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One Candidate In, One Candidate Out: This Week in the 2020 Race


Every Saturday morning, we’re publishing “This Week in the 2020 Race”: a quick way to catch up on the presidential campaign and the field of 24 candidates for the Democratic nomination. Here’s our latest edition:

Three months to the day after he announced his presidential campaign, saying he was “burning the boats” behind him and would not run for re-election to Congress, Representative Eric Swalwell of California ended his presidential campaign and said he would run for re-election to Congress.

Less than 24 hours later, the California billionaire Tom Steyer — who had said in January that he would not run for president — said he would run for president, because the 2020 gods have decreed that the Democratic field shall not dip below two dozen.

Mr. Swalwell had centered his campaign on reducing gun violence, calling, among other things, for a mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons. But while gun control has been a much bigger issue in the 2020 race than in previous cycles, it was not enough to get Mr. Swalwell past 1 percent in the polls.

Mr. Steyer, the new entrant, is best known for his activism around climate change and for his efforts to persuade Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump. He says he will spend $100 million on his campaign. That’s more than the five highest-polling Democrats have raised in the past three months combined.

Seven presidential candidates spoke over the weekend at the Essence Festival, an annual music and culture event geared toward black women.

Senators Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts used the occasion to introduce new proposals aimed at closing the racial wealth gap.

The centerpiece of Ms. Harris’s plan is a $100 billion fund to help people of color buy homes in historically redlined communities. She says it would help up to four million families or individuals with down payments and closing costs.

Ms. Warren called for new requirements for the recipients of the $500 billion in contracts the federal government awards each year: Contractors would have to pay women and people of color equally and would be barred from asking about past salaries and criminal records.

Also at the festival were Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Cory Booker of New Jersey, former Representative Beto O’Rourke of Texas, and Mayors Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., and Bill de Blasio of New York.

We learned a bit more about some of the candidates’ finances this week, with new information about Ms. Warren’s second-quarter fund-raising and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s personal wealth.

On Monday, Ms. Warren’s campaign announced that she had raised $19.1 million in the past three months. At the moment, that puts her behind only Mr. Biden and Mr. Buttigieg for that period.

Then, on Tuesday, Mr. Biden’s campaign released his tax returns. The documents showed that Mr. Biden and his wife, Jill, reported an adjusted gross income of about $11 million in 2017 and $4.6 million in 2018 — far more than any of his major primary opponents. Ms. Harris and her husband have reported the next-highest income: $3.4 million over those two years.

This week we learned that the third set of Democratic primary debates will be held in (drumroll, please): Houston!

Yes, Texas will play host to what could be a two-night event on Sept. 12 and 13. The debate (or debates) will be broadcast by ABC News and the Spanish-language network Univision.

The Democratic National Committee has tightened the requirements for the ABC debate such that less than half of the current 24-person field is likely to qualify. As a result, it could look and feel significantly different than the June debates and the ones coming up this month in Detroit.

We also got more information this week about those Detroit debates, which CNN will broadcast on July 30 and 31. We learned they will be moderated by two of the network’s leading political correspondents, Dana Bash and Jake Tapper, along with the prime-time anchor Don Lemon. And in a move borrowed from the world of reality television, CNN will broadcast a live drawing on July 18 in prime time to determine which of the qualifying candidates will appear on which night.

Ms. Warren unveiled a key element of her policy agenda on Thursday, a detailed proposal to overhaul the country’s immigration system.

She would seek to decriminalize unauthorized border crossings, establish judicial review for immigration cases and create an “Office of New Americans” that would provide services to immigrants transitioning into American society.

A Warren administration, she said, would also investigate allegations of criminal abuse of immigrants under the Trump administration and would allow far more refugees into the country.

Much of the rest of her plan, which she posted on Medium, is similar to what other candidates have suggested. She seeks to reverse what she calls “bigoted” policies imposed by the Trump administration, expand pathways to citizenship for immigrants and spend more on aid to Central America to help address the root causes of migration.

“Donald Trump wants to divide us — to pit worker against worker, neighbor against neighbor,” Ms. Warren wrote. “We can be better than this.”

  • Mr. Buttigieg, whose campaign is struggling to appeal to African-American voters, released a plan to “dismantle racist structures and systems” in the government. His goals include eliminating federal incarceration for drug possession and reducing sentences for other drug offenses; legalizing marijuana at the federal level; and abolishing the death penalty and mandatory minimum sentencing.

  • Ms. Harris wants to provide $1 billion to eliminate rape kit backlogs and prevent future ones. To receive funding, states would have to report, every year, how many untested rape kits they had; process all new kits within a certain period of time; give victims status reports on their rape kits; and make the kits more accessible in rural areas.

  • Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota released a “plan for seniors” that addresses Alzheimer’s disease, prescription drug costs and financial security in retirement. She is proposing more funding for caregivers, and for research on Alzheimer’s and other chronic conditions. Her plan also includes a perennial Democratic call to allow the government to negotiate prices directly with pharmaceutical companies, and a provision that would effectively increase Social Security taxes for wealthy Americans.

  • Mr. Steyer introduced his first proposal, with the lofty goal of “fixing the broken political system in Washington.” The plan, which he described in a video, calls for imposing congressional term limits, establishing independent redistricting commissions to prevent gerrymandering, reversing the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and introducing a “vote-at-home system.”


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