2020 candidates respond to El Paso, Ohio mass shootings

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

August 5, 2019: The 2020 presidential candidates respond to mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Tulsi Gabbard crossed the fundraising threshold for the third Democratic debate in September.

There are eight new candidates running since last week, including two Democrats and two Republicans. In total, 807 individuals are currently filed with the FEC to run for president.

Notable Quote of the Day

“Under the traditional model for American presidential politics, winning candidates veer left (or right for the Republicans) in the primaries and then scamper back towards the center for the general election. So the real question is whether the leading Democrats have already staked out positions that would prevent the eventual nominee from modulating his or her tone in the fall of 2020.”

– Walter Shapiro, The Guardian


  • The 2020 Democratic candidates responded to the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, in formal statements, interviews, and tweets. Candidates focused on Trump’s rhetoric on immigrants, congressional inaction, and gun violence policies.
  • Joe BidenKamala HarrisAmy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders will speak on Latino issues at the UnidosUS Annual Conference in San Diego on Monday.
  • Michael Bennet campaigned across northern Nevada in Carson City, Reno, and Sparks on Sunday.
  • Biden’s affiliated PAC, American Possibilities, will shut down in the coming months.
  • While campaigning in Los Angeles, Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks interviewedBill de Blasio about campaign finance and the mass shootings.
  • Pete Buttigieg‘s New Hampshire state director, Michael Ceraso, departed from the campaign.
  • John Delaney began a six-day swing through Iowa Sunday.
  • Tulsi Gabbard crossed the donor threshold of 130,000 unique contributors for the third Democratic presidential primary debate in September. She has not yet passed the polling threshold.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the Funding Attorneys for Indigent Removal (FAIR) Proceedings Act Friday, which would guarantee legal counsel for children, victims of abuse or violence, and those at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • Beto O’Rourke canceled campaign events Saturday through Monday to return to his hometown in El Paso, Texas, following a mass shooting.
  • Tim Ryan campaigned in Iowa, hosting events in Nevada, Indianola, Atlantic, and Council Bluffs.
  • Joe Sestak held a coffee with the candidate campaign event in Iowa Saturday.
  • More than 41 percent of donors who contributed to more than one presidential candidate through the ActBlue platform donated to Elizabeth Warren—the highest percentage of any candidate—according to a BuzzFeed analysis.
  • Marianne Williamson discussed mental health treatment, electability, and her spiritual beliefs on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday.
  • Andrew Yang called for a new federal domestic terrorism statute that would better allow law enforcement the resources to investigate domestic terrorism cases.


  • Katrina Pierson will lead the African Americans for Donald Trump coalition set to launch after Labor Day.
  • Trump called the weekend’s mass shootings part of a “mental illness problem” Sunday. Monday morning, Trump tweeted, “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.”
  • The Nevada Republican Party will vote Sept. 7 whether to cancel the state primary. If approved, caucuses will still be held to choose delegates.

On the Cusp: Tracking Potential Candidates

  • Attorney Michael Avenatti said he is again considering running in the Democratic presidential primary. “The Dems need a non-traditional fighter. They have a lot of talent but not a lot of fighters,” he said, adding that there was a 50/50 chance he would enter the race.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: August 5, 2015

The Hillary Clinton campaign made a $2 million ad buy in New Hampshire and Iowa focused on Clinton’s biography.

Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: Mississippi will elect party nominees for governor Tuesday

Today’s Brew highlights tomorrow’s gubernatorial and state executive primaries in Mississippi + the current partisan composition of the nation’s state legislatures  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Monday, August 5, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Mississippi voters to decide gubernatorial, other state executive primaries Tuesday
  2. Your July state legislative partisan control update—52.2% Republicans, 47.0% Democrats
  3. Quiz: Which states have state Senate districts with a greater population than congressional districts?

Mississippi voters to decide gubernatorial, other state executive primaries Tuesday

Just one state—Mississippi—has an open-seat governor’s race in 2019 as incumbent Phil Bryant (R) is term-limited. The primaries for that race and 10 other state executive offices take place Tuesday.

