DemDaily: The Presidential Contenders: The List

December 11, 2018

With the midterms behind us, the focus turns to the 2020 Presidential election and the lengthy list of Democratic contenders vying to challenge the tumultuous Mr. Trump -- or the Republican nominee.

Image: Politico

While the country awaits the future of the current presidency and the outcome of the Mueller investigation, presidential hopefuls have been testing the waters in early primary states, racking up support through fundraising for candidates in the last election and for their own political action committees.

Some are using book tours as a vehicle for voicing their philosophies and increasing their profile in battleground states nationwide, while others are using their positions on prominent congressional committees to heighten their visibility on air and online.

Although the numbers of candidates haven't shifted, the major players have. All are included in our update.


Potential 2020 Democratic Presidential Contenders

The Rundown
Joe Biden
Former US Vice President (Obama) 
The former Vice President, 76, scores high in national polls, and garnered rave reviews during his national book tour, Promise Me, Dad about the loss of his son Beau to brain cancer.  He was active in fundraising for candidates through his American Possibilities PAC but observers question whether he will take the plunge.
Michael Bloomberg
Founder & CEO of Bloomberg L.P., a global financial services, mass media, and software company New York The former New York Mayor, businessman and philanthropist, 76, teased the public with potential independent presidential runs in 2008, 2012 and, prior to his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, in 2016. He poured $80 million into electing Democratic candidates in 2018, and has an estimated networth of $51.7 billion.
Most recent book: Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet (2017)
Cory Booker
US Senator  (elected 2013)
New Jersey
Booker's meteoric rise from a mayor of Newark, NJ (2006-2013) to US Senator and national figure puts him on everyone's list. The 49 year-old toured key candidate and primary states through 2018. His book: United: Thoughts on Finding Common Ground and Advancing the Common Good (2016)
Sherrod Brown
US Senator (elected 2006)
Brown, 66, was on the shortlist for Clinton's 2016 running mate. Ohio, which Trump won in 2016, is a critical battleground state and Brown safely won reelection in November. His progressive, populist politics and strong labor support paint an appealing picture.
Julián Castro
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary under Obama Texas Castro, 44, was on Hillary Clinton's VP shortlist. The former San Antonio mayor first drew national attention as the first Hispanic to deliver the keynote at a Democratic Convention (2012). He launched the Opportunity First PAC this year, has been hitting key presidential primary states, and is expected to announce a decision soon.  His book: An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream (2018)
John Delaney
Congressman (elected 2012) Maryland The three-term Congressman from Maryland, and author of The Right Answer, officially declared his presidential candidacy in July of 2017. The 55 year-old millionaire and entrepreneur has since visited all 99 counties in Ohio and shows no sign of slowing down.
Kirsten Gillibrand
US Senator (elected 2010) New York The 52 year-old, who succeeded Hillary Clinton in the Senate, is a leading voice on women's rights and has a PAC, Off The Sidelines, which recruits and supports women candidates for office. Her public tangling with Trump has raised her profile, and her ability to go toe-to-toe against the terrible tweeter. She starts her book tour for Bold and Brave: Ten Heroes Who Won Women the Right to Vote" next year.
Kamala Harris
US Senator (elected in 2016)
California The freshman Senator, 54, is a visible member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a vocal Trump opponent. Harris, who actively raised funds for candidates during the midterms, is considered a top contender. The first US Senator of Jamaican and Indian descent, Harris' book, The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, will be released in January.
California's early March primary is a major plus for anyone running from the state. 
Eric Holder
Former US Attorney General (Obama) New York The former US Attorney General, who now leads the important National Democratic Redistricting Committee, has touted his resume as a non-politician during his own swing through early primary states. His book, Pursuing Justice is due out in 2020.
Amy Klobuchar
US Senator (elected 2006) Minnesota Klobuchar, 58, was reelected last month by a 24 point spread in the heart of the Midwest which will be crucial to a 2020 victory. The pragmatic and popular Senator has been a frequent visitor to Iowa, and is more centrist than many of the other contenders.
Her 2015 memoir: The Senator Next Door: A Memoir from the Heartland.
Terry McAuliffe
(elected 2013)
A popular former Governor of Virginia, McAuliffe, 60, a former DNC and Presidential Campaign Chair, and successful businessman, is known as an inexhaustible political and fundraising force. He dedicated his midterm efforts to electing Democratic governors under the auspices of the National Democratic Redistricing Committee, headed by Obama and Holder.
A new PAC, "Tenaciously Moving for American Change in 2020" (playing on McAuliffe's "TMac" nickname) was formed in October to encourage him to run.
Beto O'Rourke
Congressman (elected 2012) Texas O'Rourke became a phenomenon with his unsuccessful bid to unseat Republican Senator Ted Cruz, losing by just three points and, in the process, raising $70 million. The charismatic 46 year-old infused much-needed young blood into the national political scene, prompting a call for him to run for higher office. He tops the most recent poll among progressives.
Bernie Sanders
US Senator (elected 2006) Vermont With the launch last week of "Organizing for Bernie" by senior staffers from his 2016 run presidential run, Sanders appears closer to a 2020 bid. Officially an Independent, the 76 year-old veteran Senator has continued to lead from the left through his Our Revolution movement, but many fear would split progressive support fellow New Englander Elizabeth Warren.  His last book, Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance came out this year.
Howard Schultz
Starbucks Founder & Former CEO Washington State Schultz's retirement in June as Chair of Starbucks, and the build up of a PR team that includes Trump critic and former John McCain advisor Steve Schmidt, has increased speculation he will run. His book From the Ground Up: A Journey to Reimagine the Promise of America" is due out in February. As a non-politician with an estimated network of $2.6 billion he could prove to be a formidable contender.
Elizabeth Warren
US Senator (elected 2012)
Massachusetts Warren, 68, is at the top of many presidential picks list and a darling of the national progressive community. A proven fighter and Trump foe, she was fundraising on behalf of candidates nationwide, and has been reaching out in early presidential primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Most significantly she is openly building a campaign infrastructure, with 50+ people on her payroll and hunting for a HQ in Boston.

