Two congressional Republicans announced Monday that they wouldn’t return to office in 2020, albeit for very different reasons.
New York Congressman Chris Collins submitted his resignation letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one day before he is expected to plead guilty to insider trading charges. Cheryl Couser of the New York State Board of Elections told CBS News Political Unit Broadcast Associate Aaron Navarro a vacancy in Congress is fillable by special election as long as the seat opens up before July 1, 2020.
President Trump won Collins’ Western New York district by 24 points, and Collins had 30-plus point wins in 2014 and 2016. His .3% win in 2018, however, has made his district a target for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In Texas, Congressman Mac Thornberry announced he’d forego re-election in 2020 and said in a statement “it was time for a change,” report Navarro and CBS News Political Unit Associate Producer Eleanor Watson. Thornberry has been in office since 1995, but is now part of a group of six Texas GOP House members heading for the exits. In total, 20 House Republicans have either announced retirement (13), resignation (3) or that they’d seek another office (4).
Thornberry was the first Texan to be chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He served two terms as chairman and is now a ranking member, reaching the three-term limit for House Republicans. Two others from that committee, Mike Conaway of Texas and Rob Bishop of Utah, are also not running for re-election. Thornberry’s seat is historically Republican and he was re-elected with more than 80 percent of the vote in 2018.
Democrats have been making heavy investments in the Lone Star State, hoping to build off the large number of GOP retirements and flip the state blue in 2020. Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey said they’ll continue to work with Thornberry and the national party to find a “qualified, conservative candidate” to run for his seat in 2020. “We will continue to fight to keep Texas red in 2020 and beyond,” Dickey said in a statement.
FROM THE CANDIDATES
A group of 8 to 10 long-time Biden supporters with deep pockets are mulling starting a super PAC in support of the former vice president to ensure an “adequate defense system” to fend off attacks in the “two-front war with the primaries and in the middle of this assault by Trump and Giuliani,” reports CBS News Campaign Reporter Bo Erickson.
The group has met and plans to decide within the next month if they are moving forward with the PAC, according to the group’s ringleader, Larry Rasky. Rasky was Biden’s communications director in his two previous bids for the presidency.
“It’s a bit of a coin flip,” Rasky told CBS News about the likelihood they follow through with these plans. He said the group is approaching the topic “gingerly” as both Biden and his campaign have made very clear that they do not in any way want help from this outside group.
The versatility of super PACs is a draw for this group as they can raise unlimited sums of money and spend unlimited sums to help or hinder political candidates.
“There’s no question that it could be useful to have additional fire power behind the campaign,” Rasky said. “We don’t want to do anything that will draw ire of primary opponents and get caught up in the way that adversely impacts the campaign.”
Biden’s rivals like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren already criticize Biden’s big-dollar fundraising circuit. Biden’s fundraising activities have been relatively transparent, however, and his campaign allows a print pool representative into each of his private fundraisers.
“Our motives are pure to the extent they can be,” Rasky said. “We don’t want to do anything to piss off the boss.”
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker’s presidential campaign announced Monday morning that the campaign reached its $1.7 million fundraising goal for the third quarter fundraising deadline, which is tonight. CBS News Campaign Reporter Jack Turman says in a memo sent out on September 21st, Booker’s campaign manager, Addisu Demissie, wrote that the campaign needed to reach this fundraising goal in order to expand its organization to continue competing for the Democratic nomination.
“Thanks to this outpouring of support, we see a viable path forward to continue growing a winning campaign,” Booker said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m staying in this race – and I’m in it to win.”
Montana Governor Steve Bullock is looking to be the first and maybe the only Democrat in the race who accepts public financing for his campaign.
Candidates opting for public financing of their campaigns have waned since George W. Bush rejected the assistance in 2000. In return for federal funding, candidates must agree to certain limits on their spending.
“As the only candidate for President who is choosing to participate in the public finance process, Governor Bullock is leading with his values and defending our shared belief that our democracy should never be for sale to the highest bidder,” campaign manager Jennifer Ridder said in a memo provided to The Associated Press and forwarded to reporters.
CBS News Campaign Reporter Musadiq Bidar says the public financing program is funded by those who check a box on their tax forms and opt to donate $3. This offers candidates up to a $250 match on all donations they receive. Bullock raised roughly $2 million during the second quarter and in the memo his campaign said “this is a key part of our strategy to ensure we have the financial resources to be competitive as the early states prepare to vote.”
In 2016, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley received about $1 million in public financing and Green Party candidate Jill Stein got about $450,000.
Longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party stalwarts Mary and John Rauh are backing Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the 2020 presidential primary. Mary Rauh co-chaired President Barack Obama’s New Hampshire campaign during his 2008 bid. John Rauh, the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee in 1992, told CBS News Campaign Reporter Nicole Sganga that Buttigieg possesses an “early base” in the Granite State with the potential for significant growth.
“I guess the average of the recent polls show him around 7%. That’s a beginning,” Rauh said, “but just a beginning. We’re also not seeing the leaders — particularly Senator Warren and obviously the vice president – at 35 or 45%. Which says there’s an opportunity. We’re a long way from early February.”
Rauh adds that while moving the California primary earlier does have “important impact” on the campaign calendar, candidates with a lower profile like Buttigieg must introduce themselves to early state voters. “For Pete, clearly, the early states are very, very important.”
Buttigieg has spent a total of 17 days campaigning in New Hampshire, opening 12 offices in the first-in-the-nation state this month.
