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What Happened to Liz Warren?

Three months ago this week, Senator Elizabeth Warren looked like the 2020 frontrunner so many Democrats dreamed she could be. After months of languishing in the New Hampshire polls — a must-win state for the Massachusetts senator — she had roared back to the top of the pack. She was leading in Iowa, too, five points ahead of second-place Joe Biden. She had even managed to raise more money than Bernie Sanders in the previous quarter.

Today? Warren is fading — and fast.

The former frontrunner is in fourth place in both Iowa and New Hampshire. In the Granite State, her support has fallen by a jaw-dropping 50 percent. In a sure sign that the campaign is struggling, the Warren camp is celebrating the endorsement of former HUD Secretary Julian Castro as a big win.

The Washington Post referred to it as a “timely boost.” The New York Times says the endorsement “could help Ms. Warren reignite excitement at a critical moment.”

But in the last New Hampshire poll taken before he dropped out, Castro was polling at 0 percent.

How did Warren, a one-time Democratic rock star who seems to fit her party’s 2020 mood so well, wind up trailing a relatively unknown Midwestern mayor in her own New Hampshire back yard?

Some campaigns struggle with message. That’s Sen. Cory Booker, who’s offering an optimistic vision of unity and partisan reconciliation to a Democratic base that’s ready to rumble with the Republicans.

Some campaigns have structural problems: Not enough money, too little name ID, no natural political base. Would governors like John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee have made good nominees? We’ll never know.

And then there are the campaigns facing the most daunting obstacle of all: Their own candidate. (See “O’Rourke, Beto.”)

The first two problems can be fixed. The last one can’t.  And every day the evidence builds that the Liz Warren campaign’s biggest problem, is Liz Warren.

“She got an authenticity problem,” one DC political operative told NHJournal. “It’s the one thing about her that’s real.”

The authenticity issue appeared again this week when Warren amended her views on the U.S. military strike that killed Iranian Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani, after blowback from progressives. Her first reaction was to declare Soleimani a “murderer responsible for the deaths of thousands, including hundreds of Americans.”

Within 24 hours she was calling him a “senior government official,” who had been “assassinated,” and she repeatedly refused to concede that Soleimani is a terrorist. (He was declared the leader of a terrorist organization by both the Bush and Obama administrations.) Rather than celebrating his demise, Warren was suggesting that Soleimani only died because Trump is facing impeachment.

“Wow. We went from ‘murderer’ to ‘wag the dog’ in the space of a few days,” quipped CNN’s liberal commentator Chris Cillizza.

Why the shift? Because progressives like Sanders were denouncing the Trump administration’s action as illegitimate, and were uncomfortable with criticism of Soleimani that might support Trump’s case.

“Given where she is in the race, Warren simply could not withstand that sort of criticism from the left,” Cillizza wrote.

The Soleimani story is small potatoes. But it’s part of a growing list — her claims of Native American heritage, her debunked story about being fired over a pregnancy, her misleading statements about her children attending public school and her backtracking on Medicare For All — that suggests Warren is willing to say whatever it takes to get elected.

“She started off as a candidate with a strong message: ‘I want to fight for you, I’m going to take on corruption.’ She sounded like someone who knew exactly what she wanted to do,” Democratic strategist Joel Payne told NHJournal.

“Now she sounds like a candidate who’s still looking for a message, and that’s not good.”

Some Democrats disagree. “I don’t think the Native American thing or these other stories are hurting her. I think she’s got an explanation for all of them,” said Bob Shrum, director of USC’s Center for the Political Future and a veteran of multiple presidential primaries. “I think it’s one thing: Medicare For All.”

That’s a common explanation for Warren’s weakness. Democrats and pundits point to the release of Warren’s poorly-received $52 trillion healthcare plan as the moment her campaign began to founder. “It’s not true that New Hampshire Democrats don’t like Warren,” one senior Democratic Granite State source told NHJournal. “They just hate her Medicare For All plan.”

But even the Medicare issue highlights Warren’s authenticity problem. One reason she was forced to release the politically-damaging specifics of her plan was because she’d spent weeks refusing to say whether her proposal would require a middle-class tax hike. She gave so many obviously evasive answers that late-night TV host Stephen Colbert begged her on the air to find a better response.

Warren supporters are quick to suggest that she’s the victim of misogyny, that conversations about authenticity and likeability are just code words for being uncomfortable with a woman nominee. But that hardly makes sense in New Hampshire, where three of the four Democrats in the congressional delegation are women, the two previous governors were women and where Hillary Clinton won both the 2008 primary and the 2016 general election.

These are voters who are more than willing to vote for a woman. At the moment, however, they appear reluctant to vote for Liz Warren.

And that’s a ‘candidate’ problem.

When it Comes to Charitable Giving, Warren and Sanders Are Millionaires Who Don’t ‘Pay Their Fair Share’

If you woke up New Year’s Day feeling guilty about all those last-second charitable solicitations you ignored, it might ease your conscience to know you aren’t alone. Just ask Liz Warren.

On the campaign trail, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tirelessly attacks the greed and self-interest of America’s wealthy, the “millionaires and billionaires” who, she claims, are “waging war on America’s middle class.”

“It’s time for the millionaires to pay their fair share!” Warren demands.

But when it comes to spreading the wealth to charitable causes and community service, Warren is one of the millionaires who apparently hasn’t gotten the message.

