I thought today would be an opportunity to tune out the insanity of the White House and take a look at the sanity pursuing it via the Democratic nomination. We are nearing the end of the first quarter and I think the opening Democratic field is basically set. There are 14 candidates of some consequence (is that a relative word!) and I see one positive and one possible entry yet to come. The other day I heard Jonathan Capehart express a theory I have on why some of them are running which he put much more eloquently and succinctly than I have. Let’s explore.
The 14 currently in the race are Senators Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. From the House (plus alums) we have John Delany, Tulsi Gabbard and Beto O’Rourke. The “Governors’ Club” gives us John Hickenlooper and Jay Inslee. The nation’s City Halls contribute Pete Buttigieg. “Obama alums” are currently represented by Julian Castro. Rounding out the field is businessman Andrew Yang.
Former Vice President Joe Biden has all but formally announced. I think the political world will be shocked if he does not throw his hat into the ring. The only other addition of consequence I can possibly see is Stacey Abrams who narrowly lost her 2018 Senate race in Georgia. I wouldn’t bet on her entering, but I also wouldn’t bet against it.
In my opinion there is the field which would cap out at a high of 16; too many, but still short of the 2016 Republican Clown Car total of 17.
Obviously all but one of these people will fail to be the nominee. Many of them need to serve the Party and the cause by “playing another position”. Republicans are defending Senate seats in Colorado, Georgia and Texas. With the right Democratic candidate they are vulnerable. Hickenlooper, Abrams and O’Rourke are those candidates. It is possible that some or all of them have entered or will enter the race with the express objective of getting some earned media (a/k/a free press) and raising money for a Senate campaign.
In addition to enhancing their political resume and increasing their name recognition, many of these candidates are really auditioning for the vice presidential slot or a Cabinet position in a Democratic administration. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was largely an unknown even among many political junkies prior to this race; that is no longer the case. He has been very impressive! I can’t see him winning the nomination but how about being the HUD Secretary in 2021? Washington Governor Jay Inslee looks like he would make a great EPA Director or Secretary of Energy.
Booker, Gillibrand, Harris and Warren could possibly be angling for Cabinet positions in addition to the Veep slot. They all come from states with Democratic governors who would appoint their temporary successor and blue states that could be expected to replace them with another Democrat. (There are surprises from the electorate – remember Scott Brown). Booker is the only of the six Senators whose seat is up in 2020. He will have to make a decision at some relatively early point whether to go all in or drop out and defend his Senate seat. There is another sub-plot for you to follow.
It’s still very early but for the next few weeks the two to watch are Joe Biden and Stacy Abrams. The early political winner to me is Pete Buttigieg; he has enhanced his image and name recognition immensely. Don’t be too influenced by polling. This early it is largely a name recognition contest. The biggest thing I like about Iowa and New Hampshire is the emphasis they place on retail politics. I still like to see a candidate shake hands, kiss babies and talk to average voters. While I think he is “punching over his weight” by running for president, Beto O’Rourke is doing a fine job of meeting people and pressing the flesh. In my mind there are a few who really don’t belong in this race and I expect a casualty or two because of the large field. I think we will be down to ten or less before we leave New Hampshire.
If any of my readers expected this article to conclude with a prediction of the winner and/or an endorsement I am sorry to disappoint you. This much I will predict: I think the 2020 Democratic nominee is on that list and I also feel they will be the next president of the United States.
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