How much bigger can the Democratic field get?

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Here are the stories our panel of top political reporters will be watching for in the week ahead, in this week’s “Inside Politics” forecast.

1. Room for a Western governor in 2020?

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is expected to jump into the presidential race this week — making him the 22nd person seeking the Democratic nomination, AP Washington Bureau Chief Julie Pace says.

“He’s pretty unknown to most Americans and faces a real uphill climb in this big field with a lot of Democratic stars,” Pace said. “But he thinks he has a compelling case to make in a primary where electability has been one of the big questions from Democratic voters.”
Bullock won re-election by a comfortable margin in 2016 — even as those same voters went for President Donald Trump by 20 points over opponent Hillary Clinton
“He’s won in a red state and he’s very comfortable talking to Trump voters, something he has to do in Montana every day,” Pace said.

2. Montana’s 2020 ripples

From CNN Chief National Correspondent John King:
Governor Bullock’s entry into the 2020 Democratic presidential race is one of several big political changes coming in Montana, one of the country’s least populous but most politically competitive states.

Bullock is term limited, so the governor’s race is open in 2020.
GOP Rep. Greg Gianforte lost a close election to Bullock last time, and is sending signals he will give up his House seat to run for governor again. Gianforte gained national attention in that House race when he assaulted a political reporter, and his sentence included anger management sessions

Montana Auditor Matt Rosendale was in Washington this past week — trying to gin up support for a House run assuming Gianforte runs for governor.

Rosendale was the GOP candidate in last year’s Montana Senate race, getting 47% of the vote as he lost to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. The Montana race was personal for Trump and he stewed about Tester’s win for days after the midterms. GOP groups poured more than $20 million into the race, and many of the operatives involved in those decisions, while acknowledging Tester’s strengths, aired complaints about the Rosendale campaign.

One veteran GOP strategist said Rosendale would be a strong candidate despite the 2018 loss; another agreed with that assessment but also said his efforts to win backing from GOP groups could depend on the strength of other candidates.
And both raised this question: Given his failed investment in the 2018 race, does Trump have an opinion?

3. A very different Trump campaign

President Trump never really stopped running for president — he officially launched his reelection campaign on the day he was inaugurated. And Wall Street Journal White House Correspondent Michael Bender says to expect a much more professional organization than Trump had in 2016.

“He’s told his supporters he wants this race to start immediately,” Bender said. “Well, the campaign staff is catching up to him. Brad Parscale, the campaign manager, has hired a senior staff of political veterans, people with actual experience doing the things they’re asked to do this time. There’s a regional political infrastructure being built out, with a heavy focus on the Midwest and Florida. There are plans for 50 communications staffers in battlegrounds — four years ago, I don’t think there were five.”
What will all this mean for Trump himself?

“We’re seeing a campaign that’s becoming more mature around the President,” Bender said. “The question moving forward is whether the candidate has become one, too.”

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