In 2016, way too many people ran for the Republican presidential ticket. It allowed a lifelong Democrat who turned into a birther a handful of years ago to win the nomination. So, based on very little, here’s where I see the candidates for president in power rankings for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary field.
1. KAMALA HARRIS – The junior senator from California is a star on the left. She’s pugnacious, which helps in picturing her debating Trump, and she checks all the identity politics boxes. She might be seen as divisive in the general, but it’s not like Trump’s been a uniter on anything. (Literally anything.) I think there’ll be a hunger for a younger leader to emerge and she’s the lead in that front.
2. JOE BIDEN – He’s been around forever, but his mind is still sharp. He was a solid VP for Barack Obama, a proven fighter in the Senate and on the debate stage. He’s also a guy who’s shown he can connect with blue-collar voters. He also turns 76 next month. He just might be too old.
3. BERNIE SANDERS – If he wants to run again, he’ll immediately have a lot of support. And a lot of opposition. There’s still a bad taste in mouths between I’m With Her and the Bernie Bros. Age is also a factor with him.
4. ELIZABETH WARREN – I think the right views her similarly to how the left views Ted Cruz – an opponent they’d love to have in a general election. Her attempted dunk on Trump this week about her DNA test will hurt her in the long run. She claimed to be Native American at one point and was held up as a “woman of color” as a professor. (1/1024th? I’m 1/1024th! I’ve never tried to claim I’m Native American.) But if a week is a year in politics, this could be a non-issue in a year.
5. THE NEW YORKERS – Hillary Clinton may not run again, but just about every other Democratic politician from New York plans to. You have Michael Bloomberg, the rank opportunist who’s Democrat when it’s convenient and Republican when it’s convenient. But the guy is rich rich rich and he’ll be able to keep himself in the mix for a while. There’s Andrew Cuomo, who has name recognition, but he’s too gaffe-prone to really make it. He’ll be the Rick Perry of the group. You also have Kirsten Gillibrand and Bill de Blasio elbowing their way in there. They’ll cannibalize each other but eventually one will knock all the others out, and that winner would jump into the top five.
6. CORY BOOKER – He’s been running for president since the day he became a Senator. I don’t see him winning, but I can see him staying in it for a while. There will be endless Spartacus jokes.
7. AMY KLOBUCHAR – She proved to be a stand-out during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, and while she might not have a enough red-meat (blue-meat?) appeal in a primary, she could be a sneaky weapon to have in the general.
8. MICHAEL AVENATTI – He’s Leftwing Donald Trump. A showman, a con-man, a fast-talking BS artist. A nasty, punchy little guy. He way oversold the gang-rape story on Kavanaugh, which helped galvanize the right to push Kavanaugh across the finish line. I don’t think he’ll get the $2 billion in free media Trump got during his primary run. I think the media’s learned its lesson that if you keep your focus on the clown, the clown can actually become president. But the guy knows how to weasel his way onto TV.
9. JOHN HICKENLOOPER – One of the more moderate potential candidates, but there aren’t enough governors running. I can see him appealing to a certain 5% of the base. You know, enough for him to finish 9th in a lot of the 2020 Democratic primary polls.
10. DEVAL PATRICK – He has some things in common with Mitt Romney. Massachusetts governor, Bain Capital employee, and it ends around there.
HONORABLE MENTION – Beto O’Rourke – If he pulls off a miracle win in Texas next month, he’ll be immediately considered for 2020. If he loses, oh well, thanks for playing, try for governor next time.
Other possibilities: Jeff Merkley, Mitch Landrieu, Eric Holder, Tulsi Gabbard, Gavin Newsom, Eric Garcetti, Julian Castro, Sherrod Brown, Chris Murphy, Terry McAuliffe, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Tim Ryan, Joseph Kennedy III.