights groups pressure Senate to approve mail-in voting resources MORE (D-Minn.). 

Read more: Delaney ends White House bid

 

We're three days away from the first round of voting in the 2020 Democratic nominating contest, and we're still looking for answers.

The Iowa caucuses will be held on Monday, and Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHickenlooper beats back progressive challenge in Colorado primary Progressive groups urge Biden to tap Warren as running mate Young Turks host says Elizabeth Warren should be Biden's VP pick MORE (I-Vt.) are running in a dead-heat for first place. But Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHouse Armed Services votes to make Pentagon rename Confederate-named bases in a year Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Liberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP MORE (D-Mass.) aren't far behind. There's also the possibility of a surprise finish by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who just this week snuck into double digits in a Monmouth University poll. 

To be sure, Iowa isn't necessarily a must-win state for the eventual nominee, whomever it may be (although no Democratic nominee since Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonPoll finds Biden with narrow lead over Trump in Missouri Trump's mark on federal courts could last decades Obama, Clinton join virtual celebration for Negro Leagues MORE has won the nomination without taking the top prize in Iowa). But Monday's vote will give us a clearer indication of who has momentum in the race – and what Democratic voters are actually looking for in a candidate. Will Biden's claim that he's the candidate best equipped to beat President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops MORE in November be the message that wins over the party? Or will Sanders's premise that voters are more progressive than once thought prove true?

ADVERTISEMENT

Iowa could matter more for some candidates than it will for others. Klobuchar, for example, has ramped up her efforts in the state in recent months in hopes of pulling off a better-than-expected finish on Monday. The same holds true for Buttigieg, who has polled well for months in Iowa and New Hampshire, both predominantly white states, but has lagged in more diverse states like Nevada and South Carolina, meaning that an under-par performance in the Hawkeye State could portend trouble for his campaign. 

There's also the question of how recent changes to caucus rules could affect the overall results. Unlike in past cycles, caucusgoers that join the "uncommitted" groups at the beginning of the night could get stuck there if those groups are considered viable (in most precincts, that means notching at least 15 percent support). And for the first time, the Iowa Democratic Party will report three numbers at the end of the night: which candidate had the most votes at the beginning of the caucus process, which candidate had the most votes at the end and the total number of delegates won by each candidate – a change that raises the possibility of multiple candidates declaring victory in the state. In years past, the party only reported how many delegates each candidate won.

All this adds up to an uncertain Caucus Night, but one that will say a lot about the state of the race. 

The Hill's Niall Stanage was on the ground in Iowa for President Trump's campaign rally on Thursday 

Niall reports on Trump's strategy of stealing Democrats' thunder ahead of Monday's caucuses in The Memo

 

READ MORE:  

The Iowa Democratic caucuses, mapped, by The Hill's Reid Wilson and Ashley Perks

 

FROM THE TRAIL:

Biden's allies are growing anxious about former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergWake up, America — see what's coming Bloomberg urges court to throw out lawsuit by former campaign staffers Former Obama Ebola czar Ron Klain says White House's bad decisions have put US behind many other nations on COVID-19; Fears of virus reemergence intensify MORE, believing he will siphon off Biden's centrist support on Super Tuesday and pave the way for Sanders to win the Democratic presidential nomination. Jonathan Easley and Amie Parnes report.

 

Some Democratic National Committee (DNC) members and supporters of Sanders are venting frustration at DNC Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE over his initial appointments to the committees that will oversee the rules and party platform at the nominating convention in Milwaukee later this year. Jonathan Easley reports.

 

The Hill interviewed former Massachusetts Gov. William WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldVermont governor, running for reelection, won't campaign or raise money The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid Libertarians view Amash as potential 2020 game changer for party MORE (R) about his longshot bid to defeat President Trump in the GOP primary.

 

Bloomberg told reporters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday that he is willing to participate in the Democratic presidential debates, but will not change his policy on self-funding his campaign in order to meet the DNC's debate requirements. 

 

The Hill's Rebecca Klar was on the scene with Bloomberg and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser following her endorsement of the former New York City mayor on Thursday. 

