Meet the Democratic Candidates for 2020

NEWS ANALYSIS: The largest field in history is running against President Trump.

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WASHINGTON — On April 25, former Vice President Joe Biden announced that he was running for president for the third time. The announcement seemed to complete a very long list of Democrats competing for their party’s nomination and the chance to run against President Donald Trump in 2020.

The Democratic Party has changed its ideological course considerably since Biden last ran for president in 2008, and especially since his first run in 1988. This, the largest collection of Democrats running for president (21 at last count) in history, is also a field unquestionably the most ever in favor of the expansion of government, interventions in the judiciary and health care and the enshrinement of abortion as a human right.

Biden and socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are the only two Democrats in the field to have run previously for president. Sanders almost wrested away the nomination from Hillary Clinton in 2016, and the anger of his followers over his perceived maltreatment by the Democrat establishment contributed in no small measure to Clinton’s defeat in some of the tight states where every vote mattered.

The other would-be contenders include five members of the U.S. Senate, six current or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives, two current or former governors, two mayors, a former member of the Obama administration, a failed Senate candidate and several highly unorthodox figures, including tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and New Age guru Marianne Williamson, who have zero political experience.


Key Issues

While some of the candidates may be somewhat politically unusual, all of the prospective nominees adhere to what is now a rigid ideology. On a host of issues, there is unanimity with very little daylight separating them, save for quibbles over the best ways to implement Medicare for all, tax increases for the rich, ending student-loan debt, paying reparations to the descendants of slaves, and whether to abolish the Electoral College or pack the U.S. Supreme Court with judges who are sympathetic to their goals.

There is absolutely no daylight, however, among all of them in adhering to ideological obedience on the issue of abortion. Several candidates — including Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, a Catholic — were once pro-life but subsequently changed their opposition in the face of an inflexible requirement that any serious figure in a presidential run in the Democrat Party today must be for abortion with no limits or restrictions.

Biden, a Catholic, himself was opposed to abortion when he arrived in the Senate in 1973. He abandoned his position over the years as his party grew increasingly extreme in its embrace of abortion.

In the field for 2020, every candidate is pro-abortion, with most now supporting even third-trimester abortion, something opposed by the vast majority of the country. Two of the most radical pro-abortion senators are in the race, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Harris served as California attorney general before her election to the Senate in 2016 and collaborated with her longtime ally Planned Parenthood to draft legislation that specifically targeted pro-life activist David Daleiden after he exposed Planned Parenthood’s practice of selling the body parts of aborted children.

Warren famously tried to defend the safety of abortions by comparing them to having a routine medical procedure. In an op-ed for Marie Claire magazine that opposed the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, she wrote, “The threat of overturning Roe v. Wade is also serious. When abortions are illegal, women don’t stop getting them — they just risk their lives to do it. Today, thanks to Roe, getting an abortion is safer than getting your tonsils out.”

Another contender, former congressman Beto O’Rourke, whose main claim to fame was almost defeating Ted Cruz for senator of Texas  in 2018, co-sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act in the House of Representatives, which would virtually eliminate all state restrictions on abortion.


Backing the ‘LGBT’ Agenda

Biden, meanwhile, was a key figure during the Obama presidency in pushing for same-sex “marriage.” What began as a public endorsement of same-sex “marriage” on a Sunday morning talk show in 2012 led to the now-infamous Supreme Court Obergefell decision that altered the landscape of marriage in the United States.

Every Democrat candidate in the race embraces not just Obergefell but the entire so-called LGBT agenda. Gabbard, in fact, apologized publicly for having once been opposed to same-sex “marriage.”

Such is the degree to which gender ideology now dominates the discussion of social issues that in October the Democrat presidential candidates will take part in a forum hosted by the Human Rights Campaign and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, focusing exclusively on what are seen as “LGBT issues.” The consensus means that the next Democrat nominee will embrace the use of the federal government to impose gender ideology, raising the real likelihood that new challenges to religious liberty would emerge out of a Democrat administration.

As the Obama years also demonstrated, issues such as abortion and gender ideology are tied intimately to government involvement in health care. Every candidate believes that health care is a human right, with most of them supporting some kind of single-payer, “Medicare for All” model of national health care that would eventually end private insurance and would bring direct federal funding of abortion and a new contraceptive mandate. Almost all of the candidates also support removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, meaning the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level.


An Early Race

The Iowa caucus is scheduled for Feb. 3, followed by the New Hampshire Primary Feb. 11. Any list of leading candidates some nine months before the first primaries must be considered a mere snapshot, and the race has to been seen as extremely fluid. As with the Republicans in early 2015, there are likely going to be many candidates who at first appear to be strong contenders but who will eventually drop out as the primaries approach.

In a race where there is so little genuine variety of positions, Biden and Sanders have a clear advantage in the early going due to their experience in campaigning on this level. Still, there is a generational divide between Biden and Sanders and the rest of the candidates, and it is an open question as to how long two aged white politicians can maintain their frontrunner status in a party that is obsessed with diversity and hungry for new and younger leadership. Biden especially is facing criticism for his handling of the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination process in 1991 and accusations of inappropriate behavior with women in the age of the #MeToo movement. Emblematic of that hunger is that the hitherto unknown mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, has emerged in these early days. Pete Buttigieg is a Christian in a same-sex “marriage.”

Another political neophyte in presidential politics, O’Rourke flashed early but has since struggled to retain his campaign’s momentum. He is a prodigious fundraiser, especially with small donations, however, and that may help him survive the coming months. Harris and Warren are also polling slightly better than the rest of the pack.

