How to Tell If a Candidate Is Planning to Run for President in 2020

Senator Elizabeth Warren declared her intent this morning, but there's another way to tell if a politician plans on running before their announcement.

Democratic Senators Speak About Their Legislative Agenda To A Meeting Of Al Sharpton's National Action Network In DC
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla)

2018 isn't even over yet, and the 2020 election buzz has already begun. This morning, Senator Elizabeth Warren announced her plans to launch an exploratory committee—the first legal step to run for president.

"Every person in America should be able to work hard, play by the same set of rules, & take care of themselves & the people they love. That’s what I’m fighting for, & that’s why I’m launching an exploratory committee for president. I need you with me," she tweeted alongside a 4-minute video on Monday.

The U.S. senator from Massachusetts is the first major Democratic candidate expected to run for president in the 2020 election season. By announcing early, Warren was able to get a head start amongst her colleagues who are also predicted to run, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). However, we likely won't hear from them until after the holidays.

There is, however, one major clue that could signal which politicians plan to run before officially announcing their bid. Instead of announcing her plans to launch the exploratory committee on her Twitter account @SenWarren, Warren shared the news on her personal handle, which, according to The Washington Post, was just changed on Saturday from @elizabethforma to @ewarren. The tweak, as the Post notes, removes the Massachusetts reference from her username, perhaps in an attempt to make her more approachable on a national level.

Many politicians have separate personal and professional accounts, but someone to watch would be Gillibrand who uses @SenGillibrand for professional use and @gillibrandny for personal use. She could change her personal handle to something like @kirstengillibrand and drop the NY. Others like Cory Booker who already have a general personal handle that features just their name (@CoryBooker) will be harder to predict.

Rep. John Delaney of Maryland and former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro are the only other candidates who've publicly expressed their interest in the 2020 candidacy so far. Each one has two separate Twitter accounts. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is also rumored to run in 2020. He currently uses two accounts: @NC_Governor and @RoyCooperNC. If he decides to make it official, the latter personal handle will likely change to one that appeals to a national audience.

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Rachel Epstein

Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.