 

ADVERTISEMENT

PERSPECTIVES:

Sanders surges while Warren wanes, by Brad Bannon 

Could Biden steamroll the Democratic field? by Keith Naughton

Bloomberg really gets under Trump's skin -- and that's good for Bloomberg, by Albert Hunt

 

FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES:

ADVERTISEMENT

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsComer tapped to serve as top Republican on House Oversight Doug Collins leads Kelly Loeffler by 2 points in Georgia Senate race This week: Democrats set to move health care, infrastructure proposals with eye on November MORE (R-Ga.) announced on Wednesday that he will challenge Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerDoug Collins leads Kelly Loeffler by 2 points in Georgia Senate race The Hill's Campaign Report: Candidates, lawmakers mark Juneteenth 'The Senate could certainly use a pastor': Georgia Democrat seeks to seize 'moral moment' MORE (R-Ga.) in Georgia's special Senate election this year, setting up a ferocious intraparty fight that Republicans in the state fear will weaken them in 2020. 

There's a lot to unpack here. Collins applied to fill the seat of former Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonDoug Collins leads Kelly Loeffler by 2 points in Georgia Senate race 'The Senate could certainly use a pastor': Georgia Democrat seeks to seize 'moral moment' Senate Ethics panel dismisses stock sale probe against Loeffler MORE (R-Ga.) last fall, but was ultimately snubbed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who tapped Loeffler, the wealthy CEO of an Atlanta-based financial services firm, for the seat in December. That appointment infuriated some conservatives, who questioned the fairness of the application process. Loeffler was sworn in earlier this month and has since sought to prove her conservative bonafides by tying herself to Trump, even running ads in her home state touting her support for the president. But Loeffler remains a relatively unknown quantity in Georgia, and recent polls showed her trailing Collins in favorability. 

Under the state's current rules, there will not be partisan primaries to determine the Republican and Democratic nominees in the November special election. Instead, candidates from all parties will appear on the same ballot – a process known as a jungle primary. If no candidate scores at least 50 percent of the vote, it will trigger a runoff election, currently slated for January 2021. That system works to the advantage of Loeffler, because it gives her more time to introduce herself to voters and build a reputation in the Senate.

But Collins' allies in the Georgia state legislature could complicate things for Loeffler. The state House Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday advanced a measure that would require Georgia to hold a partisan primary for Loeffler's seat in May instead of the all-party jungle primary. In that scenario, Collins would likely have an advantage. He's already known in Georgia Republican circles, and he's likely to have the support of the conservative activist base he'll need to emerge victorious in a partisan primary. 

Here's what one longtime GOP operative in Georgia told Max this week: "I don't think it's a question that Doug is absolutely 100 percent built for a Republican primary. The fact that the Republican base is energized by him is definitely going to be problematic for Loeffler. It's absolutely the right move for him because he's not on good terms with the governor anyway. He has nowhere to go but up or out."

Collins' entrance into the race, however, is threatening to tear a rift in the Republican Party. Loeffler has the support of McConnell and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), while Collins is hoping to rally the support of Trump's allies and the conservative base. Kevin McLaughlin, the executive director of the NRSC, issued a statement on Wednesday condemning Collins' Senate campaign, arguing that it would weaken Republicans' hold, not just on Loeffler's seat, but on Sen. David Perdue's seat and the White House. "Doug Collins' selfishness will hurt [Sen.] David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler, and President Trump. Not to mention the people of Georgia who stand to bear the burden of it for years to come. All he has done is put two senate seats, multiple house seats, and Georgia's 16 electoral votes in play."

The Hill: Prominent Democratic pastor jumps into Georgia Senate race.

The Hill: Conservative group running ads against Collins.

