Exploratory committees, the opening bells of the 2020 campaign, explained.


For the next few months, you’re going to hear a lot of high-profile Democrats announce they are forming an “exploratory committee” for a 2020 White House run. Elizabeth Warren and Julián Castro have taken that step. More will certainly follow.


To form an exploratory committee, all a candidate really needs to do is file a statement of their candidacy to the Federal Election Commission and slap the word “exploratory” on the name of their campaign’s committee. That’s it.

But once you file a statement of candidacy, even if you use the “exploratory” label, you’re a candidate in the eyes of the law. “There is no legal distinction” between a campaign committee and this kind of exploratory committee, Brendan Fischer, who works on federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, says.

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