The Daily Brew: September’s Democratic presidential debate lineup is set

Today’s Brew highlights the latest debate news and previews today’s presidential update webinar + reviews the latest local political news from around the U.S.  
The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, April 29, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Ten candidates qualify for September’s Democratic presidential debate
  2. Local Roundup
  3. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announces he’s retiring at the end of 2019

Ten candidates qualify for September’s Democratic presidential debate

The Democratic National Committee announced the 10 candidates who qualified for the party’s third presidential debate in Houston on September 12. They are as follows:

  • Joe Biden
  • Cory Booker
  • Pete Buttigieg
  • Julián Castro
  • Kamala Harris
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Beto O’Rourke
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Andrew Yang

Candidates were required to provide verifiable evidence that they received donations from at least 130,000 unique donors with a minimum of 400 unique donors per state in at least 20 states. Candidates were also required to have received 2% support or more in four national or early state polls—Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and/or Nevada—publicly released between June 28 and August 28. 

Eleven candidates did not qualify for this debate. Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, and Marianne Williamson all achieved the fundraising threshold but did not meet the polling threshold. The other eight candidates—Kirsten Gillibrand, Michal Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, Wayne Messam, Tim Ryan, and Joe Sestak—did not meet either threshold in time to qualify. Gillibrand announced late yesterday that she was ending her presidential campaign.

ABC News and Univision are hosting the debate, which will take place at Texas Southern University. Candidates will have one minute and 15 seconds to answer questions and 45 seconds for rebuttals.

We’re also excited to announce the launch of a brand new Learning Journey on Iowa and New Hampshire’s role in the presidential nominating calendar. Our Learning Journeys give you a series of daily emails with information, examples, and exercises to help you broaden your knowledge of U.S. government and politics. This Learning Journey guides you through the history of why Iowa and New Hampshire are so important in presidential elections and how the results of the early primaries can affect the rest of the presidential election cycle. I’m really looking forward to taking this one myself—click here to get started.

And to catch up on all the presidential news from the past few months, join Emily Aubert and me for today’s quarterly presidential briefing webinar at 11 a.m. Central time. Emily is one of the primary authors of our daily and weekly Presidential News Briefing newsletters and she and I will discuss who’s in and who’s out in both parties, upcoming debates, and how the early state contests are shaping up. You won’t want to miss this as we examine the current state of the 2020 presidential race and what’s likely to happen next. Click the link below to reserve your spot!

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Free briefing

Local Roundup 

At Ballotpedia, we love local elections. We provide election coverage of all officeholders in the nation’s 100 largest cities—including mayors, city council members, and other municipal officers like city clerk and treasurer. We also cover every election on the ballot in these cities, such as special districts, county officials, and local ballot measures. With more than 585,000 elected officials nationwide, nearly all elections happen at the hyper-local level.

Here’s a quick summary of the local news we covered this week:


Phoenix residents rejected two citizen initiatives—Propositions 105 and 106—at an August 27 special election. Proposition 105 would have terminated funding for future light rail expansion in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area and allocated revenue from the transportation tax towards other infrastructure projects. Proposition 106 would have required the city to limit budget growth and devote a greater portion of its budget to pay down its $4.5 billion pension debt. 

St. Petersburg, Florida

St. Petersburg held primary elections August 27 for three seats on its eight-member city council. Two districts featured incumbents running for re-election and both received a majority of votes in their races. The top two vote recipients in each of the primaries advanced to the general election, which is scheduled for November 5. St. Petersburg is the fifth-largest city in Florida and the 77th-largest city in the U.S. by population. 

Tucson, Arizona

City Councilwoman Regina Romero defeated two other candidates August 27 to win the Democratic mayoral primary. Romero received 50% of the vote and second-place finisher Steve Farley—who endorsed Romero after the primary—had 38%. Romero is vying to be Tucson’s first female mayor and will face independent candidate Edward Ackerley and Green Party write-in candidate Mike Cease in the general election November 5. No Republican candidate filed to run. Incumbent Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (D) did not seek a third term.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announces he’s retiring at the end of 2019 

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced yesterday that he was resigning as of the end of 2019 due to health concerns. In a statement, Isakson said, “With the mounting health challenges I am facing, I have concluded that I will not be able to do the job over the long term in the manner the citizens of Georgia deserve. It goes against every fiber of my being to leave in the middle of my Senate term, but I know it’s the right thing to do on behalf of my state.”

He is the first senator to announce his resignation during the 116th Congress and is the fifth senator—four Republicans and one Democrat—not seeking re-election in 2020. 

Fourteen U.S. House members—11 Republicans and three Democrats—have announced they will not seek re-election in 2020. Two—one Republican and one Democrat—are running for seats in the U.S. Senate and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) is running for governor.

Under Georgia law, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) will appoint Isakson’s replacement until a special election is held on November 3, 2020, to fill the remainder of Isakson’s term—which would have expired in January 2023. In that special election, all candidates will appear on the ballot regardless of party. If no candidate receives a majority, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff in January 2021. Since the seat currently held by Sen. David Perdue (R) is also up for election, both of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats will be on the ballot in November 2020. 

Isakson’s announcement comes two days after Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) stated on August 26 that he was resigning in September due to family considerations. On his Facebook page, Duffy said, “With much prayer, I have decided that this is the right time for me to take a break from public service in order to be the support my wife, baby and family need right now.” Upon Duffy’s resignation, a special election will be held to elect a new representative in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District.

Isakson was first elected to the Senate in 2004 to replace retiring incumbent Zell Miller (D). He won re-election campaigns in both 2010 and 2016. 

In 2018, 52 members of the House and three U.S. Senators did not seek re-election. Forty House members and five Senators did not seek re-election in 2016.