The Note: Rush for cash shapes early 2020 moves

The “invisible primary” is bursting into early view, pushed along by money.

The TAKE with Rick Klein

The “invisible primary” is bursting into early view, pushed along -- as always -- by money.

The rush for small-dollar donors is already dominating the early stages of the 2020 Democratic primary race.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., now has an exploratory committee that allows her to solicit donations and has an Iowa trip planned for the weekend. Her unusual New Year’s Eve announcement allowed her to crack open a beer while knowing she’ll have a full quarter to put up big numbers, potentially scaring away other candidates and their would-be financial backers.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., sent out a post-Christmas fundraising appeal with the subject line: “If I run.” He’s asking for just $3. It's an exercise in list maintenance by a potential candidate who knows the value of small donations.

In this era of super PACs, the push to overturn Citizens United and several wealthy, self-funded, potential candidates, how campaigns are financed is shaping up as a major issue for Democrats this presidential cycle.

The first vote is still 13 months away, but the money race could winnow the field a few times, long before the calendar changes over again.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Wednesday is day 12 of the partial government shutdown. Nearly a million federal employees and government contractors went without a paycheck at the start of the new year.

House Democrats at noon Thursday will kick off the new Congress and, with their new majority, formally introduce two bills to end the shutdown. Neither represents a compromise with the president in the slightest, thus, it’s unclear if either will move on to the Senate.

Even the Senate, with its expanded Republican majority, is a different place, as Sen.-elect Mitt Romney served notice in a Washington Post op-ed, where he blasted what he says is a lack of leadership in the White House and talked of repairing a “fiscal foundation” and “setting a course to a balanced budget.”

From the moment President Donald Trump said he would gladly own this standoff, Democrats have felt little pressure from their base to budge.

Democrats had planned to start the new year focused on a big package to reform Washington, recognizing the frustration felt among voters about dysfunction and corruption in government.

It’s ironic, perhaps, that instead, the new year seems to be starting off at an impasse. Both sides might feel they have nothing to lose, but that means neither is seizing the moment to look like the deal maker, extract serious concessions or present themselves as the party capable of crafting a winning solution.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

The freshman class of the 116th Congress will be sworn into office Thursday, but one of the House's 435 seats will remain empty for the time being.

Nearly two months after Election Day, North Carolina's 9th Congressional District remains without a certified winner as the state's Board of Elections continues to investigate allegations of election fraud and incoming Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Friday that his party would oppose the seating of Republican Mark Harris, who claims a 905-vote victory.

Further complicating matters, the elections board formally dissolved Friday, just after denying Harris' emergency petition to be named the winner so he could join the ranks in Washington. It was an action months in the making after the state legislature voted to reorganize the body. Not only did the board's outgoing chair say that the investigation will continue under the supervision of its permanent staff, but he criticized Harris for withholding subpoenaed documents and avoiding an interview.

Over the weekend, Harris said he would meet with Board of Elections staff this week, ahead of a Jan. 11 public hearing on the race's irregularities. But with North Carolina partisans bickering over appointments to the interim elections board and hundreds of thousands of documents to review, it could be weeks or months before we learn who will represent the 9th District, whether by certifying the midterm election or holding a new vote.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning’s episode features ABC News’ Tara Palmeri, who explains the strategy for both sides heading into Wednesday’s meeting between the president and congressional leaders as the government shutdown continues. And, ABC News Deputy Political Director MaryAlice Parks breaks down Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 announcement. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Congressional leaders are scheduled to attend a briefing at the White House on border security at 2:30 p.m.
  • Acting Department of Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will arrive for his first day in his new job at the Pentagon at 6 a.m.
  • The Executive Office of the D.C. mayor holds the swearing-in ceremony for Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser at 10:30 a.m.
  • The U.S. House of Representatives will be in session for a pro forma session at 2 p.m.
  • The U.S. Senate will reconvene at 4 p.m.

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