The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid

The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid
© Greg Nash

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily 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 today on the campaign trail. 

LEADING THE DAY: 

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Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashAmash readying legislation allowing victims to sue officers The Hill's Morning Report - Trump mobilizes military against 'angry mob,' holds controversial photo op The Hill's Campaign Report: DOJ, intel to be major issues in 2020 MORE (I-Mich.) is moving closer to a third-party run for president. The congressman announced over Twitter that he’s exploring a run for the Libertarian Party’s nomination.

Amash has been a consistent critic of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Priest among those police cleared from St. John's Church patio for Trump visit Trump criticizes CNN on split-screen audio of Rose Garden address, protesters clashing with police MORE, and he was the first Republican member of Congress to support impeachment proceedings against him last year.

Shortly after he announced his support for impeachment, Amash left the GOP and registered as an Independent. If he were to register now as a Libertarian, he would become the first-ever Libertarian member of Congress.

Libertarians are ecstatic, and they believe that Amash gives them their best shot at relevancy in 2020.

“A huge slice of the electorate is winnable for Amash: voters that reject both a demographic death-spiraling GOP Trump cult and a Democratic Party caving into strident, far left demands," said John Vaught LeBeaume, a veteran of former New Mexico Gov. Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonWhere Biden, Trump stand in key swing states Amash decides against Libertarian campaign for president The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid MORE’s Libertarian Party presidential run.

"But to do that, Amash needs to welcome in a diverse, flexible coalition of Americans who value both the social and economic freedoms that both major parties seem bent on destroying," he added. "No purity tests. Americans are exhausted of all that.”

But every cycle starts out with high hopes for third party candidates who usually fade into the background by Election Day.

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The first order of business for the Libertarian Party is making the debate stage, which would require him to be polling at 15 percent nationally.

In 2016, Johnson reached around the 9 percent national support mark, but otherwise was never a threat to be on the debate stage. The Johnson-Bill 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 Libertarian ticket earned 4.5 million votes, tripling the party’s previous record. Johnson received 9.3 percent of the vote in his home state of New Mexico.

Could Amash have a similar impact on Michigan, which figures to be one of the most hotly contests battlegrounds in 2020? 

No one seems to know who Amash’s presence hurts more.

There is a case to be made that Amash, a conservative, would pull more voters from the right who are tired of Trump.

But some Democrats are worried that Amash will draw from former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPresidents and 'presidents' Biden to blast Trump's church photo op in Philadelphia speech Rudy Giuliani calls on Cuomo to remove Bill de Blasio MORE.

The argument is that Republicans who are fed up with Trump won’t vote for him anyway, but might vote for Biden if they don’t have a conservative alternative. Now they, have the conservative alternative in Amash.

 Jonathan Easley

READ MORE:

Tal Axelrod: Amash launches exploratory committee for presidential run.

FROM THE TRAIL:

A split screen is forming between the Democratic and Republican national conventions this summer, The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Jonathan report. Democrats have already delayed their convention by a month amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. And some in the party remain skeptical that an in-person convention is still possible, suggesting that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) may have to move the gathering online. Republicans, meanwhile, say it’s “full steam ahead” for their convention in Charlotte, N.C., in August.

Biden scored an easy win in Ohio’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, finishing with more than 72 percent of the vote, Tal Reports. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive things to watch in Tuesday's primaries Nina Turner responds to Cornel West's remarks about George Floyd COVID-19 pandemic will shrink economy by trillion in next decade: CBO MORE (I-Vt.), who suspended his campaign earlier this month but will still appear on the ballot in the remaining primary states, placed second with less than 17 percent of the vote.

The decision to cancel New York’s June presidential primary is sparking a furor among progressives, who argue that the move denies their wing of the Democratic Party the chance to voice their preference and amass delegates ahead of the Democratic National Convention in August, The Hill’s Julia Manchester reports.

Rep. Jim ClyburnJames (Jim) Enos ClyburnKlobuchar on defense as Floyd death puts spotlight on record Khanna: Coronavirus has 'accelerated' the need for rural broadband Lifting our voices — and votes MORE (D-S.C.), the highest-ranking black member of Congress and a prominent supporter of Biden, said on Wednesday that it’s “not a must” for the former vice president to choose a black woman as his running mate, Tal reports. “I think having a woman on the ticket is a must,” Clyburn said in an interview with NBC News. “I’m among those who feel that it would be great for him to select a woman of color. But that is not a must.”