There is a good chance that a candidate at the moment barely registering or not even in the race could prove a dark horse that no one anticipated. In June 2015, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll looked at the leading Republican candidates. The top five were Jeb Bush, 22%; Scott Walker, 17%; Marco Rubio, 14%; Ben Carson, 11%; and Mike Huckabee, 9%. At that point, Ted Cruz was at 4%, and Donald Trump barely measured at 1%.

But Trump had many advantages on his side, including name recognition, a unique appeal to disaffected voters, an unconventional campaign and a media that focused coverage on him both out of self-interest, as he was a celebrity draw for ratings and readers, and because he was such a disruptive figure to the primary process for Republicans.

It is likely that the Democrat field is set, although if Biden stumbles badly, someone like John Kerry or even Hillary Clinton could jump into the fray. Four years ago the idea of an outright socialist like Sanders being a nominee horrified much of the Democratic establishment. In 2019, socialist ideas are openly discussed, meaning Sanders could actually win the nomination — but only if he shows the ability to beat Donald Trump.

Since the fall of 2015, when Trump emerged as a genuine candidate, the political landscape has been dominated by his presence and the rage that induces among much of the political and media class. The central issue currently consuming the Democrat Party and its many media allies is defeating Trump, but in a climate of increasingly radicalized political correctness, intersectional progressive politics and a host of multicultural litmus tests for candidates, this is shaping up already to be one of the most bitter and angry primaries in history and an even more divisive and heated general election.


Matthew E. Bunson is a Register senior editor.


The 2020 Democrat Candidates

The following men and women have announced their intention to run for president in 2020, as of press time:

Joseph (Joe) Biden Jr., 76

Former vice president; former senator from Delaware. Vice president of the United States from 2009 to 2017 and U.S. senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009. Biden has run twice before for president, in 1988 and 2008. A Catholic, he nevertheless openly dissents from Church teaching on abortion and marriage and was a pivotal figure in the Obama years in promoting same-sex “marriage.”

Cory Booker, 49

U.S. senator from New Jersey since 2013. Booker studied at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and Yale Law School and earned notoriety as mayor of Newark, New Jersey, from 2006 to 2013. A Baptist, he was a leader in the opposition to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Pete Buttigieg, 37

Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012. A graduate of Harvard University and the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, he served in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 2009 to 2017 as an intelligence officer, including deployment to Afghanistan in 2014. A baptized Catholic who attended Catholic schools growing up, he eventually joined the Episcopal Church. He married his same-sex partner in 2018. 

Kirsten Gillibrand, 52

U.S. senator from New York since 2009. Elected to the Senate as successor to Hillary Clinton, she was previously a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007 to 2009. Elected as a “Blue Dog” Democrat in a conservative district to the House, she moved sharply to the left once in the Senate. A Catholic, she is now ranked as one of the most radical supporters of abortion in the Senate. 

Kamala Harris, 54

U.S. senator from California since 2017. Harris served as attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017, during which she received massive financial support from Planned Parenthood and then infamously persecuted David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress after it exposed Planned Parenthood’s alleged profiting from the sales of body parts of aborted children. As senator, she teamed with Sen. Cory Booker to try and derail the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in 2018.

Beto O’Rourke, 46

Former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas from 2013 to 2018 and a failed Senate candidate in 2018. A businessman and musician, O’Rourke is a Catholic but supports unrestricted abortion, same-sex “marriage” and the legalization of marijuana.

Bernie Sanders, 77

U.S. senator from Vermont since 2007. An Independent who is running for the Democrat nomination, Sanders is also a self-described socialist. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1990 to 2007 and almost defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democrat nomination in 2016. A member of the Jewish faith, he has promoted socialist policies, including universal health care and massive taxation, and is among the most radical supporters of abortion.

Elizabeth Warren, 69

U.S. senator from Massachusetts since 2013. A Methodist and former Harvard professor, Warren built her career in the area of consumer protection and progressive politics. In the Senate, she is considered with Sens. Harris and Gillebrand among the most extreme supporters of abortion.

Julián Castro, 44

Former housing secretary during the Obama administration and former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. A Catholic, he supports abortion.

John Delaney, 56

U.S. representative from Maryland from 2013 to 2019. A Catholic, he supports abortion.

Tulsi Gabbard, 38

U.S. representative from Hawaii from 2013 and currently a major in the Army National Guard. She was once opposed to abortion and same-sex “marriage” but now supports both. She embraced Hinduism as a teenager.

John Hickenlooper, 67

Governor of Colorado from 2011 to 2019. He is a Quaker and abortion supporter.

Jay Inslee, 68

Governor of Washington state since 2013. He was also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993-1995 and 1999-2012. A nondenominational Protestant, he has supported abortion in general and Planned Parenthood in particular.

Amy Klobuchar, 58

U.S. senator from Minnesota from 2007. She is a member of the United Church of Christ.

Wayne Messam, 44

Mayor of Miramar, Florida, since 2015.

Seth Moulton, 40

U.S. representative from Massachusetts from 2015, former Marine and Iraq War veteran. A Protestant, he opposed electing Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House.

Tim Ryan, 45

U.S. representative from Ohio since 2003. A Catholic, he previously opposed abortion but changed his position.

Eric Swalwell, 38

U.S. representative from California from 2013. He is a Protestant.

Marianne Williamson, 66

Famed self-help author and New Age advocate. 

Andrew Yang, 44

Entrepreneur and a former technology executive. He is a member of the Reformed Church in America.

Michael Bennet, 54

U.S. senator from Colorado since 2009. His father was a Christian and his mother Jewish, but he claims no specific religion.

— Matthew Bunson

Sources: Roll Call, Congressional Quarterly, candidates’ websites