Three Republicans are seeking their party’s nod to succeed Bryant—Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., and state Rep. Robert Foster. According to campaign finance reports through July 27, Reeves had raised $5 million, Waller $1.2 million, and Foster $179,000. A late July poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy found Reeves leading Waller with 41% support to Waller’s 31% and Foster’s 13%. The poll surveyed 500 likely primary voters and had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

In the Democratic primary, Attorney General Jim Hood, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, and six other candidates are running. Hood has served as attorney general since 2004, and, prior to 2015, he was the only Democratic statewide officeholder in the southeastern United States. Hood has raised $1.6 million and Smith $22,000 through July 27. No other Democratic candidate reported raising more than $1,000 through that date.

The last Democrat to win election as governor of Mississippi was Ronnie Musgrove in 1999.Two of three election forecasters tracked by Ballotpedia rate the general election for governor as “Leans Republican” and the other rates it as “Likely Republican.”

There are also contested Republican primaries for lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and state treasurer and a contested Democratic primary for secretary of state. Both parties have contested primaries for two of three seats on the state’s public service commission.

Candidates must win a majority of votes to get the nomination. If no candidate receives a majority in any race, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff on August 27. The general election is November 5.

Learn more



Your July state legislative partisan control update—52.2% Republicans, 47.0% Democrats 

As of the end of July, 52.2% of all state legislators were Republicans and 47.0% were Democrats, which is consistent with previous months this year. The remaining seats were vacant or held by members of other political parties.

There are 7,383 state legislative seats in the country. Republicans held 3,854 of those seats and Democrats held 3,468. Independent or third-party legislators held 34 seats and 27 seats were vacant.

At the time of the 2018 elections, there were 4,023 Republican state legislators, 3,257 Democratic state legislators, 35 independent or third-party state legislators, and 68 vacancies.

The chart below shows the number of state legislative seats controlled by each party as of January of each year:

There are 99 state legislative chambers, as all but one state—Nebraska—has both an upper (state Senate) and lower (state House) legislative body. Republicans hold a majority of seats in 62 state legislative chambers, and Democrats hold the majority in 37. The party that holds a majority of seats in a legislative chamber generally elects the leadership of that chamber and has majorities on various committees. This is currently true for all state legislative chambers except the Alaska House of Representatives, where Republicans have a majority of members but the parties have split control of key leadership positions under a power-sharing agreement.

Learn more→


Which states have state Senate districts with a greater population than congressional districts?

There are just over 747,000 people in the country for each member of the U.S. House of Representatives, based on 2018 census estimates. This number has risen over the years as the nation’s population has grown and the number of U.S. Representatives has remained at 435.

Two states have state legislative chambers that feature an even larger ratio of population to members. Which states have state Senate districts with a greater population than congressional districts?

A.  California and Florida 
B.  California and New York 
C.  California and Texas 
D.  Florida and Texas 


Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: 13 percent of federal judicial posts are vacant

Today’s Brew highlights July‘s federal judicial vacancy count + the August 9 deadline for applying to Ballotpedia’s fall internship program  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Friday, August 2, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Vacancy rate among federal judges stands at 13.1%
  2. Just one week remains to apply for our fall internship
  3. What’s the tea?

Vacancy rate among federal judges stands at 13.1%

The vacancy rate among federal judges edged down from 13.6% at the end of June to 13.1% at the end of July. Twenty-one new judges have been confirmed since June 26. There were two new nominations and seven new vacancies.

According to Ballotpedia’s federal vacancy count, 114 of the nation’s 870 Article III judgeships are vacant. This includes open judgeships on U.S. Appeals and District Courts as well as on the U.S. Court of International Trade. 

The term Article III refers to the fact that these positions are authorized in Article III of the Constitution, which created and enumerated the powers of the judiciary. Article III judges are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. .

Judges appointed to these positions serve for life or until they resign, retire, or take senior status. Federal judges can also be impeached and removed from office—something that has occurred eight times in the history of the federal judiciary.

Since taking office in January 2017, President Trump has nominated 193 individuals to Article III positions. The Senate has confirmed 144 of President Trump’s judicial nominees—two Supreme Court justices, 43 U.S. appeals court judges, and 99 U.S. district court judges.

Ballotpedia publishes the federal vacancy count on the last Wednesday of each month. You can also find more information in our free newsletter about all things related to the federal courts—Bold Justice. The next edition comes out August 5—click here to subscribe and have the next issue in your mailbox Monday afternoon.

