Jan 2, 2019

Democrats' 2020 race is about to speed up

Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks to reporters outside her home in Cambridge, Mass., on New Year's Eve, accompanied by her husband, Bruce Mann, and their golden retriever, Bailey. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

After two months of behind-the-scenes jockeying since the midterms, the Democrats' race for president is about to burst into the open with a series of candidacy announcements and staff hires, 2020 operatives tell me.

What's happening: "This has been a slow dance," one top strategist said. "No one was in a rush — people said they would make a decision over the holidays. Now, the pace is about to change fast."

A wave of announcements, like the one Sen. Elizabeth Warren made on New Year's Eve morning, is planned for the next few weeks.

  • The hopefuls need to raise money, and need an organization for housing the aides they want to hire to take them off the hot 2020 job market.
  • Look for announcements this month by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and likely others.
  • "They need a vehicle," the strategist said. That could include an exploratory committee or a full candidacy.

I'm told that "the Bs" — Biden, Bernie, Beto and the billionaires, including Mike Bloomberg — can wait longer because they'll be able to quickly raise money.

  • Be smart: A veteran of Democratic presidential campaigns said top aides will start to jump to campaigns this month. But many of the "big-time consultants, many of whom have multiple possible 2020 clients," will take longer.

Go deeper: The Democrats' 2020 crowd jumps the gun

Go deeper

America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday, while Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 as of Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."