The Note: Wide-open 2020 race set for bigger disruptions

The Democratic field needs to make way for some gubernatorial company.

March 1, 2019, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

An unsettled 2020 field is set to get some of its biggest disruptions yet.

The senators and House members who make up the bulk of the Democratic field need to make way for some gubernatorial company. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper are among the Democrats widely expected to enter the race.

Former Rep. Beto O' Rourke said he's made up his mind, while former Vice President Joe Biden said his family is on board for him to run. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his billions could soon flood the party's centrist lanes.

The wide-open nature of the race is underscored by the number of Democrats who are staying on the sidelines.

FiveThirtyEight launched its endorsement tracker on Thursday, and it's notable how few big gets have been gotten by anyone. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., has a narrow lead in the tracker, having locked down his state's congressional delegation.

Also changing: the terms of the debate Democrats will have. While early action has forced candidates to respond to the new energy on the party's left, President Donald Trump served up new reminders this week of how and why the race will still be mostly about him.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

From policy to oversight, Democrats this week did almost exactly what they promised to do on the campaign trail.

Wednesday and Thursday, the House passed two pieces of gun safety legislation: one that would require background checks for private gun purchases at gun shows and online, and a second that would increase the amount of time a seller has to wait for a completed background check.

PHOTO: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters in the Capitol, Feb. 28, 2019. Pelosi spoke primarily about the gun control legislation that passed the House.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks to reporters in the Capitol, Feb. 28, 2019. Pelosi spoke primarily about the gun control legislation that passed the House.
Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Shutterstock

Earlier in the week, House Democrats introduced legislation aimed at protecting voting rights, while more of the progressive members in the party made good on promises to move the needle on criminal justice and health care reform. None of those bills likely will see the light of day in the Republican-controlled Senate, but Democrats seem to be undeterred, marching forward with their own agenda.

Similarly, in that blockbuster hearing with Michael Cohen, the president's former personal attorney and fixer, Democrats steered clear from any direct talk of impeachment. Instead, their strategy seemed to be to investigate the administration methodically.

The TIP with Adam Kelsey

PHOTO: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan speaks during the National Governor Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington D.C., Feb. 23, 2019.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan speaks during the National Governor Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington D.C., Feb. 23, 2019.
Jose Luis Magana/AP

Late last week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who has said he is open to serving as a primary challenger to Trump, asked a question of the Republican National Committee, with regard to the 2020 election:

"If [Trump] has unanimous support and everybody is on board, why shut down the normal process?" Hogan asked The Washington Post.

The party is incorporating with the president's campaign to fundraise, has made a formal pledge of support for the president and there are some discussions about states canceling their primaries.

In response, a RNC spokesperson told the Post that Trump "doesn't need any assistance to protect him from primary challengers," and chair Ronna McDaniel told the Conservative Political Action Conference Thursday that possible candidates like Hogan "have the right to jump in and lose," begging the question as to why they went to such lengths to preemptively protect the president in the first place.

Are Republicans collectively cutting off their nose to spite their face? Almost a year ago, the party was touting Hogan's immense popularity -- in a relatively blue state, to boot. Hogan isn't yet a national name, but if this is how the GOP treats its -- quantifiably -- best-performing party members, will it alienate those in a position to lead it down the road in its efforts to appease the White House and win in 2020?


After the failed summit with North Korea, there's something profound that President Donald Trump is missing. Before he tries to negotiate again, the president might consider that a man who is willing to starve children, spy on his people and lock up and kill his opponents is not likely to be swayed by the lure of luxury shops on the streets of Vietnam's capital. Read the column from Cokie Roberts.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Friday morning's episode features ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl in Hanoi, who examines the political ramifications of President Donald Trump's Hanoi summit with Kim Jong Un. Then, ABC News' Elizabeth McLaughlin lays out the path forward between the U.S. and North Korea. And ABC News' Aaron Katersky tells us why Republicans want Michael Cohen investigated for perjury.

FiveThirtyEight's "Politics" Podcast. In a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen spent much of the day answering questions about Trump's actions and Cohen's own credibility. The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast crew breaks down what parts of Cohen's testimony contained new information and what the hearing says about future Democratic-led probes into Trump's conduct.

Sunday on "This Week": Following President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen's three days of testimony on Capitol Hill, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., come exclusively to "This Week" Sunday. Plus, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee discusses his 2020 plans. And the Powerhouse Roundtable debates the week in politicswith ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd, Republican Strategist and ABC News Contributor Sara Fagen, New York Times White House Correspondent Maggie Haberman and Daily Beast Columnist and New York Times Contributing Opinion Writer Michael Tomasky, author of the new book "If We Can Keep It: How The Republic Collapsed And How It Might Be Saved."


  • Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., appears on ABC's "The View" at 11 a.m.
  • The American Conservative Union hosts day three of its annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Vice President Mike Pence and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney are expected to speak.
  • Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., participates in the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit at 10 a.m. PST in Las Vegas. At 4 p.m. she hosts a town hall meeting.
  • Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., returns to Iowa for organizing events in Dubuque and Elkader.
  • Presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., travels to South Carolina for a series of campaign events.
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, holds three meet-and-greets throughout South Carolina.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back Monday for the latest.

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