Learn more



Just one week remains to apply for our fall internship  

The deadline to apply for Ballotpedia’s fall internship program is August 9. It’s a great opportunity for you or someone you know to become part of the online encyclopedia of American politics!

It’s a paid internship—working remotely—and we can arrange school credit for your work, too.

Our interns work alongside current staff members on our Editorial, Communications, Tech, or Outreach teams. You’ll learn how to publish content on Ballotpedia and about all we do to prevent and detect bias in our resources. You’ll also be making contributions to a valuable political resource.

Ballotpedia’s fall 2019 internship program will run from Monday, Aug. 26 through Friday, Dec. 13. Interns will work approximately 20 hours per week depending on their availability. 

Apply or learn more information→

Here’s the next edition of our weekly ”What’s the tea?” question so you can tell us what you think.  

All you need to do is read the question and click on the answer that most closely matches your opinion. We’ll share the results with you next week.

As noted above, federal judges have what are, effectively, lifetime appointments. There has been some debate about whether judges, like the president, should serve for a term that lasts a specific number of years. For example, state supreme court justices in 47 states serve for terms of between six and 14 years. Do you agree or disagree with this idea? 

Do you think federal judges should serve terms lasting a certain number of years?

  • A. Yes, federal judges should serve for a specified length of time.
  • B. No, I’m happy with the current system.
  • C. I’m not sure, I need to know more.


2020 Dems head to Las Vegas seeking union support at AFSCME forum

 Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

August 2, 2019: At least 19 Democrats are heading to Las Vegas to attend the AFSCME public service forum Saturday. Amy Klobuchar said she had reached the grassroots fundraising threshold to qualify for the September Democratic debate.

     Each Friday, we’ll highlight a presidential candidate’s key campaign staffer.
Daily Presidential News Briefing - Staffer Spotlight - Maurice Daniel

Maurice Daniel is a longtime Democratic staffer with experience in the public and private sectors.

Previous campaign work:

  • 1996 Bill Clinton presidential campaign, Ohio state director
  • 1988 Dick Gephardt presidential campaign, field staffer

Other experience:

  • 2014-2019: Metro Strategies, principal
  • 2015-2017: Human Rights First, senior director of government relations
  • 2009-2013: Integrated Capital Strategies, managing director
  • 2004-2010: Eye2eye Communications, political consultant
  • 1997-2000: Office of Vice President Al Gore (D), national director of political affairs
  • 1993-1997: Office of Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), chief of staff
  • 1992: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Midwest Political Desk
  • 1989-1991: Democratic National Committee, Midwest policy director

What he says about Williamson:

“The entitled and those entrenched in the establishment do not want to hear a different message. American voters do.”

Notable Quotes of the Day

“AFSCME [is] essentially laying down a marker here, saying this is an important state. This is an important state for labor. [Nevada] is a place you need to come and state your views, and the fact that they chose Nevada for something like that is very, very significant both for the labor movement and the state.”

– Jon RalstonThe Nevada Independent

“As the Democratic Party shifts toward a more progressive identity, [AFL-CIO President Richard] Trumka reminded 2020 candidates that unions would no longer support candidates simply because of their party affiliation. Unions historically played influential roles in getting Democrats elected through get-out-the-vote efforts, canvassing and other campaigning methods.”

– Danielle Wallace, Fox News



What We’re Reading

Flashback: August 2, 2015

In an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, Chris Christie called the national teachers union “the single most destructive force in public education in America.”

July 2019 breakdown of state legislative party membership: 52.2% Republicans, 47.0% Democrats

July’s partisan count of the 7,383 state legislators across the United States shows 52.2% of all state legislators are Republicans and 47.0% are Democrats, which is consistent with previous months.
Ballotpedia also completes a count of the partisan balance of state legislatures at the end of every month. The partisan composition of state legislatures refers to which political party holds the majority of seats in the state senate and state house. Republicans hold a majority in 61 chambers, and Democrats hold the majority in 37 chambers. One chamber (Alaska’s state House) shares power between the two parties.
Altogether, there are 1,972 state senators and 5,411 state representatives. Republicans held 1,084 state senate seats–down two seats from June–and 2,770 state house seats–down six seats. Democrats held 3,468 of the 7,383 state legislative seats–880 state Senate seats (up one seat from June) and 2,588 state House seats (no change). Independent or third-party legislators held 34 seats–down three seats from June. There were 27 vacant seats.
At the time of the 2018 elections, 7,280 state legislators were affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic parties. There were 3,257 Democratic state legislators, 4,023 Republican state legislators, 35 independent or third-party state legislators, and 68 vacancies.

