Democratic Presidential Debate Update

The number of Democratic presidential candidates remains in flux. Back in July there were two dozen plus contenders. In a fourteen day period – November 14 to December 3 – four individuals withdrew from the race. Two, however, joined the race: former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on November 14 followed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on November 24. The current cast is down to fifteen.

The sixth Democratic debate is scheduled for Thursday, December 19 to be held in Los Angeles. It will be sponsored by PBS NewsHour and POLITICO.

The active Democratic contenders are (in alphabetical order):
Michael Bennet, Senator from Colorado
Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States
Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City
Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey
Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
Julián Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development
John Delaney, former Congressman from Maryland
Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii
Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota
Deval Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts
Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont
Tom Steyer, former hedge fund executive
Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts
Marianne Williamson, author
Andrew Yang, tech company executive

There are twelve candidates who have withdrawn. They are:
Kamala Harris, Senator from California, withdrew December 3, 2019
Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana, withdrew December 2, 2019
Joe Sestak, former Congressman from Pennsylvania, withdrew December 1, 2019
Wayne Messam, Mayor of Miramar, Florida, withdrew November 20, 2019
Beto O’Rourke, former Congressman from Texas, withdrew November 1, 2019
Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio; withdrew October 24, 2019
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City; withdrew September 20, 2019
Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator from New York; withdrew August 28, 2019
Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts; withdrew August 23, 2019
Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State; withdrew August 21, 2019
John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado; withdrew August 15, 2019
Eric Swalwell, Congressman from California; withdrew July 8, 2019

POLITICO reports six candidates have already qualified, as of December 3, for the December 19th debate. They are: Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, Steyer and Warren. Candidates Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang may still qualify as they have already matched the donor threshold requirement. The official list of candidates who will appear on stage in Los Angeles will be announced by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after the December 12 qualification deadline.

The requirements to participate in the December debate was released in October by the DNC.

Be a voter.

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More Democratic Presidential Debates

The Democratic Presidential debate series continue but with a smaller cast of candidates. Back in July there were twenty-four Democratic presidential candidates. The crowd has slimmed down so perhaps it is appropriate to refresh the list of who is in and who is out. Listed below are the candidates who qualified for the October 15th debate. These debates are conducted using criteria adopted by the Democratic National Committee. The qualification criteria for the upcoming November 20th debate was recently announced.

The current Democratic contenders are (in alphabetical order):
Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States
Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey
Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
Julian Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development
Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii
Kamala Harris, Senator from California
Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota
Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont
Tom Steyer, former hedge fund executive
Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts
Andrew Yang, tech company executive

According to an October 24 story in Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com three, Beto O’Rourke, Julian Castro and Tulsi Gabbard, have yet to qualify for the November debate. (Beto withdrew November 1.)

The contenders who did not meet the requirements for the October debate were:
Michael Bennet, Senator from Colorado
Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana
John Delaney, former Congressman from Maryland
Wayne Messam, Mayor of Miramar, Florida
Joe Sestak, former Congressman from Pennsylvania
Marianne Williamson, author

The candidates who have withdrawn are:
Beto O’Rourke, former Congressman from Texas, withdrew November 1, 2019
Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio; withdrew October 24, 2019
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City; withdrew September 20, 2019
Kirsten Gillibrand, Senator from New York; withdrew August 28, 2019
Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts; withdrew August 23, 2019
Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State; withdrew August 21, 2019
John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado; withdrew August 15, 2019
Eric Swalwell, Congressman from California; withdrew July 8, 2019

Want to make a campaign contribution to your preferred Democratic candidate? The best place to make a secure donation is with ActBlue.

Be a voter.

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LIHEAP Deadline For New Jersey: August 31

This is a quick reminder that New Jersey energy consumers have until August 31 to submit an application under the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). New Jersey has a very late deadline because of a few factors: declining SNAP enrollment, fear among our immigrant families to apply for social benefits and perhaps a low selection rate of families receiving public assistance. To see if you qualify visit the NJ energy assistance programs income guidelines chart.

Since the deadline falls on a Saturday, the best option is to complete an application by mail and make sure it has an August 31, 2019 postmark on it. Go to the state website to download an application.

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Democratic Presidential Debates

Did you watch the Democratic presidential candidates debate last night on CNN? If not, you have the opportunity to watch night #2 starting at 8pm ET live.