According to the tax returns Warren has posted on her campaign website, she and her husband Bruce Mann have earned more than $10 million since 2008, but they’ve rarely donated more than 4 percent of their income to charitable causes. For example, in 2014 Warren earned more than $1.6 million but gave just 2.7 percent to charity. The following year she took in nearly $1.2 million, but donated just 2.3 percent.

All that changed, however, in 2017 when Warren was preparing to formally enter the presidential race. That year her charitable donations suddenly spiked to 8.4 percent, leading some to speculate that her newfound generosity was more about electability than philanthropy. In 2018, she donated 5.5 percent of her income to charity.

Exclude her “presidential primary” years, and Warren donated an average of just 3.5 percent of her millions in income to charitable causes. That number is low for the average American in her income bracket (the average millionaire donates nearly twice that amount), and it sounds particularly ungenerous given her political platform of income redistribution, trillion-dollar tax increases and “you didn’t build that!” rhetoric.

And yet compared to her fellow 2020 progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders, Warren’s the Oprah Winfrey of the Democratic field.

In 2016, Sanders donated just $10,600 of his $1 million income — around 1 percent — to charity. His total household donations since 2009 manage to get him to the two percent level.

According to analysis by Forbes magazine, the least charitable Democrat is also the poorest: Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Despite his progressive bona fides, including a “paid” volunteerism program,  Buttigieg has donated just 1 percent of his income to charity since 2009.

And then there’s former Vice President Joe Biden, who made headlines in 2008 when Barack Obama tapped him to be his running mate it was discovered the Bidens had donated just $3,690 to charity over the course of an entire decade. He’s since raised that number to six percent, much of it donated to Biden family foundations.

Thus far the issue of charitable giving hasn’t come up on the campaign trail, perhaps because Democratic primary voters are also less likely to support charitable causes themselves.

According to multiple studies, Americans on the left are less charitable than their Republican counterparts. States that supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 were, on average, less generous in their charitable giving than those carried by Donald Trump.

Arthur C. Brooks, a social scientist at Harvard’s Kennedy School and author of the book on charitable giving Who Really Cares says his research finds, “People who favor government income redistribution are significantly less likely to donate to charity than those who do not.”

Data from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy show that a smaller percentage of Americans are donating to charity each year, but overall donations are rising. In fact, over this same 2009-2017 period during which millionaire candidates like Warren and Sanders give so little, total U.S. donations to charity rose by nearly $100 billion, from $314 billion to $410 billion.

The same “millionaires and billionaires” whose greed is allegedly endangering our democracy are giving more to charity and community service. Even as progressive politicians give so little.

There are exceptions, most notably Sen. Cory Booker. The former Mayor of Newark has donated nearly half a million dollars — about 11 percent of his income — to charity over the past decade. Unfortunately, Democratic primary voters aren’t being as generous toward his campaign and Sen. Booker continues to linger around 2 percent in the polls.

From free healthcare for illegal immigrants to paying off everyone’s student loan debt, Elizabeth Warren has lots of plans for taxpayer-funded generosity. American voters may want to ask why her charity doesn’t begin at home.

Are NH Democrats Too ‘Racist’ To Support Candidates of Color?

When Sen. Kamala Harris dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary, she blamed it on her inability to raise money. Some pundits, both left and right, said her lack of a clear message was the problem.

But others saw a more disturbing force at work: White people. In particular, the white Democratic primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Iowa is 91 percent white. New Hampshire is 94 percent white,” Rolling Stone senior writer Tim Dickinson tweeted in reaction to Harris’s exit from the 2020 field. “These states are off the charts white, and yet the Democratic Party gives the electorates in these states effective veto power over the nomination process.”

“It’s structural racism masquerading as tradition,” Dickinson said.

Nate Silver of the left-leaning website FiveThirtyEight wrote, “If the Democratic Party wants a field that’s representative of its members and its voters, it probably shouldn’t have two states as white as Iowa and New Hampshire vote first every year.”

“Having two super white states go first is a big disadvantage to nonwhite candidates,” Silver added.

Defenders of the New Hampshire #FITN primary are used to hearing the “too white” complaint. “You go to New Hampshire. There are not any minorities there. Nobody lives there,” then-Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told the Washington Post back in 2015.

What’s new is the more overt suggestion that white New Hampshire Democrats are rejecting candidates of color out of bigotry. That they’re participants in the “structural racism.”

“I’ve seen the bile, the anger, from my family members, to people in the Congressional Black Caucus, to leaders of color across this country who just don’t understand how we’ve gotten to a point now where there’s more billionaires in the 2020 race than there are black people,” Sen. Cory Booker said in response to Harris dropping out of the race.

Progressive writer Lauren Duca was more direct, telling her nearly 500,000 Twitter followers:

“Kamala Harris officially ended her campaign today, which means that all of the candidates who currently qualify for the December Democratic debate are white. White supremacy is not just a Fox News problem, folks.”

So is it a New Hampshire Democratic Party problem?

“I have heard all the arguments and don’t buy any of them,” former Democratic National Committeeman and longtime New Hampshire strategist Terry Shumaker told NHJournal. “They certainly don’t explain Govs. Inslee, Hickenlooper and Bullock dropping out — as well as Beto and others dropping out even earlier — they are all white.”

Shumaker notes that “an African American has won our primary, as has a woman and a Mormon.  Jesse Jackson ran competitively here in the 1980s. He didn’t blame not winning on the voters.”

