As Of This Point

I thought today would be an opportunity to review the state of the 2020 Democratic presidential race as of this writing. This is especially true with the recent exit of Kamala Harris. Let’s explore.

I feel we are down to six candidates who have any reasonable chance of becoming the nominee. In alphabetical order they are: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. All but Booker have already qualified for the December debate stage and while Booker making the cut is far from a sure thing it is well within possibility.

Tom Steyer has already made the stage. He and fellow billionaire candidate Michael Bloomberg represent an interesting aspect of this race. They are both spending incredible money on their candidacies. The bad aspect is that it may squeeze some other candidates out of the race. They – (Steyer to a greater degree than Bloomberg) – have made most of their ads anti-Trump first and self-promoting second. In some ways they are like issue ads that will help the eventual nominee regardless of whom that might be. While they are both affecting the race (in good and bad ways) I don’t see either on the eventual ticket.

Allow me a brief individual critique of my final six.

Joe Biden – Ukrainegate is getting him a disproportionate amount of media attention. Time will tell if that is good or bad for his campaign. (Perhaps the all publicity is good theory will apply.) People who won’t vote for him because of the way the feel about his son’s actions probably were never going to vote for him anyway and were just looking for an excuse, not a reason.

Cory Booker – One of several wonders I have about the 2020 race so far is why Booker hasn’t attracted more support. To the degree black voters look for black candidates (which is not anywhere near as often as most people think) he is now the only viable black candidate left in the race. (Sorry Governor Patrick, I respect you but you were way too late to the “party” and are not as well-known in the black community as you think.)

Pete Buttigieg – This one really stumps me. On several occasions I expressed my respect for his obvious intelligence but said he would never be on the 2020 ticket. I’m not so certain about the latter now. I discounted him because of his sexual orientation and lack of big government experience. The Obama-Trump voter is looking for change because the current system is still not working for them. Buttigieg could well represent that kind of change. Also, I remember well thinking that Obama wasn’t electable because he was black. I will never forget being in a Democratic meeting (with a lot of experienced and knowledgeable operatives from around the country) when we received the phone call informing us that Obama won the 2008 Iowa caucuses. As to the electability argument; people who won’t vote for a black or gay candidate – and they very much exist – won’t vote for a Democrat anyway.

Amy Klobuchar – Senator Klobuchar has so many of the qualities you want in the mythical perfect candidate that it is surprising to me that she has had to work hard just to stay in contention. If not President I can see her in the Veep slot or as the next Attorney General assuming the Democrats take back the White House. Unlike Booker, her seat isn’t up in 2020 so I don’t see her going anywhere soon. Iowa and South Carolina will tell us a lot about her immediate future.

Bernie Sanders – If we go strictly on platform, I most identify with the Vermont Senator. One thing that is never talked about but is a definite factor is that he is not a Democrat. That matters with a lot of establishment Democrats who he needs to become the nominee even with the power of Superdelegates diminished. He has a core of loyal supporters who will stick with him to the end. If he is not the nominee he will be the last man standing.

Elizabeth Warren – I my opinion she has run the best campaign to date (with a significant tip of the hat to Mayor Pete). My biggest criticism of her at the start was that she was a one trick pony (consumer rights). She not only turned that around but she is now known as the candidate with a plan for everything. Where she has run into a problem is the inability to explain complex plans in short sound bites. A professor has a 45 minute class; a candidate has a 30 second time “shot clock”.

That is what it looks like to me at this point. The crystal ball is still very cloudy. If you are like me you still have to make your personal pick.

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