The next presidential election is going down on November 3, 2020. And the field of candidates who want a chance to take on President Trump just keeps growing.
Who’s actually running?
Trump is definitely running. So far, 14 Dems have said 'count me in.' Several more people are still deciding whether to jump in the ring. More on them later. Here's what you need to know about the contenders hoping to take on Trump:
✷ The Who: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), 49. Launched his campaign on the first day of Black History Month. Said that if he’s the Dem nominee, he’ll prioritize finding a female running mate.
✷ The Resume: Senator since 2013, former mayor of Newark, NJ.
✷ The Issues: He’s known for his work on criminal justice reform including being one of the main backers for the criminal justice overhaul Congress passed last year. It did things like shorten mandatory minimum sentences for some drug-related crimes. He also supports Medicare for All, wants to give each child in the US a savings account with $1,000, and wants a program to guarantee jobs in high-unemployment communities across the country.
✷ The Who: Julián Castro (D), 44. The first major Latino candidate for 2020.
✷ The Resume: Former US housing secretary and former mayor of San Antonio, TX.
✷ The Issues: He's supportive of universal pre-K across the US for certain kids, like those who are homeless or receiving SNAP benefits.
He also wants more affordable higher education, Medicare for All, criminal justice reform, and to find a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. And thinks it'd be great if the US was back in the Paris climate deal.
✷ The Who: John Delaney (D), 55. You’re not the only one who’s never heard of him. He was the first Dem to announce a 2020 presidential run (all the way back in July 2017).
✷ The Resume: Former congressman from Maryland and former businessman.
✷ The Issues: He has a long wishlist. Including: wanting the president to debate Congress every quarter. Ending government corruption. Ending the opioid epidemic. Enacting a $15 federal minimum wage. Lowering student loan interest rates.
✷ The Who: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), 37. The first Hindu and American Samoan member of Congress. She’s come under fire for her history of anti-gay statements.
✷ The Resume: Congresswoman from Hawaii since 2013 and Army National Guard veteran.
✷ The Issues: Mostly TBD. She’s known for being outspoken against foreign military intervention – so don’t be surprised if that’s one of her main talking points. In 2015, she joined Republicans to vote in favor of increased screenings of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. She’s been light on details but says her campaign will focus on criminal justice reform, climate change, and health care.
✷ The Who: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), 52.
✷ The Resume: Senator since 2009, former House rep, started career as a lawyer.
✷ The Issues: Expect her to put women’s rights front-and-center. That’s been one of the biggest issues she’s tackled while in Congress.
That includes bills aimed at changing how sexual assaults are handled in the military and on college campuses. She also supports Medicare for All and is into the idea of the Green New Deal. Don’t be surprised if she’s called out for her history of backing more conservative policies when she was in the House.
✷ The Who: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), 54. The first African-American woman to announce a 2020 run for the White House. She’s gotten some criticism for her time as a prosecutor.
✷ The Resume: Senator from California since 2017, former California AG, and former San Francisco district attorney.
✷ The Issues: Last year, she intro’d a middle-class tax plan that’ll reportedly be a big part of her campaign. She also wants tax credits for low-income renters, a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and free higher education for most Americans. And she wants to change the cash bail system, which can hit poor Americans particularly hard. She supports Medicare for All.
✷ The Who: John Hickenlooper (D), 67. Has a reputation of being a moderate (doing things like persuading dozens of mayors – many Republicans – to back a sales tax hike).
✷ The Resume: Former governor of Colorado. Went from being a laid-off geologist, to owner of a brewpub, to mayor of Denver and then governor.
✷ The Issues: Hasn’t announced his platform. At the state level, he's implemented limits on methane emissions, signed gun control bills, expanded Medicaid, and worked to get almost everyone in the state healthcare coverage.
✷ The Who: Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), 68.
✷ The Resume: Governor since 2013. Previously served as a representative at both the state and federal levels.
✷ The Issues: As governor, he’s done things like support raising the minimum wage in Washington and help pass a statewide paid family leave law.
There are not many details on his presidential campaign platform – but he’s made it clear it’ll be focused on climate change.
✷ The Who: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), 58. The first woman elected to represent Minnesota in the US Senate. She’s a moderate Dem who could pick up GOP votes (see: her 2016 re-election). There’ve been reports that she frequently mistreated staff – for which she issued a statement promising to do better.
✷ The Resume: Senator since 2007, she was previously Hennepin County Attorney.
✷ The Issues: Not that many details. When she announced her bid, she said she’s going to focus on reforming election laws, including automatically registering people to vote once they turn 18. She also wants to expand laws that protect online privacy.
✷ The Who: Beto O’Rourke, 46. Became a rising star in the Democratic party after his grassroots 2018 Senate campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
✷ The Resume: Former US congressman from Texas, former El Paso City Council member, former punk rocker.
✷ The Issues: In Congress, he helped pass legislation to expand health care to veterans. He also supports universal health care, universal background checks on prospective gun owners, and legalizing marijuana. On the Senate campaign trail, his main focus was immigration policy. He wants to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and is against Trump’s hard-line immigration policies – including the “zero tolerance” policy and his plans for the US-Mexico border wall. He’s said he’d support tearing down the current wall in El Paso – one of the largest cities on the border and his hometown.
✷ The Who: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 77. Raised a record $5.9 million from more than 200,000 donors in the 24 hours after he announced his bid.
✷ The Resume: Senator since 2007, the longest serving independent member of Congress in history.
✷ The Issues: Hasn’t dropped his 2020 platform yet but we can guess what’ll be on it. He’s the one who spearheaded Medicare for All. He wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans, enact a $15 federal minimum wage, supports making college tuition free, and will likely make climate change a key issue.
