Day 52: 7/11/19

With 53 emails, 18 campaigns are slowly ramping up their pre-debate frenzy. 17 campaigns sent me 30 emails as a non-donor, while the other 23 came from 15 campaigns considering me a donor.

And Mike Gravel updated his graphic.

One noticeable silence.

Kamala Harris increased her activity, sending 3 emails in a day to tie with Tim Ryan’s usual prolific writings. Michael Bennet, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Steve Bullock, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mike Gravel, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, and Bernie Sanders all sent 2 emails

4 in the morning, 3 at night.

The emails were overwhelmingly during the middle of the day, between the hours of 11 AM EST and 9 PM EST, with the break between Midday and Evening happening at 5 PM EST. Kamala Harris and Mike Gravel were the two night campaigns, with Harris reminding me about her debate ticket contest and Gravel terrifying me with this update:

Is he… going to eat the mountain?

I’m a bit worried about the image if he hits 65,000 donors.

Again, at this point, it doesn’t matter. Due to the tie-breaking mechanics, Gravel would need more polls to qualify for the debates.

Bernie Sanders was one of the early risers, letting me know how bad it was that Tom Steyer had entered the race, because he’s super rich. Steve Bullock and Tim Ryan also expressed concerns about Steyer today, adding to the complaints leveled at him yesterday from Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kamala Harris.

I have a confession to make: the more the candidates attack Steyer, the more I like him/less I like them.

Steve Bullock had an especially confused message. On the one hand, Steyer is running primarily on getting Big Money out of politics, which is precisely what Bullock has been arguing this whole time. However, Steyer represents Big Money at the same time. Bullock is both grateful for Steyer’s help promoting the cause and resentful of his money.

We welcome anyone to the fight against Big Money.

But let’s be clear. Pumping even more Big Money into our elections won’t solve the problems we face.

Team Bullock

This hearkens back to how Sanders and Warren would preen about how they don’t hold private parties with rich donors, because there is something “pure” about only using grassroots donations. Unfortunately for everyone, big money is in politics, and it is the name of most of the game. Having money makes life and politics so much easier.

Now, let me be clear: I don’t think Steyer is a good candidate. He doesn’t seem to be bringing anything new to the campaign other than his money. Many of his ideas are also ideas other candidates have, plus he’s another old white guy to boot. However, Steyer does have a history of social and political activism. If he weren’t a billionaire, his achievements would be praised across the board; his organizations have focused on things such as bringing technology to rural India, researching and demonstrating sustainable ways of doing agriculture, tackling children’s issues, environmental advocation, and the development and availability of green energy sources. In addition, he and his wife have signed The Giving Pledge to donate half of their fortune to charity during their lifetime. When you say “Big Money,” and “Corporate Greed,” it doesn’t match with this guy, but you’d never know it from how he’s being portrayed by the other candidates:

Tom Steyer is the newest Democratic presidential candidate. He is worth $1.6 billion.

He has pledged to spend at least $100 million of his own money on his campaign. And within 12 hours of running, he’s already spent $1.4 million on TV ads in early voting states.

What we don’t need is more billionaires running for president — and more people spending their vast wealth to buy the political system.

Team Bernie

This week, billionaire Tom Steyer jumped into the race for President — and he’s vowed to spend $100 MILLION. He already dropped a whopping $1.4 million on TV ads in one day!

You shouldn’t have to be a billionaire to run for President. Elections shouldn’t be bought and sold by the highest bidder. Voters should decide who wins based on the candidates’ ideas and values.

Team Bullock

This week, the Democratic primary got a little more crowded — and potentially a lot more expensive.

Tom Steyer announced that he’s running for president, and that he plans to spend at least $100 million of his own money to try to win.

Look: It’s good to have a competitive primary.

But here’s the thing: We need our candidates to compete to have the best ideas — not just to write themselves the biggest checks.

Team Warren

It’s perhaps worth noting that none of these candidates have spoken out against John Delaney, who has a net worth of $92.6 million and has already given his own campaign $12 million of his own money. Delaney isn’t a billionaire, therefore he’s not seen as a threat? Delaney was one of the first Democrats to declare for 2020? It’s hard to say, however, attacking Steyer solely on the fact that he’s rich seems cheap. Far better to flop him on his actions, such as how he had declared in January that he was absolutely NOT going to run for President, and now here in July he’s already flip-flopped on that. What else might he flip-flop on!?

