Today’s installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* In a bit of a surprise, Tom Steyer, a progressive billionaire philanthropist and environmentalist, announced yesterday that he won’t run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. This will probably help prevent the field from reaching 30 people.
* We don’t yet know whether Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will launch another presidential campaign, but if he does, the senator’s team will not be led by Jeff Weaver, his longtime staffer who oversaw Sanders’ 2016 operation.
* In Iowa, where Rep. Steve King (R) won a competitive re-election fight a couple of months ago, the far-right congressman has a new electoral challenge: state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R) will launch a primary challenge against the incumbent next year.
* Speaking of primary challenges, we don’t yet know whether Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) will seek a second term later this year, but if he does, he’ll face an opponent for the Republican nomination: state Rep. Robert Goforth (R) kicked off his gubernatorial candidacy this week.
* The latest polling report from Gallup shows that none of Congress’ leaders are especially popular, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) enjoys a higher favorability rating than Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
* With Sen. Pat Roberts (R) retiring in Kansas this year, there’s likely to be a crowded GOP field to replace him. This week, State Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R) – who’s only 30 years old – announced he’s running to succeed Roberts in the U.S. Senate.
* And in a funny moment last night during his State of the Commonwealth address, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) declared, “I am proud to announce I am going to seriously explore a run for president … of the Eastern Shore Antique Car Club.” By one account, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who was on hand for the remarks and who is already eyeing the 2020 presidential race, “almost fainted” during Northam’s joke.