More than 450 candidates have already registered with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2020.
The election is still more than 600 days away, but the Democratic playing field is starting to look crowded. Here are the people officially running and the people dropping hints that they probably will.
Sen. Kamala Harris
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a news conference with fellow Democrats, ‘Dreamers’ and university presidents and chancellors to call for passage of the Dream Act at the U.S. Capitol October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images
Sen. Kamala Harris announced she was running for President on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “This is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are,” she said during an appearance on “Good Morning America.”
Qualifications: Harris studied political science and economics at Howard University and subsequently earned a law degree from University of California Hastings College. She spent several years as a deputy district attorney and then as district attorney in San Francisco, before she was elected California’s attorney general in 2010. Harris easily won her Senate race against fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez in 2016.
Rationale: Harris is a member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, which held hearings ahead of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s full Senate confirmation vote. There, she asked him tough questions in line with her history as a prosecutor: “Are you willing to ask the White House to authorize the FBI to investigate the claims against you?” she asked. “Are you willing to ask the White House to conduct an investigation by the FBI to get to whatever you believe the bottom of the allegations that have been levied against you?” she repeated, adding, “I don’t want to debate with you how they do their business, I’m just asking are you willing to ask the White House to conduct such an investigation?”
“Say yes or no and then we can move on,” she finally stated, though Kavanaugh deflected each time.
If elected, Harris would be the first female African-American and first Indian-American president, as well as the first woman to hold the highest title in the country. The Senator is off to a good start in the financial department — in her first day of campaigning, Harris raised approximately $1.5 million dollars.
Sen. Harris has a strong chance of winning the election.
Sen. Cory Booker
U.S. Sen. Cory Booker visits Masterpiece Barber College on October 24, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On Feb. 1, 2019, he announced that he was running for President of the United States in 2020. Ethan Miller—Getty Images
Ethan Miller—Getty Images
Sen. Cory Booker announced he was running for president in a video message posted to his Twitter account on Feb. 1. “We are better when we help each other,” he says in the footage. “I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind; where parents can put food on the table; where there are good paying jobs with good benefits in every neighborhood; where our criminal justice system keeps us safe, instead of shuffling more children into cages and coffins; where we see the faces of our leaders on television and feel pride, not shame.”
Qualifications: Booker, 49, received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford and his law degree from Yale. In between, he was also awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. After graduating from law school, he moved to Newark, New Jersey, where he started a legal nonprofit for low-income families. He was first elected to city council at age 29, and went on to become mayor in 2006. In 2013, he won a special election to the U.S. Senate, and the following year was elected to a full six-year term. As the state’s junior Senator, Booker has landed coveted positions on the Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees.
Rationale: Booker routinely sponsors bills that aim to alleviate poverty, expand affordable access to healthcare and raise the minimum wage. Raised by two civil rights activists, Booker is a staunch defender of equality — especially among African-Americans, Latinos and women. “Generations of heroic Americans have made our nation more inclusive, more expansive, and more just,” he said while addressing the Democratic National Convention in 2016. “Our nation wasn’t founded because we all look alike or prayed alike or descended from the same family tree. But our founders, in their genius, in this, the oldest constitutional democracy on the planet Earth, they put forth the idea that all are created equal, that we have inalienable rights.”
Like Sen. Kamala Harris, Booker garnered broader name recognition for questions he asked during then-Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings about the sexual assault allegations lodged against him by Christine Blasey Ford. “So sir, let’s just be clear,” Booker started. “You have problems with the senators that are up here and how we conducted it; but, you’re not saying in any way that she is a political pawn, a political operative. You have sympathy for her. She is talking about a sexual assault. Is that correct?” Moments later, Booker doubled down: “Do you wish that she never came forward?” To which Kavanaugh responded, “Senator, I did not do this.”
If elected, Booker could be the first unmarried person elected President since the 1800s. However, he recently confirmed he has a girlfriend.
Weak chance of winning the office.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
In this Jan. 15, 2019 file photo, Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Carolyn Kaster—AP
Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced she was running for president at a rally in her home state of Minnesota on Feb. 10. “We are all tired of the shutdowns and the showdowns, of the gridlock and the grandstanding,” she said, less than a month after the longest government shutdown in history ended at an impasse. “Our nation must be governed not by chaos, but by opportunity.”
Qualifications: Klobuchar studied political science at Yale and law at the University of Chicago. After law school, she worked as a corporate lawyer before being elected a county attorney where she focused on prosecuting violent criminals. In 2006, she became the first woman elected to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Senate. She has since won re-election twice.
Rationale: Like several of the Senators she’s vying against for the Democratic nomination, Klobuchar is a member of the powerful Senate Judiciary committee that oversaw the confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh. As the daughter of a man who struggled with alcohol addiction, asking the Supreme Court nominee about his alcohol use hit particularly close to home.
Poor chance on winning the election.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks in the Democratic Outreach Team’s room at her campaign headquarters in Dorchester, October 12, 2018. Hadley Green—Washington Post/Getty Images.
