Littwin short take: Bennet is 21st Dem, out of 22, now in presidential field

Michael Bennet speaking in 2011. (Photo by Jennifer Cogswell 11 via Flickr: Creative Commons)
Michael Bennet speaking in 2011. (Photo by Jennifer Cogswell 11 via Flickr: Creative Commons)

Updated to reflect Bennet’s official announcement

The only remaining surprise about Michael Bennet’s big announcement was when it would come. He’s running for president. He’s announced his intention Thursday morning on CBS This Morning and he put out the inevitable campaign kickoff video, in which, by the way, he never mentioned Donald Trump. 

Colorado Public Radio broke the story, citing friends of Bennet who were on a conference call with the senator. Since Bennet announced he had prostate cancer, he has said that he would run if the surgery left him cancer-free. It did. And he is.

If there were any doubt for Bennet, it would have come after the big news of Joe Biden’s announcement and the big jump he got in the polls. But Bennet already knew he was a long shot.  For some reason, that doesn’t seem to bother him.

He told me he was sure he wanted to run by the time he finished writing his book, “The Land of Flickering Lights,” which will come out in June. In the book, he details how money and corruption in Washington are an existential threat to America’s democratic republic.

“I finished the book,” Bennet explained. “I didn’t think the case that I made in the book was being articulated by anyone in the field. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t think I had a chance to win. I think, like everyone else does, it’s a long shot. But I think everyone in the field is a long shot.”

Well, there are long shots and there are long shots. In Nate Silver’s take on the Democratic field — what he calls his not-to-be-taken-too-seriously presidential tiers — he separates the candidates into three tiers and then, from there, into sub-tiers. Bennet and John Hickenlooper, Colorado’s twin contribution to the race, were both listed in Tier 3B, which is the last one. That said, nine of 18 candidates — those Silver considers to have a legitimate chance out of 21 entries — are in the final tier.

That’s just one more place in which Hickenlooper’s run and Bennet’s run overlap. They are longtime friends, and Hickenlooper brought Bennet into politics as his first chief of staff when Hickenlooper became Denver mayor. I don’t know how well Hickenlooper took the news that Bennet would join the race, but don’t expect either to have anything but praise for the other.

The real overlap is not in politics — there are plenty of issues out there even with 21 candidates — but in raising money. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of Denver donors contribute to both, and I wouldn’t expect too many Colorado politicians to choose between them.

Bennet’s late entry into the race, pushed back by his prostate cancer diagnosis, may well preclude his qualifying for the first set of debates, on June 26 and 27 — Hickenlooper’s already in — but Bennet expects to qualify for Round 2, which are scheduled for July 30 and 31.

For a preview of what issues Bennet finds important, check out his last pre-announcement tweets — on his public option medical reform plan, on income inequality and on his bill, the Clean Politics Act, which would, in his words, help to “dismantle pay-to-play politics.”

Or if you’re not a Twitter fan, you could have just turned on CBS This Morning
on Thursday morning.

 

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