2020 Dems spar over healthcare and criminal justice records in second debate


Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

August 1, 2019: The 2020 Democratic candidates debated healthcare and criminal justice in the second night of the debate. Democratic donor George Soros founded a super PAC for 2020 elections.

Poll Highlights 

Daily Presidential News Briefing - Poll One (July 23-25, 2019)

Daily Presidential News Briefing - Poll Two (July 23-25, 2019)

Notable Quote of the Day

“The Dark Psychic Forces of Collective Hatred won tonight’s debate. It is absolutely mind-boggling to me that the Democratic candidates think their best path forward is to aggressively and personally attack one another over the finer points of their white papers and decades-old positions, given the intensity of their base’s desire to remove Trump from the White House. It’s mind-boggling that there would be several candidates taking shots at Barack Obama when he’s broadly popular, Trump isn’t, and the whole point of this enterprise is beating Trump.”

– Tim Miller, former Jeb Bush communications director

Debate Highlights

Ten candidates met on stage to debate in Detroit, Michigan, on Wednesday night. CNN hosted and Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper moderated the event. Read a transcript of the debate here.

  • Michael Bennet said the Affordable Care Act should have a public option and criticized Medicare for All plans that “would make illegal employer-based health insurance in this country and massively raise taxes on the middle class to the tune of $30 trillion.” Bennet said Congress needed to be smart in how it approached impeachment since the U.S. Senate could acquit Trump if it reached that chamber.

  • Joe Biden advocated expanding the Affordable Care Act and questioned Medicare for All proposals that had lengthy phase-ins or would significantly increase taxes. He defended his record on immigration and deportations during the Obama administration, pointing to a $750 million aid package for Central America and efforts to help Dreamers. He said he would not rejoin the TPP unless it was renegotiated to include greater accountability for China.

  • Bill de Blasio said he would “tax the hell out of the wealthy to make this a fairer country and to make sure it’s a country that puts working people first.” He also cautioned that impeachment proceedings could be distracting and take focus away from economic issues. De Blasio questioned whether Biden pushed back on deportations during the Obama administration. 

  • Cory Booker said he worked to reduce racial disparities in criminal justice and criticized Biden’s record and 1994 crime bill. He also said Democrats lost Michigan in 2016 “because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African American voters.” Booker said impeachment proceedings needed to begin regardless of the politics.

  • Julián Castro presented his proposal on new policing standards. He also advocated decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings and criticized Biden on immigration policy during their shared time in the Obama administration, saying “one of us has learned the lessons of the past and one of us hasn’t.” He also said Trump should be impeached immediately regardless of the political outcome.

  • Tulsi Gabbard criticized Harris’ record as a prosecutor and on the death penalty and healthcare. She said insurance and pharmaceutical companies should not be involved in the drafting process for new healthcare legislation. Gabbard also opposed TPP, saying the agreement gives away American sovereignty, and called for the withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan. 

  • Kirsten Gillibrand emphasized that insurance companies are for-profit companies and said healthcare should be a right. She opposed the USMCA, particularly its provisions protecting intellectual property rights for pharmaceutical companies. She criticized Biden for a 1981 op-ed where he said expanding the childcare tax credit for wealthy families would subsidize the deterioration of family.

  • Kamala Harris discussed her healthcare proposal, which would replace employer-based coverage but allow some people to keep Medicare Advantage. She criticized Biden’s plan, saying it would not hold insurance and pharmaceutical companies responsible for cost issues. She also called Trump’s trade policy a Trump trade tax on goods.

  • Jay Inslee called Trump a white nationalist while discussing immigration and said the U.S. needed to expand its refugee programs. Inslee said his climate change plan was called the gold standard and that the U.S. could not delay getting off of coal and fossil fuels past a timeline of 10 years.

  • Andrew Yang said “the opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math” and the country needed to do something different. He highlighted his universal basic income proposal in several contexts, including pay equity for homemakers. Yang also said money spent on conflicts abroad should have been invested in U.S. communities.


  • Booker introduced a bill to abolish the death penalty with fellow Sens. Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy.

