After Hillary Clinton’s crippling defeat in 2016, Democrats want to take back the White House more than ever. The question is, who will run on behalf of the Democratic Party in the General Election against the Republican Nominee?
While many candidates have already declared their candidacy, there are other potential contenders trapped in a cloud of speculation. That’s why LA Mundi News has brought you a guide of who’s who in the Democratic primaries.
The List in order of poll rankings (day-to-day updates will be implemented):
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) announced her candidacy on New Year’s Eve 2018. She previously faced criticism over her handling of the release of her DNA test following a feud with President Donald Trump over her Native American ancestry. According to polls, voters most identify her with financial accountability and her history of leading a crusade against special interests, and one of her key campaign promises has been to take apart monopolies in accordance with the Anti-Trust Act. She is especially popular among grassroots activists, but with Senator Bernie Sanders in the race, her campaign has gotten a lot harder. However, with Sanders’s revelation that he is a millionaire, many Democrats have a bad taste in their mouth with grassroots activists, leaving Warren in a dangerous position. On the other hand, she has replaced Sanders as the leading grassroots candidate. She has recently eclipsed Biden as the front-runner.
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg formed an exploratory committee on January 23, 2019 (Wednesday). He is thought to be running to boost his image on a national level to run again in 2024 or 2028. He is the youngest and the only openly gay candidate to have declared his candidacy, and is fluent in multiple languages. Buttigieg’s long-running feud over gay marriage with Vice President and former Indiana Governor Mike Pence escalated to a “war of words” on cable television and Twitter. He may also be getting an endorsement from former President Barack Obama as many former Obama aides have raced to endorse Buttigieg.
Former Vice President Joe Biden had hinted at a possible run numerous times. He was supposed to be the front-runner in the 2016 election but didn’t pursue the nomination due to family matters. He has earned the support of more moderate Democrats, and he has a significant fundraising advantage, being one of the only Democrats to have the ability to mobilize a Super PAC. He will probably win in the Midwest and Industrial Northeast. However, concerns have been raised regarding his age (he would be in his late 70s if elected). More recently, sexual harassment allegations and his senatorial cooperation with segregationists have tainted his reputation in the youth demographic (who were going to vote for other candidates anyway). Biden was expected to launch his campaign as an extension of Obama’s presidency, but has refrained from doing so in the last couple debates. Some minor scandals, like his son Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian business connections and the fact that he has repeatedly blundered speeches and key soundbites have gotten in his way but it remains unclear whether his campaign can weather the damage.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) came second to Hillary Clinton in the fight for the 2016 nomination. He has highly motivated supporters and enjoys support from grassroots activists (in Los Angeles, you can still see “Bernie 2016” bumper stickers). He was independent for a long time before realizing that the only way to become president was to have the power of a major party behind him. He has been called a ‘radical socialist’ in the past. In addition, many worry that he may be too old for the job. One of his campaign promises the last time around was to lighten student debt or even erase it, which is slowly becoming a more apparent problem. Sanders’s tax returns indicate that after his railing against millionaires and writing a bestseller book, he himself is one of the millionaires he berated. More recently, his Medicare for All campaign promise have scared many moderates away.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-California), the one-term Senator and former Attorney General of California with a record of “tough on crime” might be one of the only Democratic candidates that can win over voters in the Wheat Belt, in states like Oklahoma and Nebraska (while Oklahoma is a long shot, Nebraska doesn’t use the winner-take-all method). She would also undoubtedly be a good running mate in the general election. The only concern some strategists have is whether she has enough experience, especially since she hasn’t even completed her first term as Senator and only held the post of California’s Attorney General before that (many party insiders feel that she is rushing her political career too fast). UPDATE: Harris has put pressure on President Trump to release his tax returns by convincing other Democratic presidential candidates to release their tax returns.
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) announced her candidacy on February 10, 2019. She voted for bills in Congress that critics called an invasion of privacy, like spying on American citizens. However, she garnered support as a tough prosecutor and was on the short list for the Supreme Court at one point. She also brought more media attention to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s suspicious death (now proven to be a murder). However, Klobuchar is rumored to verbally abuse her staffers, which might prove to drag her campaign similar to Hillary Clinton’s email scandal.
Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been hinting at a run for the past couple of years. He is the former mayor of New York City and a billionaire. He was Republican and later famously independent until he switched parties and went blue as he realized he needed a major political party’s backing to become President. His stance on privacy has pushed away some potential voters, as he placed NYC under increasing video surveillance when he was mayor.
Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) is one of two Democratic African American senators, along with Senator Kamala Harris (D-California). He is known for repeatedly criticizing the Trump administration and famously intensely questioned Brett Kavanaugh during the nomination process. However, many believe he will be out of the race by Super Tuesday due to his poor standing in campaign donations. His situation might be reversed by some recent developments, as Booker has introduced a bill to pay for reparations to descendants of slaves.
Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro announced his candidacy January 12, 2019. He was Mayor of San Antonio and Secretary of HUD under former President Barack Obama. He described himself as “the antidote to Donald Trump” in his opening rally in San Antonio, and says he understands the immigrant experience and knows the way to handle the southern border. He is said to inspire crowds like former President Obama did in 2008 with his infamous slogans of “hope” and “change”, and if he can get an endorsement from Obama, then he could be the front-runner by Super Tuesday.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) announced her candidacy January 11, 2019. She is serving her fourth term in Congress, and she won her first race in 2012 with support from Emily’s List (a group that endorses pro-choice women running for office) and veterans’ groups. However, she also faced backlash for twitter posts from the early 2010s that expressed her opposition to gay marriage. Many don’t see her as a serious contender, but if an underdog wants to run for President, there is no time better than now.
