The 46 year old Texan served three terms in the U.S. House, representing the El Paso area 16th congressional district. He ran for U.S. Senate against incumbent Ted Cruz in 2018. His campaign - and narrow loss to a Senator deeply disliked by Democrats (and even some Republicans) - made O'Rourke a celebrity in progressive circles.
A new poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers finds Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders well ahead in a large Democratic field. The former vice-president receives 27% support, essentially tied with the 25% garnered by the Vermont Senator. While eleven others had measurable support, none received more than 10%.
It is not surprising to see Biden and Sanders as frontrunners. This far out - the caucus is February 3, 2020 - name recognition goes a long way in a poll. That these two are running neck-and-neck is also interesting, as the two represent different wings of the Democratic party that will eventually need to settle on a single nominee that can effectively take on President Trump. Sanders, who challenged eventual nominee Hillary Clinton from the left in 2016, has seen the party move in his direction during the Trump administration. Biden is seen as more centrist - 70% of poll respondents said his political views are "about right", not too conservative or liberal.
Biden has still not announced if he will pursue the presidency in 2020. We should know his decision in the next few weeks. The race takes on a whole new dynamic if he passes, as it is unclear if a single candidate would pick up the bulk of that centrist support, or if it would fragment among others, including former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (if he runs) and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown announced Thursday that he will not pursue the Democratic nomination in 2020. His decision followed a recently completed 'Dignity of Work' tour of several states that have early primary and caucus dates.
Brown is the fifth Democrat to take a pass on 2020 in recent days. The others are 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon and former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that he will not be a candidate for president in 2020. Despite his immense personal wealth, the pro-business Bloomberg would have faced an uphill battle to win the nomination in an increasingly progressive Democratic Party. He published an op-ed discussing his decision, as well as a number of initiatives he will pursue, including one called Beyond Carbon.
Bloomberg is also expected to focus his efforts on stopping Donald Trump from winning a second term. It was reported earlier this year that he is building a data-driven political organization to achieve that goal, which was to be active regardless of whether or not he entered the race.
This week has seen three other Democrats announcing their decision not to run. This includes the party's 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, as well as former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley both said they will not run for president in 2020. Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee, had not been expected to run but this is the first time she has said that on camera. The statement came during an interview with News 12 of Long Island.
Separately, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley released a video announcing he will seek a third term in 2020 rather than pursue a long-shot bid for the Democratic nomination. Under Oregon law, he could not be on the ballot for both offices.
There are 12 Democrats in the 2020 field, including six of Merkley's Senate colleagues. Another 12 prospective candidates have yet to make their plans known. The list includes several high-profile names, led by former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Biden's drawn-out process for making a 2020 decision, while strategically smart for him, is affecting the timing and prospects of a number of other potential candidacies.
9th District: The North Carolina Board of Elections has set September 10th as the date for a special election to fill the vacancy in the state's 9th congressional district. The seat has been vacant since the beginning of the 116th Congress in January. An apparent narrow GOP win in the midterm elections was not certified due to election fraud.
There will not be a rematch of the November race. While Democrat Dan McCready will seek his party's nomination to try again, Republican Mark Harris will not run. The primaries will be held on May 14th. If a second primary is required*, it will take place on September 10th, with the general election pushed to November 5th.
3rd District: This district became open in February, when Rep. Walter Jones (R) passed away. Gov. Roy Cooper has set July 9th as the special election date. A primary will be held on April 30th. If a second primary is required, it will take place on July 9th, and the general election will take place on September 10th.
There is a third congressional vacancy, in Pennsylvania's 12th district. Rep. Tom Marino (R) resigned in January. A special election will be held May 21st.
In terms of competitiveness, NC-3 and PA-12 are very likely to stay under GOP control. NC-9 is a toss-up.
* Per North Carolina law, a second primary (runoff) is held when no candidate receives 30% of the vote in the regular primary.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper joined an increasingly crowded 2020 Democratic field on Monday.
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Hickenlooper served two terms as Colorado's governor; he was unable to run again in 2018 due to term limits. He joins Washington's Jay Inslee as the only state executives among the 12 announced Democratic candidates; 6 of whom are U.S. Senators. Hickenlooper is socially liberal and pro-business, and is among the more centrist candidates in the field.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday that we will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. Inslee made the announcement via a video focused almost entirely on climate change. In the video, Inslee says he's running for president "because I'm the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation's number one priority."
The team at Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball is out with their initial look at the 2020 presidential election. They see the race starting as a toss-up, although few states are individually characterized that way. Their analysis gives the GOP a 248-244 edge, although Democrats have the edge in states that are safely in their column. The map is below; click for an interactive version.
Notably, Florida starts with a leans Republican designation, while Michigan is seen as leans Democratic. Both these states were narrowly carried by President Trump in 2016. Florida statewide elections, while always close, have mostly broken for the GOP in recent years. This includes the Senate and gubernatorial races in the just-completed midterms. Of the blue wall states flipped by Trump in 2016, Michigan was the closest, with 2018 results and demographics making the eventual Democratic nominee a slight favorite next year.
Both these rating characterizations appear to have been close calls. Perhaps the most important takeaway at this early stage is the implication should the ratings shift in the opposite direction: "Just as we think Florida going blue would probably mean a Democratic presidential victory, so too do we believe that a Republican win in Michigan probably would mean that the GOP is retaining control of the White House. So if we move either to Toss-up, it may mean that a favorite is emerging in the presidential race overall."
The Road to 270
This feature can be found below the interactive electoral map. As you shift the forecast, the number of paths to 270 electoral votes will automatically update. Click 'View all Combinations' to see the specific combinations associated with the undecided states on your electoral map.
For the initial Sabato forecast, with only four states (and one Nebraska district) starting as toss-up, the number of pathways to 270 for each party is very small. Two tie scenarios remain possible. The image below is a composite from the details page associated with the map.
Here are the 2020 consensus ratings for Senate, House and Governor. At this time, they are based on the initial ratings of three forecasters: Sabato's Crystal Ball, The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections. We'll keep this map updated and likely add more projections as they become available.
Click any of the maps for the permanent URL, as well as an interactive version. Note that only races seen as safe by all three forecasters are given the darkest shade of red/blue on the map. This allows for the broadest look at the competitive landscape.
Senate 34 seats will be contested in 2020, including a special election in Arizona. 22 are held by the GOP, 12 by Democrats. To take control, Democrats will need to gain 3 or 4 seats.
As is the case every two years, all 435 seats will be up for election in 2020. Democrats currently hold 235 seats to 197 for the GOP. There are three vacancies; all were previously held by Republicans. If we assume those will stay in Republican hands*, that party will need to gain 18 seats to regain the control lost in the 2018 midterms.
Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi hold gubernatorial elections in 2019, with 11 more states to follow in 2020. Despite the deep-red lean of these states in presidential contests, all three races are seen as competitive, helped by the fact that they are taking place in an off-year. The country's governorships are roughly split between the two parties, with Republicans holding 27 of the 50.
* Two of these, NC-3 and PA-12, are safe GOP seats. NC-9 is much more of a toss-up. That seat has been vacant since the start of this Congress, as the November results here were not certified due to fraud allegations. A new election was recently ordered by the North Carolina Board of Elections. The Pennsylvania special election will be held on May 21; the North Carolina dates are not yet known.