Everybody Running for President In 2020

We're at close to two dozen candidates now.

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The night that Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, 2020 felt like a world away. Nobody had thought much about the next presidential election (remember how 2016 felt like it lasted a decade?). More than two years later, we've just about recovered from our collective shock—right in time for the announcements for the 2020 presidential race to come flooding in.

This election, a nationwide referendum of sorts on President Donald Trump, could be even more divisive and politically charged than 2016. We already know that the president doesn't hold back from critiquing his opponents in ways sexist, racist, and otherwise discriminatory, and we know that Republicans emboldened by Trump's win are happy to echo him. We know that the Democratic field has never been more diverse, blunt, and straight-up angry, charging towards their one shot to overthrow Trump and his ever-changing band of merry men. It's only April, and we already have people dropping out of the race.

So, are you ready for the political showdown that will be 2019-2020? No, me neither, but let's take a look anyway?


Confirmed To Be Running

Joe Biden (D)

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Who?

The former vice president of the United States.

How do I know him?

He was the second-in-command to 44th President of the United States Barack Obama.

What are his key issues?

In his announcement video, Biden began by discussing the white supremacy march that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017. He did not, however, mention Heather Heyer, who was killed while protesting the rally, by name. Instead, he referred to her as a "brave young woman." Biden credits the Charlottesville riots as the reason why he decided to run stating, "We are living through a battle for the soul of this nation." You can read more about his policy ideas throughout his career here.


Wayne Messam (D)

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Who?

The former Florida State football player and current mayor of Miramar, Florida.

How do I know him?

Unless you live in Miramar, Florida or follow the Seminoles closely, you probably don't. Messam was elected mayor of the city, population 120,000, in 2015, and was the first black man to ever hold the role in Miramar. He's also the president of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.

What are his key issues?

Messam is seeking to tackle issues that the mayor says are crucial to America's future—gun control, climate change, and health care. "We are not addressing these high-stakes problems," he said during his official announcement. He's a long-shot candidate, but so seemed Pete Buttigieg, who has gained a loyal following, and so was Bernie Sanders, so don't write this guy off just yet.


Beto O'Rourke (D)

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Who?

The Democratic challenger to Ted Cruz's Senate seat in Texas last November. O'Rourke got closer to turning Texas blue than anybody expected, but ultimately lost.

How do I know him?

You probably first heard of him in the run-up to the midterms, when the former congressman was presented as an example of the "blue wave" that could sweep Congress during the Trump administration's first midterms. O'Rourke shattered fundraising records and was compared to an early-career Obama—and it was a huge blow for Democrats when O'Rourke couldn't unseat Cruz. Also, he made the cover of Vanity Fair this month.

What are his key issues?

When it comes to O'Rourke, it's all about personality. What he lacks in concrete accomplishments—he's only 46, and spent six years as a congressman for Texas' 16th district—he makes up for with a charisma that has been compared to Obama's and Bill Clinton's.


John Hickenlooper (D)

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Who?

The latest ex- or current governor to throw his hat in the ring. Hickenlooper served as governor of Colorado between 2011 until this past January.

How do I know him?

He oversaw the rapid growth of the medical and recreational marijuana industry in Colorado (in spite of initially declaring, "This was a bad idea"—he's since come around). Under his watch, Colorado has become significantly more progressive, with Hickenlooper also seeking to end homelessness in the state and signing a number of gun-control bills that crossed his desk. Still, he calls himself an "extreme moderate."

What are his key issues?

Well, that's the hard part. He's the 17th Democratic candidate to announce he's joining the 2020 race, and although his time as Colorado's governor is considered a success (particularly when it comes to the state's now-thriving economy), he may struggle to stand out. "I’ve proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver," he said in his campaign video.


Jay Inslee (D)

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Who?

The current governor of Washington State.

How do I know him?

Along with Washington State's attorney general and solicitor general, Inslee famously sued the Trump administration over its notorious travel ban. He also headed up the Governors' Association for the Democratic party during the midterms, meaning he's partially responsible for the Democratic wins across state governorships in 2018.

What are his key issues?

More than any other candidate, Inslee is focused on climate change. (Even Bill Nye was featured in his campaign video.) In December, Inslee hinted that the role played by global warming in the devastating California fires had encouraged him to considering running, saying: "We have to act now. There is no acting tomorrow. This is a today emergency, if you will."


