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Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing
Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing provides a curated account of the most important news in the 2020 presidential election.

The 2020 presidential primaries will be momentous, with a host of Democratic contenders vying for the party's nomination to face president Donald Trump.

But staying on top of the already impressive flow of news and developments will be tough, even for political pros.

We’ve got you covered…with our Daily Presidential News Briefing.

The Daily Briefing gives you the news you need, delivered right to your inbox. It’s the kind of coverage you expect from Ballotpedia – just the facts, none of the spin.

You can see for yourself in this sample issue how we are approaching the 2020 election season.

If you like what you see, we hope you will become a subscriber. To do so, just click here.

Oh, and best of all? The Daily Presidential News Briefing is free.

So please – read, share, and don’t forget to subscribe. And if you have feedback on the newsletter, please drop us a line at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Now let’s dive in!

Notable Quote of the Day

“There’s certain things where you just can’t go off in the desert and act like Job in the wilderness. You’ve got to get real, and [Beto O’Rourke] really is showing he can turn it on and get right back in the campaign mode.”
– Jay Surdukowski, New Hampshire co-chair for Martin O’Malley presidential campaign in 2016


Eleven elected officials and notable public figures have announced they are running for president, including members of Congress, mayors, and entrepreneurs. At this time four years ago, no major Democratic candidate had yet entered the race.

Five of the candidates are currently in the U.S. Senate and six are women. Here’s a rundown of who’s who in the Democratic field:

Cory Booker, a U.S. senator and former mayor of Newark, New Jersey announced he was running for president Feb. 1. Booker gained national name recognition with a speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016

Pete Buttigieg—pronounced boot-edge-edge—announced he was running for president Jan 23. Buttigieg was the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents when he was first elected in South Bend, Indiana, in 2011 at age 29. He made an unsuccessful bid for Democratic National Committee chairman in 2017.

Julian Castro, a former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development and San Antonio mayor, formally announced his candidacy Jan. 12. Castro was on Hillary Clinton’s shortlist of potential vice presidential running mates in 2016.

John Delaney, a former U.S. representative from Maryland, was the first notable Democrat to enter the race, filing to run more than 18 months ago. Delaney has focused on Iowa, having already traveled to all 99 counties and opened six field offices.

Tulsi Gabbard (D), a U.S. representative from Hawaii, formally declared her candidacy Feb. 2. Gabbard is an Iraq War veteran who currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee. Gabbard is also the first Hindu elected to Congress and wrote an op-ed about religious freedom and her candidacy in January.

Kirsten Gillibrand, a U.S. senator from New York, announced Jan. 15 she was running for president. Gillibrand was the first Democratic senator to call for former Sen. Al Franken to resign following allegations of sexual misconduct and has made gender equality a central theme of her campaign.

Kamala Harris, a U.S. senator from California, announced Jan. 21 she was running for president. Three members of Congress and 21 of the 28 Democrats in the California State Senate have endorsed her. Susie Tompkins Buell, a Democratic donor who brought in $6 million for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, is also backing Harris.

Amy Klobuchar, a U.S. senator from Minnesota, formally announced she was running for president Sunday. She heads to Iowa and Wisconsin next, signaling her focus on Midwestern states that Trump won in 2016.

Elizabeth Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, formally announced she was running for president on Feb. 9. Warren helped to establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and kicked off her campaign by announcing plans for a wealth tax.

Marianne Williamson, an author known as Oprah Winfrey’s spiritual adviser, announced Jan. 28 she was running for president. Williamson raised $2 million for an independent run in California’s 33rd Congressional District in 2014. She finished fourth in a field of 16 candidates.

Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur from New York, filed to run for president in 2017. Yang is promoting a “Freedom Dividend,” his policy to institute a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for every American adult.

We’re tracking nearly 40 potential Democratic candidates who could enter the presidential race. Here’s the latest on the candidates who have signaled they will soon make a decision:

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) did not rule out a presidential run in an interview. “I’m thinking about everything, I gave myself a deadline of the end of March to make a decision about what I’m going to do next,” she said.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett said he preferred a health care bill to create a public option over establishing Medicare for All. “The agenda that I hear has very little to do with them, very little to do with their future, very little to do with the next generation's future in America," Bennett said of other Democratic presidential candidates.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly nearing a decision on whether to run for president as he considers whether there is a path to victory and the effect his age will have on his chances.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg “is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a data-centric political operation designed to ensure one goal: crush Donald Trump,” according to The Atlantic. Read more here.