 

Rep. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosKaren Bass's star rises after leading police reform push GOP pulls support from California House candidate over 'unacceptable' social media posts Republican flips House seat in California special election MORE (D-Ill.), the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), has reached out to a handful of her party's former presidential candidates to help boost down-ballot Democrats in 2020, Max reports. She told reporters at a meeting on Thursday that she had reached out to Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisLiberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday If only woke protesters knew how close they were to meaningful police reform MORE (D-Calif.) and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian CastroJulian CastroFormer HUD Secretary: Congress 'should invest 0B in direct rental assistance' Biden still has a Hispanic voter problem, but does it matter? New York legislature votes to release disciplinary records for officers MORE in recent weeks. Another former candidate, Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeColorado GOP Rep. Scott Tipton defeated in primary upset Clinton, Buttigieg among Democrats set to hold virtual events for Biden Redistricting: 'The next decade of our democracy is on the ballot' in November MORE (D-Texas), got in touch with the DCCC to offer his support after he dropped out of the presidential race in November. "He called me shortly after he got out of the presidential and said 'I am at your disposal. You let me know what you need from me, if I can be of help in any way,' which is a very generous offer," Bustos said. "It means a lot, especially in Texas."

 

The Hill's Alex Gangitano reports that the joint fundraising committee, McConnell for Majority Leader, is hosting a fundraiser in the Miami area over Super Bowl weekend. A source said the event was scheduled "months ago," but did not specify whether McConnell would attend. The fundraiser is slated to last for an hour and requires a personal contribution of up to $20,600 per individual to the fundraising committee. 

 

Sanders endorses 9 progressive House candidates, by The Hill's Tal Axelrod 

McConnell challenger McGrath endorses Biden, by The Hill's Julia Manchester 

Bloomberg lands Utah's lone Democratic rep as sixth congressional endorsement, by The Hill's Julia Manchester 

 

MONEY WATCH:

Senate Majority PAC (SMP), the super PAC affiliated with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerOvernight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday Top intelligence officials to brief Gang of Eight on Thursday Over 1700 veterans ask Senate to pass statehood bill MORE (D-N.Y.) raised $61 million in 2019, The Hill's Tal Axelrod reports. It's a record for the group in a nonelection year. Democrats are hoping to cut into the Republican Senate majority in a year where the GOP is defending 23 seats.

 

POLL WATCH:

MONMOUTH IOWA

Biden: 23 percent (-1)

Sanders: 21 percent (+3)

Buttigieg: 16 percent (-1)

Warren: 15 percent (+/-0)

Klobuchar: 10 percent (+2)

Steyer: 4 percent (+/-0)

Yang: 3 percent (+/-0)

 

QUINNIPIAC NATIONAL

Biden: 26 percent (+1)

Sanders: 21 percent (+2)

Warren: 15 percent (-1)

Bloomberg: 8 percent (+2)

Klobuchar: 7 percent (+3)

Buttigieg: 6 percent (-2)

Yang: 3 percent (-2)

Steyer: 2 percent (+1)

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

There are 3 days until the Iowa caucuses, 11 days until the New Hampshire primary, 22 days until the Nevada caucuses, 29 days until the South Carolina primary and 32 days until Super Tuesday.

 

ONE FUN THING: 

TOTS2020: Klobuchar has been recognized for her retail politicking abilities in her neighboring state of Iowa since she entered the Democratic primary last year, but the Minnesota senator also knows the way to voters' hearts through their stomachs. 

The Minnesota Star Tribune highlighted Klobuchar's Taconite Tater Tot Hot Dish this week, reporting that the dish has been "conscripted" to help Klobuchar win her party's presidential nomination. 

The dish, which was named for a rock that is mined in Minnesota's Iron Range, has become a sort-of staple of small gatherings for Klobuchar supporters, known as Hot Dish House Parties.

Klobuchar first started spreading the recipe around last year in New Hampshire. The dish has a pretty patriotic history and was developed around WWII to help families save meat. 

And while Sanders, Warren and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetHouse Democrats chart course to 'solving the climate crisis' by 2050 'The Senate could certainly use a pastor': Georgia Democrat seeks to seize 'moral moment' Some realistic solutions for income inequality MORE have had to rely on surrogates while they've been in Washington for the impeachment trial, Klobuchar has relied (somewhat) on Taconite Tater Tots. 

We won't know the actual impact the tots had on voters until Monday's caucuses, but be sure to check in with us on Tuesday afternoon, when we start giving you a daily dose of campaign news leading up to Election Day in November! 

BRB going to get some tots.