teenvogue: The 2020 presidential election is well underway as candidates continue to announce intentions to run. With over a dozen big-name Democrats (and no Republicans — yet) officially in the race (and nearly 200 officially declared to the Federal Elections Commission), it’s a crowded field as senators, governors, and even a lifestyle guru make their case to be the party’s answer to President Donald Trump.
The Democratic primary is shaping up to be a key test of how the party has shifted since 2016 and how voters want to see it respond to the first term of Trump’s presidency. At issue will be how the party’s candidates choose to lean on identity politics and whether or not economic injustice and class issues have a role to play.
Here’s what each of the Democrats who have announced so far is bringing to the 2020 table.
Former representative John Delaney
John Delaney’s time as a representative from the state of Maryland ended in 2019 following his announcement that he wouldn’t seek reelection in the 2018 midterms in order to run for president in 2020. In a July 2017 op-ed for The Washington Post, Delaney announced he was entering the race and explained why.
“Our government is hamstrung by excessive partisanship. We are letting critical opportunities to improve the country pass us by. And we are not even talking about the most important thing: the future,” Delaney said, also arguing for infrastructure investment and international tax reform. “I have an original approach to governing and an economic policy that can put us on a different course.”
Delaney’s website advertises his “blue-collar roots” as the son of a union electrician, his success as an entrepreneur who started two businesses (he was once the youngest CEO in the New York Stock Exchange), and his progressive values. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, he was the third-richest member of the House in 2015, the last year data on Delaney is available for. According to The Atlantic, early efforts at campaigning in Iowa saw Delaney pitching himself as a unifier who could overcome partisan tensions.
Former Rep. John Delaney: “We need universal healthcare, but … having a government-only solution to health care is not the right answer” https://t.co/RvoN22RxTd #CNNTownHall pic.twitter.com/N8XG8FDDdF
— CNN (@CNN) March 10, 2019
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren, a senator representing Massachusetts, unofficially tossed her hat in the ring when it was still 2018 with a video announcement released on Twitter. She officially joined the race on February 9 and has been building her case on an issue that’s been a hallmark of her political career: economic injustice.
Every person in America should be able to work hard, play by the same set of rules, & take care of themselves & the people they love. That’s what I’m fighting for, & that’s why I’m launching an exploratory committee for president. I need you with me: https://t.co/BNl2I1m8OX pic.twitter.com/uXXtp94EvY
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) December 31, 2018
“I am determined that we build an America where not just the children of rich people get a chance to build something, but where all of our children get a chance to build a real future,” she told prospective Iowa voters in January. “That’s what I’m in this fight for.”
Warren already has a contentious relationship with Trump, who has regularly mocked her over her claims of Native American heritage.
FiveThirtyEight noted that being a woman with what they characterized as a “confrontational style” like Warren’s may mean sexism could work against her. She’ll also have a fair amount of primary-vote overlap with another candidate expected to run in 2020: Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang’s campaign, which filed official paperwork on November 6, 2017, has revolved primarily around a single issue: universal basic income. He calls the policy “the Freedom Dividend,” and it stipulates that every U.S. adult over 18 would get $1,000 a month by government check. He also supports Medicare for all and suggests that capitalism should be reconsidered and reconfigured to make it serve people instead of profits.
— The Breakfast Club (@breakfastclubam) March 8, 2019
“Donald Trump gives entrepreneurs a bad name because he’s a marketing charlatan, not a business organization builder,” he told Business Insider in August 2018. “I believe that I have a lot of the qualities Trump pretended to have.”
Representative Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard is currently the House representative for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District, and her background is in environmental activism and military service; she’s even promised to bring “a soldier’s heart” to the White House. She officially entered the race on January 11.
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) January 12, 2019
Wall Street reform, native Hawaiian issues, affordable housing, and criminal justice reform are just a few of the main issues Gabbard lists on her website. According to GovTrack, which monitors congressional voting records, Gabbard most often sponsored bills about armed forces, national security issues, and international affairs during her time in Congress, which started in 2013.
Gabbard’s past history of divisive rhetoric became an early issue for her campaign. In the early 2000s, she worked with her father’s anti-gay organization, a fact that generated some attention following her announcement, as CNN reported. Gabbard has since apologized.
She’s hardly the only Democrat in recent history with a spotty record on LGBTQ+ issues; as noted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the party itself didn’t get on board with marriage equality, a flagship issue of LGBTQ+ activism in the early 2000s, until 2012. But it’s unclear if Gabbard’s “soldier’s heart” rhetoric will resonate with voters regardless of her past.
