SPONSORED:

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

Senate Democrats hope Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellDemocratic lawmakers not initially targeted in Trump DOJ leak probe: report Mo Brooks accuses Swalwell attorney who served papers on his wife of trespassing Senate on collision course over Trump DOJ subpoenas 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 TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE and who see the 25-candidate race as a hindrance.

ADVERTISEMENT

Democratic senators also see a potential silver lining to a narrowing field: They are holding out hope that candidates like Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockBiden 'allies' painting him into a corner Democratic Kansas City, Mo., mayor eyes Senate run Overnight Energy: Climate Summit Day 2 — Biden says US will work with other countries on climate innovation MORE (D), former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? 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 DurbinDick DurbinBiden administration to back bill ending crack, powder cocaine sentence disparity: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats await Manchin decision on voting rights bill Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE (Ill.).

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterWhite House advisers huddle with Senate moderates on infrastructure Biden risks break with progressives on infrastructure Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting 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 YangYang concedes in NYC mayor's race Early results show Adams leading NYC mayoral primary as counting continues Ocasio-Cortez says she ranked Wiley first, Stringer second in NYC mayoral vote MORE and author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonSusan Sarandon and Marianne Williamson call for justice in Steven Donziger case Marianne Williamson: Refusal to hike minimum wage is part of 'rigged economy' Rush Limbaugh dead at 70 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 BennetDemocrats make full-court press on expanded child tax credit Congress needs to fix the broken market for antibiotic development Schumer vows to only pass infrastructure package that is 'a strong, bold climate bill' 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 SteyerTom SteyerTop 12 political donors accounted for almost 1 of every 13 dollars raised since 2009: study California Democrats weigh their recall options Why we should be leery of companies entering political fray 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 BidenBaltimore police chief calls for more 'boots on the ground' to handle crime wave Biden to deliver remarks at Sen. John Warner's funeral Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump MORE and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisA call to action for strategic space competition with China Old-guard Democrats must end the filibuster and symbolic progress Biden job approval at 43 percent in Iowa: poll 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CornynProgressive groups launch .5M ad buy to pressure Sinema on filibuster Black lawmakers warn against complacency after Juneteenth victory The Senate is where dreams go to die MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Company officially nixes Keystone XL pipeline OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm 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 SchumerChuck SchumerWhite House draws ire of progressives amid voting rights defeat Murkowski to vote 'no' on voting rights bill Harris to preside over Senate for voting rights debate 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 McConnellSenate GOP blocks voting rights bill Schumer, McConnell spar as GOP prepares to block voting bill Trump has 'zero desire' to be Speaker, spokesman says 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 MastoNevada Senator's bill bets big on Vegas development as Lake Mead dries up Democrats facing tough reelections back bipartisan infrastructure deal Past criticism of Trump becomes potent weapon in GOP primaries MORE (D-Nev.) hasn’t spoken to Bullock, O’Rourke or Hickenlooper “for months.”