Today’s installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* As former Vice President Joe Biden eyes a possible 2020 presidential campaign, he’s faced with the prospect of defending decades’ worth of Senate votes, some of which may be problematic for much of his party’s progressive base. Yesterday, the Delaware Democrat expressed regrets for his votes on criminal justice bills in the 1980s and 1990s.
* Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will reportedly be in South Carolina today, where he’s scheduled to meet with the state’s legislative black caucus and the full Democratic caucus. With South Carolina being an early presidential primary state, it’s scheduling like this that suggests the Vermont senator is moving closer to a 2020 campaign.
* Hoping to create a rival to the Democrats’ ActBlue initiative, which had great success in 2018 in collecting small-dollar donations online, Republicans have reportedly created Patriot Pass. According to Politico, under the arrangement reached by party leaders, “Data Trust, the RNC’s designated clearinghouse of voter information, will form a joint venture with Revv, a donation processor used by the Trump campaign. The two entities will form the nucleus of Patriot Pass.”
* In an affidavit filed as part of divorce proceedings, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) reportedly claimed that Donald Trump offered her the Republicans’ vice presidential nomination in 2016, but she turned it down for family reasons. The Iowan was first elected in 2014, and will be up for re-election next year. [Update: Revised reporting now suggests Ernst wasn’t formally offered the VP slot, but she withdrew from consideration before Trump made his selection.]
* A grass-roots Democratic group called Justice Democrats is reportedly recruiting a challenger to take on Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) in a Democratic primary next year. Though Cuellar represents a rather “blue” district, he’s one of Congress’ most conservative Democrats and, by some measures, he voted with Trump’s position most of the time over the last two years.
* Who’s the most vulnerable Democratic senator in the 2020 elections? The Washington Times reported the other day on the enthusiasm among Alabama Republicans to take down Sen. Doug Jones (D). “I’m already calling him, ‘One and Done Doug,’” said state Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan. “Our people are champing at the bit, and I’m telling you it is on fire right now in my state.”
* And though it seems unlikely, Trump World is reportedly keeping an eye on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), in case he decides to run against the president in a GOP primary. Politico reported the other day, “The White House is paying close attention. The president’s political aides have been monitoring the Maryland governor for months, and several said they regarded the inauguration speech as an unmistakable act of aggression. They noted that Trump 2016 primary rival Jeb Bush was a featured speaker at the ceremony, and that Mark Salter, a longtime Republican speechwriter and a fierce Trump critic, helped craft Hogan’s address.”