Democratic senators want candidates to take Swalwell's hint and drop out

Senate Democrats hope Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellMulvaney admission deals blow to White House impeachment defense Testimony from GOP diplomat complicates Trump defense Lawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump MORE’s (D-Calif.) decision to drop out of the crowded presidential field is a sign of things to come.

The anxiety in the Senate about the crowded race mimics the nervousness of Democratic voters who worry their party will blow a second presidential contest against President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE and who see the 25-candidate race as a hindrance.


Democratic senators also see a potential silver lining to a narrowing field: They are holding out hope that candidates like Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockSuper PAC seeks to spend more than million supporting Yang The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges Private flight spending soars in Democratic presidential race MORE (D), former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump seeks distance from Syria crisis Gardner dodges questions about Trump's call for Biden probe 2020 Presidential Candidates MORE (D) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) could still run for the Senate.

“I’d like to get the debate into a one-night event. Right now, with 25 or whatever the number is, that’s hard to do,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats dig in ahead of Supreme Court ruling on 'Dreamers' Senate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' Trump judicial nominee delayed amid GOP pushback MORE (Ill.).

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterBennet reintroduces bill to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever Red-state Democrats worry impeachment may spin out of control MORE (D-Mont.) said “it has to narrow down.”

Some candidates, such as Bullock, didn’t make the debate stage when 20 Democrats battled last month over two nights.

“It’s still early, but it still has to happen,” Tester said of a narrowing field. He singled out tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangWarren, Yang fight over automation divides experts Yang cautions Democrats: Impeachment might not be 'successful' Yang defends Gabbard: She 'deserves much more respect' MORE and author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges 'We lost a giant': 2020 Democrats mourn the death of Elijah Cummings Williamson slams DNC, Tuesday's debate: 'This would all be funny if it weren't so dangerous' MORE, two long-shot candidates with low poll numbers who were both in the debate.

“For the supporters of Yang, I apologize, and the lady who writes the books,” said Tester, who complained that candidates got little time in the debate given the crowded stage.

Tester also said the big field makes it difficult for candidates who might be able to win over working-class moderates to gain any traction.

“For somebody like Bullock, if there were five or six candidates and he were one, it would improve his chances a lot. Same thing with Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSenate Democrats want Warren to talk costs on 'Medicare for All' The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges Bennet reintroduces bill to ban lawmakers from becoming lobbyists MORE,” he said, referring to the Colorado senator.

Another Democratic senator who requested anonymity to discuss the field praised Swalwell for dropping out early and setting an example for other low-polling candidates.

“I think it’s good to narrow it down, and there will be more,” the lawmaker said. “The next probable narrowing-down is September.”

“I can’t imagine being on stage with a total of 10 people and trying to answer [questions],” the lawmaker added. “It’s a very challenging format.”

CNN will air the next round of debates in Detroit, again over two nights on July 30 and 31.

Candidates must average more than 1 percent in three qualified polls or have more than 65,000 unique donors to their campaigns to make it onstage. The 20 candidates who qualify will be notified later this month.

A second Democratic senator expressed concern that the party’s message has become too scattered because of the large field of candidates. The lawmaker warned that could give Trump and the Republican Party a big head start in delivering a unified message to voters.

“If there was a way to sort this out more quickly it would be a lot better for us,” the lawmaker said, predicting that Trump will have an uncontested path to the GOP nomination and quickly move into general-election mode.

The senator expressed disappointment that shortly after Swalwell announced his decision to drop out, billionaire Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerThe Hill's Campaign Report: Biden camp faces new challenges 2020 Democrats recognize Pronouns Day Third-quarter fundraising sets Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg apart MORE said he would run for president and spend $100 million on his campaign.

The former hedge fund manager, however, may have trouble qualifying for the next debates in Detroit.

NBC News analyst Jonathan Allen declared Trump the winner of the first Democratic debates.

“Trump and the Republican Party are locked and loaded,” Allen said. “He’s staying on message and he’s hitting the themes and he’s going to be doing it all the way, for 16 months.”

He wrote that for long stretches of the debate the candidates seemed to forget about Trump as they fired shots at each other.

“The motivation to beat each other was, on this night, more urgent than defeating Trump — life-or-death moment for some of their campaigns,” he wrote. “Trump was the chief beneficiary of that dynamic.”

Democrats also saw some encouraging signs in the first round of debates, such as the blockbuster ratings of the second night, when former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Graham: 'Stupid' for Trump to ask China to investigate Biden Romney: Republicans don't criticize Trump because they fear it will help Warren MORE and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWarren says she will unveil plan to finance 'Medicare for All' Kamala Harris reacts to supporter who got tattoo of her handwriting Even with likely Trump impeachment, Democrats face uphill climb to win presidency MORE (D-Calif.) clashed over federally mandated busing. Nearly 15.3 million people tuned in to watch the first night, while 18.1 million watched the second night.


Senate Democrats hope that if the field winnows, it could free up promising candidates to run for Senate in Montana, Texas and Colorado.

“We won’t give up on anybody,” said the first Democratic senator, who is holding out hope that O’Rourke or Bullock might reconsider running against Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump slams 'very dumb' O'Rourke for proposals on guns, tax exempt status for churches GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Succession at DHS up in the air as Trump set to nominate new head MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesFallout from Kavanaugh confirmation felt in Washington one year later Conservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal MORE (R-Mont.), respectively.

“They have to make their own decisions, but we would certainly welcome to take another look and get back to us on their own time frame,” the senator said.

  Another Democratic senator said Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTurkey says soldier killed despite cease-fire in Syria Schumer calls for FDA to probe reports of contaminated baby food How Trump and Pelosi went from bad to worse MORE (D-N.Y.) is still pursuing those prize recruits.

“I don’t think Schumer ever gives up on these guys,” the lawmaker said, noting that it took a lot of persuading to get Marine veteran Amy McGrath to run against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Fox's Wallace says 'well-connected' Republican told him there's a 20 percent chance GOP will vote for impeachment White House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours MORE (R-Ky.).

Tester said fellow Democratic senators are bugging him “every day” to get Bullock to change his mind and run for Senate. But he said he didn’t know what outreach Schumer had made to the governor.

A Senate Democratic strategist familiar with recruiting, however, said that Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairwoman Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoLawmakers argue for national Latino museum Democrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules Buttigieg plans sharper distinctions with Warren, Sanders MORE (D-Nev.) hasn’t spoken to Bullock, O’Rourke or Hickenlooper “for months.”