The midterms just wrapped up and Democrats made big gains in the House of Representatives. Now the focus shifts to 2020, when Democrats will compete in primary races for a chance to run for President against Donald Trump. Although we’re still far away from Iowa caucuses, many Democrats have announced that they’re running to for President in 2020.
Democrat Candidates Running In 2020
Bernie Sanders (D – VT)
The Democratic runner-up in 2016 formally announced he’d make another run for the Presidency on February 19, 2019. Sanders spent much of the midterm elections campaigning for other candidates in important primary states like Iowa, Florida, and California. Prior to his announcement, Sanders made four trips to Iowa, whose caucuses are the first primary contest in 2020.
Sanders’s run is shaping up to be much different in 2020. He has already hired a significantly larger (and more diverse) campaign staff. He’s starting off with more endorsements, more name recognition, and a stronger position in the polls.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sanders’s campaign is being fueled by an army of small donors. On day one, Sanders raised a record-breaking $5.9 million.
Elizabeth Warren (D – MA)
Elizabeth Warren kicked off her 2020 campaign in early February 2019 at an event with Massachusetts Congressional Representative Joe Kennedy III. Warren has been building extensive campaign infrastructure spanning across all fifty states.
Her campaign got off to a rocky start with her Finance Director resigning after Warren pledged to only raise money from small donors in the primary. However, her campaign is beginning to gain traction, evidenced by a recent rise in nationwide polling.
Joe Biden (D – DE)
After a long “will he, won’t he” period, Biden announced he was running for President on April 25, 2019. This marks Biden’s fourth run following unsuccessful campaigns in 1984, 1988, and 2008.
Prior to his launch, Biden stated that he regretted not running in 2016. Biden believes he is “the most qualified person in the country to be President.”
Kamala Harris (D – CA)
Senator Kamala Harris was one of the first Democrats to announce her Presidential campaign. Harris’s campaign got off to a fast start, as she raised $1.5 million on day one of her campaign. 20,000 showed up to her first major rally in Oakland, California. Despite her fast start, Harris is losing ground in the polls.
Beto O’Rouke (D – TX)
O’Rourke became a household name after giving Ted Cruz a run for his money in the 2018 Texas Senate race. He smashed fund-raising records and won 48% of the vote, narrowly losing to Cruz by a margin of 2.6%.
His first major policy announcement was a $5 trillion plan to address the climate crisis. The plan is ambitious, but has received some scrutiny for its timeline to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Kirsten Gillibrand (D – NY)
Despite pledging not to during her 2018 Senate run, Kirsten Gillibrand announced she was running for President on March 17, 2019. Gillibrand’s campaign hasn’t gotten off to a strong start. Her opening campaign speech in front of Trump Hotel was attended by less than 1,000 people and she’s currently polling between 0–1%.
Cory Booker (D – NJ)
John Delaney (D – MD)
John Delaney, the Democratic representative from Maryland’s 6th district, was the first Democrat to announce his 2020 bid. Delaney announced his bid on a Washington Post op-ed, where he stressed the importance of technological innovation, investment in infrastructure, and an end to hyper-partisan politics.
Delaney can probably best be categorized as a center-left Democrat. He’s pro-choice, supports increasing tax rates, and opposed eliminating estate tax. However, Delaney doesn’t support Medicare For All, one of the most important issues among progressives.
Ultimately, Delaney is in a tough spot. His positions won’t win over progressives, and he doesn’t have the name recognition or track record to win the vote among moderate Democrats.
Parallels can be drawn between Delaney and Martin O’Malley, another Maryland Democrat. In 2016, O’Malley was to the left of Clinton and to the right of Sanders. In 2020, Delaney will be to the left of a candidate like Joe Biden and to the right of a candidate like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
Pete Buttigieg (D – IN)
South Bend’s Mayor formally announced his Presidential run on April 14, 2019. Mayor Pete has never held federal office, but he did serve in the United States military as a naval intelligence officer.
Buttigieg’s campaign took off faster than even he expected. Buttigieg raised $7 million in Q1 and consistently polls third or fourth among the field.
Unlike some of his competitors, Buttigieg is focusing less on policy and more on values.
Andrew Yang is the founder of Venture for America, a non-profit organization with the goal of revitalizing American cities. Yang has no formal political experience, which might not hurt him in a head-to-head matchup with Donald Trump, who also had no political experience when running for President in 2016.
However, Yang’s lack of experience (and name recognition) will seriously hurt his chance to make a legitimate run at winning the Democratic primaries. On a stage of 2020 Democratic candidates that could include veterans like Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Yang walks away the winner.