  • The John Delaney campaign said it had its best online fundraising day following the debate, increasing his donor rate twenty-fold.

  • The Mike Gravel campaign tweeted it was coming to an end. The campaign would donate its funds to charity and form the Gravel Institute, a self-described leftist think tank.

  • Beto O’Rourke campaigned in Macomb County, a pivot county in Michigan.

  • The Bernie Sanders campaign announced it had raised $1.1 million since the Tuesday debate from more than 70,000 contributions.

  • During Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, Marianne Williamson was the top-searched candidate on Google in 49 states.


  • The pro-Donald Trump super PACs America First Action and America First Policies raised $17.8 million in the first half of 2019.

General Election Updates

  • Investor George Soros, who said last year that he did not plan to become involved in the Democratic primaries, founded Democracy PAC in preparation for the 2020 elections. He contributed $5.1 million to the new group.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: August 1, 2015

Receiving an endorsement from Friends of the Earth, Bernie Sanders called climate change “the single greatest threat facing the planet.”



The Daily Brew: The mayoral election taking place today

Today’s Brew previews the municipal elections in Tennessee’s second-largest city + our upcoming Ballotpedia Insights webinar with Adam Probolsky on market research  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Thursday, August 1, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Nashville Mayor seeks re-election today against nine challengers
  2. Register for our August 7 Ballotpedia Insights webinar on market research
  3. Rep. Conaway (R-Texas) becomes 12th U.S. House member not to seek 2020 re-election

Nashville Mayor seeks re-election today against nine challengers

Most elections in the U.S. take place on Tuesdays with some states—Hawaii, Louisiana, and Texas—holding certain primary and special elections on Saturdays. One state—Tennessee—elects state and county officers on Thursdays as required by the state constitution, and many local jurisdictions, such as Nashville and Memphis, do the same. 

Incumbent David Briley faces nine challengers in today’s nonpartisan election for mayor of Nashville. 

Briley succeeded former Mayor Megan Barry upon her resignation in March 2018 and won a special election in May 2018 to complete her term. In that special election, Briley received 54.4% of the vote in a 13-candidate field. Since Nashville’s Metro government was formed in 1963, no mayor has ever lost a bid for re-election.

Briley’s top three challengers according to local media outlets are state Rep. John Clemmons (D), At-Large City Councilmember John Cooper, and former Vanderbilt professor Carol Swain. Policy debates in the race have largely centered on how the city raises and spends money.

Thirty-one mayoral elections in the country’s 100 largest cities are being held in 2019. In 20 of those cities, the incumbent was a Democrat at the start of 2019. Seven incumbents were Republican, three were independent, and the affiliation of one was unknown. Briley is considered a member of the Democratic party.

Voters will also elect all 41 members of the metro council, including the vice-mayor. Twenty-seven incumbents are running for re-election and there are 14 open-seat races. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in any race, a runoff election will be held September 12—which is also a Thursday. Nashville is the second-largest city in Tennessee and the 24th-largest city in the United States.

Learn more



Register for our August 7 Ballotpedia Insights webinar on market research 

Our next Ballotpedia Insights session will discuss a topic that is a large part of modern campaigns—market research. While market research is often associated with business strategy and understanding customers’ behavior, its’ principles have been increasingly applied to analyzing the wants and needs of voters.

Ballotpedia Insights is a Q&A series with political and legal scholars, researchers, reporters, and subject matter experts. Each installment, we host a new speaker and ask them tailored questions designed to gain in-depth insight into their work. They’re a great opportunity to learn from some leading professionals involved in politics. Even better, they’re free to register and attend.

Ballotpedia’s Director of Outreach, Sarah Rosier, will interview Adam Probolsky of Probolsky Research—a nationwide opinion and market research firm—on the state of market and opinion research on elections and public policy. 

Probolsky has served as a pollster and strategic advisor on hundreds of successful crisis communications and public affairs projects, local, county and statewide initiatives and candidate campaigns as well as citizen outreach and education efforts. Probolsky Research conducts opinion and market research for business, association, non-profit, election, and government clients.

What is market research? How does it differ from polling? Join Sarah and Adam to learn the answers to these questions and the changes in market research he’s seen over his career. Register today by clicking the link below and then send us your questions about polling to get expert answers.

