How to end a presidential campaign (and how not to)

Montana Governor Steve Bullock became the latest Democrat to end his presidential campaign on December 2, acknowledging in a statement that he “won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates.”

Like several others who have dropped out of the race, Bullock had a wealth of experience and was solid on many key issues for Democrats. He repeatedly vetoed abortion restrictions passed by the Republican-controlled legislature, yet somehow persuaded the majority party to expand Medicaid in Montana and take steps to limit the influence of dark money. He could have given President Donald Trump a hell of fight in a general election, having won re-election in 2016 even as Trump carried his state by 20 points.

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Thirteen quick takes on the November Democratic debate

With four presidential contenders packed closely together at the top of the field and a majority of Democratic voters not yet committed to a candidate, televised debates could make or break several campaigns between now and the February 3 Iowa caucuses. As Dan Guild discussed here, debates have fueled breakouts for some lower-polling candidates in past election cycles.

If you missed the fifth Democratic debate on November 20, you can read the full transcript here. My thoughts on the evening in Atlanta:

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A few thoughts on campaign donations and Iowa caucus endorsements

Former Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy resigned as state political director for Tom Steyer’s presidential campaign on November 8, a day after Alexandra Jaffe reported for the Associated Press that Murphy “privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations.”

Among politically active Iowans, reaction to Jaffe’s scoop ranged from anger to disappointment to a shrug: “Isn’t this long accepted practice?”

No. While presidential hopefuls and their affiliated committees have often donated to Democratic candidates and party organizations, hoping for future support, it is rare for anyone to dangle a possible donation in exchange for an endorsement.

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Prominent Iowa Democrats to debate non-qualifiers: Don't drop out

Four Democrats recently ended their presidential bids, after it became clear they would not qualify for tonight’s televised debate from Houston.

But more than half a dozen candidates who weren’t on stage tonight continue to actively campaign in Iowa. Several prominent Iowa Democrats are encouraging them to stay in the race and not let the Democratic National Committee narrow the field by default.

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