Interestingly, both Sanders and Bullock only sent their Steyer complaint to my non-donor account.

Split the numbers in half for donor vs non-donor

Interestingly, more than Steyer, many campaigns were lashing out at the current president today. Joe Biden was expected, of course, giving me an entire video his team made about Trump’s foreign policy (and even texting me to encourage me to watch it). Kirsten Gillibrand, however, has launched the cycle’s first anti-Trump attack ad, and Trump lashed out at her for it. Amy Klobuchar is still branding herself as the most aggressive critic of Trump, while even Elizabeth Warren slipped in jabs to Trump in one of her policy roll-outs (immigration reform, this time). Cory Booker sent out a passionate email defending immigrants (“No human is illegal — no matter what Donald Trump says.”) and declaring that hate cannot and will not win.

One interesting ask this week was from Tulsi Gabbard, who asked me to consider donating if I hadn’t already.

Remember, Gabbard doesn’t email non-donors. I wonder if she realizes this flaw in her plan to reach 130,000 individual donors.

Both Andrew Yang and John Hickenlooper talked about some changes to their campaign. Hickenlooper’s email was positive and hopeful and the introduction of his new campaign manager who was telling me not to pay attention to what anyone is saying, the race was wide open.

New campaign manager at this point of the campaign? Don’t pay attention to what people are saying? Hickenlooper has been struggling, and it sounds like he’s decided his staff is to blame. When asked if 5 of his major staffers had quit or been let go, Hickenlooper said it was a mix of both. At least one of his staffers, his Finance Director, has been picked up by Beto O’Rourke’s campaign. Overall, things aren’t looking good for “Team Hick,” but they’re remaining optimistic.

Andrew Yang, meanwhile, wrote me an essay on how the election is actually going to play out via media, and really via social media, and he is learning and adapting and it’s really important that the Yang Gang continues to share his message, because people trust their friends more than they trust politicians.

The large crowds – all of you – caused more and more news channels and programs to reach out for interviews.  These have a certain rhythm.  I put on makeup.  They are about 5 – 7 minutes long, including questions and footage.  I hope that viewers are interested enough to follow up.

A lot of national politics is produced through these segments.  I have adapted and am evolving to the medium.

Andrew Yang

Yang has talked about the realities of running a campaign several times, and always with emotion ranging from mild disinterest, as seen above, to outright contempt, as when he referred to candidates calling potential donors as “soul-crushing.” Perhaps this is why I get the impression that he writes these updates because he has to and not because he genuinely is passionate about his campaign. Yang himself doesn’t seem happy to be doing what he’s doing. It’s not doing much to inspire passion in me.

On the other hand, Pete Buttigieg launched his campaign with a “Rules of the Road,” or a list of values he expects his staff to adhere to. It’s the first email I received from his campaign, and one of his rules, his last one, was Joy.


Amid the great challenge we have accepted, let us be joyful. We are privileged to be in the very center of the most important conversation in the world. We are assembling a team of wonderful human beings. Along the way we will all get many opportunities to lift one another up and lift up those we encounter. The American presidential election is the world’s greatest civic and democratic ritual. It will shape us but we can shape it too. Let us shape it, partly, by spreading the joy of working for our beliefs.

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg’s values show through in his emails. Like with Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke, I don’t groan to myself when I receive one of Buttigieg’s emails. Whoever is writing them is genuinely interested in what they’re talking about (most of the time, his end-of-quarter fundraising was a bit painful). There’s a noticeable difference between his tone and the tone of campaigns like Julian Castro or Tim Ryan, or even Kamala Harris, which seem so blatantly phoned in. Today’s email from Buttigieg was a launch of his Douglass Plan, a policy launch of anti-racist policies “comparable in scale to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.”

Not only did Buttigieg launch this policy with its own page on his website, but he also included video interviews with the people who helped formulate the plan, and he worked with the descendants of Douglass himself and the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives to both get their permission and their input to use the Douglass name and to shape the plan to something that might actually help Black America. That respect, like his joy, shines through in his words:

This plan is just the beginning, and I won’t pretend to have all the answers. But as we continue this campaign, I will continue listening to those communities most excluded from the opportunities of America, and putting forward policies to empower them still further.  

I believe this is our last, best chance at a more perfect union for all. The ultimate well-being of millions of people—not distant descendants but children alive today—depends on whether we can resolve these inequalities in our time. 

Pete Buttigieg
Geez, Ryan, slow down!

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