Many Democrats Running for President in 2020
By Jim Owen
Democrats are lining up to compete for their party’s presidential nomination in 2020. The winner will take on President Trump in the general election, assuming that another Republican does not unseat the incumbent commander-in-chief in the GOP primaries.
As of Jan. 25, eight Democrats had announced their candidacy. Dozens of others were exploring the possibility of running. Polls indicated that former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders were the leading contenders, though they had not yet thrown their hats into the ring.
Here is a look at the candidates, beginning with those who are officially in the race.
The Massachusetts senator, elected to her second six-year term last November, is a leader of the Democrats’ progressive wing. She touts familiar liberal proposals like “health care for all,” but is best known for championing consumer protection and denouncing Wall Street abuses.
Warren recently proposed a “wealth tax” on America’s richest one-tenth of 1 percent, those whose net worth tops $50 million. The levy would be 2 percent on all wealth beyond that amount, and 3 percent on holdings in excess of $1 billion. According to the senator, the taxes would generate $3 trillion within a decade.
A senator from California who has been in Washington, D.C., only two years, Harris excites the Democratic base partly because of her gender and ethnic heritage. She is the daughter of a woman from India and a man from Jamaica.
Some liberals distrust the former California attorney general because of her tough-on-crime approach to that role, though she opposes the death penalty. Harris is a vocal critic of Trump’s immigration policies and backs the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allows foreigners who were brought to the United States as minors to remain in the country under certain conditions.
Yet another senator and lawyer, this one from New York, chose lefty Stephen Colbert’s television program to announce her presidential bid. She has been in the Senate since 2009, after serving as a U.S. representative the previous two years.
Gillibrand, describing herself as an advocate for women and children, vowed to preserve Roe v. Wade and increase funding for public schools. The senator called for health care, job training and other taxpayer-funded programs for anyone who wants them. She favors a higher minimum wage, as well. Gillibrand has shifted some positions over the years, including her past support of gun rights.
The former mayor of San Antonio, who was the Obama administration’s Housing and Urban Development Department secretary, is vying to become the first Latino president. In declaring his candidacy, Castro focused on health care, climate change, and single-payer health care, while slamming Trump’s immigration agenda and defending the mainstream news media.
Castro is just 44 years old and has never been elected to statewide, let alone national, office. Those factors could turn out to be assets since many Democrats are yearning for young leaders outside the Washington, D.C., establishment. He favors more environmental protection regulations, as well as increased government spending on schools, health care, and housing.
Are Americans ready for another president from Hawaii? This U.S. representative hopes they are. Gabbard became the first Hindu to be elected to Congress in 2012, at the age of 30. She is an Iraq combat veteran, and member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, but came under fire for meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad in 2016.
Many voters first became aware of Gabbard when she gave the presidential endorsement speech for Sanders at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She resigned her position as vice chairwoman of the party’s national committee to volunteer for the democratic socialist’s campaign. Planned Parenthood is among the liberal groups who support Gabbard.
Other Announced Candidates
Additional Democrats who have confirmed they will run for president in 2020 are John Delaney, a former Maryland congressman; and Pete Buttigieg, an ex-mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Delaney’s term in Congress ended in January, a year and a half after he became the first Democrat to launch a presidential bid. Despite the former financial executive’s background in the corporate world, he embraces traditional liberal stances. One of Delaney’s campaign pledges is to increase capital-gains taxes.
Buttigieg, an openly gay 37-year-old, promises “boldness” and a departure from “the politics of the past.” The Navy intelligence veteran, who served in Afghanistan for seven months, claims to be a voice for a generation that grew up in an era of school shootings and Mideast wars. He is the youngest candidate in the presidential field.
The two men leading polls of Democratic voters had not officially begun their campaigns as of Jan. 25. Sanders, 77, and Biden, 76, are the oldest and most experienced politicians likely to compete in the primaries.
Biden, a former defense attorney who served 36 years as a U.S. senator from Delaware, was Barack Obama’s vice president from 2009-17. He first ran for president 30 years ago, dropping out of the race amid allegations of plagiarism. One of Biden’s biggest accomplishments in Congress was sponsoring the Violence Against Women Act, but he angered many women with his questioning of Anita Hill in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Shortly after rising to chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden voted for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He later came out against the continued occupation of the Middle Eastern country.
Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. He ran on a left-wing, populist agenda, calling for universal health care, a $15-per-hour minimum wage and free college tuition. Refusing to accept contributions from corporations or lobbyists, Sanders funded his campaign on donations from millions of individuals.
After four terms as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in the 1980s, Sanders was a U.S. congressman from 1991 to 2007. He has since been elected to the Senate three times. He continues to work for the liberal causes that motivated him in his youth when he was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.
Other Possible Contenders
Numerous additional Democrats are considering running for President in 2020. Among them are at least three senators: Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Pundits see Booker as a promising candidate partly because he is African-American and relatively young at the age of 49. The son of civil-rights activists, he graduated from Stanford University and Yale Law School. Booker began his political career as a Newark city councilor. After rising to the mayor, he won acclaim for lowering the crime rate but riled conservatives by pushing for gun control.
Booker won a special election for U.S. Senate in October 2013. He captured a full term the following year and delivered a speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 that impressed party leaders. Booker was among the Senate Judiciary Committee members who spoke out against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh last year.
Brown has built his career on his support of labor unions. He frequently proclaims his belief in “the dignity of work,” and has firmly established himself as one of the most liberal members of the Senate. Some observers consider him, along with Sanders and Warren, the most left-wing potential presidential candidates.
The youngest Ohioan ever elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, Brown served in the chamber from 1975-82, 1987-91 and 1994-2007. In between, he was the Ohio secretary of state. Brown has been in the Senate the past 12 years.
Klobuchar also has been a senator since 2007. After graduating magna cum laude from Yale University 1982, she became a prosecutor and county attorney before running for Senate. Like Booker, she used her role as a member of the Judiciary Committee to lash out against Kavanaugh.
Klobuchar earns praise for her ability to “work across the aisle” with Republicans despite her liberal positions. However, she has called for the appointment of a federal commission to investigate alleged links between Russia and Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Some Democratic activists, particularly those in the millennial generation, are hoping that former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke mounts a presidential bid. He gave up his House seat last year to run for U.S. Senate, nearly upsetting incumbent Republican Ted Cruz. O’Rourke’s energetic campaigning style and fundraising prowess got the attention of Democratic voters.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is exploring a run for president, as he has done in the past. The billionaire, who has registered as a Republican and an independent over the years, is rich enough to conduct a national campaign without PAC money. Bloomberg made donations to nearly two dozen Democratic congressional candidates last year, perhaps winning over their supporters.
Among the additional possible candidates are Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. There is one more name on the potential list, Hillary Clinton, though she continues to insist she is not interested in a third try at the presidency.