✷ The Who: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), 69. Highest-profile Dem in the race. If you don’t know her, you’ve probably still heard about the controversy around her ancestry.
✷ The Resume: Senator since 2013, former Harvard law professor who laid the groundwork for what became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
✷ The Issues: Her big thing is economic opportunity for the middle class. She has a reputation for putting a lot of pressure on the financial industry for the way it does business. She’s very much pro regulating Wall Street and more recently has focused on a bill to combat gov corruption.
✷ The Who: Marianne Williamson (D), 66. She’s a big name in Hollywood and has dabbled in politics before.
✷ The Resume: Best-selling author and spiritual guru. Founded several charities. She unsuccessfully ran for a California House seat in 2014.
✷ The Issues: She wants the US back in the Paris climate deal, supports universal health care and free college, and gun control legislation that includes universal background checks. She's also proposing a plan that would put between $200 billion and $500 billion in reparations for slavery to be distributed to educational and economic projects that benefit African Americans.
✷ The Who: Andrew Yang (D), 44. He doesn’t have any experience in politics but is running because he’s afraid for the future of the country, saying new tech (think: robots, software, artificial intelligence) has “destroyed more than 4 million US jobs.”
✷ The Resume: Former tech executive and author.
✷ The Issues: He has three main issues but the biggest one is universal basic income. His goal is to find a way to give $1,000 a month to every American adult. No conditions. He also supports Medicare for All.
Why do I keep hearing about exploratory committees?
Two Dems and one Republican have launched exploratory committees aka they’re looking into a presidential run but haven’t officially registered as candidates. The committee means they’re allowed to start raising and spending money on things like polling and reaching out to voters. But they don’t have to give the Federal Election Commission a heads up about all their money moves (although some still do). The main benefits: start building up that campaign bank account and get your name in the headlines twice – once for announcing the committee and again when you make it official. Sneaky sneaky.
So who’s going this route?
✷ The Who: Pete Buttigieg (D), 37. Youngest candidate. Would be the first openly gay presidential nominee of a major party.
✷ The Resume: Mayor of South Bend, Ind. Rhodes Scholar, military veteran who served in Afghanistan.
✷ The Issues: He’s been light on specifics so far. But has given shoutouts to policies like Medicare for All and wants to tackle climate change. As mayor, he’s focused on turning around the city’s economy – including rehabbing abandoned houses and the city’s downtown area. He’s pushing himself as a president for a new generation.
✷ The Who: Wayne Messam (D), 44. He's pretty unknown outside of Florida, but says the presidency needs someone with “fresh eyes” and who’s more tuned in to Americans’ everyday issues.
✷ The Resume: Mayor of Miramar, FL, construction business owner.
✷ The Issues: He hasn’t talked much about his policies yet, though his track record as mayor shows that he’s in favor of gun control and fighting climate change. He’s also taken action against Trump’s tough immigration stance – and proposed making Miramar a “safe zone” for undocumented immigrants.
✷ The Who: Bill Weld (R), 73. The first potential primary challenger to the president.
✷ The Resume: Former Massachusetts governor, 2016 Libertarian VP nominee with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson for president.
✷ The Issues: Setting up to be the anti-Trump Republican. Has called Trump a “schoolyard bully” and said his “priorities are skewed to the promotion of himself.” Weld supports abortion rights, gay rights, marijuana legalization, and cutting taxes. He also opposes Trump’s tariffs, and thinks the US should rejoin the Paris climate deal.
Who are the maybes?
All eyes are on big names like former VP Joe Biden (D), former Ohio Governor John Kasich (R), and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (considering an independent bid) to enter the race. Stay tuned.
You mentioned the Green New Deal. What is it?
It’s a plan to fight climate change that’s been in the spotlight lately thanks to support from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) – the newbie lawmaker shaking up DC. The goal: transition the US to relying 100% on renewable energy sources (think: wind and solar) for electricity within 10 years. Because in case you’ve missed report after dire report, the world needs to massively reduce its greenhouse gas emissions ASAP or risk events like more frequent droughts and flooding, and extreme heat that could lead to things like food shortages and potentially affect hundreds of millions of people (BTW, read our FAQ on climate change here). There aren’t a lot of specifics yet about how to make the Green New Deal reality. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) intro’d the proposal in Congress in February and say they’re hoping to continue hashing out details. Meanwhile, activist groups are pressuring 2020 candidates to get on board with the deal.
Medicare for All. Explain.
The short version: it’s the idea of government-sponsored, universal healthcare. You might also hear people refer to this as single-payer health care – the government being the single payer. The longer version: lawmakers have been debating for years about the best way to offer Americans health insurance. Right now, Medicare is the gov program that gives health insurance to people over age 65 and certain younger people with disabilities. Medicare for All would edit and expand that to cover, yep, all Americans. It’s an idea that’s been largely pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in recent years. Dem candidates went all in on it for the 2018 midterms. And it’s already a major 2020 talking point. Supporters say this is the best path toward more accessible, affordable healthcare. Critics say it would give the gov too much control over the health care system and cost the feds a ton of money. Check out this breakdown for specifics on how it would affect you.
Trump is considered a lock for the Republican nomination. But the field of Democratic candidates is crowded and expected to continue to grow. It’s the most diverse ever. And full of both VIP names and people you’ve maybe never heard of. But Trump’s 2016 win proved that even the most unlikely and less experienced political contenders have a shot. The challenge will be fighting for the fundraising dollars and staffers that’ll give their campaigns an edge.