Tim Caplan – News editor
Just as the Republican primary candidates came out in droves for their 2016 nomination, the Democratic party has a plethora of individuals who have announced their campaigns and even more who are expected to announce for the party’s 2020 presidential bid.
On Dec. 31, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren announced that she had formed an exploratory committee for a potential 2020 run. Warren released a YouTube video shortly after in which she describes her platform as fighting for a middle class that is “under attack,” pursuing economic reforms and going after Wall Street and large oil companies, who she claims have ruined the American economy.
Warren is generally considered as being part of the progressive wing of the democratic party, a group farther away from the establishment ideals of the traditional Democrats. Progressives in today’s Democratic party are working toward a Medicare-for-all system, a “Green New Deal” (having to do with lower emissions and fixing the environment through federally funded jobs) and using the socio-economic models of countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway as templates of the kind of America that they would like to see.
Kamala Harris has also made her progressive ideals well known as she announced her 2020 campaign on Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Day utilizing the platform of Good Morning America. She followed up her announcement with her first campaign rally in her home city of Oakland, California. Harris is the Junior Senator from California, as well as the former District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, and the former Attorney General of California. Similar to Warren, Harris has centered her campaign around environmental reforms and Medicare-for-all. Harris even went so far as to say she wanted to abolish private medical insurance companies in a CNN town hall on Jan. 28, a statement which her campaign spokespeople have slightly backtracked on.
The third major player in the 2020 Democratic race so far is New Jersey Junior Senator Corey Booker. Booker announced his primary run on Feb. 1. In a statement to the press in Newark, he talked about his record on education reforms, and declared to Politico how his intention was not to focus on Republicans or his opponents, but to “Unite” Americans from all walks of life.
All three candidates were members of the “Hell No” caucus, a group of senators in 2016 who opposed the cabinet nominations of President Trump including Mike Pompeo and Rex Tillerson.
When it comes to the progressive political sphere in which these three potential candidates occupy, Booker is the perceived frontrunner. Elizabeth Warren has received criticisms from both sides of the aisle after an attempt to prove her Native American ancestry through a DNA test was seen as offensive. Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation Secretary of State released a public statement referring to the incident “Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens…”
A major issue on the progressive agenda is criminal justice reform. Senator Harris has a prosecutorial record that has come under fire by progressive activists like Phelicia Jones. According to The Washington Times, Jones claimed “San Francisco has always incarcerated more black men than anywhere else, and it didn’t really change under her leadership. Now she wants to do criminal justice reform?” Jones said. “She never did say anything about the police brutality of African-Americans and just the outright harassment and racial profiling of black and brown people here in San Francisco. Now those are huge issues.”
Some of the less well-known candidates who have announced their campaigns are Hawaiian Representative Tulsi Gabbard, former Mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro, and Maryland Representative John Delaney.
A series of Democrats are expected to announce their candidacies in the near future, including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, and former Vice President Joe Biden. For now, the Democrats have a large pool of candidates to choose from, but will they be able to garner enough support to beat the Trump reelection effort? That answer is not yet clear.