Some say it is way too early to be thinking about the 2020 election. The mantra among my friends is “one election cycle at a time.” However, it takes time to learn about all the candidates so we might as well start the process now. True, there are so many presidential candidates in the field, 24 at this moment. (Due to Democratic National Committee rules only 20 have met the requirements for debates #1 and #2.)

Want to make a campaign contribution to your preferred Democratic candidate? The best place to make a secure donation is ActBlue’s list of Presidential candidates.

The current Democratic contenders are (in alphabetical order):Michael Bennet, Senator from Colorado; Joe Biden, former Vice President of the United States; Cory Booker, Senator from New Jersey; Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana; Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Indiana; Julian Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development; Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City; John Delaney, former Congressman from Maryland; Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman from Hawaii; Kamala Harris, Senator from California; John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado; Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State; Amy Klobuchar, Senator from Minnesota; Wayne Messam, Mayor of Miramar, Florida; Seth Moulton, Congressman from Massachusetts; Beto O’Rourke, former Congressman from Texas; Tim Ryan, Congressman from Ohio; Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont; Joe Sestak, former Congressman from Pennsylvania; Tom Steyer, former hedge fund executive; Elizabeth Warren, Senator from Massachusetts; Marianne Williamson, author; Andrew Yang, tech company executive. Eric Swalwell, Congressman from California, withdrew July 8th.

Make your voice heard. Be a voter.

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The Mueller Report

On May 29, 2019 Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, made his first and perhaps only public comment on the Russia investigation which he headed. The following is a transcript of his remarks, as published by The New York Times. Some of his remarks have been highlighted by me for emphasis.

We can agree or disagree with the manner in which Mr. Mueller presented his findings. The man occupying the Oval Office could either be impeached, re-elected, defeated in 2020, tried in court upon leaving office, or a combination of these options. Ultimately it will be up to the American people to decide the fate of Donald Trump.

Become aware of the findings in The Mueller Report, so you can add your voice to the debate. A version of the report is available online as a searchable document.

Your opinions matter. Congress will not move unless a majority of Americans demand action. Contact your Representative and Senators in Washington, DC.

_________________

ROBERT S. MUELLER III, the special counsel: Good morning, everyone, and thank you for being here. Two years ago, the acting attorney general asked me to serve as special counsel and he created the special counsel’s office. The appointment order directed the office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. This included investigating any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign.

Now, I have not spoken publicly during our investigation. I am speaking out today because our investigation is complete. The attorney general has made the report on our investigation largely public. We are formally closing the special counsel’s office, and as well, I’m resigning from the Department of Justice to return to private life. I’ll make a few remarks about the results of our work. But beyond these few remarks, it is important that the office’s written work speak for itself. Let me begin where the appointment order begins, and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election.

As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who are part of the Russian military, launched a concerted attack on our political system. The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cybertechniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign. They stole private information and then released that information through fake online identities and through the organization WikiLeaks.

The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate. And at the same time, as the grand jury alleged in a separate indictment, a private Russian entity engaged in a social media operation, where Russian citizens posed as Americans in order to influence an election. These indictments contain allegations, and we are not commenting on the guilt or the innocence of any specific defendant. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The indictments allege, and the other activities in our report describe, efforts to interfere in our political system. They needed to be investigated and understood. And that is among the reasons why the Department of Justice established our office. That is also a reason we investigated efforts to obstruct the investigation. The matters we investigated were of paramount importance. It was critical for us to obtain full and accurate information from every person we questioned. When a subject of an investigation obstructs that investigation or lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of their government’s effort to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable.

Let me say a word about the report. The report has two parts, addressing the two main issues we were asked to investigate. The first volume of the report details numerous efforts emanating from Russia to influence the election. This volume includes a discussion of the Trump campaign’s response to this activity, as well as our conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. And in the second volume, the report describes the results and analysis of our obstruction of justice investigation involving the president.

The order appointing me special counsel authorized us to investigate actions that could obstruct the investigation. We conducted that investigation, and we kept the office of the acting attorney general apprised of the progress of our work. And as set forth in the report, after that investigation, if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so. We did not, however, make a determination as to whether the president did commit a crime.

The introduction to the Volume II of our report explains that decision. It explains that under longstanding department policy, a president cannot be charged with a federal crime while he is in office. That is unconstitutional. Even if the charge is kept under seal and hidden from public view, that, too, is prohibited. A special counsel’s office is part of the Department of Justice, and by regulation, it was bound by that department policy. Charging the president with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider. The department’s written opinion explaining the policy makes several important points that further informed our handling of the obstruction investigation. Those points are summarized in our report, and I will describe two of them for you.