Former mayor of San Antonio and former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julián Castro Much like his twin brother, Joaquin, Julián Castro has been considered a rising star among Democrats. The former mayor of San Antonio even worked in former president Barack Obama’s White House as the Housing and Urban Development secretary. At the time of his January 12 announcement, Castro positioned himself as an underdog with leadership experience and an antithesis to Trump because of his family’s background; his grandmother was an immigrant and his mother was a Chicano activist.
Yesterday, @JulianCastro became the latest Democrat to announce he was running for President in 2020. You can catch more of @margbrennan‘s interview with Castro later this morning on Face the Nation. pic.twitter.com/PvpMLUyI3A
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) January 13, 2019
“I’m not a front-runner. But nobody who grew up here in these neighborhoods, including myself, has ever been a front-runner,” Castro told Face the Nation from his home turf in San Antonio. “And I think in this country right now that there are a lot of people who don’t feel like front-runners, and I’m going to go speak to them in this campaign.”
As FiveThirtyEight noted, his Latinx identity and South Texas roots could be a boon for Democrats seeking Southern votes. But as Vox reported, progressives took issue with Castro’s previous shot at the national stage. In 2016, while he was being considered as then candidate Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick, he came under scrutiny for being considered too cozy with Wall Street during his time as HUD chief, as Politico reported at the time.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Kirsten Gillibrand announced she was preparing to run on January 15, saying she’d have one “core mission” for her campaign: “restoring power to people.” Gillibrand said March 4 that she’s running because she wants someone to restore the “moral integrity” of the U.S.
There’s no question that President Trump has created so much division and darkness in our country, and it’s at the forefront of Americans’ minds in this election. We need a president who’ll restore what we’ve lost: our compassion, our moral integrity, our leadership in the world. pic.twitter.com/JQrPmbtkqr
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) March 4, 2019
As noted by Politico and FiveThirtyEight, Gillibrand’s campaign appears poised to target women who vote as part of its strategies to win the primary.
Senator Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris, the second African-American woman to be elected to the Senate, announced her bid on January 21 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Democrat from California outlined how her past as a prosecutor could be an asset in the election, but that same career history has been central to questions from progressive critics.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) January 21, 2019
Harris has stood by some of her prosecutorial past, highlighting her reform-minded efforts, but other attorneys have pushed back against this characteriziation. In particular, people have been critical of her record on incarceration, especially with regard to sex workers and transgender inmates.
Harris is currently the only black woman running, a significant fact given the role black women have played as a part of the Democratic constituency and following on the role identity played in the 2018 midterms. It may also be her hard-nosed, no-nonsense persona that sets her apart from her competition.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, jumped into the race on January 23, telling supporters he was running on the ideals of freedom, security, and democracy. Buttigieg could have a potentially historic campaign, as he would be the first millennial and first openly gay man to be a presidential nominee if he wins the nomination. He’d be the youngest president ever if he managed to win the general election.
Self-help author Marianne Williamson
A New York Times best-selling author and “spiritual friend and adviser” to Oprah Winfrey, Marianne Williams entered the race on January 28. Williams, whose only previous bid for public office was an unsuccessful congressional campaign in 2014, has focused her message on addressing the “spiritual and moral rot” in the country’s current economic system.
“So much of that economic despair was there that there was going to be a cry of populist despair,” Williamson said in her announcement speech. “It was going to be an authoritarian populism or it was going to be a progressive populism, but it was going to come up from the bottom of things.”
“We need a moral and a spiritual awakening in the country, and nothing short of that is adequate to fundamentally change the patterns of our political dysfunction,” says author and activist @marwilliamson, who has joined the Democratic field for 2020. https://t.co/w2z7pPmFeq pic.twitter.com/ypWrgdWeVx
— New Day (@NewDay) January 31, 2019
Her campaign website features a long list of issues she’s focused on and includes a passage about how the nation has “a problem with the psychological fabric of our country,” saying “a low level emotional civil war has begun in too many ways to rip us apart.”
Senator Cory Booker
Cory Booker, a former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, tossed his hat in the ring on February 1, the first day of Black History Month. Calling for common purpose and pride in U.S. leaders, Booker is making his pitch on the high-minded ideas of dreaming and grace — something skeptics say might not work — while pledging support for progressive policies.
Like seemingly every Democrat in play on the national stage, Booker has faced criticism from the left. His financial ties to Wall Street may alienate those with economic concerns, and his past work alongside Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos could be worrying. During his 2013 Senate campaign, he was roundly criticized by liberals for being very moderate, with some claiming he could practically be considered a Republican.
