Handicapping the Dems’ Presidential Derby

When it comes to Democratic presidential candidates, the field is already so crowded that the real question is “who’s not running?” Imagine combining the Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Preakness in one race, with the Triple Crown being the 2020 presidential nomination.

Dave Spencer - Feb 06, 2019

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When it comes to Democratic presidential candidates, the field is already so crowded that the real question is “who’s not running?” Imagine combining the Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Preakness in one race, with the Triple Crown being the 2020 presidential nomination.

Since we’re looking at a wide-open contest, let’s take a quick peek at the declared and the most prominent likely-to-declare and maybes. Remember, I’m an estranged Republican who said that the best thing that could have happened to the GOP would have been for Hillary Clinton to have won a convincing victory, as well as a “Never-Trumper,’ from the beginning. Unless the president chooses not to run (which I believe is a solid wager) or resigns or is forced from office, I’ll have a horse in this race by default.

Here’s my early tout sheet for the candidates. Let’s start with the Declareds.

Senator Elizabeth Warren. Absolutely unelectable. The antithesis of whom the Democrats should run in 2020. Says it’s time for women to fix our broken government, which is hard to disagree with, but don’t think she’s the one to do the repairs. Her self-inflicted Native American blunder(s) will not be easily forgotten, especially by the president.

Senator Kamala Harris. Liked her “We are better than this” message when she declared. But tough for liberal candidates from New York or California to appeal to the middle of the country. She has charged out of the starting gate in the lead.

Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro. Has potential, but way too green right now. Could have challenged Ted Cruz in 2018, but chose not to. Once again we ask, as we did in 2016, what happened to experience as a criterion for the presidency?

Senator Kristen Gillibrand. An even worse choice than Elizabeth Warren. She will take heat for once being a Congresswoman from conservative district who has now transformed into a leading progressive.

Senator Cory Booker. So far, he’s tried to be all things to all people. Extremely gifted orator, but haven’t seen a core set of beliefs that you can win with as of yet. He will be very well-funded.

Senator Sherrod Brown. Progressive Midwestern Democrat who also appeals to working class voters. Been in Washington for 25 years and in elected office for 43. Does he have enough of a “winning” personality to compete against more charismatic candidates?

Rep. John Delaney. Very pragmatic, successful businessman, a real problem solver. If he can get a message that catches on, he has a chance. But that’s a big if.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Very hard to be elected from Hawaii to anything because it’s such a one party state. Also has baggage from past association with anti-gay advocacy group.

Andrew Yang, Peter Buttigieg.Declared candidates without any real chance of even sniffing the finish line.And other than being Oprah’s good friend, I don’t see Marianne Williamson as a viable option, although she will bring a refreshingly unconventional perspective to the race.

Now, on to the Likelys.

Governor John Hickenlooper. A very strong possibility. Governors know how to work with legislatures from the other party. Plus, he’s from a purple state and stands for expanding Medicaid, gay rights and gun control. The big concern again–does he have the much-needed charisma?

Former Vice-President Joe Biden. He should run, but his time was really in 2016. Does have working class appeal and can bring back some of the Obama voters that went for Trump. But he’s also gaffe-prone and a dismal 0-for-2 in past campaigns.

Senator Bernie Sanders. The Left’s version of the Tea Party. Thirty years in the Senate, passed three bills and his fiscal plan was even more irresponsible than Donald Trump’s. Does have a built-in organization, but has lost momentum from 2016.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock. My choice for best dark horse candidate. Has the creditability of being the only Democratic governor re-elected in a heavily red state (Trump won by almost 20 points) in 2016. Been laying groundwork for more than a year, courting donors and national media.

On to the Maybes. Don’t have space for them all, so picked a few top names.

Howard Schultz. Already facing extreme backlash for the possibility of tilting election toward Trump as an Independent candidate. As we’ve seen, success in business doesn’t necessarily translate to politics, and his half-baked libertarianism won’t go very far.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.About the only person that can actually pay for his own campaign, but he realizes that he can’t win as an Independent and thus, won’t suck votes away from his party. His anti-gun rhetoric could also be fatal in Trump country.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Exciting personality, but running way too early. Same thing with Marco Rubio back in 2016, just didn’t have enough experience. But he’s also got real potential, including impressive grassroots fundraising and savvy use of social media.

Senator Amy Klobuchar. Has Midwestern authenticity, experience and is the most electable Senator of all those running so far. A star of the Kavanaugh hearings, I liked her recent quote: “This is a moment for the Midwest and we don’t want to be forgotten again in a national election.”

That’s my take on the current field. Right now, it’s really about name recognition and is basically a popularity contest. But I’m glad everybody and his or her cousin is running. This is a crucial election for the Democrats and if candidates have weaknesses, they’ll be weeded out. Eventually, the strongest candidate will emerge because Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line. Who would have predicted Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or Barack Obama would be the nominee two years before they were inaugurated? In short, polls at this stage are meaningless.

Over the coming months, we’ll have to update the Dems’ Daily Racing Form numerous times and it’s already a congested field on a muddy track. So if you’re a betting man or woman, save your money–we’re light years away from the home stretch.