Party presidential hopefuls
Democrats are divided over which candidate, strategy and vision can forge a coalition capable of beating Trump in 2020. The major fault line is between those who want an unapologetically liberal candidate – who can boost turnout among progressives, minorities, young people and other base voters – and those who want a moderate who appeals to independent and undecided voters in battleground states. The frontrunners are:
The Massachusetts senator has long been touted as a 2020 nominee. Warren is a former Harvard Law School professor and well regarded on the left. This year she unveiled plans for legislation to curb big business and redistribute wealth. A fierce Trump critic, she was labelled “Pocahontas” by the president, who mocks her claims of Native American heritage.
The independent Vermont senator and 2016 Democratic primary challenger, who is yet to declare any intention to run, said last week the midterm results showed a progressive could win the White House. “Take a hard look at the [House Democrats] elected to Congress,” he said. “It’s not just that many are women or people of colour: many are progressives who won their elections demanding Medicare [government-backed health insurance] for all, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and making public colleges and universities tuition free.”
Another longtouted 2020 contender, Barack Obama’s vicepresident is a centrist, but may seek to tap into the economic populism that propelled Sanders to run Hillary Clinton close in 2016. He has spent 36 years as a senator and eight as vice-president, but already has two unsuccessful bids for the presidency behind him.
The California senator (pictured below) – a comparative unknown on the national stage – made headlines with her tough questioning of Trump’s former attorney general Jeff Sessions during a Senate hearing in 2017. A figure whose success inspires young women of colour, she is also scrupulously centrist in many issues, and is a former prosecutor who thinks Democrats should pivot from being “tough on crime” to “smart on crime”, the title of her 2008 book.
New Jersey senator Cory Booker; New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand; former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg; high-profile lawyer Michael Avenatti.
… and the rising star
New superstar Democrat Beto O’Rourke was a relative unknown until last year, when he began a juggernaut of a grassroots campaign that came close to unseating Senator Ted Cruz in Texas, and which would have broken a decades-long Republican grip on the state. With such momentum, it’s unlikely we’ve seen the last of O’Rourke.