Week 22: October 13-19

In light of recent events and recent emails, I think it’s important to look at who is going negative in the Democratic primary. Remember we are ultimately all on the same team. Vote Blue No Matter Who.

Last night, I was asked a question about how many times Pete Buttigieg called out another candidate by name. Of course, I couldn’t stop at just one candidate, so I wrote a whole Medium piece on my findings.

There’s that debate spike, exactly as expected.
Debate week always brings a lot of emails.

Kamala Harris sent more than 3 emails a day this week, with a whopping 22 emails total. Joe Biden and Julian Castro came in second place with 21 emails each, while Cory Booker trailed behind at just 18 emails.


The distribution was thrown off by the debate.

With the most crowded Presidential debate in our country’s history, Tuesday was the busiest day of the week. I myself was exhausted trying to keep up with all of the emails. There was some sustained energy on Wednesday as the campaigns recapped the debate, and they took a breath on Thursday before building back up for the weekend push.

I hate the “we’re behind” emails.

Very few candidates closed their goals this week. Elizabeth Warren missed both of her debate-night fundraising goals of either 20,000 donations or 7,500 new donors, however, Andrew Yang achieved his goal of 40,000 donations by debate night, and Amy Klobuchar blew her $100,000 goal out of the water, raising over $1.1 million in the 24 hours after the debate. Tulsi Gabbard also announced that she had exceeded her end-of-quarter goal of 40,000 new donors by the FEC deadline.

It’s because of your support — and the support of tens of thousands of other Tulsi supporters just like you — that as of this week’s FEC public filing deadline we not only met but exceeded our end of quarter fundraising goal of 40,000 new donations. That brings us to more than 180,000 unique grassroots donors powering our small but mighty, and growing, campaign.

Caitlin for TULSI2020

I do want to call attention to her wording. “As of this week’s FEC public filing deadline…”

The FEC deadline for end of quarter was September 30, but campaigns had until October 15 to turn in their numbers. Gabbard exceeded her end-of-quarter goal… as of this week? I’m not entirely sure if I should interpret this to mean that she didn’t actually achieve her end of quarter goal before the end of Q3 or if it means that she’s only announcing it now because the public filing deadline has passed.

Either way, 180,000 grassroots donors is more than enough for the November debates. Gabbard just needs the polls now.

51 emails negative toward fellow Democrats.

Unfortunately for Gabbard, her popularity may have taken a beating. This past week, Hillary Clinton came out with a comment that someone in the Democratic primary is being groomed by Republicans and favored by Russia to upset the 2020 elections. Gabbard lost her cool and ranted on Twitter and via email. While Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang defended Gabbard, and one of Bernie Sanders’ staffers has come out on strong short of Gabbard (not necessarily speaking for Sanders himself), Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Julian Castro, Cory Booker, and Pete Buttigieg all gave some comment along the lines of “I’m not getting into this.” Beto O’Rourke was asked a specific question (is Tulsi being groomed?) and basically said no, absolutely not, which was then taken out of context to make it sound like a defense, but he later clarified that he, like most of the others, is not greeting into it. (These are just the instances that have been brought to my attention, and I’d be fascinated to hear how other candidates are weighing in on the situation.)

In interest of complete transparency: I believe Hillary Clinton. The facts and analyses I have been privvy to show a lot of very questionable things about Gabbard and a lot of support of her from very questionable people and groups, such as Steve Bannon, David Duke, Tucker Carlson, and Russia Today. She was in consideration to be part of Trump’s cabinet, and a lot of her talking points echo those of Russia’s policies.

Furthermore, she never said she wasn’t helping Russia. It reminded me of the time when Trump, instead of saying he wasn’t a sexual abuser, instead said “she’s not my type.”

Plenty of people have been holding up Gabbard’s military credentials as proof that she couldn’t be helping Russia. I hold up in return convicted felon General Flynn.

But enough about Gabbard. While her vitriol toward Clinton and the establishment smearing her (even before the podcast) takes up a lot of the negativity toward Democrats, Michael Bennet has also been getting digs in toward the establishment blocking him from the stage. So too has Steve Bullock and Marianne Williamson.

While Cory Booker expressed his disappointment at the missed opportunity for the Democratic party to show their values on the debate stage, Bernie Sanders lashed out specifically at Joe Biden for criticizing Medicare for All, and Julian Castro…

Well, first Castro went after Pete Buttigieg for his “pocket change” comment in a Snapchat interview.

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the value of grassroots donations to Presidential campaigns – another candidate even called them “pocket change” and said that we “aren’t going to defeat Donald Trump” without catering to major donors. 

I disagree. 

This campaign is fueled by more than 175,000 individual donors from this so called pocket change. 

So far this month, our average donation online has been $15. This is personal for me.  