Bernie Sanders (D)

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Who?

The Democrat challenger to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

How do I know him?

Sanders lost to Clinton in the Democrat primaries, but gained more support than anybody expected. The senator from Vermont inspired a legion of "Bernie bros," among other supporters, and brought the term "Democratic socialist" into the mainstream. His passionate grassroots campaign is credited with pushing the Democratic Party to the left.

What are his key issues?

During his 2016 run, the once-long shot candidate surprised pundits by inspiring an small army of grassroots supporters. He'll try to capitalize on that support in 2020, and will lean into his reputation as a tell-it-like-it-is candidate with an unflinching moral code. "We began the political revolution in the 2016 campaign, and now it's time to move that revolution forward," Sanders said in his announcement interview with a Vermont public radio station Tuesday.


Amy Klobuchar (D)

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Who?

The longtime senator from Minnesota who boasts a reputation of working well with both sides of the aisle.

How do I know her?

She's framed herself as a symbol of Midwestern grit, even announcing her decision to run for president in the middle of a snowstorm. "I did this announcement speech in the middle of a blizzard and I think we need people with grit—I have that grit," she told CNN afterwards. But Klobuchar's campaign has been undermined by reports that her staff has disliked working with her (a criticism derided by some observers for being sexist), to which she's responded, "I can be tough."

What are her key issues?

Klobuchar looks poised to frame herself as the bipartisan underdog who can use her Midwestern "grit" to take on the most formidable of opponents: Trump. "I would have liked to seen him sitting here in the snow for an hour giving this speech," she told assembled press after her announcement.


Elizabeth Warren (D)

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Who?

The economic scholar and senior senator from Massachusetts, a.k.a. the only person Trump appears to see as a credible threat to his presidency.

How do I know her?

For a start, you've probably seen Trump's increasingly agitated tweets about her. You'll have heard about her ascent to higher office after the 2008 financial crisis, and how eminently well-qualified she is when it comes to the economy. And you've definitely heard about the "Pocahontas" controversy.

What are her key issues?

Warren leaned on her background in economic policy during her announcement speech, decrying the "rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else." President Trump's team immediately called her a "fraud" after she announced her much-anticipated candidacy—a sign of how much of a threat Trump believes Warren to be.


Cory Booker (D)

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Who?

The former Newark mayor and the first black senator to represent New Jersey.

How do I know him?

You've probably heard mention of Booker as one of the fresh faces of the Democratic Party—at 49, Booker is considered to have a long and illustrious political career ahead of him. He was in the final three to be the vice presidential pick for Clinton in 2016, but no dice.

What are his key issues?

In these politically turbulent times, Booker will most likely present himself as the candidate who can bring Americans back together. In his campaign announcement video, Booker leaned hard into that theme, saying: "Together, we will channel our common pain back into our common purpose. Together, America, we will rise."


Kamala Harris (D)

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Who?

The former attorney general of California and the first senator ever elected of either Indian or Jamaican descent (her mom is originally from Chennai, an Indian state, and her dad Jamaica).

How do I know her?

The popular ex-prosecutor took over Sen. Barbara Boxer's Senate seat in 2016, and has been solidly in the political spotlight ever since. As far back as 2008, she was tipped to be the next Democratic star, thanks to her high approval ratings with vastly different groups of Democrats.

What are her key issues?

Harris has earned a reputation for standing up against injustice, a theme she touched on when she announced her presidential run. "Justice. Decency. Equality. Freedom. Democracy...They're the values we as Americans cherish. And they're all on the line now," she said in a video released in late January. She'll likely lean into this "speaking truth to power" message during her run.


Marianne Williamson (D)

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Who?

She's often described as Oprah's spiritual guru, so, yeah. She's also a bestselling self-help author.

How do I know her?

You've probably seen at least one of her quotes on Pinterest and Instagram. Maybe this sounds familiar: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." Nope, not Buddha, but Marianne Williamson.

What are her key issues?

To quote from her 2020 website: "The future of our country is far too serious to be left in the hands of traditional politicians...In order to have a moral and spiritual awakening in America, we need a leader who is a moral and spiritual awakener. I believe I am that person."


Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

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Who?

The longtime senator from New York who has vehemently spoken out against Trump from day one.

How do I know her?