True, but progressives are. Their argument isn’t just that “New Hampshire voters are too white,” but rather this whiteness prevents them from supporting candidates of color. Call it “racism,” “bigotry” or “lack of wokeness”–it’s a commentary on New Hampshire Democratic primary voters.

“I don’t agree that they are saying Iowa and New Hampshire are racist,” New Hampshire Democratic Committeewoman Kathy Sullivan told NHJournal. “They are saying that having more diversity among voters would better reflect the Democratic electorate. I think the DNC addressed that by having Nevada and South Carolina added to the calendar.”

“I would also add that Barack Obama came very close to winning the New Hampshire primary in ’08, and he won the general election here twice.”

Then there are the New Hampshire polling averages for Castro, Booker and Harris, which are similar to their numbers nationally. Yes, when she dropped out Harris’s RealClearPolitics average was about half a point lower in the Granite State (2.7 percent) compared to her national numbers (3.4 percent), but both Booker and Castro are actually outperforming their nationwide average in New Hampshire.

Even in her racially-diverse home state of California, Harris had been stuck in single digits and well out of the top tier. Are white voters to blame?

And yet it remains the case that the top six Republican frontrunners in 2016 were more racially diverse (one African American and two Hispanic candidates) than the Democrats today. And many on the left see bias at work.

“Women are held to a different standard,” Rev. Al Sharpton said on Tuesday, “and black women especially.”

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, whose 2020 POTUS candidacy has rarely cleared the 5 percent support mark, has long argued that New Hampshire’s demographics were a problem for Democrats, going so far as to compare it to what he deems Republican voter suppression.

“We can’t go around thanking black women for powering Democrats to victory all over the country, and then at the same time hold our first caucus and our first primary in states that have almost no African Americans,” he said. “We’re right to call Republicans out when they suppress the votes of African Americans or Latinos, but we’ve also got to recognize that this 50-year-old process was created during a time when minority voices had zero power in the [Democratic] party.”

Progressive NH State Rep. Kris Schultz (D-Concord) tweeted, “I want a Democratic party where @KamalaHarris, @CoryBooker & @JulianCastro are in the @DNC debates while other candidates cannot just buy their way in because they are self-funded multi-millionaires! No more corruption! No more buying elections! Reward the grassroots!”

But when NHJournal asked if, as a step toward more diversity, NH Democrats should give up their First In The Nation status, Schultz said absolutely not.

“I am 100 percent for the NH FITN,” she said. “And I was Al Gore’s South Carolina Caucus Director and I helped in Nevada, too.

“Nobody vets candidates better than New Hampshire.”

Have Democrats Declared a War on New Hampshire Cows?

Is your cheeseburger an endangered species?

Reports of the death of America’s beef and dairy industries at the hands of the Green New Deal (GND) may be exaggerated, but both farmers and their Philly steak ‘n cheese eating fans have reason to be concerned about policies embraced by progressive Democrats.

Claims by some opponents of the #GreenNewDeal that it would mean an end of the cattle industry in America are inaccurate—for the simple reason that the GND doesn’t offer any specific policies. The legislation actually filed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) is merely a resolution declaring general goals and directions, not specific laws and regulations. On this issue the resolution  merely calls for “working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.”

However, the FAQ handout from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that originally accompanied the proposal was much more aggressive and, many farmers fear, far more accurate about the GND’s goals.

It demands a “a greenhouse gas free food system,” and bemoans the fact that GND doesn’t call for an end to all GHG emissions because “we aren’t sure we can get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.”

Supporters of AOC, as Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is known, argue that this FAQ document was mistakenly released, a work in progress, and doesn’t reflect the immediate goals of the Green New Deal effort. However, what’s undeniable is that cows—and their gaseous emissions—are in the crosshairs of the climate change activists’ agenda.  They have to be.

If advocates of the Green New Deal are serious about getting close to zero emissions, or even a net-zero target using offsets, they have to confront the amount of greenhouse gases coming from livestock. In the US, agriculture is responsible for about 9 percent of our emissions. But according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock worldwide account for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gases. That’s more than the entire transportation sector (14 percent).  Plus, climate activists argue that methane—the gas emitted by cows—is more dangerous than carbon dioxide, trapping up to 28 times more heat.

It’s simply impossible to move forward on the GND agenda without a drastic impact on cattle-intensive industries like beef and dairy.

And so Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has legislation targeting concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) for the alleged damage they are doing to the climate.  “I want to talk about the impact that CAFOs have on the environment and what we can do to mitigate it,” said Blumenauer. “We shouldn’t be incentivizing them through programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program; we should be forcing them to pay for the damage they cause to the environment and public health.”

Eric Holt-Gimenez says the problem is “industrial overproduction of food—the root cause of agricultural pollution, food waste and greenhouse gas emissions.”  To discourage over-production, he suggests a “guaranteed minimum price for farmers,” essentially an agricultural minimum wage paid by consumers to prop up inefficient, smaller farming operations.

And New Jersey Senator Cory Booker—a #GreenNewDeal supporter and candidate for president– stated flatly that the “devastating impact” of emissions from the meat industry must end.

“The tragic reality is this planet simply can’t sustain billions of people consuming industrially produced animal agriculture because of environmental impact,” Booker, a vegan, told VegNews magazine. “It’s just not possible.”

The media are downplaying the potential impact on the agricultural sector from the Democrats’ newest policy initiative, accusing Republicans of exaggerating the case or conflating idealistic goals with realistic policies. But ranchers and farmers have gotten the message.

