Ballotpedia’s Weekly Presidential News Briefing: April 11-17, 2020

Ballotpedia's Weekly Presidential News Briefing
Every weekday, Ballotpedia tracks the news, events, and results of the 2020 presidential election.        

Notable Quotes of the Week

“A politically inexperienced and highly divisive president, a presidential campaign waged under the shadow of a deadly pandemic, and an establishment candidate from the opposing party who promises to restore the country to a less turbulent time.

Those were the elements of the U.S. presidential election exactly 100 years ago that swept Warren G. Harding into office. The similarities to the 2020 race and Joe Biden‘s quest to unseat Donald Trump in November are unmissable.”

– Ryan Teague Beckwith, Bloomberg

“A turnout surge among Democratic voters does appear to have helped Karofsky win [the Wisconsin Supreme Court race]. She outperformed Hillary Clinton in the red counties surrounding Milwaukee, but also in numerous rural ones across the state. Karofsky also outperformed in the southwest corner, flipping several counties from red to blue.

As such, Karofsky’s map in Wisconsin was far more akin to the one that got Tammy Baldwin reelected to the Senate in 2018 than to Clinton’s map in 2016, Wikler pointed out.

On the other hand, with Trump on the ballot in a presidential race, he may drive far larger turnout and vote share in many of those rural counties. The total number of votes may be twice as high, so all bets are off.”

– Greg SargentThe Washington Post

Week in Review

Sanders, Obama endorse presumptive Democratic nominee Biden

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Joe Biden during a joint livestream on Monday. “We need you in the White House. And I will do all that I can to see that that happens,” Sanders said to Biden. They agreed to form six working groups on the economy, education, criminal justice, immigration, climate change, and health care.

Former President Barack Obama endorsed Biden in a video statement on the following day. He said Biden had the leadership required to handle the coronavirus pandemic. Obama also acknowledged Sanders in the clip and said the country needed real structural change.

Louisiana postpones presidential primary for second time to July 11

Louisiana’s presidential primary was postponed a second time from June 20 to July 11. It was originally scheduled for April 4. This is the latest scheduled primary in the election cycle, surpassing New Jersey’s primary rescheduled for July 7.

Trump issues guidelines to reopen the economy

Donald Trump issued guidelines for reopening the economy. The plan has three phases beginning with restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters, and select other businesses opening if they observe social distancing practices. In the second phase, schools can open and nonessential travel can resume. In the third phase, large public venues can operate as normal with limited social distancing rules and senior care facilities and hospitals can allow visitors.

Trump said on Thursday that the decision to loosen restrictions belonged to governors. Earlier this week, Trump had said he had total authority over reopening the economy.

Satellite spending starts up in general election race with $10 million ad buy

America First Action PAC announced on Thursday that it was launching a $10 million ad campaign in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that presents Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, as financially connected to China.

Republicans for the Rule of Law is also airing an ad on Fox & Friends on Friday criticizing Donald Trump for saying earlier this week that he had total authority.

The Biden campaign indicated its super PAC preference for Priorities USA over Unite the Country in a statement this week. The campaign said, “As Democrats across the country come together to achieve this goal, we are pleased that Priorities USA will be a leader of an unprecedented and united community of organizations focused on winning in November.” No other Democratic super PACs were mentioned in the statement.

Amash considers independent presidential run

Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), who left the Republican Party in 2019, said he was considering an independent presidential run following comments Trump made about executive authority. Amash tweeted, “Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option.”

Trump, RNC raise $212 million

Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee together raised $212 million in the first quarter of 2020. Their fundraising total for March alone was $63 million, down from a record high for the campaign of $86 million in February.

More than half of Democratic convention staff cut

The Democratic National Convention’s host committee reduced its staff from 31 employees to 14 on Thursday. “As we work to help our staff transition through this difficult time, we remain steadfast in our commitment to hosting a successful and safe Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this August,” Raquel Filmanowicz, the committee’s CEO, said.

Want more? Find the daily details here:

Poll Spotlight

Staff Spotlight

Tim Murtaugh is a Republican staffer with experience in political communications and messaging. He graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1991.

Previous campaign work:

  • 2006 Thelma Drake (R-Va.) U.S. House campaign, campaign manager
  • 2005 Jerry Kilgore (R-Va.) gubernatorial campaign, press secretary
  • 2000 George Allen (R-Va.) U.S. Senate campaign, press secretary

Other experience:

  • 2017-2019: United States Department of Agriculture, director of communications
  • 2013-2017: Office of Congressman Lou Barletta (R-Pa.), director of communications
  • 2011-2013: Self Employed, communications consultant
  • 2010: Republican Governors Association, director of political communications
  • 2009: Republican Party of Virginia, director of communications
  • 2008-2009: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, director of communications and public affairs
  • 2007-2008: Self Employed, communications consultant
  • 2001-2005: Office of Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R-Va.), director of communication
  • 2001: Republican National Committee, deputy director of communications
  • 1994-1999: NBC29 WVIR-TV, state capitol bureau chief
  • 1992-1993: WBQB-FM/WFVA-AM, news anchor and reporter

What We’re Reading

Flashback: April 13-17, 2016

  • April 13, 2016: Hillary Clinton proposed establishing an Office of Immigrant Affairs, which would coordinate immigration policies across federal, state, and local governments.
  • April 14, 2016: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders debated in Brooklyn, New York. It was the final Democratic primary debate of the election cycle.
  • April 15, 2016: In a CNN interview, John Kasich discussed the Republican primary, sexual assault, small businesses, and religious liberty laws.
  • April 16, 2016: Bernie Sanders won 16 of the 23 delegates selected at the Colorado Democratic state convention, bringing his total delegate haul in the state to 41. Hillary Clinton won the other 25 pledged delegates.
  • April 17, 2016: In an interview with The Washington Post, Donald Trump said that the Republican National Convention should be a “monumentally magnificent convention and it should be brilliantly staged.” He continued, “It’s very important to put some showbiz into a convention, otherwise people are going to fall asleep.”

In the past century, which presidential election had the lowest estimated voter turnout?

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About the author

Emily Aubert

Emily Aubert is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at emily.aubert@ballotpedia.org

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