Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: September 21-27, 2019

 Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing

Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the events that matter in the 2020 presidential election. 

Now, we’re bringing you the highlights from our daily briefings in a weekly format so you can stay up-to-date on the 2020 election with one weekly email.   

Here’s the latest from the campaign trail.

Candidates by the Number


There are 12 new candidates running since last week, including two Democrats, two Republicans, and one Libertarian. In total, 876 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quotes of the Week

“It’s a national primary based on the worst foundation: Name identification and money. And we’re supposed to be the party of ideas.”

– Dave Nagle, former U.S. representative from Iowa

“When I hear the critique that our grassroots fundraising threshold catalyzed perverse behavior, with all due respect, we gave candidates unprecedented access to earned media, not just through the debates and the low threshold for getting on the debates, but we worked with CNN and MSNBC — don’t just do a town hall with the perceived front-runners, give everybody a shot.”

– Tom Perez, Democratic National Committee chairman

“For Democrats running for president, breaking through on healthcare or the economy just got a lot tougher. Impeachment will be the dominant topic for a long time.”

– Doug Heye, Republican strategist

Week in Review

2020 Dems shift on impeachment on same day as inquiry announcement

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump Tuesday, following allegations that Trump requested the Ukranian government investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, in exchange for aid. Trump denied the allegations and called the inquiry “the worst witch hunt in political history.”

On the same day, Michael BennetJohn DelaneyMarianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang announced they supported starting impeachment proceedings. For a list of candidates who earlier expressed support for impeachment proceedings, click here.

Biden and Steve Bullock gave conditional support for impeachment proceedings if Trump did not comply with congressional requests for information.

Tulsi Gabbard continued to oppose impeachment. She said, “I believe that impeachment at this juncture would be terribly divisive for the country at a time when we are already extremely divided.”

Trump raised $13 million following the impeachment inquiry announcement through email campaigns and two fundraisers.

Debate criteria for November announced with new polling option

The Democratic National Committee released the criteria for the November presidential primary debate.

A candidate now has two ways to meet the polling threshold—by reaching 3 percent support in at least four early state or national polls or 5 percent support in two early state polls.

To qualify, a candidate must also receive contributions from 165,000 unique donors and 600 unique donors per state.

With the eligible polling period beginning Sept. 13, only five candidates have qualified so far: Joe BidenPete ButtigiegKamala HarrisBernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

October debate will be held on one day, Gabbard qualifies for 12th spot on stage

The Democratic National Committee announced Friday that the October presidential primary debate will take place on one day, rather than over two days as expected. It will be held on October 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio.

Tulsi Gabbard reached 2 percent support in a New Hampshire poll released Tuesday, giving her the final poll necessary to qualify for the debate. That brings the total number of candidates qualified for October’s debate to 12.

Alaska GOP cancels PPP

The Alaska Republican Party canceled its presidential preference poll Saturday, saying in a statement that it “would serve no useful purpose when we have an incumbent Republican president, such as President Trump, running for the Republican nomination for President.”

Republican parties in ArizonaKansasNevada, and South Carolina previously voted to not hold caucuses or primaries.

Odds and ends on the campaign trail

  • Pete Buttigieg will expand his presence in Nevada with 10 open offices by mid-October, more than any other candidate. He also hired Travis Brock as the campaign’s national director for caucuses and Juan Carlos Perez as national Latino engagement director.
  • Bernie Sanders proposed a wealth tax Tuesday that would progressively tax households on any net worth over $32 million. Eight wealth tax brackets would exist, ranging from 1 percent to 8 percent.
  • Tom Steyer is airing a new ad calling for congressional term limits in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
  • The Elizabeth Warren campaign released a memo on its planned ad strategy, which calls for spending $10 million on television and digital ads in the fall. The targeted states include Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.
  • Great America PAC spent six figures on an ad calling for an investigation into Joe Biden’s role in the firing of a Ukranian prosecutor. It began airing Wednesday on Fox News and online.
  • Joe Walsh and Bill Weld debated Tuesday during an event hosted by Business Insider. The debate was not sanctioned by the Republican Party.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Each week, we highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.

Chuck Rocha is a campaign strategist with experience in union and advocacy group campaigning. Rocha founded Solidarity Strategies in 2010.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2016 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, advisor

Other experience:

  • 2010-Present: Solidarity Strategies, owner and president
  • 2012-2016: Center for National Policy, fellow
  • 2004-2011: Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, executive board member
  • 2000-2011: Labor Council of Latin American Advancement, executive board member
  • 2009-2010: Blue-Green Alliance, political director
  • 1998-2009: United Steelworkers, political director

What he’s said about Sanders: “In the tumultuous times we live in, people are looking for a rock in a river. Bernie Sanders has been that stalwart rock.”

What We’re Reading

Flashback: September 23-27, 2015

  • September 23, 2015: The Commission on Presidential Debates announced the dates for the three general election presidential debates in 2016.
  • September 24, 2015: Donald Trump said in an interview that he did not believe in climate change and that regulations addressing climate change would “imperil the companies in our country.”
  • September 25, 2015: Draft Biden hired paid staff in 11 states holding primaries on Super Tuesday in preparation for a possible presidential run by Joe Biden.
  • September 26, 2015: Politico described Tim Scott as a potential kingmaker in South Carolina and interviewed him about the 2016 presidential field.
  • September 27, 2015: 60 Minutes aired an interview with Donald Trump where he discussed his tax proposal.


What was the first presidential election held on the same day in every state?