It seemed like a good point to reflect a bit about the 2020 Democratic presidential race to date. What is the sense of reflecting if you don’t project? As someone who writes op-eds I can’t help but analyze a bit. Let’s explore.
If my latest information is correct there are 11 declared Democratic candidates of some significance. That is a stretch to me. I’d say six and that may even be a stretch. In fact one declared candidate, (not counted in the 11), Richard Ojeda, has already withdrawn. (You say you never heard of him; obviously you have company and that is why he already dropped out.)
The six of “significance” are (in alphabetical order): Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and Elizabeth Warren.
Castro and Gillibrand, while legitimate candidates are somewhat of a stretch to consider top tier at this point. While Booker is among the many I like and can envision winning it all, he has gotten out of the gate surprisingly slowly. For those three it is early yet so don’t despair.
Harris has had the best rollout to date and if you had to pick an early (way too early) leader it is her. I expect her to be around at the end and can see a president Harris in 2021. The problem with being in the lead is that everyone is gunning for you. She appears to be both smart and tough and we’ll see what happens.
Elizabeth Warren has shown well thus far. She had a good announcement and put forward a tax plan that got plenty of attention. Personally what I don’t like is her overuse of the word “fight”. Coming from the blue collar/union Democratic background that I do it may seem illogical to you. I know Democrats love to tell people they will fight for them. I prefer to hear that someone will work for my interests. Just a word, but I prefer work over fight.
The pleasant surprise to me at this early point is how well Amy Klobuchar is doing. While I’m still far away from deciding who I will vote for in the primary, let alone endorse; she has always been on my radar screen. I want to see someone with a progressive agenda and Klobuchar is not running away from that label which I like. To me there is too much at stake in 2020 to take a chance of losing so the number one qualification is can the candidate win. Every time I look at her lately she looks more and more electable.
All that said the field is far from settled. While I expect another ten or so to jump into the race I have my eyes on three in particular: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Oprah Winfrey. I’d prefer that none of them run, but simultaneously could see myself voting for any of them in the general election. I have the utmost respect for Joe Biden and on paper he is far and away the best qualified person in America. If you looked at the wish list part of any agenda I identify with Bernie Sanders’ more than anyone else. My main complaint with both is age. The Democrats need to pass the torch and there are a plethora of qualified people to give it to. Oprah appears to be a smart, quality person who actually is a self-made billionaire. However, she has no experience in government. I don’t think she will enter the race (she has said she won’t) but she would disrupt it if she did. She has a huge following among women and the Democrats can’t win in 2020 without great support and turnout from the ladies.
It is likely that Biden and/or Sanders will enter the race. Either would change the dynamics. Biden’s entry would put a lot of Democrats in the uncomfortable position of liking and respecting him while supporting someone else in the primary. Name recognition is a huge factor early and they both have it which could mean one or more less well known candidates sees their campaign die an early death.
I don’t think Oprah will enter which would be good news for the Democrats. She is much more valuable as an A-list endorser, fundraiser and GOTV person.
This is personal but I think I have a lot of company; I have already eliminated Michael Bloomberg, John Delany and Howard Schultz (who is talking of running as an independent) in my mind. Bloomberg and Schultz have refused to embrace a progressive tax reform agenda which tells me they are out of touch with America’s needs and just care about their own checkbooks. Delany has called the Green New Deal a step backwards. While I don’t think the program is ready for prime time yet it certainly represents progress not retreat.
The fun has just begun and there is much more to be had in the next 22 plus months!
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