She's a fierce advocate for victims of sexual harassment and assault, particularly when it comes to sexual assault in the military, and has passionately opposed Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She's also fought Trump on multiple fronts over the course of his presidency, imploring him to resign after allegations of sexual assault and opposing his nominees for numerous administration positions.

What are her key issues?

She's expected to make women's rights a key part of her platform. Expect her to be grilled by opponents on her shifting policies over the years, which have seen her transform from a pro-gun conservative to one of the most vocal Democratic voices in the nation.

"I'm going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom, I'm going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own," she told Stephen Colbert.


Julian Castro (D)

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Who?

He’s the former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama.

How do I know him?

He’s part of a political twin! His brother Joaquin is a congressman representing Texas’ 20th. Julian has been something of a darling to the Democrats for years—there was even speculation that he might get Hillary Clinton's VP slot in 2016.

What are his key issues?

He’s the proud grandson of immigrants and, as the New York Times put it, “one of the most high-profile Latino Democrats to ever seek the nomination”—so chances are good he’s going to come after Trump on immigration.


Tulsi Gabbard (D)

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Who?

The 37-year-old woman who’s served as Hawaii’s 2nd district representative since 2013. She’s an Iraq war veteran and also the first Hindu ever sworn into Congress.

How do I know her?

She’s long been considered a rising Democratic star, known for reaching across the aisle and for speaking her mind. That last part got her into some trouble in 2016, when she publicly backed Bernie Sanders, despite the DNC’s urging that everyone in Congress get into lockstep with Hillary Clinton. Now, though, that move makes her look like a progressive ahead of her time.

What are her key issues?

Naturally, she wants to make sure our veterans are treated properly, and for her that includes speaking out against hasty military intervention. She has also said that combating climate change will be a big part of her platform.


John Delaney (D)

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Who?

Former three-term Congressional representative from Maryland’s 6th district.

How do I know him?

He was the first to announce his presidential bid, though speculation swirled about what he was up to way back in May 2017. It only got louder when he declared he wouldn't seek reelection last year—now we know it was to focus on the campaign.

What are his key issues?

He’s a centrist, so he holds pretty classic Democrat views on things like jobs, immigration, and veterans, but argues that change only occurs with bipartisan support. As President, he says he wants to be a unifier.


Andrew Yang (D)

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Andrew Yang For President
Andrew Yang For President

Who?

A Columbia grad and lawyer who has spent several years working in Silicon Valley. He also started the Venture for America nonprofit, which helps young entrepreneurs start businesses.

How do I know him?

You probably don't, since he doesn't have political experience, but his interesting platform is starting to get him noticed.

What are his key issues?

Yang has observed that the only way to prevent more Trump-like electoral upsets in the future is to replace the income of people whose jobs that are being zapped up by automation (so everyone, basically). His solution is to give every citizen $1,000 a month to stimulate the economy. It would be paid for by a Value Added Tax on every transaction, similar to how some European countries tax transactions. It's a radical idea at a time when people just might be interested in radical ideas.


Pete Buttigieg (D)

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Who?

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who at 37 is just scraping the requirement to run for president (you have to be at least 35).

How do I know him?

Most likely, you don't—he's deeply embedded in local politics through his time as mayor of South Bend (which has a population of 100,000), and this will be his first time on the national stage. He was elected at 29, making him one of the youngest mayors in history. He would be the first openly gay presidential nominee if he nabs the nomination.

What are his key issues?

Buttigieg is vocal about climate change; he says it's a national security threat and was one of the 400+ mayors who signed a pact to adhere to the Paris Accord after President Trump pulled out. Buttigieg is a strong advocate for stronger gun control laws, including a universal background checks and is against guns in schools. He's a religious man and has spoken out against the extreme right's claim over Christianity. He believes Christianity aligns more so with the democratic party.


Michael Bennet (D)

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Who?

The Democratic senator of Colorado who's been serving the state since 2009.

How do I know him?

Remember the recent government shutdown that lasted for 35 whole days (the longest shutdown in US history)? You might recall that Senator Bennet gave a moving and impassioned speech advocating for the end of the shutdown.

What are his key issues?

Bennet's platform addresses several issues, but the senator wants to focus on increasing the potential of economic mobility for Americans and restoring integrity to the government. Though he is a Democrat, Bennet has been known to lean right on a number of issues, including the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.


Bill de Blasio (D)

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Who?

The current Democratic mayor of New York City.

How do I know him?