Learn more→

Rep. Conaway (R-Texas) becomes 12th U.S. House member not to seek 2020 re-election

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election in 2020. Five things to know related to House members retiring:

  1. So far, 12 members of the U.S. House—three Democrats and nine Republicans—have announced they are not running for re-election in 2020. 
  2. Nine are retiring from public office, two are seeking a U.S. Senate seat, and one is running for governor. 
  3. Conaway was first elected to Congress in 2004 and was re-elected seven times to represent Texas’ 11th Congressional District. He received 80.1% in the 2018 general election. 
  4. He is the second Republican representative from Texas to announce his retirement this cycle after Pete Olson—from Texas’ 22nd District—did so last week.
  5. In 2018, 52 members of the U.S. House—18 Democrats and 34 Republicans—did not run for re-election. Thirteen of the 52 seats changed partisan control in the 2018 elections. Ten seats flipped from Republican to Democrat and three seats flipped from Democrat to Republican.

Learn more→


2020 Dems debate Medicare for All and wealth tax

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 31, 2019: The 2020 Democratic candidates debated Medicare for All, tax policy, and other topics during the first night of the second presidential primary debate. Donald Trump aired an ad during the debates to criticize the Democratic field on healthcare.

 Facebook Ad Spending (July 22 - July 28)

Notable Quotes of the Day

“Like the last debate, I think this has been really quite substantive and the most heated exchanges have been on actual substantive disagreements about what they want to do as President.”

– Chris Hayes, MSNBC anchor

“But in reality, invitation-to-fight questions tend to emphasize the differences that the moderators select, which may or may not be substantively important ones. It leads the debate to focus on areas of internal candidate differences, leaving policy areas where they agree irrelevant – even if those areas are important, and contain real disputes with the other party.”

– Jonathan BernsteinBloomberg columnist

Debate Highlights

Ten candidates met on stage to debate in Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday night. CNN hosted and Dana Bash, Don Lemon, and Jake Tapper moderated the event. Read a transcript of the debate here.

  • Steve Bullock emphasized his 2016 gubernatorial win in a red state and criticized what he called wishlist economics. He said he opposed eliminating private insurance and supported the government negotiating cheaper drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. Bullock also tied combating gun violence to fighting what he called dark money in politics.

  • Pete Buttigieg called for debt-free college for low and middle-income students and expanding the public service loan forgiveness program and opposed student loan debt cancellation proposals. Buttigieg also said he would withdraw troops from Afghanistan and require any authorization for the use of military force to have a three-year sunset provision. He said age did not matter in the race as much as vision did.

  • John Delaney criticized Medicare for All and the Green New Deal, calling them impossible promises that would lead to Trump’s re-election. He said he was the only candidate on stage with experience in the industry and pitched his own healthcare proposal, BetterCare. Delaney also said that a wealth tax was arguably unconstitutional.

  • John Hickenlooper opposed pulling troops completely out of Afghanistan, saying it would lead to a humanitarian disaster. He described himself as both progressive and pragmatic and said the country needed to focus on manufacturing and the economy rather than issues like a jobs guarantee in the Green New Deal.

  • Amy Klobuchar said she knew how to win competitive elections, particularly in the Midwest. She opposed universal free college, saying it would also pay the tuition of wealthy students. Klobuchar also presented her $1 trillion infrastructure plan, including rural broadband and green infrastructure.

  • Beto O’Rourke said he supported decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings but added that he expected immigrants to follow U.S. laws and reserved the right to criminal prosecution if they did not. O’Rourke called Texas a new battleground state and said he ran a U.S. Senate campaign that did not write off any voter. He also discussed improvements to the El Paso V.A. when he was in Congress.

  • Tim Ryan said that some tariffs were effective but criticized the Trump administration’s use of them. He said the manufacturing base needed to be rebuilt and he would create a post of chief manufacturing officer. Ryan said the eligibility age for Medicare should be lowered from 65 to 50. He also said he would not have met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

  • Bernie Sanders defended his democratic socialist policies as possible, pointing to Medicare’s start more than 50 years ago. While discussing trade policy, Sanders said he would not award government contracts to companies “throwing American workers out on the street.” He also called healthcare a human right and compared the U.S. healthcare system and pharmaceutical prices to Canada’s.

  • Elizabeth Warren criticized other candidates who called for more moderate policies, saying, “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.” Warren advocated Medicare for All, a wealth tax, decriminalization of unauthorized border crossings, and changing the regulatory environment to address corruption. 

