Day 59: 7/18/19

Did you know Thursday was the drawing for the second Democratic debates? I knew! I definitely knew, because 41 of the 73 total emails, from 19 campaigns, were talking about the debates.

Of those emails, all 19 campaigns sent 37 emails to my non-donor account, and 18 campaigns sent the other 36 emails.

I think someone got a little excited.

Elizabeth Warren blew her competition out of the water with a whopping 5 emails in one 24-hour period. She started the day with an early morning email reminding me that she’s behind on her July fundraising and needs my help to catch up, but then throughout the day she was practically bouncing off the walls with 3 emails reminding me that TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT, OMG, IN A FEW HOURS WE’LL KNOW THE LINEUP! She finally emailed me late at night to let me know that she’s hosting a contest to come see her at the debates on Tuesday. In addition, one of her earlier emails (sent at 5:25 PM ET) was all images letting me know that in just a few hours, we’d know the lineup, but when I checked again this morning, the email had been changed to declare that she was appearing on the debate stage on Tuesday. Technically, this gave her the earliest email declaring the draw results, though I don’t think it should count, as at the time it was sent, the draw had not happened.

CNN hosted the drawing live on their network at 8 PM ET, with a whole hour-long show explaining exactly what they were doing for full transparency. They included 3 camera angles for every drawing, so we could all see there was no funny business going on, while pundits talked with Anderson Cooper about what this could mean for the various campaigns. It was all Dramatic and a bit Ridiculous, but at the same time, I loved it. It was actually a historic moment: as Cooper pointed out at the top of the show, traditionally this sort of debate planning is done in private rooms, behind closed doors, among the heads of the party and campaigns. This was the first time the public was invited in to actually see it happening and confirm for themselves that nothing was rigged. If nothing else, it was drumming up some excitement and interest in the political machine.

Of course, despite CNN’s best efforts for fair and random, random chance thumbed its nose at the debates and created a lopsided draw. Polling-wise, the nights are fairly evenly split. Popularity-wise, the nights are fairly evenly split.

Diversity-wise, you have a night of white candidates and a night of POC candidates.

While the networks are all mentioning this, the campaigns were largely silent on the issue. Here’s how the debate nights will look, in stage order from left to right, and what the candidates have said after the draw:

Night One: Tuesday, July 30

  • Marianne Williamson did not mention the debate at all.
  • Tim Ryan seemed surprised and excited that he had made the debate at all (which had been confirmed several days earlier). In his excitement, he completely forgot to tell me which day he was on and just asked for more money.
  • Amy Klobuchar announced her date and her full lineup, though she did not have the lineup in any particular order. The debate is another chance to share her optimism and speak out against Trump. Also, could I give more money?
  • Pete Buttigieg was the first campaign to hit my inbox with an email after the announcement, and he included which date he was going to be appearing. He also reminded me about his contest to win a trip to the debates on his campaign.
  • Bernie Sanders named a partial lineup (Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, and O’Rourke) and gave his debate date only to his non-donor list, and then he proceeded to insult his opponents. “While some other candidates will talk about issues that will please the billionaire class, Bernie will be standing up for what we believe.” (Faiz Shakir, Campaign Manager, Bernie 2020). Also, could I give more money?
  • Elizabeth Warren announced her debate date and the launch of her debate contest. Same as everyone else, you donate and you could get tickets for two, a hotel night, and airfare to see the debates live.
  • Beto O’Rourke did not mention the debate at all.
  • John Hickenlooper did not mention the debate at all.
  • John Delaney did not mention the debate at all.
  • Steve Bullock told me he would take the debate stage in just 12 days. He neglected to tell me which day that actually was, therefore making me do math if I wanted to confirm his appearance based on his email alone. He’s very grateful for everything I’ve done for him and would like me to give more money.

Night Two: Wednesday, July 31

  • Michael Bennet sent an absolutely atrocious email from the sender [BREAKING NEWS!!]] with a CNN ALERT in the subject to announce that he was on stage on the 31st, and could I sign a petition to show I was with him?
  • Kirsten Gillibrand named her entire lineup in the subject in alphabetical order with their full names and gave the date of her debate, then pressed me to donate so she could make it into the fall debates.
  • Julian Castro did not mention the debate at all.
  • Cory Booker named his entire lineup in the subject in alphabetical order with their surnames only and gave his debate date. He also asked if he could count on me to keep donating for momentum.
  • Joe Biden alerted me to his debate date and wanted to know if I had his back by signing a petition that I’m on Team Joe. He’s trying to get 20,000 signers before the debates.
  • Kamala Harris named two of her opponents (Biden and Booker) and gave her debate date. She also encouraged me to donate to her contest to win a trip to the debates.
  • Andrew Yang did not mention the debate at all.
  • Tulsi Gabbard did not mention the debate at all.
  • Jay Inslee did not mention the debate at all.
  • Bill de Blasio did not mention the debate at all.