“You may think the #GreenNewDeal is some far out nutcase dream, but if you’re involved in agriculture you’d better view it as a threat to your entire way of life,” Texas rancher Casey Kimbrell tweeted.

Sara Place of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association says the Green New Deal “highlights the large divide between people that are interacting with the environment and growing food every day, and those that are concerned about environmental issues, but ignorant.”

And Kansas cattle rancher Brandi Buzzard Frobose has written an open letter to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez explaining that American ranches  “are producing beef in the United States more sustainably and efficiently than ever before – did you know that the U.S. produces nearly 20% of the world’s beef with only 9% of the world’s cattle?

“I beseech you to please have a conversation with your constituents and colleagues that have an agriculture background,” Frobose writes. “Cows are not the problem.”

But Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, who represents Queens, New York, doesn’t have a lot of “constituents with an agricultural background.” Neither do many of the congressional co-sponsors of the GND who are from urban districts, like Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Boston and Ted Lieu of Los Angeles.  Ag jobs just aren’t a key part of their constituency.

For the Democrats running for president, however, the math is very different.  Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina all have significant agricultural interests.  According to Katie Olthoff of the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, Iowa has the seventh largest inventory of cattle in the U.S. and “more feed yards than any other state.”

“We have a lot of relatively small ‘feeder farmers,’ as we call them,” Olthoff says, as opposed to the larger operations environmentalists tend to focus on.

At the Iowa State Dairy Association website, board president Larry Shover quotes a study reporting that Iowa’s 1,200 dairies – and 213,000 dairy cows—have an economic impact of over $4 billion dollars per year.

In New Hampshire, dairy products are a $50 million market and the single largest agricultural commodity in the state.  The dairy tradition is such an embedded part of the Granite State’s story that the industry promotes the “Ice Cream Trail” featuring local dairies and shops from Nashua up to the Great North Woods.

And the official state beverage of South Carolina?  Milk.

Still, virtually every nationally-known 2020 Democratic candidate has endorsed the #GreenNewDeal.  That’s going to present some interesting political calculations for Democrats in a 10-way  (or 15 or even 20-way?) race for their party’s nomination.

Even if the number of farmers in these early states is relatively small (fewer than 2 percent of Americans actually work on a farm), their effects on the economy are felt much more broadly. In addition, as support for the ethanol subsidy in Iowa over the decades shows, many voters have an emotional connection with their state’s farmers that gives their issues an outsized political impact.

“Iowa’s farms are family farms,  and so when Washington talks about America ‘getting out of the cattle business,’ it’s not just a job. It’s a family,” Olthoff told InsideSources.

“About 10 years ago, my husband and I made a huge investment in order to farm years ago. Our dream was to be able to raise our kids on a farm, to live in rural Iowa, to live this lifestyle. When I hear about proposals and regulations that threaten us, I do get emotional,” Olthoff said.

“This isn’t about shutting down an industry. It’s about a way of life.”

Is Kamala Harris the Hillary Clinton of the 2020 Campaign?

Despite the fact that she’s repeatedly referred to as “the female Obama,”  and that she formally announced her candidacy on Martin Luther King Day, could it be that the most apt description of Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris in the 2020 POTUS race is… Hillary Rodham Clinton?

The comparison comes from the fact that the 54-year-old former California Attorney General appears to be running on a Clinton-esque combination of identity politics and moderate Democratic policy.

“The way Harris is likely to position herself on policy issues during the campaign — liberal as any candidate on noneconomic issues but not as liberal on economic issues as, say, Bernie Sanders — echoes Hillary Clinton’s platform in 2016,” writes Perry Bacon, Jr. at the FiveThirtyEight website.   At the same time, Sen. Harris’s embrace of identity politics is unabashed and beyond dispute.

Harris talks extensively about her biography– she would be the first woman, the first black woman and first person of Asian descent to serve as POTUS–and she openly defends identity politics as part of Democratic Party ideology, suggesting the phrase itself is a divisive slur.  And like Hillary Clinton, Sen. Harris highlights what she claims will be the unique challenges of attempting to break the glass ceiling as a woman of color running for the White House.

“Let’s be honest. It’s going to be ugly,” Harris told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski in December. “When you break things, it is painful. And you get cut. And you bleed.”

But will the Democratic POTUS primary really be a “bloody” battle for the four women (Gabbard, Gillibrand, Harris and Warren) already in the race? According to a Suffolk poll in September, while most voters still claim to be gender-neutral at the ballot box, the percentage of voters who would prefer to vote for a woman is twice as high as the number who would prefer a male candidate. That sentiment is highest among the most liberal voters–more than a third of whom say they want to vote for a woman. Those voters will have a disproportionate impact on the primary.

Add in the historical pattern of black voters strongly supporting black candidates, and it’s no surprise that many political prognosticators have labeled Harris the Democrats’ front-runner.

So playing the identity card as hard as Hillary #ImWithHer Clinton did in 2016 looks like a winner. But what about the Clinton centrism?

Admittedly the word “centrist” is problematic. To most Republicans, and probably many more Americans, the idea that Hillary Clinton was a centrist or moderate candidate seems counter-intuitive. And not long ago, it would have been. But for Democratic primary voters–particularly in the age of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez politics–Mrs. Clinton is a relative moderate. Is Kamala Harris, too?

“I don’t know any progressives who would support her, largely due to her record as district attorney and attorney general in California,” longtime progressive activist Ted Bosen of New Hampshire told Inside Sources.  “Next to Biden, I believe she is the least favorite prospect among us. But she has support among Hillary Clinton supporters.”