  • Marianne Williamson said the Democratic Party needed to talk about the causes and not just the symptoms of issues. She said the conversation on stage was not addressing the “dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country.” Williamson also defended her $500 billion reparations proposal, calling it “payment of a debt that is owed.”



  • Donald Trump began airing an ad Tuesday that criticizes the Democratic field on healthcare for individuals residing in the U.S. without legal permission. The ad is set to air both nights of the debates on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News.

Flashback: July 31, 2015

Hillary Clinton released eight years of tax returns showing she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had earned $139 million since 2007 and paid $44 million in federal taxes.

The Daily Brew: Non-debate news – presidential candidate endorses ballot measure

 Today’s Brew highlights Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of a state constitutional amendment in California +  Ballotpedia’s new Learning Journey on deference  
 The Daily Brew

Welcome to the Wednesday, July 31, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Sanders endorses 2020 California ballot measure that would change how businesses are taxed
  2. Take our newest Learning Journey on the different types of deference
  3. Mom, Dad—we’ve got an internship your student will want to hear about 

Ten Democratic presidential candidates debated last night, and ten more take the stage tonight. Didn’t get a chance to watch? Or, can’t get enough? Subscribers to Ballotpedia’s Daily Presidential News Briefing will receive an email recap in just a few hours.

Sanders endorses 2020 California ballot measure that would change how businesses are taxed

Presidential candidates don’t just hold rallies, issue policy proposals, and make speeches. Sometimes, they jump into ongoing elections as they did in June when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren made endorsements in the 2019 Democratic primary for Queens District Attorney. I was talking to one of our ballot measures writers, and he mentioned to me how Sanders also offered an endorsement in a ballot measure campaign in California.

Sanders endorsed a 2020 ballot initiative that would change how the state levies taxes on commercial and industrial properties and allocate the resulting revenue to local governments and school districts. This constitutional amendment would require that business properties, except those used for commercial agriculture, be taxed based on their market value, while taxes on residential properties would still be based on the property’s purchase price. Taxing business and residential properties on different bases is known as a split roll tax. It would also create a process for distributing the additional revenue on business properties, with 60 percent being distributed to local governments and special districts and 40 percent being distributed to school districts and community colleges.

Sanders endorsed the initiative while speaking at the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) Leadership Conference in Los Angeles last week. He said that billionaires and real estate developers shouldn’t receive tax breaks “while 500,000 people are sleeping out on the streets tonight and when our kids aren’t getting the education they deserve.” UTLA is a supporter of the ballot initiative and has provided the campaign Schools and Communities First, which is behind the proposal, with $435,000. 

Opponents of the ballot initiative include the California Business Roundtable, California Chamber of Commerce, and California Taxpayers Association. Rex Hime, president of the California Business Properties Association, stated, “California already has the worst climate for business and job creation in the country. A split-roll property tax will just increase pressure on many businesses that are already finding it hard to make ends meet.”

Since 2016, Sanders has endorsed five statewide ballot measures in California, including three in 2016 and one in 2018. Two measures—one which advised the state’s officials on the electorate’s position on Citizens United v. FEC and one that legalized the recreational use of marijuana—were approved. Two measures—which would have enacted a new regulation on drug prices and would have expanded local rent control—were defeated. 

Democratic 2020 presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris endorsed a school parcel tax measure that was on the ballot for Los Angeles Unified School District voters in Los Angeles County, California on June 4, 2019. The measure was defeated. It would have authorized the LA Unified School District to levy an annual parcel tax—a kind of property tax based on units of property rather than assessed value—for 12 years at the rate of $0.16 per square foot of building improvements to fund educational improvements, instruction, and programs. District officials estimated that the parcel tax would have raised $500 million per year.

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Take our newest Learning Journey on the different types of deference 

Last week we introduced our Learning Journey on judicial deference. In the context of administrative law, deference applies when a federal court yields to an agency’s interpretation of either a statute that Congress instructed the agency to administer or a regulation promulgated by the agency.

Today we’re launching another Learning Journey – diving into the various different types of deference. It will guide you through the main deference doctrines and a selection of lesser-known doctrines applied by federal courts when reviewing federal agency actions.

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 and help you understand each aspect of a particular concept.