Mayor de Blasio is famous for his 2013 "Tale of Two Cities" campaign to unseat Michael Bloomberg, who had served three consecutive terms as mayor of New York City.

What are his key issues?

De Blasio's presidential campaign slogan, "Working People First," aims to empower the American middle class. His policy initiatives include pre-k for all, a national increase of minimum wage to $15 an hour, and paid sick leave for employees. It's likely that de Blasio's platform will also address the need for mental health services—he and his wife Chirlane McCray have worked to implement a local initiative called ThriveNYC to improve mental wellness throughout the city.


Steve Bullock (D)

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Who?

The current Democratic governor of Montana.

How do I know him?

Unless you live in Montana, you might not. Before becoming governor in 2012, Bullock served a single term as state attorney general. He previously worked as an attorney in the offices of the state attorney general and secretary of state.

Governor Bullock has already earned the support of a few notable Hollywood names, including actor Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, True Grit) and Justin Bieber's manager Scooter Braun.

What are his key issues?

The governor's main driver is eliminating the influence of money and power on American politics. Bullock seeks to get substantially decrease corporate political spending and get rid of super political action groups (super PACs) in order to restore the integrity of the political space. He also wants to protect immigrants and their rights; Bullock was one of eleven governors to sign a letter urging Congress to protect the “Dreamers” when Obama's DACA program came under attack.


Donald Trump (R)

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Who?

The current POTUS.

How do I know him?

He’s probably the reason your therapy bills went up a couple years ago.

What are his key issues?

At the time of publication, the government was shut down over funding for his Mexican border wall. Immigration is clearly a big issue, specifically how he thinks there should be less of it. (Remember the Muslim ban, which quietly remains a huge issue?) He’s also tried to reshape the U.S.’s foreign policy, including how the military handles foreign disputes in places like Syria and Afghanistan, how our diplomats deal with former adversaries like Russia and North Korea, and how our businesses handle trade deals with China.


William Weld (R)

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Who?

Former governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997.

How do I know him?

You may (probably not) remember him from the 2016 presidential election; he was the Libertarian Party's nominee for Vice President, sharing the ticket with Gary Johnson.

What are his key issues?

As the only Republican candidate challenging the current incumbent, Weld's main goal is to restore the integrity of his party by dethroning Trump. The former governor re-registered as a Republic after a 3-year stint as a Libertarian in hopes that he can bring the principles of Abraham Lincoln—equality, dignity and opportunity for all—back to the White House. Weld is pro-tax cuts and pro-small government, but he has also been historically pro-choice, a political stance rarely taken by conservatives on the right.


Rumored To Be Running

Howard Schultz (I)

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Who?

The former CEO of Starbucks. Also the 232rd richest person in America.

How do I know him?

Schultz' name is synonymous with Starbucks, the company he's been running on and off since 1986. But Schultz is a gazillionare even without Starbucks' help, having founded a venture capital firm in 1998. He doesn't have any experience in politics, but he's long been considered an influential Democrat—which is why it's slightly unexpected that he now says he's planning to run as an independent.

Will he run?

In late January, Schultz said he was "seriously considering" it, and doubled down on this being an independent run rather than a Democratic one.


Michael Bloomberg (D)

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Who?

You know, the former New York mayor and tech gazillionaire who has poured money into environmental and gun-control groups in recent years.

How do I know him?

You know Bloomberg News, the media conglomerate, and the Bloomberg Terminal, the financial software mainstay? Yeah, that's him. He also served as mayor of New York City for 11 years. He's one of the richest people in the world, to the tune of $51.8 billion.

Will he run?

The jury's out on this one. Although Bloomberg has been generally liberal his entire career, he served as Mayor as a Republican, and has previously mulled running as an independent. This time around, he says he'd run as a Democrat, but simply hasn't decided yet.




Dropped Out of the Running

Richard Ojeda (D)

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Who?

Former West Virginia Senator and retired Army Major.

How do I know him?

He voted for Trump in 2016, but then sided with educators in the big 2018 West Virginia teachers’ strike over low pay and high healthcare. He announced in November that he would be running in opposition to Trump.

What happened?

Less than two months after announcing he'd be running for president, Ojeda abruptly left the race—becoming the first 2020 candidate to do so. His reason was simple: He didn't think he was going to win.

"The last thing I want to do is accept money from people who are struggling for a campaign that does not have the ability to compete," he said in a video announcement.


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