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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Hickenlooper says he "probably would have" defended Biden on debate stage


MAYOR BILL DEBLASIO: CBS News Campaign reporter Zak Hudak tells us NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio today called an NYPD administrative judge's recommendation that the cop who killed Eric Garner be fired "a step towards justice and accountability." 

Pressed by reporters, de Blasio declined to say whether he personally thinks NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo ought to be fired and instead opted to praise the process that led to the recommendation. 

"Today, for the first time in these long five years, the system of justice is working," he said. De Blasio also repeated his criticism of the Justice Department for declining to bring civil rights charges against Pantaleo. The issue has followed de Blasio outside New York, including in Detroit, where audience members chanted, "Fire Pantaleo," as the mayor spoke at the second round of Democratic debates.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: While many 2020 presidential hopefuls are spending time in Nevada and Iowa today, Sen. Kamala Harris is making a stop in Denver, Colorado.  A spokesperson for the Harris team tells CBS News Campaign Reporter Stephanie Ramirez  that the California senator plans to attend a campaign organizing event to share her "3AM Agenda."  Colorado is among the states that have a primary on "Super Tuesday." 

GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER: Gov. John Hickenlooper appeared on iHeartradio's "The Breakfast Club." The program was recently profiled in the Washington Post because it has hosted multiple 2020 candidates. The Post noted, "Of those listeners, 62 percent are black; 79 percent are under the age of 50. The show, which airs on 80 stations nationwide, also courts a sizable YouTube following, with more than 3.8 million subscribers."

Hickenlooper discussed topics impacting black and brown communities – ranging from independent police investigations to legalizing marijuana. He recounted his work in these communities as both mayor of Denver and governor of Colorado.

He also appeared on PBS' "Firing Line with Margaret Hoover," telling Hoover he "probably would have"  defended former Vice President Joe Biden, who fended off attacks from several of his Democratic competitors at the debate Wednesday night. Hickenlooper debated on Tuesday night.


UP NORTH: Mayor Pete Buttigieg's New Hampshire state director Michael Ceraso has left the campaign, CBS News Campaign Reporter Nicole Sganga has learned. In a statement released by the South Bend mayor's team, campaign manager Mike Schmuhl thanked Ceraso for jumpstarting the ground game in the Granite State.

"We are grateful to Michael for setting up our New Hampshire operation and helping us scale up to nearly 40 staffers in just a few months," Schmuhl said in the statement. "Our New Hampshire team will continue to grow as we execute our plan to compete in the state." Schmuhl also said additional staff would be announced soon.

The campaign has released no additional information regarding the departure.

Jess O'Connell, Buttigieg's senior adviser, who was hired last month and tasked with focusing on early primary and caucus state strategy, visited New Hampshire on Wednesday. According to a campaign source, the trip by O'Connell was aimed at ensuring the New Hampshire operation maintained all of the staff and resources necessary to create the biggest impact possible heading into September's Democratic Party state convention.

The Buttigieg campaign currently has 39 staffers in New Hampshire, up from 22 last month, with plans to unveil multiple field offices and additional team members in the weeks ahead.  

In 2016, Ceraso served as California state director and New Hampshire deputy state director for Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign. Ceraso left the Sanders campaign in May of 2016, one month before the California primary.

OUT WEST: CBS News Campaign Reporter  Alex Tin tells us that Julián Castro's campaign today is out with endorsements from local Nevada leaders, ahead of the flood of 2020 contenders in town for the AFSCME forum this weekend. Among them is Assemblyman Edgar Flores, who has called for the state to bar local law enforcement from detaining Nevadans solely on immigration holds. 

The former Obama housing chief is at least the third candidate this week to announce new Silver State backers, following Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Kamala Harris. 


RNC: The Republican National Committee wrapped up its 2019 summer meeting in Charlotte on Friday. Most of the events were closed to press, but members and guests told CBS News associate producer Ellee Watson that they attended a luncheon with HUD Secretary Ben Carson, had dinner with White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and went to a happy hour with former chairman and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus. During the general session, the committee welcomed 18 new state chairmen and voted on seven resolutions commending President Trump's work.

GOP RETIREMENTS: The streak of House retirements for the GOP continues, with Rep. Will Hurd of Texas announcing he won't run for re-election in 2020. Hurd is the sixth Republican House member in the last two weeks to announce he's leaving Congress. 

Hurd, a former CIA agent and the only African-American Republican in the House, tweeted he is leaving "in order to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security." His departure is the most significant for House Republicans and could Texas even more vulnerable to Democrats in 2020. 

Hurd, along with fellow Texas congressman Pete Olson and Paul Mitchell of Michigan, publicly condemned Trump's racist comments against the "squad" and has a history of splitting from the president when it comes to race and immigration. 

"I don't think the president is going to change. But you should still speak out because it is important for people to know you shouldn't talk this way," he told CBS News Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes in July. "We are going to have to grow in minority communities and if minority communities believe that the party or average person in the party is a racist or misogynistic or xenophobic then we are going to have problems electorally down the line."

Since joining Congress in 2015, Hurd has always cut it close in re-election wins. He won by 1.3 percentage points in 2016 and beat out Democratic candidate Gina Ortiz Jones by only 926 votes in 2018. Ortiz Jones was looking for a rematch this election cycle and was just catching up to Hurd in fundraising. Hurd raised about $113K more than Ortiz Jones in the second quarter. His exit also makes it three lawmakers from Texas (Olson and Rep. Mike Conaway) who have announced their retirement, giving Democrats more potential for pickups? 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had already targeted six Texas districts and is keeping tabs on more potential retirements in seats that had close 2018 races -- Reps. John Carter, Kenny Marchant and Mike McCaul all won by less than five percentage points in 2018.

Republican Party of Texas Chairman James Dickey told CBS News Political Unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro they are prepared to battle to keep the seat red and have a "fantastic bench" of recruited candidates. He pointed to life in the House minority as a possible reason for this trend of retirements, Hurd is the eighth retirement so far this year. 

"I would certainly think that some of that could be due to how dysfunctional the U.S. House has become since Nancy Pelosi regained control," Dickey said. "I would not be surprised if many of the members, who are qualified enough and talented enough to be U.S. congresspersons, are not interested in participating in that kind of an environment."

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