If you want to learn more about this principle, taking a Learning Journey is a great way to do it—and it’s totally free. 

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Mom, Dad—we’ve got an internship your student will want to hear about

Ballotpedia is looking for talented undergraduate and graduate students to become part of our Fall Internship Program.

Our interns assist in a variety of duties on our Editorial, Communications, Tech, or Outreach teams. They’ll learn how to publish content on Ballotpedia, learn about all we do to prevent and detect bias in our resources, and work alongside current staff members.

All interns are paid and work remotely and we can facilitate credit for internship experience. Our Fall 2019 internship program will run from Monday, August 26 through Friday, December 13. Interns will work approximately 20 hours per week depending on their availability. 

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Correction: In yesterday’s edition, we inadvertently omitted Marianne Williamson from the list of candidates participating in Tuesday’s debate. We sincerely apologize for the error.


Yang qualifies for third Democratic presidential debate

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 30, 2019: Andrew Yang announced he has qualified for the third Democratic presidential debate. Kamala Harris released her Medicare for All healthcare proposal.


Which presidential election featured the smallest margin in the popular vote?

Notable Quotes of the Day

“No one is going to close the deal in the last 60 days before the Iowa caucuses with their climate change plan. There’s got to be a gravitational pull toward the kitchen table issues.”

– Roger Fisk, Democratic political strategist

“We can’t try to win an election by getting both the person who wants to hear about revolution and the person who’s also a mainstream old-fashioned Republican who won’t vote for Trump. We have to choose and I think a progressive message can be a winning message.”

– John Deeth, Iowa Democratic activist 


  • The first night of the second Democratic presidential primary debate will be broadcast tonight from Detroit, Michigan, on CNN. The following candidates will be on stage: Steve BullockPete ButtigiegJohn DelaneyJohn HickenlooperAmy KlobucharBeto O’RourkeTim RyanBernie SandersElizabeth WarrenMarianne Williamson.

  • Michael Bennet discussed how his tax proposals would benefit communities of color in an interview with Essence Monday.

  • The Des Moines Register reported that Joe Biden will have 75 staffers in Iowa at the start of August, surpassing the operations of nearly all other candidates in the state.

  • In an interview with EssenceBill de Blasio said the U.S. needed redistribution of wealth. He highlighted the Green New Deal, $15 minimum wage, and free early childhood education as polices he’d want to take from New York City and bring to the country.

  • Booker spoke about his Iowa campaign in an interview in West Des Moines.

  • Tulsi Gabbard posted a digital video calling for an end to tech monopolies and censorship.

  • Kamala Harris released her Medicare for All plan Monday. It would phase in over 10 years and offer a privately managed option like Medicare Advantage. Harris said the program would be funded through a new tax on stock trades.

  • Hickenlooper unveiled his rural development program, which called for expanding broadband access, establishing a lifetime tax credit of up to $50,000 for small businesses that show growth, and creating entrepreneurial opportunity zones that incentivize work in rural areas.

  • Jay Inslee spoke about water infrastructure during a campaign visit to Flint, Michigan.

  • The pro-Inslee super PAC Act Now on Climate spent six figures on an attack ad against BidenButtigiegHarrisSanders, and Warren that will air in Iowa during the debates and the week after.

  • Seth Moulton discussed the Trump administration, racism, and his presidential campaign on SiriusXM Progress

  • Bernie Sanders filmed a campaign video with rapper Cardi B discussing student debt, climate change, and the minimum wage.

  • Tom Steyer is spending $500,000 on an ad that will begin airing during the second Democratic presidential primary debate. In the ad, Steyer criticizes Trump’s business record.

  • Elizabeth Warren issued her trade platform on Monday. Warren’s proposal included a carbon adjustment tax on some imported goods, increased public disclosure requirements, and new human rights and environmental standards.

  • Andrew Yang announced that he has qualified for the third Democratic presidential primary debate in September, becoming the eighth candidate to do so.

  • The Democratic group Bridge Project launched a five-figure digital ad campaign on healthcare against Donald Trump in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.


  • The Detroit News profiled Trump’s campaign strategy and organization in Michigan.

Flashback: July 30, 2015

The Trump campaign hired Michael Glassner as its national political director. Glassner previously worked as a top aide to Sarah Palin during John McCain’s 2008 presidential run.