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

Senate Democrats hope Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Enes Kanter sees political stardom — after NBA and WWE Swalwell pens op-ed comparing Trump impeachment to XYZ Affair 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 TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg 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 BullockBrent Budowsky: Bloomberg should give billion to Democrats Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far Kamala Harris dropped out, but let's keep her mental health plan alive MORE (D), former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperFor a healthy aging workforce policy, look to Colorado Mitch McConnell may win the impeachment and lose the Senate Hickenlooper raised .8 million for Colorado Senate bid in fourth quarter of 2019 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 see Mulvaney as smoking gun witness at Trump trial Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment MORE (Ill.).

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats cry foul over Schiff backlash Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Nadler gets under GOP's skin 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 YangSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial John Leguizamo joins the 'Yang Gang' CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary MORE and author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson says she supports Yang in Iowa caucuses Patrick backs reparations in unveiling 'Equity Agenda for Black Americans' Marianne Williamson drops out of 2020 race 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 BennetSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators Sanders says it's 'disappointing' he's not on campaign trail in Iowa 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 Fahr SteyerPoll: 68 percent of Democrats say it 'makes no difference' if a candidate is a billionaire CNN to host two straight nights of Democratic town halls before NH primary Steyer's advice from son after overhearing Warren-Sanders hot mic dust-up: 'Don't be a snitch' 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 BidenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters George Conway: Witness missing from impeachment trial is Trump MORE and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris on 2020 endorsement: 'I am not thinking about it right now' Panel: Is Kamala Harris a hypocrite for mulling a Joe Biden endorsement? The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power 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 legal team offers brisk opening defense of president Nadler gets under GOP's skin Restlessness, light rule-breaking and milk spotted on Senate floor as impeachment trial rolls on MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Lawmakers introduce bill to reform controversial surveillance authorities Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says 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 SchumerTrump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president Impeachment has been a dud for Democrats Trump insults Democrats, calls on followers to watch Fox News ahead of impeachment trial 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 McConnellSchumer: Trump's team made case for new witnesses 'even stronger' Trump, Democrats risk unintended consequences with impeachment arguments CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group 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 MastoOvernight Defense: Veterans group seeks Trump apology for comments on brain injuries | Pentagon says dozens of troops suffered traumatic injuries after attack | Trump unveils Space Force logo Senators push Pentagon on Syria strategy after withdrawal uproar, Soleimani strike Senate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations MORE (D-Nev.) hasn’t spoken to Bullock, O’Rourke or Hickenlooper “for months.”