And a recent Vanity Fair profile of Sen. Harris included this nugget: “Have you seen her speak?” a (male) Democratic strategist says of Harris. “It feels very Hillary-like.”

As the liberal journal Jacobin reports: “Harris’s rise has produced a fiery debate among liberals and the Left. Leftists and progressives have come out in strong opposition to Harris’s candidacy, with some declaring #NeverKamala and some high-profile Bernie Sanders supporters, such as National Nurses United executive director RoseAnn DeMoro, making clear their lack of enthusiasm for her candidacy.”

“I expect Harris to struggle with The Left,” Bacon writes in his analysis for FiveThirtyEight. “Harris’ professional life has been as a prosecutor and some on the left already are highlighting what they view as flaws in her record — being too hard on low-level offenders of crimes like truancy but not aggressive enough in taking on those accused of white-collar offenses, for example.”

In a press conference on Monday, Harris said she rejected the notion “that you either have to be tough on crime or soft on crime. We should be smart on crime.” However, some critics suggest she tried to burnish her “not-soft-on-crime” credentials by defending police and prosecutors in cases when they didn’t deserve it.   She also bragged in the past about increasing her conviction rates and sending more people to prison, while also promoting liberal social issues like same-sex marriage popular on the California Left. This style of “third-way” politics is straight from the Clinton playbook.

Not everyone agrees with the Clinton/Kamala comparison.

“Their profiles as candidates couldn’t more different,” DC Democratic consultant Joel Payne told InsideSources. “Sen. Harris is a fresh face with relatively low name ID and a lot of room to define herself to voters. Hillary Clinton had been a household name for 15 years before her runs for the White House.”

Payne, who advised the 2016 Clinton campaign says the Democrats he talks to “believe that black voters and, in particular, black women are the key voting bloc in 2020 and Kamala Harris is very well positioned to appeal to those voters.”

But the comparisons are likely to continue, in part because of the campaign team Harris has assembled. Her campaign chair is her sister–and former Clinton senior advisor– Maya Harris. Her general counsel is Hillary’s former campaign attorney Marc Elias, who made headlines when it was discovered his firm was the funnel for Clinton’s campaign to pay oppo-research outfit Fusion GPS, at the center of the “Russia dossier” story.

Other top Kamala Harris staffers include Hillary’s deputy national finance director Angelique Cannon; and David Huynh, the Clinton campaign’s director of delegate operations and ballot access whose job at the Democratic convention in 2016 was to keep protesting Bernie Sanders’ supporters off TV.

Nobody is going to mistake Kamala Harris for Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia. By historical standards, she’s one of the most liberal candidates to ever seek the presidency, as her announcement statement makes clear.  But in the #NeedToImpeach/#Medicare4All world of Democratic primary voters of today, virtually every candidate is (at least) as progressive as Harris, and without the “third-way” politics baggage or a staff straight off Hillary Clinton’s campaign bus.

It’s very possible that Kamala Harris’s identity politics can overcome the perception that she’s not progressive enough. But with so many strong progressive candidates in the field, maybe not.

Does New Hampshire Really Want a Kamala/Kasich 2020 Ticket?

Or Biden-Baker (as in MA Gov. Charlie)? Or Beto and Ben Sasse? Or even a Trump-Tulsi Gabbard 2020 campaign? (Sorry, Mike Pence.)

That’s the argument the organization Unite America is making, and they believe a new poll of voters in First-in-the-Nation New Hampshire backs their claim.  According to their data, 61 percent of New Hampshire voters would like to see their party’s nominee reach across the aisle for a running mate.  “We found support among 67% of Democrats, 65% of independents, and 51% of Republicans,” they report.


America’s 2020 Presidential ticket?

The specific question: “How supportive would you be if your preferred presidential candidate chose a running mate of the opposite party to create a ‘Unity ticket’ for president and vice-president that could unite our divided country?”

Unite America’s mission to to lower the level of bipartisan rancor in America which, they believe, is undermining the health of our democracy. Nationally, they claim 43 Unite chapters, plus $3.5 million raised and 8 million votes for their candidates in November’s election. “In 2018, we saw the rise of a new movement in our politics that brought together an intellectual foundation, electoral infrastructure, national awareness, and a community of candidates, activists, and donors,” Unite America says in a statement.

Their poll also found that a majority of New Hampshire voters are open to supporting an independent presidential candidate in 2020 (56%) –– including 42% of Republicans, 58% of Democrats, and 68% of independents. These numbers don’t impress political pros, who know that while people say they’re open to an independent in theory, they tend to go straight back to their partisan corner once the campaign fighting starts.


Former Governors John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and John Kasich (R-OH)

In an op-ed at USA Today, Nick Troiano (former independent congressional candidate from Denver) and  Charles Wheelan (lecturer in public policy at Dartmouth College) write:

“Here’s one plausible scenario: former Republican governor John Kasich of Ohio and former Democratic governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado could both run through their party’s primaries with the intent of selecting the other as vice president should they win — an idea they have already flirted with.”

But is  this scenario truly “plausible?” Unite America’s own poll finds that only 39 percent of Americans feel left out or unrepresented by the current political parties. And, they report, “among those who feel politically homeless include 52% of independents, 44% of Republicans, and 17% of Democrats.” [emphasis added]

To many Republicans, a call for “bipartisanship” sounds more like an attempt to split their party along conservative/moderate lines. If fewer than one in five Democrats are dissatisfied, why would they abandon their party rather than embrace total victory over what they perceive as the party of Trump?