My path to this moment didn’t begin with me. It began when my grandmother, Victoria, came to the United States at seven years old. She never made it past the fourth grade, but worked hard for low wages for her family and passed on the values of hard work and perseverance. My mother, Rosie, grew up to become a strong Chicana activist, educator and single mom to myself and my twin brother Joaquin. She taught me that if you want to make a change in your community, you don’t wait— you work hard. That is how she became the first Chicana to run for San Antonio City Council. 

$15 isn’t just pocket change – it’s what so many have fought for as the hourly living wage. I believe that we need to unrig our broken economic system so that it works for the people at the bottom as well as it does for those at the top. For years, working families have been asked to pay more and more, while the 1% reap the benefits. This is why I have advocated for raising the minimum wage to $15 and joined the “Fight for 15” protests by fast-food workers across the country, who are fighting for a living wage and safe working conditions. 

I am proud that my campaign had one of the lowest average contribution amounts of any of the major Presidential campaigns last quarter. This shows that Americans from all walks of life believe in our message and our vision of putting people – not corporations – first and are giving whatever they can spare to help us spread our message. 

It is no secret that my campaign is not the favorite of hedge fund millionaires on Wall Street. But that’s ok, because it’s not their support I’m after. I have pledged to reject any help from PACs, special interest groups, and lobbyists, because I know their corruptive influence is not in the best interests of our country. It may hurt our fundraising, but I don’t care because I have the support of people like you instead, and that’s all I need.  

Can you chip in $15, $30, or whatever pocket change you can spare right now to show that campaigns don’t need to sell out to Wall Street to win?

Julian Castro

He then lashed out at Tom Steyer for buying his way on stage in several emails.

When I take the debate stage in a few minutes, I need you to remember this: 

I’m not a billionaire like other candidates on that stage.  

I didn’t spend $17 million from my own pocket to meet the requirements.  

I earned my spot on the debate stage because you believed in me. You had my back. And you sent me there to fight for you. 

That’s exactly what I intend to do. 

I’m humbly asking for one last favor before I take the stage: Will you have my back with $5? Let’s show the strength of this incredible movement.

Julian Castro

Let me be perfectly blunt with you. 

I’m fighting for a spot in the next debates, and I might not make it. 

Because of the DNC rules, it’s possible for billionaires like Tom Steyer to flood the race with $47M of their own money and buy their way onto that stage. 

I wasn’t born into wealth. You shouldn’t have to be born into privilege to become President. And I refuse to take a cent from corporate PACs. It would mean so much to me to have your $5 to make the next debate instead. This moment is so critical, your generous gift will be matched until midnight. >>

Not everyone has the luxury of growing up a frontrunner. But because of your support, I’ve been able to make each debate stage.  

But I don’t have billions in personal wealth to fund my presidential race.  

What I do have is an understanding of what it’s like to struggle — and a powerful vision to lift up folks struggling across this country. 

So I’m calling you to action — I only need 1 more gift from [ZIP CODE] before midnight to have a historic debate response and show that someone with my background deserves an equal shot at President.  

Can I count on your immediate $5 to earn my spot at the next debate?

This moment is so pivotal, every generous gift will be matched until midnight. 

I know every dollar is precious to you. I wouldn’t ask if this wasn’t the biggest test our movement has ever faced. 

Julian Castro

He even added in a dig at the “establishment” while hitting at Steyer.

I need you to make a critical choice before midnight: 

We can either sit back and let the establishment cut us from the running.

Or we can rise up, secure our spot in the next debates, and prove that our movement is here for the long haul.

I only need 467 more supporters to chip in before midnight to fully fund my first TV ad in Iowa, secure the polls I need to make the next debates, and prove everyone who ever doubted us wrong. Can I count on your critical $5? >>

Frankly, I don’t have billions in personal wealth to blanket the air with TV ads to make the next debate. 

But I would never forgive myself if I allowed us to be cut from the running because I didn’t ask for your help.

I only need 467 gifts before midnight to have a historic debate response, fund my first Iowa TV ad, and make the next debates. Can I count on you?

Julian Castro

He actually sent his second Steyer email out again, just in case I missed it the first time, and then followed it up with an accusation of Democrats allowing child separation at the border.

My immigration plan to END family separation shaped the first debates — now candidates are backtracking and claiming we should accept less from Republicans. I need 50,000 signatures-strong before midnight to show that we will NEVER accept an immigration system that allows children to be jailed on our border. Add your name next to mine. >> 

I just can’t ignore this: 

Other Democrats running for President backed my plan to end family separations at the first debate. 

But now? Some of these same Democrats are quietly backtracking and claiming we should accept less. 

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. 

