vision 2020

All the Democrats Who Are — and Aren’t — Running in 2020

Room for more. Photo-Illustration: Intelligencer. Photos: Getty Images

For months, conventional wisdom has held that the Democratic primary would be overflowing with candidates. Not only would the debates, much like those the Republicans held in 2016, require both an adult and kids’ table, but a few unfortunate nobodies might end up sitting on the floor.

As the first debates approach in June, it’s beginning to look as if the predictions of a primary with 30 or even 40 Democrats won’t come true. But 20 is still within reach. With ten months until the first primary in Iowa, here’s who’s in and who’s out, in alphabetical order.

Everyone Who’s Running in 2020

Michael Bennet

The Colorado senator planned to announce his candidacy in April, but a prostate-cancer diagnosis slowed him down. After surgery that his campaign described as “completely successful,” the 54-year-old entered the race on May 2, telling CBS This Morning. “I think this country faces two enormous challenges, among others. One is a lack of economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans, and the other is the need to restore integrity to our government.”

Joe Biden

After months of speculation, Biden launched his campaign in late April with a direct attack on President Trump. “I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time,” he says in the video. He’s the front runner, and by honing in on the general election, he’s acting like it.

Cory Booker

New Jersey’s junior senator and the former mayor of Newark, Booker launched his campaign in February with a typically positive message focusing on his favorite subject: love. “We need to have leaders in this country who understand what patriotism means, and patriotism means love of country, and you can’t love your country if you don’t love your countrymen,” he said.

Steve Bullock

With a focus on campaign finance reform and his ability to work with Republicans, Montana’s Governor became the 23rd candidate to join the race in mid-May. Expect to hear a lot of talk about his being “the Democratic governor of a state Trump won by 20 points” — if you hear him at all.

Pete Buttigieg

The 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has a compelling profile as a gay veteran who speaks seven languages. That’s helped him get attention in a crowded field despite being a relative unknown with a hard-to-pronounce name. He’s hoping it’ll also help become the youngest-ever president.

Julián Castro

President Obama’s HUD secretary and the former mayor of San Antonio, Castro has long been pegged a Democratic rising star. Now, the 44-year-old, who is the only Latino in the race, is hoping to take on Trump by focusing on immigration.

Bill de Blasio

New York City’s Mayor is not very well liked at home, but he’s decided to take his progressive record national. In his launch video, de Blasio said he knows how to take on Donald Trump. Then he proved that’s not true by unveiling a terrible nickname for the President: “Con Don.”

John Delaney

The former Maryland congressman started running for president in July of 2017, earlier than anyone else. That doesn’t seem to have helped.

Tulsi Gabbard

An early Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016, Gabbard has already made history as the first American Samoan and Hindu member of Congress. She faces hurdles in her attempt to become the first female president though, including some of her foreign-policy views.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand, a moderate New York congresswoman turned progressive senator, jumped into the presidential race in January on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. “I’m going to run for president of the United States, because as a young mom, I’m going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,” she said.

Mike Gravel

The 88-year-old former Alaska senator says he doesn’t want to be president, but, with the help of some plucky teens, he’s running in hopes of making the debates, where he can push “the field left.”

Kamala Harris

Before she was a senator from California, Harris was the state’s attorney general, a job that gives her the kind of law-enforcement background that could be a liability in the Democratic primary and an asset in the general election.

John Hickenlooper

Colorado’s former governor, Hickenlooper was nearly Hillary Clinton’s pick for vice-president. Now, he’s got his sights set on the Oval Office and hopes his record as a moderate leader from the swing state will help him make the unlikely journey there.

Jay Inslee

The Washington governor isn’t likely to win the Democratic nomination, but as a single-issue candidate focused on climate change, his candidacy could help shape the debate.

Amy Klobuchar

Dogged by criticism of her treatment of her staff, the Minnesota senator has attempted to use her intensity as an asset, telling CNN, “When you’re out there on the world stage and dealing with people like Vladimir Putin, yeah, you want someone who’s tough.”

Wayne Messam

Among the least well-known candidates, Messam is the mayor of Miramar, Florida, and the son of Jamaican immigrants. Among his policy proposals is the cancellation of student debt.

Seth Moulton

The Massachusetts congressman and former Marine says he joined the race to talk about service, security, and patriotism. A frequent critic of his own party, Moulton has said it’s time for a new generation of Democratic leaders. At 40, he’s the third-youngest candidate in the field. (Both Buttigieg and Gabbard are 37.)

Beto O’Rourke

A close-but-not-quite challenge to Senator Ted Cruz turned the former Texas congressman into a Democratic star. Now, he’s hoping to win over national Democrats with a candidacy that’s often criticized for putting style over substance.

Tim Ryan

The Ohio congressman was previously best known for trying, and failing, to oust Nancy Pelosi from the Speaker’s chair. Now that he’s running for president, he’s still best known for that.

Bernie Sanders

Back after a second-place finish in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, the Vermont senator has seen the party move toward his positions in the past three years. He’s in the top tier, but isn’t a shoo-in for the nomination.

Eric Swalwell

The California congressman is running with a focus on gun control.