Yang may make a splash with his unorthodox campaign platform, which centers around universal basic income (UBI). Yang’s proposed UBI program would give every US citizen age 18 or older $1,000 a month. This progressive idea hasn’t gained much traction in America yet because of the significant tax increase that would almost certainly be needed to support it. But as automation kills more jobs, a UBI system may be necessary as more and more Americans become unemployed.
Yang also supports a single-payer healthcare system, a carbon tax, and other progressive policies.
Amy Klobuchar (D – MN)
Amy Klobuchar, a Senator from Minnesota, launched her campaign in February 2019. Despite being in the race longer than most candidates, Klobuchar has yet to see much movement in her poll numbers. However, Klobuchar will have another opportunity to reach voters at the September debates.
Jay Inslee (D – WA)
Jay Inslee currently serves as the Governor of Washington. He previously served Washington in the U.S. House of Representatives. Inslee’s campaign is focusing primarily on climate change as its key issue. Although Inslee is still polling at less than 1%, he did raise more than $1 million on the first day of his campaign.
Michael Bennet (D – CO)
Bennet announced his 2020 bid at the end of June 2019. Bennet currently serves as a Senator representing the state of Colorado. His moderate campaign has yet to get much traction, and he’s at risk of missing the September debate.
John Hickenlooper (D – CO)
Hickenlooper is currently serving Colorado’s Governor. Like Bennet, his campaign has yet to get much traction. There are rumors that Hickenlooper may end his campaign and run for Senate, a seat currently held by Republican Cory Gardner.
A recent poll found that 44% of voters in Colorado would vote for Hickenlooper in the state’s Senate primary — that’s about 43% better than he’s doing in the Democratic Presidential primary.
Williamson is a New York Times best-selling author. This isn’t Williamson’s first political campaign. In 2014, she ran an unsuccessful independent campaign for California’s 33rd Congressional district, receiving more than 13% of the vote.
In 2015, Williamson endorsed Bernie Sanders for President.
2020 Candidates Who Have Dropped Out
Mike Gravel (D – AK)
Former Senator Mike Gravel ran a pretty unorthodox campaign. His bid was inspired by a couple of teenagers who first heard of Gravel on the Chapo Trap House podcast. Gravel quickly garnered attention for the unfiltered tweets posted by the teenagers running his campaign.
Gravel dropped out in August 2019 and endorsed Bernie Sanders.
Eric Swalwell (D – CA)
Eric Swalwell officially announced his 2020 bid on April 8, 2019. He has been a House Representative of California’s 15th district since 2013. He also worked in local politics from 2001–2011.
Swalwell is your standard California Democrat. Swalwell supports automatic voter registration, the DREAM Act, tax increases for wealthy Americans, LGBT rights, and many more liberal positions. Unlike Delaney, Swalwell expressed support for Medicare For All when he signed onto Bernie Sanders’ H.R.676 – Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act.
Swalwell is definitely a candidate who could surprise some people in 2020. He puts a much younger face on issues that are important to progressives.
Swalwell’s main problem is his lack of name recognition when compared to potential 2020 Democratic candidates like Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar. Swalwell needs to find his way onto a main debate stage if stands any chance in 2020.
Richard Ojeda (D – WV)
Richard Ojeda announced his run for President shortly after losing in West Virginia’s 3rd district to Carol Miller. This race surprised a lot of people; not because Ojeda lost, but because it was so close. Trump won this district by 49 points in 2016. In 2018, Carol Miller (R) only won it by 12. Some early polls even had Ojeda leading in this race!
What does this mean? Does it mean that progressive, populist positions are the key to Democratic success nationwide? Or does it mean that this particular district responds well to that type of messaging?
Regardless, it won’t matter much in the 2020 Democratic primaries. Despite his support for marijuana decriminalization, a public healthcare option, and a variety of other progressive stances, Ojeda probably won’t make it far in the Democratic primary for one simple reason: he voted for Donald Trump in 2016.
Ojeda has been a lifelong Democrat, but voted for Trump in 2016 because he felt Trump was a better representative for working class Americans (whoops!).
Now, Ojeda is using his “success” in West Virginia to appeal to Democrats in the 2020 primary. Ojeda argues that he knows how to win over Trump voters, as shown by his results in West Virginia’s 3rd district.
Unfortunately for Ojeda, this messaging sounds all too familiar to what Chuck Schumer said ahead of the 2016 Presidential election:
For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.”
Despite Schumer’s optimism, Democrats lost Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin in 2016.
Ojeda dropped out in January of 2019, stating that he didn’t want people to donate their money to a campaign that wasn’t getting any traction.
Stay Up To Date On The 2020 Democratic Primaries
Bookmark this article and keeping coming back for the latest updates on the 2020 Democratic primaries. Leave a comment down below and let me know which one of the Democrats running for President in 2020 you’re most excited about!