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

Senate Democrats hope Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Moulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage 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 TrumpAmash responds to 'Send her back' chants at Trump rally: 'This is how history's worst episodes begin' McConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Trump blasts 'corrupt' Puerto Rico's leaders amid political crisis MORE and who see the 25-candidate race as a hindrance.

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Democratic senators also see a potential silver lining to a narrowing field: They are holding out hope that candidates like Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP Moulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage MORE (D), former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn Wright HickenlooperMoulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage Sanders draws line as 2020 health care battle heats up 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 DurbinDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Senate approves long-delayed tax treaties in win for business MORE (Ill.).

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterTrump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi looks to squash fight with progressives Democratic senators want candidates to take Swalwell's hint and drop out 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 Yang2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally 2020 Democrats adapt to changing social media landscape Bullock makes CNN debate stage MORE and author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson2020 Democrats adapt to changing social media landscape Bullock makes CNN debate stage Williamson defends her views on vaccines 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 BennetNew CDC overdose estimates are nothing to celebrate Bullock makes CNN debate stage Sanders draws line as 2020 health care battle heats up 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 SteyerMoulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage Steyer defends his wealth in 2020 race: 'Should we put a limit on what Beyoncé makes?' 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 Biden2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Can Biden's canceled cancer initiative be salvaged? Biden's health care gaffe shows he's not ready for prime time MORE and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi Harris2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Biden's health care gaffe shows he's not ready for prime time The Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP 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.

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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 CornynDemocratic Houston councilwoman announces Senate bid Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report White House, Congress inch toward debt, budget deal MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesTwo GOP lawmakers back Trump's comments on Democratic lawmakers: 'I'll pay for their tickets out of this country' Former Navy officer, teacher enters race to unseat GOP senator in Montana Democratic senators want candidates to take Swalwell's hint and drop out 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 SchumerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Trump administration denies temporary immigrant status to Venezuelans in US 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 McConnellMcConnell: Trump 'on to something' with attacks on Dem congresswomen Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime 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 MastoThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Democrat Sherrod Brown torches Facebook at hearing: They 'broke journalism,' 'helped incite a genocide' House Democrat's bill would facilitate electric car chargers at all national parks MORE (D-Nev.) hasn’t spoken to Bullock, O’Rourke or Hickenlooper “for months.”