Hadley Green—Washington Post/Getty Images.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren officially announced her candidacy at a Feb. 9 rally in Lawrence, Massachusetts. She had previously announced an exploratory committee. “It won’t be enough to just undo the terrible acts of this administration,” she told the crowd gathered in her home state. “We can’t afford to just tinker around the edges — a tax credit here, a regulation there. Our fight is for big, structural change.”
Qualifications: Warren earned degrees from the University of Houston and Rutgers Law School. Before her political career, Warren taught law at several schools, including the University of Houston, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard. In 2012, she successfully beat incumbent Sen. Scott Brown, who had replaced Sen. Ted Kennedy after his death. She’s served as a Senator since then, winning re-election in 2018. She’s also known for advocating for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which enforces rules for financial institutions, and for her progressive stances issues like student loan reform and corporate capitalism.
Rationale: Warren thinks she can help rebuild the middle class. In the video announcing the foundation of her exploratory committee, she discusses her childhood in Oklahoma, and how her mom had to find a minimum wage job after her dad suffered a heart attack. After he recovered, he eventually became a janitor. Her father “raised a daughter who got to be a public school teacher, a law professor and a senator. We got a real opportunity to build something,” Warren says in the video. “Working families today face a lot tougher path than my family did.”
Weak chance of winning the election.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand attends a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 6, 2014, calling for the creation of an independent military justice system to deal with sexual assault in the military.
Mandel Ngan—AFP/Getty Images
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced she is forming an exploratory committee to seek the Democratic nomination for President on CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Qualifications: Gillibrand attended undergrad at Dartmouth and law school at UCLA. Before running for public office, Gillibrand clerked for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and practiced private law in New York City. She served in the House of Representatives beginning in 2007, and was appointed to the Senate in 2009 after Hillary Clinton vacated the seat to become Secretary of State.
Rationale: Gillibrand cited institutional racism, greed and corruption in Washington as barriers the future Democratic nominee will have to overcome in order to accomplish legislation that bolsters hard-working Americans. “I believe that anybody who wants to work hard enough should be able to get whatever job training they need to earn their way into the middle class,” she said during her announcement. Her platform might include postal banking — legislation she sponsored in 2018 that would require U.S. Post Offices to offer basic financial services, like checking accounts. “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,” the New York Senator said on the show.
Poor chance of winning.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, speaks during a news conference on Nov. 18, 2015. Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.Bill Clark—CQ-Roll Call,Inc.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard broke down barriers when she became the first Samoan-American and first Hindu elected to Congress. Before her election in 2012, she served in the Hawaiian Army National Guard — first in Iraq and then Kuwait.
Before that, Gabbard became the youngest woman ever elected in the state, when she won a Hawaii House seat at age 21. On Jan. 24, Gabbard officially announced her bid to become America’s first female president with a campaign video.
Qualifications: After being homeschooled for most of her life, Gabbard studied business at Hawaii Pacific University and graduated in 2009. Gabbard does not have an advanced degree, but does have experience serving on Honolulu’s city council, in Hawaii’s state legislature, in the Army National Guard and as a congresswoman.
Rationale: Gabbard has recently visited crucial states like Iowa and New Hampshire. She also wrote a book slated to be published this spring. Unlike Trump, Gabbard has wartime experience. She actually left Hawaii’s House in order to serve in Iraq. “I stepped down from the legislature where I served, and headed to a war zone,” she said at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. “As a combat veteran, I know the costs of war.”
Poor chance of winning the election.
You might know Julián Castro’s name from his previous roles as San Antonio’s mayor, or his more recent stint as former President Barack Obama’s Housing and Urban Development Secretary.
Qualifications: Castro graduated from Stanford University and Harvard Law
School. Like Gabbard, he’s known for starting in politics at a young age. He became San Antonio’s youngest councilman in 2001 when he was 26. After one unsuccessful attempt, Castro was elected as San Antonio’s Mayor in 2009. In 2012, he became the first Latino to deliver the Democratic National Committee’s keynote address. He was named HUD Secretary in 2014 and was reportedly considered as a running mate by 2016 Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton. Under Obama, Castro helped launch the ConnectHome initiative, which expanded affordable broadband internet access to public housing recipients in 27 cities.
Weak chance of winning the election.
Sen. Sherrod Brown
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on June 13, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Here, he’s seen wearing his iconic canary in a cage lapel pin, which was given to him by Ohio steelworkers at a Workers’ Memorial Day event in the 1990s.
Angelo Merendino—Getty Images
Sen. Sherrod Brown has not officially declared he’s running, but he is seriously thinking about it. “I haven’t had this dream to be President my whole life or even as a kid or any time,” Brown told the Cincinnati Enquirer in November. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering it.” His wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz, said the couple will “know within the next two months.” On Jan. 15, he announced a tour of three states with early primaries.
Qualifications: The Ohio Democrat received a bachelor’s degree from Yale and two Master’s degrees from Ohio State University. Before being elected to the Senate in 2006, Brown served as a state legislator, Ohio’s secretary of state, and a member of the House of Representatives for seven terms.
