What to Expect

We’re back after going dark briefly over the Christmas holiday. (No, just in case you were wondering, we’re not part of the government shutdown.) We trust that you are rested, recharged and ready for the new year and the ever-evolving political developments that will come.

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 2, 2019 — We kick off a new calendar and political year looking at several anticipated events. On the presidential front, we can expect several candidate announcements coming in January, along with a changing primary/caucus schedule. Additionally, some close losing congressional candidates are already declaring they want a re-match.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) began the new year by forming a presidential exploratory committee and stating that she would begin her potential national campaign with a four-city information-gathering tour in Iowa, site of the first presidential votes scheduled for early February of 2020.

Four potential Democratic candidates are reportedly close to hiring key personnel either as national managers or Iowa state leaders. Aside from Sen. Warren, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), are apparently poised to make staffing announcements possibly within the first two weeks of this new month and year.

An imminent presidential candidacy declaration is expected from former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (D-TX), who formed an exploratory committee in early December. Rumors in Texas abound, however, that while Castro may begin to compete in the presidential race he could pivot out of the national campaign and into a US Senate challenge against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) if he fails to gain traction.

It’s also conceivable that we will have a better understanding of where former Vice President Joe Biden is headed sometime later this month. He made a statement around Thanksgiving that he would think about whether to enter the presidential campaign and make a decision within the next couple of months.

Discussions of further change relating to the presidential nominating calendar continue to occur ever since California took action to move their major primary to March 3. Considering their early voting laws, some Golden State voters will begin casting ballots at the same time as the Iowa Caucus concludes and the New Hampshire primary culminates.

Considering the size and importance of California, it is reasonable to conclude that candidates will be spending time there during the Iowa and New Hampshire prime time campaign periods.

Considering this probability, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, who has sole authority to schedule and move the Granite State primary, is considering holding the first-in-the-nation primary before the end of 2019 in order to avoid losing prominence to California. But, Gardner says, he likely won’t decide the final schedule until much later this year. The situation becomes even murkier if Ohio and several other states follow California’s lead and also move to March 3.

Gina Ortiz Jones, who came within 926 votes of unseating Texas Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) in a major swing district that stretches all the way from San Antonio to El Paso, says she is “very likely” to seek a 2020 re-match with Hurd, who just won his third term.

Ammar Campa-Najjar (D), one of the few losing California Democratic challengers, says he will run again in the state’s 50th District. Falling to indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) means that a new cycle could quickly develop here if the congressman is found guilty of campaign finance violations and forced to leave the House. Such a development would yield a special election that would likely draw many candidates from both parties in a free-for-all campaign.

And, as we previously reported at the end of last year, Nebraska Democrat Kara Eastman who lost a tight 51-49 percent outcome to Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillon/Omaha), says that she, too, plans to run again. Eastman is likely to incur Democratic primary opposition, however, before getting another shot at unseating Bacon.

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