Other names in play include US Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Chris Murphy (CT), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Governors John Hickenlooper (CO), Steve Bullock (MT), Jay Inslee (WA) and Martin O'Malley (MD), Congresspersons Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2), Seth Mouton (MA-6), Joe Kennedy III (MA-4), Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Eric Swalwell (CA-15). Also included are Mayors Eric Garcetti (Los Angeles) and Peter Buttigieg (South Bend), former Mayor Mitch Landrieu (New Orleans) and attorney Michael Avenatti.  Former 2004 Presidential candidate John Kerry has also been mentioned, but unlikely to throw his hat in the ring.

Those who have taken themselves out of the running include New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, former VP Candidate and US Senator Tim Kaine, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, businessman and philanthropist Tom Steyer, actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

Latest Standings
An early straw poll of members of the liberal group, MoveOn, shows the fight for the progressive vote is still wide open.

Among the 30 candidates cited in the poll, Beto O'Rourke (15.6%) narrowly edges out Joe Biden (14.95%), followed by Bernie Sanders (13.15%), Kamala Harris (10.02%), Elizabeth Warren (6.42%), Sherrod Brown (2.92%), Amy Klobuchar (2.75%), Michael Bloomberg (2.71%) and Cory Booker (2.63%). 17.89% were undecided or preferred someone else.

A pre-election CNN/SSRS Poll, conducted October 4-7, 2018 among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents nationwide (Margin of error ± 5.5) showed Joe Biden leading with 33%, followed by Bernie Sanders (13%), Kamala Harris (9%), Elizabeth Warren (8%), Cory Booker (5%), John Kerry (5%), Michael Bloomberg (4%) and Beto O'Rourke (4%).

Related: DemDaily: The 2020 Presidential Calendar

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: The Hill, Politico, Washington Post, Fortune, Rolling Stone, New York Times

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