Politics Democrats woo Bullock for Senate. They’re over Beto.

13:50  06 december  2019
13:50  06 december  2019 Source:   politico.com

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Democrats hoping Bullock runs for the Senate don’t have many options other than that plan They find Bullock ’s presidential run far more confounding. “He’d be a great Senate candidate,” said Sen. In Montana, Democrats are universally complimentary of Bullock for his ability to push through

Stacey Abrams, Beto O'Rourke, John Hickenlooper and Steve Bullock all resisted pressure to pursue Senate seats on Democrats ' radar this year. Former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke decided to run for president instead of challenging GOP Sen.

Washington Democrats are no longer pining for Beto O’Rourke. They’re far more infatuated with another ousted presidential candidate: Steve Bullock.

Steve Bullock wearing a suit and tie: Montana Governor Steve Bullock.© Joshua Lott/Getty Images Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

O’Rourke has just three days before the Texas filing deadline to decide if he wants to run against incumbent GOP Sen. John Cornyn. Yet many Senate Democrats aren’t sure O’Rourke would even be the strongest Senate candidate at this point after running to the left in his presidential run, so they’re largely laying off the guy who gave Ted Cruz a run for his money in 2018.

Instead, Democrats are all about Bullock, even though the Montana governor has tried to squash talk of a Senate run every chance he gets — the latest on Wednesday when he said in Montana, “that’s just not what I want to do.”

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Democrats are opting to do just about anything else but campaign for Senate these days. The decisions by three candidates in key states to choose presidential bids over Senate races have given many Democratic voters and operatives apoplectic fits.

Mr. Bullock , who won two terms as governor in a red state, didn’t catch on with Democratic primary voters. An aide said he would not run for Senate Steve Bullock of Montana, who argued relentlessly that his track record of winning in a deep red state made him the Democrat best positioned to beat

But even as party officials are desperate for Bullock to run, they’re taking a soft approach for fear going too hard would backfire. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hasn’t talked to Bullock or O'Rourke — a shift from his strategy with potential Georgia Senate candidate Stacey Abrams, who spurned his requests. Still, Democratic senators are publicly encouraging Bullock to join their club.

The different opinions toward the unsuccessful presidential candidates stem from the fact that Democrats are fairly comfortable with their current roster of Texas candidates. Yet in Montana, Bullock would be a game-changer: Without him in the race, GOP Sen. Steve Daines is the overwhelming favorite for re-election.

“I would hope that Steve Bullock re-evaluates,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), who is close to O’Rourke but has not lobbied him to run for the Texas seat. “If it was important enough to run for president… the most powerful thing [Bullock] could do to help the country and his state, I believe, would be to run for the U.S. Senate.”

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But in the Senate , Democrats and the independents who caucus with them have significantly more seats They could both face formidable Republican opponents. Jon Tester (Mont.) is more likely to be re -elected Ted Cruz (Tex.) has a strong Democratic opponent in Representative Beto O’Rourke

Were Bullock to run for Senate , it would be a major step toward potentially achieving that goal. Right now, Democrats have a narrow path to a Senate No matter who ends up being the Democratic nominee for Senate , they ’ re going to have a tough time successfully beating incumbent Steve Daines

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) is eager to explain what it’s like to be a former governor in the Senate, emphasizing the sway senators have over international affairs and what being in the clubby chamber of 100 is actually like compared to Bullock’s impression of it.

“Him running would turn it from a race where we would have a massive mountain to climb to a race where we would start at least 50-50 and maybe better. It would be transformative,” Kaine said.

Democrats currently have a fairly narrow path to retaking the majority, with three or four seats needed to win the Senate. Putting Texas and Montana in play would immediately reshape the map.

Texas Democrats have run polls, reported by the Dallas Morning News, showing O’Rourke is the most competitive against Cornyn and the favorite in the Democratic primary. But Democratic senators aren’t convinced O’Rourke can replicate the 2018 magic after his presidential fizzle, particularly given the baggage he accumulated from urging the seizure of assault weapons and taxing churches that oppose gay marriage.

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Beto O'Rourke might be throwing away a golden opportunity, according to the people he wants to vote for him. If the eventual Democratic nominee does beat Donald Trump in the general election, they 'll be severely hamstrung by a hostile, Mitch McConnell-led Republican Senate .

Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke holds an Election Night event in El Paso, Texas. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. Minutes later, Bullock ’s chief of staff offered a contrary view: Not only was Bullock not ready to announce, he’s not interested in running at all.