In a year when Democratic primary voters are questioning whether lifelong Democrat Joe Biden is sufficiently partisan,  would it really be a winning strategy in the POTUS primary to even hint that you’re thinking of putting any Republican a heartbeat away from the presidency.

There’s a word for politicians in 2019 who bet their careers on bipartisanship: EX-politicians.

Just ask CNN’s newest pundit, John Kasich.

Relax, New Hampshire–Liz Warren Is On Her Way!

The NHDems have announced that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is scheduled to keynote the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club dinner on Feb. 22.

“We are pleased that Senator Elizabeth Warren will join our 60th annual McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club event,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley. “Senator Warren has long been an ardent supporter of New Hampshire Democrats.”

Sen. Warren’s coming off a good weekend in Iowa–a much-needed bump to her candidacy which many insiders have said is otherwise off to a shaky start. Warren has consistently underperformed in polls of Democrats as a whole and progressives in particular. In addition, Warren’s one of the few high-profile Dem 2020 candidates who’s underwater with voters as a whole.

“The 100 Club event is an excellent opportunity to get ni front of large gathering of NH activists and voters,” Democratic strategist Jim Demers told NHJournal.  “Coming from Massachusetts, the crowd will even bigger than usual because she ban bring supporters from across the border. I expect the dinner to be a big success for the state party.”

Grabbing this high-profile platform–where she will be the only 2020 contender on the stage– is more than a boon to just Warren and the NHDem’s coffers. It’s also a lost opportunity to other potential candidates, in particular fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders. They are expected to wage a Battle Royale for their border-state voters.

Warren donated $5,000 to every state party in the US last year, and she sent two staffers to work for the NHDem party. Sen. Kamala Harris gave $25,000 to the state party and reports are that Sen. Cory Booker gave some $170,000 to various New Hampshire Democratic candidates and causes in the 2018 cycle.

One NHDem insider told NHJournal “The candidate who wants these slots most usually gets them.”

Warren definitely wanted–and needed–this event.

Kamala’s Catholic Attacks May Be Bad Form but Good 2020 Politics

When Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960, he defended Catholics and their place in American public life.  “If this election is decided on the basis that 40 million [Catholic] Americans lost their chance of being president on the day they were baptized, then it is the whole nation that will be the loser,” Kennedy said during his campaign, rejecting the suggestion of a religious test for public service.

Fast-forward to today where likely 2020 POTUS candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is suggesting exactly that.  As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Harris questioned a judicial candidate’s fitness for the bench due to his membership in the Knights of Columbus.

“I wish I could say I was surprised,” Chuck McGee, head of the Concord, NH Knights of Columbus, told NHJournal. “These are the struggles that Catholics are subjected to, it’s what we experience.  Our religious beliefs are under attack.”

Questioning a public servant’s religion may be ugly and perhaps even unconstitutional. But could it also be smart Democratic primary politics in the key First-In-The-Nation state of New Hampshire?

In prepared questions for Brian Buescher, a nominee to the federal bench in Nebraska, Sen. Harris called the Knights of Columbus an “all-male society” and demanded “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”

She also attacked the Knights for supporting traditional marriage and asked “Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed marriage equality when you joined the organization?”

Buescher, a lifelong Catholic, answered: “I do not recall if I was aware whether the Knights of Columbus had taken a position on same-sex marriage at the time I joined at the age of 18.”

Sen. Harris’s implication is clear: If you believe the Catholic Church’s teachings on abortion and same-sex marriage, you may not be fit to hold a public office like a judgeship.  And she’s not alone. Sen. Mazie Hirono, another Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the Knights of Columbus “extreme” and asked Buescher if he would “end his membership to avoid any appearance of bias.”

“It’s very troubling. It’s a matter of singling out members of Catholic faith,”  NH State Deputy for the Knights of Columbus Glenn Camley told NHJournal. “Many other faiths, including Islam, have similar teaching on life and marriage. It’s not the theology. They’re making an example out of Catholics.”

Camley joined other KoC members, including the national leader Carl Anderson in pointing out that their organization was formed in part to confront anti-Catholic bigotry from organizations like the KKK.

In a message to his membership on Thursday Anderson said “such attacks on the basis of our Catholic faith are hardly new.”  He rejected the notion that the Knights are upholding some unusual view or alternative dogma that might raise questions about their organization. “Simply put, our positions are now, and have always been, Catholic positions.”

In other words, Sen. Harris’s criticism of Judge Buescher is a critique of every traditional, practicing Catholic in New Hampshire. And it’s a critique Catholics like NH state representative (and Fourth Degree Knight) Walt Stapleton have come to expect.  “So anti-Catholicism raises its ugly head in American politics—what else is new?” the Claremont Republican told NHJournal.  “Sen. Harris’s pejorative questions for a Catholic nominee certainly reflect that.”

Several commentators, including Rev. Eugene F. Rivers III of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies, have pointed out that Harris’s approach could be viewed as unconstitutional. “There is no place for a religious test like this in our country,” Rev. Rivers said. “Our constitution forbids it and elected leaders should know better than to try to impose it.”

But elections aren’t won or lost on constitutionality. They’re won with votes. Practicing Catholics in New Hampshire may have a legitimate complaint about Sen. Harris’s views, but will they hurt her in the First-In-The-Nation primary voters?