Author Marrianne Williamson is widely expected to be out of the race after the Iowa caucus. Party insiders have commented that she belongs more in a third-party primary than the Democratic Primary. However, if she wins in Iowa, she might stay in the race in time for the South Carolina primary.
Former Representative John Delaney (D-Maryland) announced his candidacy early on, some say too early, on July 28, 2017. He has visited the state of Iowa more than 20 times, and has enough money to last him until the early primaries. He prides himself for “living the American Dream” and being the son of a blue-collar worker. He also created two companies that are listed on the New York Stock Exchange. However, he doesn’t have too many supporters and if he doesn’t get a handle on his fundraising issues, he might not even make it to Super Tuesday.
Representative Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) announced his candidacy April 4, 2019. Ryan is known for promoting pro-worker and pro-union causes back in his home state, going so far as to scold President Trump after he “negotiated” away thousands of General Motors factory jobs. Many electoral strategists on both sides of the aisle can tell you that if any member of the House is to win this year, it’ll be Ryan, as most congressmen don’t have name recognition across the country. Fortunately for Ryan, he earned it when he challenged then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) for the top spot after the 2016 election. He has also also touted himself to be the only candidate with the ability to win over the “Rust Belt” states that famously cost Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton the 2016 presidential election.
Democrats who have not yet announced their candidacy
Mayor Eric Garcetti is seen by many California Democrats as a voice of reason amongst a crowded and often hectic field of candidates. He is the current Mayor of Los Angeles, and he would certainly have a headstart in the California Democratic Primary. In Los Angeles, most voters say that he improved the water situation in LA amid the drought and would vote for him again, according to polls. He would probably win in the West but might find it hard to resonate with voters in Southern states. If Garcetti was to win the nomination, he might be able to move Arizona from the ‘leans Republican’ to the ‘swing state’ column, especially after Arizona recently elected Democrat Krysten Sinema (D-Arizona) to represent them in the Senate.
Democrats who have exited the race
Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke. He was a congressman from Texas until he ran against Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for a Senate seat in the 2018 midterm election. He was able to seriously contend as a Democrat in a state with a long history of going red. If he had won the nomination, he could have seriously challenged President Trump (or whoever the Republican Nominee is) in the South. He was also popular among young voters. He has already been characterized as a “flipper” since he originally declared he would not be running, but later announced his candidacy to an ecstatic party. In addition, he would have had to compete with Julian Castro in the Texas Democratic Primary. However, despite his fabled popularity with the youth it seems he was able to garner very few votes and the only thing that was keeping him in the debates was his reputation. In the end, the thing that doomed him was arguably his stance on taxing religious institutions such as churches that don’t allow gay marriage. That was the last nail in the coffin.
Governor Jay Inslee (D-Washington) announced his candidacy on March 1, entering the race weeks after former State Senator Richard Ojeda (D-West Virginia) exit the race. His political career is sprinkled with losses and close elections, particularly during his reelection campaign for Washington’s 4th Congressional District in 1994, losing to his last electoral opponent. He later faced allegations of gerrymandering after a suspicious string of election wins in Washington’s 1st Congressional District. He finally became Washington’s Governor in 2013. His campaign announcement hinted that Inslee will focus on environmental issues, and reverse President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. It’s thought by some Democratic strategists that Inslee could have a strong chance if Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti doesn’t enter the race. Inslee was found to be the candidate who earned the least of all major Democratic candidates who have disclosed their tax returns.
Senator Kristen Gillebrand (D-New York) has faced backlash over her leading of the ouster of Senator Al Franklin (D-Minnesota). Her presence in New York might have helped her win the Northeast, but she would had to fight hard against more popular candidates. She had also signaled that healthcare would be a major issue of her campaign, which might have resonated in the Midwest and got her some delegates there.
Representative Eric Swalwell (D-California), a native Iowan, announced his candidacy in early April. A four-term Congressman, he is the most recent Democrat to announce his candidacy. The district he represents, California’s 15th Congressional District, has long been overshadowed by the powerful Oakland-San Francisco metropolitan area, represented by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Swalwell, much like his district, has not been a powerful force in politics but was expected to cause quite a stir among the lower threshold of Democratic candidates (the so-called “second-rate” candidates, like Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and former Congressman John Delaney).
Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was being hailed as one of the only Democrats with the ability to take the Midwest. He also said that he would be the most pro-union candidate if he ran, aiming to win over unionized workers in urban Pennsylvania (Philadelphia dock workers and Pittsburgh factory workers), who delivered Pennsylvania for Trump in 2016. He announced he wouldn’t run in early March 2019.
Former State Senator and veteran Richard Ojeda (D-West Virginia) announced after two weeks of his presidential campaign being formed that he has exited the race due to insufficient funding, with his donations reaching a remarkable low.
Democrats will try to pick a nominee who can beat Trump in the fall and make sure he becomes a one-term president. With the field so crowded, Democrats will want to limit negative ad campaigns so the nominee will not emerge as the lesser of two evils, but rather the stronger candidate. However, some Democratic strategists worry that the fight for the nomination will tear the party apart ideologically, or even causing a mass defection of conservative and moderate Democrats from a party that shifts ever more to the left of the political spectrum.