PERSPECTIVES:

Scott Goodstein: “How Democrats can help Biden make the sale.”

J.T. Young: “Ugly duckling presidents and black swan economics.”

Albert Hunt: “Nervous Democrats are sweating the small stuff.”

FROM CONGRESS & THE STATES:

Rep. Joyce BeattyJoyce Birdson BeattyThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump mobilizes military against 'angry mob,' holds controversial photo op The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump tweets as tensions escalate across US States respond with force amid another night of protests MORE (D-Ohio) fended off a primary challenge in Ohio’s 3rd congressional district on Tuesday, defeating liberal attorney Morgan Harper, whose bid for the seat was heavily funded by progressive outside groups, Tal reports.

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Democrat Kweisi Mfume won the special election on Tuesday to replace the late Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsKey races to watch in Tuesday's primaries The Postal Service collapse that isn't happening House Democrat reintroduces bill to reduce lobbyist influence MORE (D-Md.) in the House, Tal reports. Mfume, who calls himself “a progressive moderate,” held the seat for five terms before leaving in 1996 to become the CEO of the NAACP. 

Desiree Tims, an activist and former aide to Sen. Sherod Brown (D-Ohio), won the Democratic primary to represent Ohio’s 10th District on Tuesday, setting her up for a general election showdown against longtime Rep. Mike TurnerMichael Ray TurnerUtah governor signs bill protecting businesses from coronavirus lawsuits House GOP bill would block lawsuits by workers sickened with virus  The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid MORE (R-Ohio), The Hill’s Aris Folley reports.

Former presidential candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangAndrew Yang discusses his universal basic income pilot program Andrew Yang on the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis McConnell challenger on how Yang endorsement could help him MORE is suing the New York State Board of Elections over its decision to cancel the state’s June 23 primary because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Hill’s Justine Coleman reports. Yang suspended his campaign in February. But the lawsuit argues that he still met the requirements to remain on the ballot in New York and the decision to cancel the primary “denies voters due process and denies voters the right to vote, and therefore must be invalidated removing the authority for the Defendant to take the actions complained of herein.”

MONEY WATCH:

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) booked more than $30 million in fall advertisements across four states, as it looks to expand its electoral map ahead of the November elections, The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports.

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits | House Republicans introduce bill to speed mining projects for critical minerals | Watchdog faults EPA communications in contamination of NC river Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits Tillis campaign releases first general election TV ad emphasizing 'humble' roots MORE (R-N.C.) is launching a five-figure digital ad buy touting his efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, his campaign announced on Wednesday. The North Carolina Republican is one of the party’s most vulnerable incumbents facing reelection in November. Here’s a look at his latest ad spot.

POLL WATCH:

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ECONOMIST/YOUGOV – NATIONAL PRESIDENTIAL

Biden: 47 percent (-1)

Trump: 41 percent (-1)

EMERSON COLLEGE – NATIONAL PRESIDENTIAL

Biden: 48 percent (-5)

Trump: 42 percent (-5)

PUBLIC POLICY POLLING – TEXAS PRESIDENTIAL

Biden: 47 percent

Trump: 46 percent

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

(Keep in mind these dates could change because of COVID-19.)

May 2:

Kansas Democratic primary

May 12:

Nebraska primaries

May 19:

Oregon primaries

May 22:

Hawaii Democratic primary

June 2:

Delaware primaries

District of Columbia primaries

Indiana primaries

Maryland primaries

Montana primaries

New Mexico primaries

Pennsylvania primaries

Rhode Island primaries

South Dakota primaries

June 9:

Georgia primaries

West Virginia primaries

June 23:

Kentucky primaries

July 7:

New Jersey primaries

July 11:

Louisiana

July 14:

Alabama Republican Senate primary runoff

August 11:

Connecticut primary

August 17-20:

Democratic National Convention

August 24-27:

Republican National Convention

We’ll see you all tomorrow for the latest campaign news and updates.