The Note: Democrats face new urgency around visibility

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s entry into the race gives Dems 22 major candidates.

May 14, 2019, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The invisible primary is about to burst into the open.

A confluence of factors are inserting a sense of urgency into the Democratic primary race, making it feel later than the calendar would suggest.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's entry into the race Tuesday morning gives Democrats 22 major candidates and counting. That means the 20-person, two-night first debates at the end of the June will likely exclude current or former members of Congress and/or current or former governors.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden's solidifying status as a front-runner has forced others to recalibrate their strategies. Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. Cory Booker and former Rep. Beto O'Rourke are among the top-tier contenders who are suddenly doing a whole lot more national interviews. O'Rourke will be on live on ABC's "The View" on Tuesday.

PHOTO: Andrew Yang speaks at the National Action Network (NAN) convention in New York City, April 4, 2019.
Andrew Yang speaks at the National Action Network (NAN) convention in New York City, April 4, 2019.
Michael Brochstein/Sopa Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Lesser-known candidates are getting fresh attention too. Andrew Yang's campaign is boasting of 5,000 RSVPs for a rally Tuesday in New York City, as the entrepreneur's online "Yang Gang" gets some in-real-life notice.

The battle for votes will come. For now, the fight among Democrats is for a most valuable commodity in the Trump era: attention.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

With a Democratic base hot on the notion of "electability," Montana's Bullock enters the crowded Democratic presidential primary with a unique appeal.

"As a Democratic governor in a state Trump won by 20 points, I don't have the luxury of only talking to people who agree with me," Bullock said in his video announcing his candidacy.

Though he is the 22nd Democratic candidate to jump in, Bullock argues that he is the only one who won in 2016 in a red state, on the ballot next to President Donald Trump, and that his experience and success in Montana could be more important in 2020than personality.

PHOTO: Montana Governor Steve Bullock campaigning at a democrats gathering in Livingston, Montana on July 2, 2016.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock campaigning at a democrats gathering in Livingston, Montana on July 2, 2016.
William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

Bullock will zero in on top-line accomplishments, too, as he launches his campaign, including legislative wins on key Democratic issues, such as net neutrality, women's health, public education and fighting dark money in politics.

Though he is far from the only candidate positing he could win in red and purple parts of the country -- cue former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro -- his track record stands out. Now, he will need to convince voters that Montana is not just an oddity and that there is reason to make time to learn about yet another candidate.

The TIP with with Ben Siegel

As Democrats tangle with Attorney General William Barr over access to the full Mueller report -- and have threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress -- five House chairmen have reiterated their requests for documents and testimony related to the administration's decision not to defend the Affordable Care Act in court against a challenge from GOP attorneys general.

Last week, the administration officially declared its opposition to the law, arguing that it is unconstitutional. In the letter -- sent the same day as House lawyers squared off against Trump's legal team in federal court over a subpoena for his financial records -- Democrats suggested that they would seek compulsory compliance if the Justice Department ignores the request.

The letter comes as Democrats plan to take up a number of proposals on the House floor this week focused on health care and prescription drug costs.


ABC News' "Start Here" podcast.

Tuesday morning's episode features ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran on China's new tariffs against the U.S. Then ABC News' Devin Dwyer explains why liberals are alarmed by a Supreme Court decision to overturn a 41-year-old precedent.

ABC News' "The Investigation" podcast.

In this episode of "The Investigation," as Democrats in Congress continue their battle with the Trump White House, Jane Sherburne, former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, joins the podcast and tells Senior Executive Producer and Co-host Chris Vlasto that when it comes to how the Trump White House is responding to Congress, "Just saying no … was not something in our lexicon." Using her own experience, managing the team that responded to an ethics investigation during Clinton's first term, Sherburne tells "The Investigation" that we could be living through a constitutional crisis if the Trump White House is "really serious about stiffing Congress." Sherburne shares her thoughts on impeachment proceedings and the big mistake she thinks House Democrats are making. Senior Congressional Correspondent Mary Bruce also updates on all the latest happenings on Capitol Hill.

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