“No, it won’t hurt her,” Democratic State Sen. Lou D’Allesandro told NHJournal.  D’Allesandro, viewed as a key player in the New Hampshire Democratic POTUS primaries, is a Third Degree Knight himself, but he doesn’t see a political downside for Sen. Harris. “The day when the Catholic Church played a major role in our elections has passed.”

The data appear to back him up.

According to a 2014 Pew Research survey, New Hampshire is one of the most secular states in the country. Fewer than half of all residents ever attend a worship service and only 33 percent of Granite Staters say religion is important in their lives.  And while Massachusetts may be considered a hub of Catholicism, just 26 percent of New Hampshire residents call themselves Catholic. The largest religious identification in the Granite State?


And that’s the state as a whole. In a UNH poll of Democratic primary voters in the 2012 cycle, 61 percent said they rarely/never attend church. Only a third of white Democrats nationwide believe in the biblical concept of God, according to a Pew Research Survey taken last year, far below their GOP counterparts.

Steve Krueger, president of the Boston-based group Catholic Democrats, doesn’t agree. He called the statements by Sens. Harris and Hirono “unfortunate.”

“I was speaking to one of our Michigan members and he was extremely upset,” Krueger said. “Non-Catholics don’t realize how much the Knights of Columbus are a part of our Catholic community.”

“Our supporters are very liberal,  very Catholic and–the party should remember– strong Democrats.”  Krueger points out that, while New Hampshire is secular, “a small shift in the Catholic vote in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in 2016 would have made Hillary Clinton president today.”

But to get to the swing states in November, you have to win early primary states like New Hampshire.  And in a state where the Democratic candidates for governor took the most extreme pro-choice positions—including support for taxpayer-funded, late-term abortions—it may make more sense to confront the Catholic church than reach out to its members. However unpleasant practicing Catholics in the Granite State might find it.

“Our order has a strict no-politics policy,” Camley says. “We have Republicans, Democrats, Independents. We’re just a group of Catholic men trying to help the community. We do food drives, we support the Special Olympics.  We’re not ‘extreme.’ We’re your neighbors.”

But they’re not likely Democratic primary voters.

How far has the political landscape shifted since the JFK era? Kennedy, who won the 1960 NH Democratic POTUS primary with 85 percent of the vote, was himself a Fourth Degree member of Bunker Hill [MA] Council No. 62.

The voters who will pick the Democrats’ 2020 nominee, on the other hand,  are secular, they’re pro-choice and they’re pro-gay-marriage.  Being anti-Catholic isn’t necessarily a bug for Sen. Harris. It could be a feature.

As a “NH Neighbor,” Liz Warren Enters POTUS Race as a Candidate On the Cusp

As she announces her decision to launch a formal exploratory committee for a 2020 POTUS bid, “Senator Warren is a candidate on the cusp,” according to a prominent Massachusetts-based pollster.

“In many ways she’s a candidate in-between,” David Paleologos tells InsideSources. Paleologos is director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston.  “Warren’s definitely a viable candidate, no doubt about that. But she’s neither a top-tier candidate nor a long shot. She’s not a new face, but she’s not an old hand like [former VP Joe] Biden or [Sen. Bernie] Sanders, either.  She’s on the cusp in many ways.”

While the 69-year-old Massachusetts senator’s announcement has been long expected, the timing–on New Years Eve, and early in the cycle while other big names remain on the sidelines–is somewhat surprising. Traditionally, top-tier candidates tend to sit and wait, attempting to build up some drama before the big announcement. Warren’s decision to jump in early may be her campaign acknowledging their back-of-the-pack position.

“Her decision to enter early is clearly an acknowledgment that she has considerable work to do with early state voters (and major donors) to repair the self-inflicted damage of her attempt to put the Native American question behind her,” says CNN’s Chris Cillizza. 

Joel Payne, a DC-based Democratic strategist who advised the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, agrees that Warren’s early negatives could be a problem.   “While people point to the Native American heritage uproar,  I think the biggest danger to her candidacy is her high name ID because many voters may already have hardened opinions about her,” he told InsideSources.

And in a series of polls over the past month, those opinions among Democrats aren’t great for Senator Warren. As InsideSources has previously reported, Warren has consistently been out of the top tier of polling among Democrats, behind candidates like Biden, Bernie Sanders and Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke.  In the most recent CNN poll, Warren was the only major Democratic candidate whose approval was underwater (negatives higher than her positives) at 30 percent approve, 32 percent disapprove.  Sen. Sanders, on the other hand, was at 51/35 percent and Joe Biden was at 54/29 percent approval/disapprove.

According to Paleologos, the top tier of candidates is “I don’t know yet” and Joe Biden, with a second-tier that includes Biden, Beto, California Sen. Kamala Harris and New Jersey’s Sen. Cory Booker. “Warren’s in the third tier–another reason she couldn’t afford to wait,” Paleologos said.

This early in the race, Warren’s sagging support among progressives is her biggest challenge. Progressive activists who traditionally energize and deliver voters in primaries have plenty of choices in 2020 (as opposed to 2016 or 2008), and they’ve yet to rally around Liz Warren. Two straw polls of progressive organizations, and Democracy for America, both find Warren trailing the “Three A-Bee-gos,” Biden, Bernie and Beto.  In the DFA straw poll, she’s in fourth place at 8 percent and in the MoveOn poll (the same group that spend about $1 million on the #DraftWarren movement four years ago) she’s in fifth place at 7 percent.