Sen. Sherrod Brown said “he understands economically challenged Midwestern voters who helped make Trump president” as he conducts a listening tour across early voting states.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is traveling to New Hampshire Friday to meet with Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess and members of the group Rights & Democracy.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper attended a fundraiser for his leadership PAC, Giddy Up, last week. He said “[t]he more and more I travel, I see that there is an appetite for a leader who not only talks about progressive policies, but who has a proven track record of enacting them.”

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he would make a decision about running for president by March 31.

Rep. Seth Moulton said he was considering running for president. “I’m not definitely running, but I’m going to take a very hard look at it. A very serious look at it. Because I believe it’s time for a new generation of leadership, and we gotta send Donald Trump packing,” he said.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke spoke at the “March for Truth: Stop the Wall, Stop the Lies” Monday night in El Paso, Texas, less than a mile away from where the president held his first campaign rally of the year.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is also considering a second run for the presidency and is expected to make an announcement by the end of the month.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced in January he was “seriously considering running for president as a centrist independent” rather than a Democrat. He began a cross country book tour last month. Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008, is part of Schultz’s communications team.


No incumbent president seeking re-election in the past century has lost the nomination of his party. An unsuccessful primary challenger can still weaken an incumbent’s chances of winning the general election. In the last 120 years, five incumbent presidents seeking re-election have lost. Four of them faced at least one notable primary challenger.

Since 1996, no incumbent president has faced a serious primary challenge.

Here’s what you need to know about the state of the Republican primary:

President Donald Trump began the year with $19.3 million in his campaign account. The Associated Press reported on the president’s local campaign efforts to prevent a primary challenge in 2020. “One early success for Trump's campaign was in Massachusetts, where Trump backer and former state Rep. Jim Lyons last month defeated the candidate backed by Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, a Trump critic, to serve as the state party chairman,” the article noted.

The Republican National Committee voted unanimously to pass a resolution giving its “undivided support for President Donald J. Trump and his effective Presidency” in January.

Sen. Cory Gardner, who opposed President Donald Trump in 2016, endorsed his re-election bid. “I know what Kamala Harris and I know what Bernie Sanders will do to Colorado, and that’s why I’ll be supporting the president,” he said. Another 2016 Trump critic, Sen. Rob Portman, also endorsed Trump.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is “consulting with aides and national GOP critics of Trump about whether to pursue a White House bid,” The Washington Post reported.

Bill Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts and 2016 Libertarian vice presidential nominee, changed his party affiliation from Libertarian to Republican in January. Weld will speak at the next installment of the New England Council's “Politics & Eggs” series Feb. 15, a classic event for presidential candidates to attend.

Trump critics Sen. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Jeff Flake both said they would not run for president in 2020.

How many presidential candidates can we expect to see in 2020? In 2008, 366 individuals filed to run for president with the FEC. In 2016, the number rose to 1,762.

Save the Date

The first 2020 primaries are less than a year away. Here are some key dates to keep in mind:

February 2019: The Democratic National Committee is expected to announce the host city for the Democratic National Convention. The finalists are Houston, Miami, and Milwaukee. Republicans previously announced they will hold their 2020 convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

June 2019: The first of 12 Democratic primary debates will be held. DNC Chairman Tom Perez said the debates in June and July could be split into two consecutive nights depending on the number of candidates in the race.

Feb. 3, 2020: The Iowa caucuses will be held. On Monday, the Iowa Democratic Party proposed a series of virtual caucuses to be held over six days to make the caucus process more accessible for all registered Democrats. Ten percent of delegates would be allocated based on the results of the virtual caucus. Read more about the plan here.

Feb. 11, 2020: New Hampshire primary.

Feb. 22, 2020: Nevada Democratic caucuses.

Feb. 29, 2020: South Carolina Democratic primary.

March 3, 2020: The first Super Tuesday of the election cycle, with California included for the first time.

What We’re Reading

CNBC: The 2020 merchandise primary has begun — and it could be key to presidential candidates' small-dollar fundraising

FiveThirtyEight: Which Offices Are Good Stepping Stones To The Presidency?

McClatchy DC: These are the Democrats winning the 'Never Trump' Republican primary

Flashback: Feb. 12, 2015

Philadelphia was selected to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016. The city last hosted the Republican National Convention in 2000 when George W. Bush won his party’s nomination. The other 2016 finalists were New York City and Columbus.

We hope you enjoyed this special edition of the Daily Presidential News Briefing! To subscribe instantly, just click here!

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