It’s time that we dare to dream again in America—a country where every child has clean water and air, great public schools with teachers who are well-paid, health care is a right, poverty is a wrong, and where our children are safe from gun violence. It’s up to us to do the work. pic.twitter.com/5m6iYLU36T
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) March 4, 2019
Booker may hope that inspirational rhetoric can carry him through a crowded field where policy may not separate the primary candidates as much as public perception of the candidates’ personalities does.
Senator Amy Klobuchar
The senior senator from Minnesota entered the race on February 10, taking a shot at Trump’s hair as she announced her candidacy in snowy conditions. Laying out addressing climate change and income inequality as planks of her platform, Amy Klobuchar used the brutal conditions to tout her toughness and how it could be an asset in a campaign against Trump.
Toughness has come to define the early phases of the former corporate lawyer’s run — in particular, characterizations of her as a tough boss have taken center stage after former staffers came forward about experiences of being shouted at and berated. Klobuchar’s team pushed back on the idea that staff left under unhappy conditions, and the candidate herself has taken to joking about some of the stories of her harsh treatment of staffers.
Sen Klobuchar met w/students & discussed how difficult it is to register to vote. #RegisterAmericaToVote Act wld auto register all eligible citizens to vote at age 18. Everyone shld be able to make their voice heard at the ballot box. @amprog @GUVotes @AMarch4OurLives @gencitizen pic.twitter.com/r7dgGSTvOA
— Senator Amy Klobuchar (@SenAmyKlobuchar) February 28, 2019
Klobuchar has leaned into the toughness angle. Her gambit appears to be letting voters know Trump wouldn’t be spared her wrath in a general election, though her full messaging is still unclear this early in the campaign.
Senator Bernie Sanders
Following his unsuccessful run for the Democratic nomination in 2016, Bernie Sanders is back. He announced his 2020 run on February 19. Technically an Independent, the senator from Vermont, a 28-year veteran of Congress, is running as a Democrat once again on a platform of democratic socialism.
Sanders’s 2016 run helped push many of his 2020 competitors to the left on policies like Medicare for all, a $15 minimum wage, and tuition-free public college. But just as Sanders shifted the conversation, so has the conversation itself shifted around him.
Our campaign is off to an incredible start. We just finished three rallies across Iowa and are now headed to New Hampshire for two rallies.
Together, we will transform this country. pic.twitter.com/UVT46l9cvB
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 9, 2019
Sanders was critical of identity politics following the 2016 general election, which alienated some supporters. Former Sanders campaign volunteer Isabella Gomez Sarmiento broke down why Sanders had lost her support in an op-ed for Teen Vogue, laying out how she believes he hasn’t gone far enough on certain progressive issues and his campaign is at odds with the way identity politics impacted 2018 midterms.
Governor Jay Inslee
The current governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, made his entry into the 2020 race on March 1 with a video highlighting the single issue that will drive his campaign: climate change.
VIDEO: This is our moment, our climate, our mission — together, we can defeat climate change. That’s why I’m running for president. Join #OurClimateMoment today https://t.co/zg8ILGyk0Z pic.twitter.com/pUZVxyzfc5
— Jay Inslee (@JayInslee) March 1, 2019
Inslee, the first governor to enter the race, has focused on climate change throughout his experience as a political executive and his time serving in Congress. He’s been dubbed “the climate candidate,” but he’s also being sued along with the state of Washington by climate activists whose lawyer said he caused and contributed to climate change by “promoting and implementing a fossil-fuel based energy and transportation system.”
Former governor John Hickenlooper
According to his campaign website, former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper started a chain of brewpubs in the 1980s after losing his job as a geologist. He went on to become the mayor of Denver and governor of the state while working on issues like mass transit, police reform, job creation, and addressing climate change. He entered the presidential race with a video published on Youtube on March 4.
ICYMI: I’m asking you to interview me for President. Our country is in crisis, and we need someone who knows how to bring people together and get things done. This is my record, but I’ve never done it alone. Join me: https://t.co/bwhFokNuTo pic.twitter.com/UKKJT2D0vl
— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) March 5, 2019
FiveThirtyEight broke down how a “quirky personality” may be an asset to Hickenlooper in 2020, but his moderate stances could be a hindrance. In 2017, there were even rumors, as reported by CNN, that he may run on a “unity ticket” with Republican John Kasich, a 2016 Republican candidate and former governor of Ohio.
More to come?
That’s all 14 big-name Democrats currently running, but there could be more to come. While speculation continues aboutformer Texas representative Beto O’Rourke and former vice president Joe Biden, the field of contenders could get even more crowded in the near future. Hopefully, anyone trying to host a primary debate will have a big enough stage.
Source: Published by teenvogue