Socialist Showdown: Can Warren Eclipse Sanders?

The Briefing, Vol. VII, Issue 24

This week:

  • Will Warren become Biden’s true competition?
  • Democrats’ weakness in Iowa
  • Tillis dodges a challenge from Walker

President 2020

Democrats: We now have the list of Democrats who have qualified for the first primary debate, which will be held in two stages on June 26 and June 27. The list includes such wastes of space as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Rep. John Delaney, spiritualist Marianne Williamson,  Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Rep. Tim Ryan (oh yes, he is still running, believe it or not). Among those failing to qualify: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will appear on stage together on night 2, along with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Elizabeth Warren will be the only candidate worth taking seriously on night 1, and that could help her out considerably — or hurt her, depending on how she does.

More Democrats: With California taking a new and earlier position in the Democratic primary, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., has put most of her eggs in her huge hometown Golden State basket.

And why not? As long as you can win most of the delegates in California, no need to worry that you’re only polling at about 7 percent in New Hampshire and Iowa — right?

Well, a new Los Angeles Times poll shows that Democratic voters in California are not really taking Harris’ candidacy seriously. She is in fourth place with 13 percent, behind Joe Biden (22 percent), Elizabeth Warren (18 percent), and Bernie Sanders (17 percent). South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg scored 10 percent.

Obviously, Harris is the less interesting story here. The more interesting story is that Warren is now breaking ahead of Sanders in what has suddenly become a critical state with massive influence in choosing the Democratic nominee. Warren may seem like a poor man’s Sanders in some ways. But from a Democratic perspective, she can boast a higher intersectional victimization quotient (as a woman and perhaps — ahem — a Native American). She also doesn’t have the baggage that many Democrats now impute to Sanders, fairly or not, when they blame him for sabotaging Hillary Clinton in 2016. Finally, Warren is also younger than Sanders by eight years — no small issue, considering that Sanders would be sworn in at age 79 were he to win the 2020 election.

Warren’s disadvantages? First, she lacks a human personality, as her infamous “beer video” showed. She might as well be a female John Kerry. Second, her political judgment is appalling, as her DNA test release demonstrated.

But these are things that Warren has time to work on. If she really does emerge as the alternative to Biden, then Warren at least won’t be weighed down by Sanders’ Soviet baggage.

One caveat: Warren may well share many of HIllary Clinton’s downsides. If Hillary Clinton was the one candidate Trump could beat in 2016, it’s possible that Warren fills that role for 2020.

Senate 2020

Iowa: A new internal poll from the campaign of Democratic Des Moines businessman Eddie Mauro shows him losing to incumbent Sen. Joni Ernst, R, 58 to 33 percent. It also shows DSCC-backed businesswoman Theresa Greenfield, D, losing by a similar 56 to 34 percent. Presumably, he released this poll because he wanted to show that he is not that his own chances are not really that much worse than the other Democrat. Not that it matters too much, but Ernst’s lead persisted after the push portion of the poll — i.e., after voters were exposed to Democratic propaganda against Ernst.

North Carolina: Rep. Mark Walker, R, has opted against challenging Sen. Thom Tillis, R, in a primary. That doesn’t quite spare Tillis a challenge — he still faces businessman Garland Tucker — but it means he won’t be facing quite the serious pitched ideological battle he might have otherwise.

House 2020

California-50: Rep. Duncan Hunter, Jr., R, is probably doomed. His wife, whom he had blamed for what appears to be the embezzlement of a very large sum of campaign funds, has decided to plead guilty, which could mean she is cooperating with prosecutors. It’s a good moment to file to run against him, and several Republicans have already done so.

Michigan-3: Rep. Justin Amash, R, made himself the first Republican to support impeachment. An early poll finds him trailing Republican state Rep. Jim Lower, who announced his candidacy last month. Lower leads by 16 points. That’s bad news for the most libertarian member of the current Congress.

Minnesota: Rep. Ilhan Omar, D, constantly in the news over her anti-Semitic slurs against pro-Israel American Jews, is now embroiled in a tax and campaign finance scandal. She has been fined by state board (she used to be a state representative) and must pay about $5,000 in reimbursements and fines. It remains an open question whether she will attract a serious primary challenger who can promise to stop embarrassing her district.

Texas-21: Remember Wendy Davis? The Democratic State Senator who as lionized for her outspoken support for bone- and skull-crushing late-term abortions? The statewide candidate who spent $40 million and did no better than the bottom of the statewide Democratic ticket in 2014? Well, she’s back. She has announced a challenge to conservative Rep. Chip Roy, R, in 2020. Roy won his putatively safe GOP district by less than three points in 2018.

Texas-28: With socialism overtaking the Democratic Party, it stands to reason that a far-left Democrat would take on a moderate like Rep. Henry Cuellar, D. Jessica Cisneros, D, has received the backing of the AOC-associated Justice Democrats in her challenge against Cuellar.