I first started paying attention to politics in 1988 when my Dad ran for a county office in Indiana. Four years later I was in junior high when Bill Clinton came from nowhere to win the presidency. It’s bizarre to think that heading into another presidential election, it’s been that long ago since the Democrat Party nomination has really been up for grabs.
But think about it:
- In 1996, Bill Clinton was running for re-election.
- In 2000, Al Gore was the obvious successor to Clinton’s legacy.
- In 2004, though the Democrat left pumped up Howard Dean, even pre-scream it was well known his nomination was far less likely than John Kerry.
- In 2008, it was Hillary’s turn.
- In 2012, Obama’s re-election.
- In 2016, it was Hillary’s turn again…and this time precautions were taken to ensure no Obama figure stole it from under her.
In other words, there has always been a favorite, an assumed "chosen one." But 2020 is setting up to be completely different. It’s setting up like 2008, 2012, and 2016 for the Republicans: a crowded stage for the early debates and a frantic scramble for support.
So while it’s too early to project the nominee – after all, few would have predicted a coming Trump nomination and victory in early 2014 – it’s still intriguing to consider the horse race that is shaping up.
Top tier contenders include former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Bernie Sanders, and Senator Cory Booker.
Outside competitors are shaping up as well: Senator Kristen Gillibrand, Governor Terry McAuliffe, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Kamala Harris.
And even some complete dark horses: Governor Jerry Brown, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Historically a far-left candidate would lead early followed by the emergence of a more consensus candidate (think Paul Tsongas leading before Bill Clinton emerges; Howard Dean leading before John Kerry emerges). But that’s the old Democrat Party. Today’s iteration of Democrats have tacked much further left, have become much more radicalized, and are less interested than ever in consensus-building. Donald Trump has done nothing but exacerbate that extremist tendency on the left, which elevates the electoral odds for ultra-liberal candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
But if you made me bet on anyone right now? My money is on Cory Booker. In fact, I’ll take it a step further. I think it will be Booker and Kamala Harris taking on Trump/Pence in 2020.
Good heavens, what has become of our once great republic?