The list of Democratic lawmakers, governors and public figures considering 2020 presidential runs into the 30s — and seems to grow every week.
As 2018 kicks off, we'll start our weekly roundup with a quick survey of the field as it looks currently, based on which 2020 prospects are dominating headlines, making visits to early-voting states and more:
Discussion of 2020 has to start with the three potential candidates around whom the rest of the field has to strategize: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders
, who is still traveling the country like a candidate and would start with a much stronger early-state organization
than he had in 2016; former Vice President Joe Biden
, who's universally known and is seen as authentic, a valuable commodity in this era; and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
, who is immensely popular with the progressive base and has been carefully maneuvering
to address her potential weaknesses
Then there's an almost-as-prolific trio of senators who have emerged as powerful foils to the Trump administration: New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
, whose role in ousting Democratic Sen. Al Franken
over sexual misconduct allegations positioned her to lead the same charge
against President Donald Trump
; California Sen. Kamala Harris
, who emerged as a star in her first year in office and, along with Warren and two other Democrats, just introduced a major Wall Street oversight bill
; and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
, who recently made a push for marijuana legalization
as part of his broader racial justice effort.
Some of the other prospects to watch
The senators: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
has visited Iowa. So has Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley
, who progressive groups credit as being an influential behind-the-scenes organizer
. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy says he's not running
, but a presidential campaign would elevate his pro-gun control message. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown
has a tough re-election in front of him this year, but his populist brand could work well against Trump. And Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine
says he won't run, but if Terry McAuliffe
doesn't, could that change?
The House members: Maryland Rep. John Delaney
is already in
, and spends his weekends alternating between Iowa and New Hampshire trips. Rep. Tim Ryan
of Ohio has been in Iowa and South Carolina. Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton
also made an Iowa trip and has been a prolific recruiter and fundraiser this election cycle. California Rep. Adam Schiff
has a high-profile role in the Russia probe and was recently a keynote speaker at a South Carolina Democratic event. California's Eric Swalwell
and Hawaii's Tulsi Gabbard
have both made recent Iowa trips, while Illinois Rep. Luis Gutiérrez
is retiring but could be eyeing a 2020 bid
The governors: This list has to start with outgoing Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is leaving office after massive Democratic victories in the campaign to replace him, and has showed more interest in the fate of the Democratic National Committee than other party leaders, recently hosting a year-end fundraiser for the party. Also on the list: two Westerners, Montana's Steve Bullock and Colorado's John Hickenlooper, as well as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Perhaps the most interesting prospect is a former Massachusetts governor: Deval Patrick, who is beloved in Barack Obama world but spent the last few years working for Bain Capital. Also worth watching is California Gov. Jerry Brown. At 79, he's older than virtually all presidential candidates — but so are Sanders and Biden. Brown has also run for the job before, and the surest indicator that a politician might run for president is having run for president before.
The mayors: New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu
recently visited South Carolina and is a well-liked figure in Democratic circles across the country. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
was just in Iowa. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
has publicly flirted with a 2020 run
for months. And South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
has been a hot commodity and made a recent Iowa trip after his failed bid for Democratic National Committee chairman a year ago.
The formers: No longer in public office themselves, at least three Democrats nonetheless could be waiting in the wings. Former Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro is working on a book and teaching college classes in Texas right now. And former Missouri secretary of state and Senate candidate Jason Kander has traveled the country (including frequent trips to Iowa and New Hampshire) as part of his focus on voting rights. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, meanwhile, is leading the Democratic redistricting effort.
The celebrities: Yes, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson says he might run for president. But Democrats are taking several other prospects more seriously — particularly Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban talks often about the chance he might run (though he might not run as a Democrat), while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent cross-country travels have kicked up speculation about his future. Tom Steyer is a player, too — keep reading for more on him.
News and notes:
STEYER'S 'MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT': Billionaire Democratic megadonor Tom Steyer — who's spent $20 million on ads calling for Trump's impeachment — plans what a press release billed as a "major announcement" about "his political future and plans for 2018" Monday morning in Washington.
Steyer has long been seen as having political ambition, and he's considered running for California governor or the Senate this year or president in 2020. For what it's worth: Campaigns for California offices generally don't launch from DC.
SANDERS REUNION IN MICHIGAN: A group of young, digital-savvy organizers who helped turn Sen. Bernie Sanders
into an online sensation — then turned that popularity into campaign cash, packed rallies and votes — are joining forces again, in Michigan
, where Sanders scored his most stunning primary victory.
The candidate this time is Abdul El-Sayed, a 33-year-old Rhodes scholar turned doctor and public health expert vying to become the nation's first Muslim governor. He's hired former Sanders digital organizing director Claire Sandberg as his deputy campaign manager and retained Middle Seat Digital, the firm founded by Sanders digital director Kenneth Pennington and social media lead Hector Sigala. Winnie Wong, co-founder of People for Bernie, the online group that popularized the #feelthebern hashtag, has come on as a consultant to the growing campaign. Victory for El-Sayed, who has seven months to catch up to front-runner Gretchen Whitmer, would give added juice to Sanders' 2020 prospects and confirm the strength of his potential campaign-in-waiting.
2020 PROSPECTS HIT SESSIONS ON MARIJUANA: Attorney General Jeff Sessions
' move to reverse Obama-era rules
that left states that had legalized pot alone drew swift rebukes from Democratic 2020 prospects. "This is a destructive decision and a huge step backwards," said Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley
. "Whatever happened to Attorney General Sessions' belief in states' rights?" California Sen. Kamala Harris tweeted
: "Instead of going after drug cartels, and violent crime, and major traffickers, Attorney General Jeff Sessions
is going after recreational marijuana users. That's not being smart on crime."
One notable line from New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's response: "Veterans should be able to come home from combat and use the medicine they need without having to fear they will be prosecuted."
RYAN COY ABOUT 2020: One we missed late last year: MSNBC's Chris Matthews
asked Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan
directly if he's running for president in 2020. "I don't know if I am
," Ryan responded.
DE BLASIO'S EVOLVING ALLIANCES: From the department of "my, how much things have changed," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
— who slipped in a trip to Iowa before New Year's
— was sworn in for his second term
on January 1 by Bernie Sanders
. Former President Bill Clinton
did the same job at his first inauguration, in 2014.
"I have immense respect for what (Sanders) has done," de Blasio said. "He's single-handedly changed discussion in this country. No one has shined the light on the question of income inequality more than Bernie Sanders, and he's changed the way that politics will be approached in this country going forward."
Before you go:
California Sen. Kamala Harris
will be this year's grand marshal
of the annual Kingdom Day Parade, the massive Los Angeles parade held on Martin Luther King Jr.
Day. ... South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
announced in a Facebook post
on December 28 that he and his boyfriend, Chasten Glezman
, are engaged. ... Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
had to postpone a town hall in Quincy that was set for Friday night — for good reason: With a winter storm hitting the area, the high school that was set to host it is being used as an emergency shelter.