Other than using the debates to ask for money or opinions, the main thing the candidates wanted to talk about was Trump’s incredibly racist rally the other night. While there wasn’t much discussion about his racist tweets, many of the candidates came out denouncing his supporters’ chants at his rally.

Tim Ryan was alarmed by the racism and xenophobia coming out of the White House and urged me to help elect him so we can get some responsibility back.

Beto O’Rourke reminded me that racist chants don’t happen accidentally. He encouraged me to stand up against Trump and for Ilhan Omar by splitting a donation between himself and her campaign.

Marianne Williamson was watching the rally from the green room while waiting for an interview with Anderson Cooper. She was interviewed immediately after and asked about the rally, and she informed Cooper that sometimes love needs to say NO, and this was one of those times.

Jay Inslee condemned the rally and encouraged me to make a straight donation to Ilhan Omar.

And then there was Bernie Sanders.

Sanders told me how he had been having dinner with Omar and her daughter and several other members of Congress when the rally was happening, and he was surprised at how unfazed Omar was. She explained that she had been dealing with this kind of hatred and racism for a long time. He then asked me to split a donation between Omar and his own campaign.


Sanders has been having some email flubs lately, and they’re standing out in these emails. They’re all minor, but they’re making me wonder if his usual email manager is on vacation or something. For example, in his subject, he asked for a $2.70 donation regardless of who he was sending the email to, but in the body, for my donor account, he asked only for $1 donations (as that was how much I had already donated). He hadn’t set the subject to pull from his database the same way he did with his body.

He also started the email as “Sisters and Brothers” for the non-donor, no-name email, and then referenced “Brothers and sisters” later on in the email. For my donor email, he personalized it by addressing the email directly to my name (again, a mail merge from his database), but later in the email kept the “Brothers and sisters” line.

These aren’t huge flubs, but they’re surprisingly sloppy coming from Sanders’ campaign. It’s something I expect (and have received!) more from Tim Ryan or Steve Bullock, someone who is struggling with their first national campaign, and not someone who already has a full run of experience under their belt.

The biggest flub came with Sanders’ last email of the night. To his non-donor account, he sent an email about the debate draw and some insults to his opponents.

To his donor account, he repeated the email about dinner with Omar.

There are certain events that do warrant an email from a political campaign. I was absolutely expecting every campaign to notify me immediately to what day they were appearing in the debates. I’m honestly surprised that as of the time of this writing, my donor account has not received this information from the Sanders campaign.

(And that’s all without talking about the somewhat insulting ask of sending Omar only $0.50 as a donation (splitting $1 between two campaigns), which Beto O’Rourke also did.)

Tulsi Gabbard sent an email ridiculously early in the morning (2:59 AM ET), but she sent it to both my donor and non-donor accounts. She seems to have finally realized that non-donors weren’t being contacted and had rectified that. I do wonder what triggered that awareness. In honor of reaching out to interested parties who had never donated for the first time, Gabbard is setting a goal of 5,000 new donors every week. After all:

We have a little known candidate from Hawaii who has been either shut out or smeared by the mainstream media. 


I know it’s popular to attack the “mainstream media” these days, but am I the only one who feels a little bit of revulsion whenever I hear that term thrown around like a slur? Of course the mainstream media has an agenda. Everyone has an agenda. I have an agenda. But a free press is a hallmark of the U.S.A., and I just feel uneasy when it gets attacked. Yes, it absolutely can do a much better job of calling out bullshit and clarifying the difference between opinions and facts, but that doesn’t mean it should all be lumped together and cast aside.

Regardless of your beliefs on the mainstream media, I do need to take a moment to call out Julian Castro. We now have 2 emails in a row with no mention of Castro’s immigrant grandmother or single mother… and his message is stronger for it. On Thursday, he sent out an email expressing his outrage over the man who killed Eric Garner going free and sending a petition demanding justice for people of color. He pointed out that white men who murdered multiple people who were simply worshipping could be arrested without being injured, but people of color arrested at something as routine as a traffic stop could find themselves dead, and that just plain wasn’t acceptable.

However, as Castro stops mentioning his single mom, Steve Bullock starts. Or, rather, he continues. For the fourth time, Bullock has taken a leaf out of Castro’s book and recited his tragic childhood of being raised by a single mom who struggled to make ends meet and only knew about the governor’s mansion because he delivered papers to it and it is so obvious that someone on Bullock’s team decided to take a shot at copying Castro’s style of sharing his backstory to humanize him. Unfortunately, just like Castro, there is no shakeup to the backstory, and it very quickly lost its ability to inspire as it was repeated ad nauseum.

We have almost reached 2000 emails!

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