Separating babies from their mothers at our border, locking them in cages, then allowing them to die in our custody should NEVER happen in this country. 

This fact is not up for debate. 

I’m asking for a powerful surge of support — 50,000 signatures before midnight — if you agree we need an immigration policy that will stop a president from EVER jailing children at our border again. >> 

Thank you for your voice in this fight.

Julian Castro

He then went back to hitting at Pete Buttigieg again, with the gumption to start by saying that how a candidate campaigns is a reflection of their values.

The way we campaign is a reflection of our values.

While some candidates dismiss the power of grassroots support in favor of wealthy donors, I am proud that my campaign has the highest percentage of grassroots donors of any candidate.

I know that the reason so many working folks support my campaign is because I have focused on issues that matter to them.

While other campaigns focused on attacking bold ideas and the frontrunners in the last debate, I was the only one to highlight police violence, the shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, and I was the only candidate to point out the hypocrisy of letting ISIS fighters run free in Syria while keeping innocent children in cages at our southern border.

I was disappointed to hear today that Mayor Buttigieg accepted a maximum donation and planned to attend a fundraiser co-hosted by the former city attorney in Chicago who worked to make sure the public never got to see the footage of police killing 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. I applaud Mayor Buttigieg for returning the contribution, but at a time where police violence remains such a critical issue, it shouldn’t take four months to return such a problematic contribution.

My campaign has always put people first.

When I began this race, I didn’t go to Iowa or New Hampshire, I went to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to tell our fellow citizens there that, if elected president, I wouldn’t forget them.

I visited the storm drain tunnels under the Las Vegas strip that provide shelter to people struggling with homelesness.

And I crossed the border to Matamoros, Mexico, to see the devastating consequences of Donald Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy.

It’s no secret that my campaign hasn’t raised as much as some of the other campaigns in this race — I’ve refused to accept money from corporate (or any) PACs, and federal lobbyists and I will NOT compromise my principles. This campaign belongs to you and no matter what, I will continue to focus on the issues that matter and the communities that have often been left behind.

Contribute today if you believe in this vision and agree that this is how campaigns should be run:

Julian Castro

And then he finished with another dig at Tom Steyer and his money.

I’m asking for a swift and powerful surge of support. Here’s why: I’m fighting for a spot in the next debates against self-funding billionaires who are buying their way on that stage. Can I count on your immediate $5 to qualify for the next debates and show the strength of our movement? I need 385 gifts before midnight. >> 

I didn’t hold anything back on the debate stage.

I fought for your family like you were my own.

I fought for kids trapped in cages like they were my daughter and son. 

I fought for communities targeted by police violence like it was my hometown.

Your fight will always — always — be my fight. But right now, I need you to fight for me. 

I’m fighting for a spot in the next debates against billionaires who are buying their way on that stage. 

I need a massive surge of support — 385 more gifts before midnight — to qualify for the next debates and pull off this historic upset. 

I’m counting on your $5 more than you know:

Julian Castro

At least the other candidates going negative are keeping their focuses narrow and sharp. Gabbard hates being smeared. Bennet, Bullock, and Williamson are upset they aren’t qualifying for the debate stage. Sanders doesn’t like that Biden doesn’t like his plan.

Castro seems to be swinging around to see what he can hit.

He’s absolutely right, though: the way a candidate campaigns does reflect their values. And that’s why I can’t support someone with a negative attitude as the my preferred nominee.

A surprising amount of Other asks this week.

The topic of the week was so overwhelmingly Debate that it’s not even worth putting the chart up. However, there were a lot of non-donation asks.

Cory Booker asked for relief funds to be sent to California, which is once again on fire.

Our friends in California are experiencing severe wildfires, leaving catastrophic impacts on those who live there.

That’s why I’m reaching out to see if you can help the wildfire relief efforts right now by donating to local relief groups on the ground.

We can’t accept these extreme weather events as a new normal. Right now, tens of thousands of people are being forced to evacuate their communities, losing their homes, and are getting exposed to unhealthy air. This is a story we hear too often out of California, which finds itself on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

And we cannot forget the courageous first responders who are risking their lives to protect lives and property, and put out these fires. These brave firefighters, police officers, EMS personnel, and other first responders are true heroes among us.

As a country, we have to address the conditions that make these fires so prevalent and dangerous. We need to take immediate action to accelerate the end of our reliance on fossil fuels. We need climate action now.

I’ve said that as your president I’m going to ask more of you, not less of you. In this very moment, I’m asking you to help our neighbors in California.

Thanks for stepping up for our fellow Americans in their greatest time of need.

Cory Booker

It was an ask like this one, I believe for flood relief, that triggered my one and only political donation before this election cycle: $5 to Obama in 2012. I remember appreciating so much that he was asking for me to help someone other than himself. I’ve tried to make a point of calling out whenever a candidate does this–Beto O’Rourke is still leading for most “outside” donation asks.