“Steve would be great, I really do [think]. He’s connected well and didn’t hurt himself at all in the campaign,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who won re-election last year in a conservative state. “Beto, I don’t know. … In a state that’s got a gun culture like my state’s gun culture, I don’t think he took a reasonable approach to that. It would hurt him in West Virginia.”

“It’s not clear to me that Beto is the strongest candidate anymore,” said one Senate Democrat familiar with the Senate races. “If we’re going to have a failed presidential candidate run for the Senate in Texas, what’s wrong with Julian [Castro?]”

Castro, who’s still running for president, has shown no interest in the Senate. But Democrats are pleased with current contenders and eight candidates have already filed, including state Sen. Royce West and activist Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez. MJ Hegar, a former fighter pilot who lost a competitive House race in 2018, will file to run Monday, according to her campaign. Amanda Edwards, a Houston city council member, also plans to file in the coming days, according to an adviser. Hegar has thus far led in fundraising and is currently the likely favorite.

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Senate Democrats face a narrow path back to the majority in the 2020 elections, running through Trump Some Democrats worry their party could face a similar prospect in 2020. “If you’ re shooting for In Iowa, the Senate race will play second fiddle to the presidential caucuses for over a year.

Democrats ’ uneasy 2020 reality: They need the likes of O’Rourke, Bullock and Hickenlooper to run for Senate — badly. Former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper, left, former Maryland congressman John Delaney, center, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock at the Democratic presidential debate in

O’Rourke faces a Monday deadline for his decision and he would start from a tough position against Cornyn, a strong fundraiser without the bruises Cruz suffered from fights with his own party. Democrats have time to coax Bullock into the race: Montana has a March 9 filing deadline.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who is close to Bullock, called it a “mistake” to pressure the governor now. But Tester acknowledged how important Bullock is to the party.

“He’s the best chance for us to pick that seat up. He’s got better popularity than anybody else in the state, Daines and myself included,” Tester said. “It’s sitting there. But it’s his call.”

There are plenty of examples of politicians changing their minds after repeatedly turning down runs for office. None is more salient than John Hickenlooper, the ex-Colorado governor who ran for president this year while insisting he was not “cut out” for the Senate.

Yet shortly after ending his presidential campaign and some personal reflection, Hickenlooper reversed himself and quickly earned an endorsement from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“What I said to him was: ‘You’re the only person who can decide whether this is right for you.’ What I told him was the good, the bad and the ugly of serving in the Senate at this time,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), another presidential contender who has so far not gained traction.

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Re -registered as a Democrat in October, nearly Opted out of challenging Senator Ted Cruz for the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections. Signature issues: Has proposed 0 billion in reparations for slavery, with billion to be distributed annually over a decade for economic and education projects.

Democrats poured tens of millions of dollars into the special election for a House seat that they The race ate up over million in donations, with Ossoff handily outraising Republican nominee Karen They started October with nearly identical cash-on-hand figures, even while her polling status eroded.

Given the recent history of politicians like Hickenlooper and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) changing their minds on Senate runs after their presidential dreams collapsed, Daines and Cornyn both said they are prepared for the possibility of a surprise but insisted their would-be opponents are weakened. Cornyn has even mentioned O’Rourke’s possible entry in his fundraising solicitations this week.

Despite his fundraising prowess, there’s bipartisan agreement that O’Rourke has made future runs for office much more difficult. But Republicans are still keeping an eye on Bullock. The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with GOP leadership, has tracked all of Bullock’s shifts to the left, including endorsing an assault weapons ban and an impeachment inquiry. A race against Daines would be no cakewalk.

Ultimately convincing Bullock to seek the Senate may prove most difficult. He has young children and the frequent commute from Montana is brutal. He said bluntly earlier this year that President Barack Obama saw his kids more than Bullock would as senator. He’s said no countless times.

Several Democrats are already running in Montana, including Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins, Navy Veteran John Mues and Cora Neumann, a public health expert who worked in the State Department.

Nuemann said in an interview she spoke with Bullock before launching her campaign in October, and he “gave me his word he wasn’t going to run” for Senate. She said her profile, campaign organization and fundraising would “turn heads” and force people to take her seriously as a contender.

But the reality is until the Monday deadline in Texas and the March deadline in Montana comes and goes, some Democrats are going to be looking to land the big names.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said he thought both O’Rourke and Bullock would be strong candidates, but didn’t consider it helpful for senators to be “clamoring” for them.

“Ultimately, this has got to be about what the people of that state want and what he wants, not what we want,” Murphy said of Bullock. “He’s obviously our strongest candidate in that state. But I don't think he cares what we think, and he shouldn’t care what we think.”

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