Rationale: Brown is a liberal Democrat and avid proponent of American manufacturing. He’s led opposition movements against the North American Free Trade Agreement and has argued for reform on Wall Street to protect individuals over corporations. A former public school teacher, one of Brown’s priorities is funding education and job training. His approval rating in Ohio, a crucial swing state that has been swinging more red than blue, is strong. In a recent favorability poll matching up Brown and Trump, Brown bested the sitting commander-in-chief, 48% to 42% in his home state. He thinks his brand of Midwestern liberalism could help sway blue collar voters who picked Trump in 2016: “Whether you swipe a badge or punch a clock, whether you work on a salary, whether you’re raising kids — I don’t think Washington gets the dignity of work,” he said in November.
Poor chance of winning the election.
Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz speaks at the annual meeting of shareholders in Seattle, Washington on March 22, 2017. Jason Redmond—AFP/Getty Images
Jason Redmond—AFP/Getty Images
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced he’s seriously considering a presidential run in 2020. “We’re living at a most fragile time,” Schultz said during a Jan. 27 “60 Minutes interview.” “Not only the fact that this President us not qualified to be the President, but the fact that both parties are consistently not doing what’s necessary on behalf of the American people and are engaged every single day in revenge politics.”
Qualifications: Schultz grew up in blue collar household, becoming the first in
his family to graduate from college after studying communications at Northern Michigan University. Post graduation, Schultz worked in sales and marketing at Xerox before rising through the ranks at a home-goods company that Starbucks bought supplies from. He lobbied for Starbucks to hire him and proceeded to rise through their ranks too, eventually becoming CEO in 1987.
Rationale: If Schultz runs in 2020, he says it will be as a “centrist independent.” He’s previously donated more than $100,000 to Democratic campaigns, but he’s also criticized the direction in which Established Democrats are moving. “It concerns me that so many voices within the Democratic Party are going so far to the left,” he told CNBC last June. Schultz could appeal to fiscally conservative but socially liberal voters.
Poor chance of winning the election. His voters will open the door to Trump winning in 2020.
Lloyd Bishop—NBC/NBCU/Getty Images
Pete Buttigieg, the popular mayor of South Bend, Indiana, announced he was launching a presidential exploratory committee on Jan. 23. “The show in Washington right now is exhausting. The corruption, the fighting, the lying, the crisis. It’s got to end,” he said in a campaign video posted to social media. “Right now, our country needs a fresh start.”
Qualifications: Buttigieg, pronounced “boot-edge-edge,” graduated from Harvard and went on to become a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where he studied philosophy, politics and economics. At age 29, Buttigieg became the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with a population larger than 100,000. Buttigieg is also a Naval Reserve veteran, having served for seven months in Afghanistan in 2014.
Rationale: In his first mayoral election, Buttigieg won nearly three-fourths of the votes in South Bend. In his bid for re-election, he achieved 80% against his Republican challenger. Before his mayoral campaigns, Buttigieg did economic and environmental consulting work for McKinsey & Company, according to the Center for Public Integrity. “Right now, our country needs a fresh start,” Buttigieg said in his campaign announcement video. If elected, he’d be the first openly gay President and, currently 37 years old, he’d be the first millennial President.
No chance of winning the election.
Rep. John Delaney
In this Jan. 30, 2015 file photo, Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) meets with members of this staff in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.—Washington Post/Getty Images
Washington Post/Getty Images
Rep. John Delaney doesn’t have the strongest national name recognition, nor has he been in Congress that long (elected 2012). Perhaps that is why he announced his 2020 campaign so early — July of 2017, early — to get ahead of better known Democratic competitors.
Qualifications: Delaney earned a bachelor’s degree from Columbia and a law degree from Georgetown. He also launched two companies that were traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The Democrat won his first election in 2012 after significant redistricting changes were made to Maryland’s map. As a member of Congress, Delaney has introduced legislation that would end partisan gerrymandering — a political tactic that arguably helped him get his job representing Maryland’s 6th district in the first place.
Rationale: Delaney spent the better part of 2018 visiting crucial electoral states. While he’s not the only politician to have done so, he appears to be one of the only Democrats to have been forthcoming about why he’s visiting. Honesty is the best policy, Delaney told Politico. “We know they’re thinking about running for president or they’re planning on running for president, and we ask them that question directly, and they lie to us. And so our first introduction to them is based on a dishonest moment,” he said someone told him.
Weak chance of winning the election.
Sen. Bernie Sanders
KNOWN FOR: Sanders’ democratic socialist platform gained significant traction during the 2016 primaries, when the independent senator who caucuses with Democrats ran against Hillary Clinton. His policy agenda includes various progressive proposals, many of which have been embraced by the Democratic Party, like expanding health care, broadening the social safety net and making higher education free.
A self-described democratic socialist.
Was the runner-up in the 2016 Democratic primary.
Would begin a second White House race with a more extensive organization-in-waiting than any other candidate.
Signature issues: “Medicare for All,” free college tuition and curtailing the influence of, as he calls them, “the billionaires.”
Is running a long-shot campaign on a proposal to establish a universal basic income funded by the government.
Has drawn some media attention for highlighting tech issues like robotics and artificial intelligence.