There were quite a few “Other” asks this week as well. Pete Buttigieg was going to do a video AMA and was asking people to send in their questions (the video has not been released yet). Andrew Yang also did an AMA on Friday, 10 hours long, so he too was asking for questions. Elizabeth Warren wanted to hear from her donors why they donated, so she asked them to share their stories with her, while Marianne Williamson had a supporter write an email explaining her support and offered to let us write one as well, if we submitted outlines to her. Finally, today is Kamala Harris’ birthday, so her campaign was trying to get a card signed.

I do like the “Other” asks the best. They are usually so creative compared to the usual “give me money,” “sign my petition,” or “take my survey/poll.” Honestly, I hate the campaigns asking me what their campaign strategy should be. If I had any skill in designing campaign strategy, I’d be actually, you know, working on a campaign. “What issues are important to you?” is another survey I hate answering. All of them. I want to hear about all of the issues. I want to hear about what issues the candidate feels are the most important, because that’ll tell me where they’ll put their priorities.

And yes, if enough people take these surveys, they could influence a campaign into focusing more on automation or climate change. However, I still want to elect a leader who doesn’t need my feedback to govern effectively and in a way I approve of. (Yes, I want a mind reader. Or just a good person. Basically the same thing, for me.)

My favorite email of the week, though, was a simple info email from Tim Ryan. His was the only campaign that addressed this tragic news event of the past week via email. This was also the only email his campaign sent out this week.

Today, our nation mourns the loss of a man whose compassion and fearlessness inspired so much of the good around us. A man whose unrelenting fight for justice and equality paved the way for decades worth of progress. A man, friends, who poured his heart and soul into the betterment of our country and the advancement of our most sacred principles.

Representative Elijah Cummings was more than just a congressman. He was a fighter — an inspiration — a hero. His work to protect and expand civil rights, safeguard our democracy, and give a voice to the voiceless will not soon — if ever — be forgotten. Not for us, and certainly not for the millions of American lives he touched with his immense wisdom and generosity.

He rose to every occasion and showed the rest of us what it meant to be a leader. I was fortunate to work alongside him in the House. I will never forget his kindness, the fierce passion for the American people, and his unwavering dedication to furthering liberty and justice for all.

Congressman Cummings never stopped fighting to make sure that future generations would have access to the same opportunities as he did. His contributions in the House are too plentiful to begin to count — his contributions as an American even greater. We will remember him forever.

With admiration,

Tim Ryan

In light of Ryan’s emails, I’d like to continue on to a special edition of…

Theirs Too!

Presidential elections aren’t the only important elections, and presidential candidates aren’t the only candidates who can have good (or bad!) emails. If you get any emails that you feel are brilliant, you can forward them to me at TheirsToo@ButTheirEmails.33mail.com. I’ll try to highlight ones worth your attention!

Tim (not the candidate) sent me an email from the DNC’s official email account.

Yesterday, I woke up to the tragic news that my friend and mentor Elijah Cummings is no longer with us. I have been fearing this moment for some time, and I hoped that Elijah would follow in the footsteps of his namesake. Elijah, the prophet of the Old Testament, was a miracle worker, and I prayed that a miracle would restore my friend to good health.

But now my heart is broken. Elijah Cummings was the moral compass of Maryland politics. He was the conscience of Congress. And he reminded us regularly that the test of a man is not how much he helps himself, but how much he helps those less fortunate.

Elijah passed that test with flying colors. Wherever he went, his North Star was helping people, especially those in the shadows. And his legacy runs deep — from the neighborhoods of Baltimore to the halls of the House.

I woke up yesterday with a mix of grief and gratitude. Grief for what we’ve lost; gratitude for all he gave us. Elijah Cummings was one of a kind. He was a man of great conscience and character. A man who never faltered in the face of injustice, who never backed down from fighting for what was right. He leaves us with a broken heart but a better world.

Here’s my tribute to an American hero. I hope you’ll give it a read.

Tom Perez, Chair, Democratic National Committee

As Tim pointed out, and as Tim Ryan also wrote, these men seem to be sharing a genuine admiration and grief with us. Congressman Cummings was an incredible man, a powerful man, and a good man. His voice will be greatly missed.

It is worth calling out the simple fact that neither Ryan nor Perez used this opportunity to fundraise. In fact, Tim said that he believed this was the very first DNC email he’s ever received without a donate button.

I think that right there underlines why this election is so important. When we lose a good one, we grieve. When the current President does, he gloats.

I will not grieve when these bars turn blue, though.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, consider supporting me on Ko-Fi. But Their Emails! merch is also available on for purchase here!

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