Elizabeth Warren

A commitment to rolling out big policy initiatives has defined the early months of Warren’s candidacy. For some reason though, the Massachusetts senator hasn’t caught fire.

Marianne Williamson

If Williamson, a self-described “moral and spiritual awakener,” is good enough for Oprah, she must be good enough for America, right?

Andrew Yang

Yang is an entrepreneur, a big fan of universal basic income, and a favorite candidate of many meme-loving young folks.

Everyone Who’s Ruled Out a 2020 Run

Michael Avenatti

The man best known as Stormy Daniels’s lawyer never seemed like a serious contender for president, so it was little surprise that his flirtation with running ended before it got serious. A father of three, Avenatti said on December 4 that he would not be running at the request of his family, though he went on to claim that “many” of the others likely to run “have no real chance at winning.” His subsequent indictment on dozens of federal charges confirmed he won’t take up residence in the White House anytime soon.

Michael Bloomberg

The billionaire New Yorker said he’s not running when it became clear that Biden was.

Sherrod Brown

Seen by some as the only hope Democrats have for winning Ohio’s electoral votes, Brown opted not to take his message of the “dignity of work” national. That’s good news for anyone concerned about losing Senate seats to the GOP.

Bob Casey

Pennsylvania’s senior senator answered a question no one was asking when he said in a statement on January 18 that “the best way for me to fight for the America that so many of us believe in is to stay in the U.S. Senate and not run for the presidency in 2020.”

Hillary Clinton

In early March, Clinton stated clearly what’s long been obvious: “I’m not running,” she told News 12. “But I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe.”

Andrew Cuomo

Weeks after winning his third four-year term as New York’s governor, Cuomo said that his current job would keep him from pursuing a new one in Washington. “I am ruling it out. I ran for governor, I have a full plate, I have many projects. I’m going to be here doing the job of governor,” he said.

Eric Garcetti

The mayor of Los Angeles is young, moderate, and your “average Mexican-American-Jewish-Italian.” But despite visiting New Hampshire last year and testing out an anti-Beltway, outsider pitch, Garcetti said on January 25 that he wants to stay in L.A.: “I realize that this is what I am meant to do, this is where I want to be.”

Eric Holder

The former attorney general wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he won’t join the crowded Democratic primary, choosing instead to focus his efforts on the “fight to end gerrymandering.”

Tim Kaine

As Hillary Clinton’s running mate, the Virginia senator received more votes than Donald Trump in 2016, but he’s not going to try to do it again next year. “My highest and best use” is in the U.S. Senate he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch on November 17.

Mitch Landrieu

The former New Orleans mayor told CNN on February 6 that he doesn’t think he’ll run for president due to the “great candidates” already in the race. He left himself some wiggle room — “You never say never because you don’t know how things will work out” — but it sounds like Landrieu plans to sit this one out.

Terry McAuliffe

Despite his belief that he could beat Trump “like a mule,” the former Virginia governor will sit out 2020. McAuliffe was considered a likely candidate if Joe Biden declined to run.

Jeff Merkley

The Oregon senator faked out supporters with a video titled “My Plan for 2020.” His plan? To stay in the Senate.

Chris Murphy

With so many of his colleagues jumping into the race, the Connecticut senator tweeted on January 25 that he plans to be one of the few Democrats “to stay behind to keep the fight going here!”

Richard Ojeda

West Virginia’s most intense politician left the State Senate earlier this year after becoming one of the first Democrats in the presidential race. On January 25, ten days after leaving office, he ended his campaign, citing a lack of “money to make the media pay attention.”

Martin O’Malley

After serving as the Democrats’ hot-dad candidate in 2016, the former Maryland governor said on January 3 that he won’t be running in 2020. But in an op-ed for the Des Moines Register, he wrote that a younger hot dad should: “I believe the new leader who can best bring us together and turn us around to create that better American future, is Beto O’Rourke.”

Deval Patrick

Though he was reportedly encouraged by team Obama to make a run at the nomination, the former Massachusetts governor took his name out of consideration on December 5, citing the “cruelty of our elections process.”

Adam Schiff

A star of the resistance, the House Intelligence Committee chairman showed up in New Hampshire on February 4 to speak at the famed “Politics & Eggs” event. He was asked the obvious question and responded bluntly: “I’m not running.”

Tom Steyer

The billionaire activist announced on January 9 that he wouldn’t run for president so he could focus “100 percent of my time, effort and resources to one cause: working for Mr. Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.”

Jon Tester

He’s “a farmer at heart,” the Montana senator told Rachel Maddow, who prodded him to run during a December 3 appearance on her MSNBC show. “Even if I wanted to do it, and I really don’t, I’m not sure that mentally or physically I am in any shape to run the kind of race that needs to be run to be president of the United States,” he added.

Oprah Winfrey

After repeatedly denying any interest in running, Oprah did so once again while stumping for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams last November. “I don’t want to run,” she said. “I’m not trying to test any waters. Don’t want to go in those waters.”

This post has been updated throughout.

All the Democrats Who Are — and Aren’t — Running in 2020