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PRESENTING YOUR 2020 ROSTER
There are a lot of reasons that we love baseball. But one of the best things about America’s pastime is that the season is long.
Whichever team you like is today in contention for the World Series. We are still six weeks from the start of spring training, but it will still be true in May and, for most of the teams, all the way until the All Star break, halfway through the season.
The Democratic nominating process for 2020 is going to be a great deal like that.
You will find below our first list of contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. There are 35 individuals who have at least expressed interest in running. Some have already filed papers, some have set deadlines for themselves, while others seem more likely to be just musing in the media.
We don’t care… yet. For now, you just need to be a person who can credibly campaign and at least be considering a run.
Even with those relatively permissive standards, 35 people is a huge field. It is a result of not only a pretty considerable amount of talent on the Democratic bench but also the fact that the Democrats believe President Trump is eminently beatable in 2020.
The incumbent’s current condition – fighting with his own party over foreign policy, presiding over a government shutdown and still smarting from the spanking he took in 2018 – leads Democrats to think that almost anybody would have a chance in 2020.
We think Democrats generally are underestimating the potential for Trump’s re-election. But there’s no denying that the party’s nomination is viewed as a prize of great value.
The names you see listed below are grouped here by their offices or careers. This is only useful here in the very early going when we are still five months away from the first debate. As we progress, new lanes and groupings will emerge based on the ideologies, personal traits, electoral strategy and attitudes of the candidates. But for now, job description will be enough.
This list is very much subject to change as candidates drop in, drop out, or otherwise disqualify themselves. But at the beginning of this long season, here’s your starting roster:
Former Vice President Joe Biden - Former Attorney General Eric Holder - Former Secretary of State John Kerry - Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro
There is already enormous nostalgia among Democrats for the Obama presidency and that is only going to increase. While Democrats may have grumbled about Obama’s lack of fire or ineffectiveness, almost all of his initial luster has been restored by the mellowing effects of memory.
Biden or another of Obama’s acolytes may find success running as James Polk did in 1844, which was to seal and complete the vision of a past hero of the party. Andrew Jackson may have led the revolution that changed American politics, but it was Polk who cemented those gains in the most material ways.
We don’t know what an “Obama Democrat” really is since his rise was a singular phenomenon rather than a movement. It may be only now, without the presence of his longtime rival, Hillary Clinton, that the Democrats get down to defining what that means.
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper - Washington Governor Jay Inslee - Montana Governor Steve Bullock - Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe - Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley
Conventional wisdom holds that Republicans are more likely to nominate governors than are Democrats, but there’s not a lot of evidence to support the claim. Yes, George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan both fit the model of big-state executives going national, but out of the 19 Republicans who have held the highest office only six were former governors. Of the 15 Democratic presidents seven, including two of the most consequential, Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, were former governors.
Maybe it was just because Republicans nominated Thomas Dewey so often that it seemed like more…
That being said, any of the governors on this list would have to win as dark horse candidates. Hickenlooper, a moderate and successful businessman, has been nosing around a run longer than the rest, but is still a relative unknown inside his party.
Inslee is even less well known but does have an angle: If he runs it will be as the climate change candidate in the race. That would speak to a considerable portion of the Democratic electorate.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders - Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren - California Senator Kamala Harris - New Jersey Senator Cory Booker - Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar - Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown - Colorado Senator Michael Bennet - New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand - Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley - Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey - Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy
You know the old Washington joke: What do all 100 members of the Senate see every morning when they look in the mirror? The next president of the United States.
It’s crazy to think that 11 sitting senators will all compete for the Democratic nomination, and that’s because it’s not going to happen. You sometimes get the sense with senators that they say they’re interested because it would be too embarrassing to say otherwise. If everybody else has an exploratory committee, why not you?
Even so, there will be at least four serious contenders in the Senate that will make life much harder for Sen. Chuck Schumer as he tries to overcome his members’ personal ambition for the good of the party overall.
It seems pretty clear that 2016 runner-up Sanders will be plowing the same ground as Warren who is doing her best to simulate gusto in her now-official candidacy.
So it seems for Harris and Booker, as well. The two of them were already jousting during the televised spectacle of the most recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings, trying to be the most woke and most brutal in their performances. Harris got the better of Booker then and, we expect, will be in good position to do so again.
She is particularly helped by the emergence of her home state as an early primary. California Democrats will go to the polls on March 3rd as opposed to June, their traditional primary month. That puts the largest trove of Democratic delegates up for grabs four weeks after the Iowa Caucuses. If you can’t play in California this time around, you can’t play at all.
Texas Representative Beto O'Rourke - Ohio Representative Tim Ryan - Former Maryland Representative John Delaney - California Representative Eric Swalwell - Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard
It’s safe to say that House members don’t have a great track record in presidential campaigns. Only two members of the House who never attained higher office have won the presidency: James Garfield and Abraham Lincoln.
So maybe what they lack in number is compensated for by quality. But it’s certainly not the typical path.
Given the decreasing emphasis on candidate qualifications and the increasing ability for campaigns to speak directly to voters on a national scale, however, this could be the cycle. Certainly, O’Rourke’s strong second in bright-red Texas gives him something to talk about.
As for the others, they better find a way to get famous pretty quick.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg - Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti - Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu - South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Never in American history has anyone gone directly from the mayor’s office to the White House. But then again, America never had a reality show host win the presidency before.
That conundrum will confront Democratic kingmakers again and again as they try to whittle down this massive field. If Trump, who had no experience in public service, can win why not someone with a lengthy background even if it’s not on a national level?
Bloomberg seems to be the only one who can make an argument for top-tier status thanks to his famous name, ability to fund his own campaign and track record as an advocate for gun control. As a party switcher and mega-rich white dude he will have a long way to go to answer concerns from Democratic loyalists, but if he’s serious about running after a decade of false starts, he could be a contender.
Hedge fund manager Tom Steyer - Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz
If the Trump administration is the beginning of a real oligarchy in the American presidency, Democrats don’t want to miss the boat. They have two potential candidates with zero record of accomplishment in public service but lots and lots and lots of money.
While Schultz’s efforts so far have looked more like an identity crisis than a real candidacy, Steyer is a serious player. He spent much of the past two years generating a list of potential supporters through an impeachment petition he lavishly advertised on television. He also established credibility with liberal activists by funding insurgent candidates like Andrew Gillum in Florida.
Steyer’s longstanding efforts on climate change help, too. Whether that’s enough to overcome Democratic aversion to nominating a white, Episcopalian hedge fund manager we don’t know.
Former first lady Michelle Obama - Former New York Senator Hillary Clinton - Media mogul Oprah Winfrey - Actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
We know, we know… They’ve said they’re not running or at least tried to pour cold water on such speculation. We also know, however, these folks have big enough names, deep enough pockets and strong enough support among Democratic primary voters that they could still do it if they wanted to.
These “could be” candidates are limited to those who could make the run without a lengthy warm up. Every candidate likes to imagine that they could skip the coming 12-month endurance challenge, but only name brands could really do that.
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.