WASHINGTON (CNN) – Our weekly roundup of the news, notes and chatter about the prospects for the next Democratic presidential race:
Asked during an event in Sacramento last week whether she would pledge to refuse campaign cash from “a corporation or corporate lobbyist,” California Sen. Kamala Harris said: “It depends.”
She explained her position this way: “That’s why we have rules that require that any donation that anyone receives needs to be disclosed. So that (voters) can do an assessment … and look at where the contributions come from and make your decisions about whether those contributions have influenced the way that people act and the way that people vote. And so I am an open book there. Feel free to look at it and then draw your own conclusions about what has motivated me and what hasn’t.”
But will Democratic primary voters accept it? Harris’ colleagues, as we’ve seen in the last few months, don’t think so.
Earlier this year, fellow potential 2020 candidates Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker swore off corporate money. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have done the same. Harris could end up in a lonely spot if this group ever appears together on a primary debate stage.
One more Harris note: She endorsed Aaron Ford for Nevada attorney general last week. That came after she made a visit to the early-voting state. Given the importance of immigration (a Harris focus) in Nevada, its proximity to California and her growing roots there, it could be an indication of where she expects to see her biggest opening in 2020.
WARREN: ‘MY PLAN’ TO SERVE FULL SENATE TERM: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was asked Thursday if she’ll serve a full six-year Senate term — plans that would preclude the presidency in 2020 — if she wins re-election this fall. “It’s certainly my plan,” she said, per The Boston Globe’s Matt Stout. Afterward, she told reporters: “I’m running for United States Senate in 2018. I am not running for president of the United States.”
KANDER HIRES DES MOINES REGISTER’S CHIEF POLITICAL REPORTER: Jason Noble is leaving his position at the heart of 2020 journalism, departing the Des Moines Register to take over communications for Let America Vote, the voting rights-focused organization of Jason Kander, the former Missouri secretary of state and a 2020 prospect.
HICKENLOOPER: TODAY’S DIVISIONS AS BAD AS PRE-CIVIL WAR: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper compared the current state of American politics and culture to that of Antebellum times. “We are seeing a divide in this country that is as significant as when we had slave states and anti-slavery states,” he told Politico. “This rural-urban divide, people in rural areas of Colorado and across the country feel like the urban areas have just left them behind and don’t care.”
Also from that chat: Given the chance, Hickenlooper did not rule out a presidential bid. No surprise there. Asked about running on a unity ticket with his friend, Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the Democrat pretty much put any speculation to bed, saying they “just disagree on a lot of important core stuff.”
SANDERS’ VISIT TO MISSISSIPPI DRAWS A CROWD — AND SOME CONTROVERSY: Asked during a Wednesday town hall event in Jackson, Mississippi, how he planned to keep his movement on track, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders began by dissing the Democratic Party’s “business model,” a case he’s been making for a long time. It’s what came next that set off the Twitter wars: “People sometimes don’t see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama, who won the presidency in 2008 and 2012,” he said. “(Obama) was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy. But behind that reality, over the last 10 years, Democrats have lost about 1,000 seats in state legislatures all across this country.”
Again, pretty much the standard Sanders argument. But the timing — on the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination — rankled some Dems, especially those who remain skeptical/disdainful of his rise. BuzzFeed’s Ruby Cramer and Darren Sands looked at the argument that followed from all angles.
CUOMO COVERS HIS LEFT: Another week, another reason ambitious Democratic officeholders should be keeping a close eye on New York: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, under pressure from progressives, rushed to close a deal last week that will reunite Empire State Democrats after a seven-year schism that helped guarantee Republican control of the state Senate. The reconciliation means the eight members of the so-called Independent Democratic Conference will rejoin mainline Democrats and, if all goes as expected, help the party reclaim a majority in Albany. (When and how that actually happens is a longer story.)
Cuomo’s decision to speed up the pact — it was negotiated in November but not scheduled to go into effect until later this month — comes as progressives are gaining momentum up and down the ballot. At a press conference on Wednesday, Cuomo denied that Cynthia Nixon’s primary challenge inspired him to act, instead pointing to state special elections in a few weeks.
THE ROCK ON WHY HE’S PASSING ON 2020: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson generated — and encouraged — a bit of 2020 buzz previously. But he told Rolling Stone that the job needs someone with years of experience on the local, state and national level. “What I’m sensing now is that we have to pivot back to people who have a deep-rooted knowledge of American history and politics and experience in policy and how laws get made,” he said.
Former Vice President Joe Biden is reportedly telling Wall Street allies he’ll run in 2020, but only if President Donald Trump seeks re-election. … Biden is heading to Tennessee on Tuesday for a fundraiser for Senate hopeful Phil Bredesen.