Speaking with reporters after a town hall in Nevada, Iowa, Tulsi Gabbard said she is concerned that “impeachment has been something that has been used as a partisan talking point to undo the results of the 2016 election.”
The Hawaii congresswoman said that, in her view, the American people need to be on the ones whose votes and voices defeat President Trump in 2020. When asked if Democrats are stuck on trying to undo the results of the 2016 election, Gabbard said, “there certainly have been a lot of voices who’ve been looking for a reason to impeach Trump because they did not want to accept the outcome of the 2016 election, which is unfortunate.”
CBS News Campaign Reporter Musadiq Bidar says Gabbard warned that if a Democrat wins in 2020, “Republicans will say, you know what, we don’t like the results of that election, and we’re going to find any reason whatsoever to impeach to undo the results of the election.” Gabbard added it is essential the impeachment inquiry remain “very narrowly focused” on the issues raised by the intelligence community whistleblower in regards to Mr. Trump’s July 25th phone call with the President of Ukraine.
“It needs to be done very quickly so that it doesn’t turn into yet another partisan political weapon tool, talking point that will only further tear apart an already divided nation.”
During the town hall, Gabbard told a crowd of about 50 people that those in Washington are very attached to labels but also “confused” about what box to put her in because she’s “not in lock step with anybody.” Gabbard wrapped up her 12th trip to Iowa where she held 25 campaign events during the month of September. She spent 14 days in Hawkeye State this month, the most time she has spent here since launching her campaign.
On Monday, Senator Amy Klobuchar announced endorsements from six community and party activists. Among them are former Pottawattamie County Vice Chair and rural Democratic activist Mary Anne Kuhr, according to CBS News Campaign Reporter Musadiq Bidar. Kuhr said she has been impressed with Klobuchar since she was first elected to the Senate. “She works across the aisle and is bipartisan in her approach to getting this done for our country,” Kuhr said in a statement provided by the campaign.
Other endorsers announced by Klobuchar today include mental health and civil rights activists. Klobuchar now has earned 30 total endorsements in the state of Iowa. Among those are 13 current and former elected officials from Iowa, the most of any presidential candidate.
“It’s one thing to dislike Trump,” Senator Bernie Sanders told crowds gathered in Hooksett, New Hampshire Monday morning. “It’s another thing to impeach him.”
In response to a voter question about the impeachment process, the Vermont lawmaker ran through a list of possible offenses – “obstruction of justice” based on the Mueller reporter, possible violation of the Emoluments Clause, plus this “Ukrainian business.”
Sanders detailed his thinking on the matter, noting he wants to listen to all of the evidence, reports CBS News Campaign Reporter Nicole Sganga. “I’m going to be sitting as a jury,” he added, before pivoting to his Republican colleagues. “It’s one thing to have Trump as president, but what has really astounded me – and I think many Americans – is the more or less the collapse of the Republican Party. And it has become so subservient and so fearful of this type of President.”
While campaigning in Brentwood, New Hampshire on Monday, Sanders shot down the notion that possible impeachment would overshadow the presidential contest: “I think the United States congress is capable of walking and chewing bubble gum at the same time. I think if we have a president who is corrupt, who has violated the law, who violated his oath of office and constitution of the United States, he has to be impeached. But that doesn’t mean Congress should ignore the needs of working people all over this country.”
Sanders also confirmed to press he met with Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez this weekend. The first-term New York lawmaker is seen as having one of the most coveted endorsements in Democratic politics, and has spoken highly of Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the past.
Cory Booker is now the second of the 2020 candidates – following Elizabeth Warren earlier this month – to oppose the Air Force’s proposed expansion into Nevada’s Desert National Wildlife Refuge, according to CBS News Campaign Reporter Alex Tin.
For decades, the military has reserved some 2.9 million acres of federal land northwest of Las Vegas for the Nevada Test and Training Range. Due to be renewed by 2021, the Pentagon claims more space is necessary to modernize the range for “a realistic contemporary operating environment.” A coalition of Nevada conservation activists have fought to block the move, claiming the expansion would “strip protections for wildlife and wildlands and cut off public access.”
“Every candidate who comes to our state needs to let Nevadans know where they stand on protecting our beloved Desert Refuge,” Patrick Donnelly, state director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
ON THE $$$
It’s coming down to the wire for candidates trying to scrape together last minute cash before the fundraising third quarter closes Monday night. CBS News Political Unit Associate Producer Sarah Ewall-Wice reports in a flurry of emails to supporters, campaigns have been fundraising on everything from taking on Mr. Trump to the promise of free stickers and maybe even a text message from a candidate.
The 2020 presidential candidates have also set themselves different goals. Pete Buttigieg was trying to raise $1.5 million since last week. Senator Kamala Harris set a target of $1 million. Andrew Yang announced Monday that his new goal is $2 million by midnight.
This comes as Senator Cory Booker’s campaign announced Monday it had surpassed their goal of raising $1.7 million by September 30th after warning he would have to exit race if he didn’t raise the funds. The campaign has now upped their goal to $2 million by the end of the day.
However, other candidates have been poking fun at the do-or-die approach. Over the weekend, Beto O’Rourke joked he could live stream himself holding a kitten and say he didn’t want anything to happen to it in an appeal for donations. Senator Amy Klobuchar also tweeted a video saying it was suggested that she could tie herself to railroad tracks and threaten she won’t move until people donated, but she wouldn’t.
No matter how a candidate ends up raising cash, they’re required to file with the FEC by October 15th.