First, the opinion explicitly permits the investigation of a sitting president, because it is important to preserve evidence while memories are fresh and documents available. Among other things, that evidence could be used if there were co-conspirators who could be charged now.

And second, the opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing. And beyond department policy, we were guided by principles of fairness. It would be unfair to potentially — it would be unfair to potentially accuse somebody of a crime when there can be no court resolution of the actual charge.

So that was Justice Department policy. Those were the principles under which we operated. And from them, we concluded that we would not reach a determination one way or the other about whether the president committed a crime. That is the office’s final position, and we will not comment on any other conclusions or hypotheticals about the president. We conducted an independent criminal investigation and reported the results to the attorney general, as required by department regulations.

The attorney general then concluded that it was appropriate to provide our report to Congress and to the American people. At one point in time, I requested that certain portions of the report be released and the attorney general preferred to make — preferred to make the entire report public all at once and we appreciate that the attorney general made the report largely public. And I certainly do not question the attorney general’s good faith in that decision.

Now, I hope and expect this to be the only time that I will speak to you in this manner. I am making that decision myself. No one has told me whether I can or should testify or speak further about this matter. There has been discussion about an appearance before Congress. Any testimony from this office would not go beyond our report. It contains our findings and analysis and the reasons for the decisions we made. We chose those words carefully, and the work speaks for itself. And the report is my testimony. I would not provide information beyond that which is already public in any appearance before Congress. In addition, access to our underlying work product is being decided in a process that does not involve our office.

So beyond what I’ve said here today and what is contained in our written work, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to speak further about the investigation or to comment on the actions of the Justice Department or Congress. And it’s for that reason I will not be taking questions today, as well.

Now, before I step away, I want to thank the attorneys, the F.B.I. agents, the analysts, the professional staff who helped us conduct this investigation in a fair and independent manner. These individuals who spent nearly two years with the special counsel’s office were of the highest integrity. And I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American. Thank you. Thank you for being here today.

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The 2020 Candidate Pledge

The following is a re-post of an email recently sent by the Indivisible Team, initially introduced in April. Since then 29,000 grassroots activists have signed on to the pledge. It reads as follows:

We must defeat Donald Trump. The first step is a primary contest that produces a strong Democratic nominee. The second step is winning the general election. We will not accept anything less. To ensure this outcome, I pledge to:

Make the primary constructive. I’ll respect the other candidates and make the primary election about inspiring voters with my vision for the future.

Rally behind the winner. I’ll support the ultimate Democratic nominee, whomever it is — period. No Monday morning quarterbacking. No third-party threats. Immediately after there’s a nominee, I’ll endorse.

Do the work to beat Trump. I will do everything in my power to make the Democratic Nominee the next President of the United States. As soon as there is a nominee, I will put myself at the disposal of the campaign.

Take the pledge. Share it on social media.

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22nd Ward Open Caucus Makes Endorsements For May 21 Democratic Primary Election

The following is a press release issued today by a group that I strongly support in an effort to bring democratic practices to the Democratic Party in Philadelphia.

A group of Democratic committeepeople in Philadelphia’s 22nd Ward met on Thursday May 9th for the purpose of endorsing candidates who will be on the May 21 Democratic primary election ballot. The political association, known as the 22nd Ward Open Caucus, was created earlier this year to promote a more open, accessible, and democratic ward system; to share knowledge among committeepeople; and to increase voter participation.

The caucus issued a written request to all candidates appearing on the ballot asking them to provide brief questionnaire responses and appear at the recent candidates meet and greet at the New Covenant Church in Mt. Airy, and 35 candidates responded. “This response lends legitimacy to our caucus and our efforts to give voice to the elected committeepeople in the 22nd Ward and the people they represent” said acting caucus coordinator, Michael Swayze. “The active members of our caucus represent the divisions of our Ward with a high number of registered voters and some of the highest turnouts of all divisions in the City of Philadelphia. Many of us will canvas our divisions for these endorsed candidates.”

The Open Caucus voted to endorse the following slate:
Mayor: Jim Kenney
Council-at-Large: Erika Almirón, Justin DiBerardinis, Derek Green, Helen Gym
City Commissioner: Jen Devor, Kahlil Williams
Court of Common Pleas: Anthony Kyriakakis, Tiffany Palmer
The candidates were approved with a 60% majority vote requirement of those members present and voting.

This press release is also available to download.

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