According to the latest Suffolk poll, American’s top wish for Washington, DC is for politicians to work together (29 percent) far higher than more divisive issues like impeaching President Trump (9 percent). That may not bode well for a candidate best known for battling with the president.

Paleologos also notes a Suffolk poll of her own constituents in deep-blue Massachusetts earlier this year that found 58 percent of Bay Staters didn’t want her to run for POTUS in 2020.  The fact that she’s essentially announced her candidacy even before she’s been sworn in to the new US Senate term local voters just gave her shows how concerned her campaign is about their current position in the polls.

“By announcing now, she’s saying ‘I’m serious. I’m in it to win it.’ It shows that she sees a path to victory,” Paleologos said. And that path goes right through New Hampshire.

Jim Demers, a key New Hampshire Democrat, told InsideSources: “As a neighbor, New Hampshire is a must-win state for Senator Warren. Getting in early helps insure she will be in every news story in the coming weeks.” Demers, who’s backing Cory Booker, believes that “the New Hampshire primary is wide open.”

Payne believes Sen. Warren’s hopes could possibly ride on New Hampshire as “her firewall…given its proximity to Massachusetts,” while Paleologos predicts Warren will “play the home girl–twice.”

“First she’ll go to Iowa as the ‘Sooner Sister,’ the fellow Midwesterner running in the caucuses. Then she’ll morph into the ‘New Hampshire Neighbor’ from Massachusetts. After that, she’ll have to hope that some of her fellow progressives have dropped out by the time she gets to South Carolina.”


Warren’s campaign video, also released on New Year’s Eve, certainly highlighted her Oklahoma roots more than she has in the past.  Warren also goes out of her way in the video to attack Ronald Reagan–an interesting decision given that the Gipper’s approval rating among Americans in 2018 was 72 percent.

Fairly or unfairly, Warren continues to struggle with the #Fauxcahontas scandal, a story that many on the Left say has hurt her far more than originally realized. “There just aren’t a lot of Democrats talking about Liz Warren at the top of their list,” one New Hampshire Democratic activist told InsideSources after her announcement. “She’s just not generating much excitement.”

Still, progressives have hardly turned their back on Warren. “Senator Elizabeth Warren’s formal entrance into the 2020 race for President today helps launch what we believe will be a vibrant discussion of bold, inclusive populist ideas in the Democratic Primary, and we look forward to the wide array of progressive candidates that we expect to join her in it in the year ahead,” Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director of Democracy for America told InsideSources in a statement.

Iowa Confirms Early-State Trends: Biden, Bernie and Beto Rise as Warren Wanes

First Politico, then SRSS and now a new CNN/Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers confirms that, in the early going, the top names in the Democratic field are Biden, Bernie and–surprise!–Beto.

In Iowa, Biden’s at the top of the pack with 32 percent support, followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders at 19 percent and Rep. Beto O’Rourke at 11 percent. They were the only people in double-digits.

On the same day the poll was released, dozens of grassroots supporters gathered in Manchester, NH for a “Day of Action” organized by the Draft Beto 2020 movement.

The Iowa numbers are similar to a recent Politico poll of Democrats nationwide: Biden 26 percent, Sanders 19 percent and O’Rourke at 8 percent. The three Democrats shared the same ranking in another CNN poll, conducted by SRSS, of Democrats across the country: Biden 30 percent, Sanders 14 percent and O’Rourke 9 percent.

In all of the latest polling, Liz Warren lags behind the top tier of candidates.

While Beto’s numbers, hovering around 10 percent, aren’t particularly impressive, the fact that he consistently ranks ahead of more established candidates–Sen. Elizabeth Warren in particular–is a sign of how he’s sparked interest among Democrats. A year ago, the Texas congressman was virtually unknown outside his district while Sen. Warren was viewed as a front-runner. Today, Warren’s suffered high-profile setbacks while O’Rourke has inspired a movement to pull him into the primary.


A group of Beto O’Rourke supporters gathered in Manchester NH for a Day of Action


Other numbers that should concern Sen. Warren are the favorable/unfavorable ratings from Iowa caucus goers. While Joe Biden’s favorables are extremely high at 82 percent and his unfavorables are a low 15 percent, Warren’s numbers are a more modest 64 percent approval, 20 percent disapproval. That 20 percent is the highest negative numbers among Iowa Democrats (Though nowhere close to Hillary Clinton’s gasp-inducing 47 approve/49 disapprove.)

For his part, O’Rourke acknowledged to the Dallas Morning News that the question of his preparedness for the job of president is a legitimate one.  “I ask it myself,” he said.

“I just don’t feel comfortable talking to anybody in Iowa or New Hampshire, because I don’t want to stoke. I just truly have not made a decision or even really begun the serious work of making a decision, so I just don’t want to lead anyone to think that we’re doing something or not doing something.”

But that’s not stopping Democrats across the country from expressing true interest in his candidacy. So much so that, according to the AP, the Biden camp is considering an “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” strategy, floating a Biden/Beto ticket for 202o.

The Associated Press reports that past and current advisers to Biden, 76, have expressed some “concerns about age” and have raised the possibility of O’Rourke, 47, as a possible running mate. If 76 sounds old, keep in mind that Biden’s fellow front-runner, Bernie Sanders, is 77. He would be 79 if sworn in as president in January 2021.

This may be part of the reason why so many Democrats are taking a second look at a fresh new face like Beto’s.