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U.S. Senate

Photo of Michael Bennet

Michael Bennet

Senator from Colorado

About The Candidate

54 years old

Announced candidacy on May 2, 2019

NPR Analysis

The Colorado senator grabbed attention this year with a fiery floor speech during the government shutdown. He blasted Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for his proposal to fund the Coast Guard while the government was shut down. This rankled Bennet who was annoyed that during the 2013 shutdown that Cruz encouraged, emergency funding for flooding in Colorado was delayed. Bennet was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the surgery reportedly went well. Bennet’s focuses in the presidential race could be on good governance, finance and foreign policy. And while the former Denver public schools superintendent is progressive on many issues, progressive activists won’t like parts of his record, including his vote for the Keystone Pipeline and against the filibuster for conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. Bennet’s father, Douglas, was a former president of NPR.

Photo of Cory Booker

Cory Booker

Senator from New Jersey

About The Candidate

50 years old

Announced candidacy on Feb. 1, 2019

NPR Analysis

The social media-savvy New Jersey senator is known to have literally saved someone from a burning building and shoveled sidewalks while mayor of Newark, N.J. As a senator, he has championed criminal justice reform (with Republican Rand Paul), advocated for scaling back federal criminal penalties for marijuana, pushed for civil rights and gained attention for his questioning of Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He has faced criticism for his ties to Wall Street and defense of private equity, the pharmaceutical industry and charter schools. He has some work to do to differentiate himself in a crowded field, but he is better-known among Democrats than many of the others running.

Photo of Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Senator from New York

About The Candidate

52 years old

Announced exploratory committee on Jan. 15, 2019; announced candidacy on March 17, 2019

NPR Analysis

The New York senator has tried to elevate women’s equality as an issue and took the lead in the Senate in calling on the military to reform its sexual violence policies. In 2017, she was out front in calling on Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken to resign after he was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct. That backfired with some in the Democratic base. There’s also criticism of Gillibrand’s past, more moderate positions on gun rights and immigration, for example, when she was representing a more conservative district in upstate New York.

Photo of Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Senator from California

About The Candidate

54 years old

Announced candidacy on Jan. 21, 2019

NPR Analysis

The former prosecutor launched her campaign with the slogan “For the People,” a populist refrain alluding to her time in the courtroom. Only the second black woman to serve in the Senate, Harris has gained recognition there for her sharp questioning of Trump administration officials and nominees during hearings. Some on the left are skeptical of her because of what they see as a mixed record on social justice during her time as a prosecutor.

Photo of Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar

Senator from Minnesota

About The Candidate

59 years old

Announced candidacy on Feb. 10, 2019

NPR Analysis

The Minnesota senator and former prosecutor could have a geographic advantage. Trump won Midwestern states like Michigan and Wisconsin that had been Democratic strongholds, while Klobuchar, 58, has outpaced national Democrats in Minnesota. Hillary Clinton won it by fewer than 2 percentage points in 2016, while Klobuchar won more than 60 percent of the vote in 2018. On policy, she has taken up consumer protection and criminal justice issues but has not waded deep into thornier concerns. “I tend not to be a spear-thrower,” Klobuchar said in 2013. That could be a downside if the progressive Democratic base wants a pugilist.

Photo of Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Senator from Vermont

About The Candidate

77 years old

Announced candidacy on Feb. 19, 2019

NPR Analysis

No one person is more responsible for what the 2020 Democrats are running on than the Vermont senator. Yet he may struggle to keep together his coalition that gave Hillary Clinton a serious challenge in 2016, with so many competing candidates adopting his views. The 77-year-old democratic socialist went from pushing his ideas on income inequality and health care from the fringes into the mainstream of the party. Even though Sanders is a member of Senate Democratic leadership and ran for the Democratic nomination four years ago, the independent has declined to join the party. That rankles some Democratic activists, many of whom also say they would like to vote for someone younger.

Photo of Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren

Senator from Massachusetts

About The Candidate

70 years old

Announced exploratory committee on Dec. 31, 2018; announced candidacy on Feb. 9, 2019

NPR Analysis

Presenting herself a populist fighter, the former law professor has sought tougher regulations on Wall Street, including as the chief architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Warren has not shied away from calling out what she sees as endemic structural problems and causes of income inequality. A popular target of President Trump’s for her past claims of Native American heritage, Warren’s attempt to move past that with a DNA test landed her in controversy.

U.S. House

Photo of John Delaney

John Delaney

Former representative from Maryland's 6th District

About The Candidate

56 years old

Announced candidacy on July 28, 2017

NPR Analysis

The millionaire former congressman announced for president before any other Democrats did and has been making trips to early primary states ever since. Though he could spend millions of his own money on a presidential race, Delaney has called for reforming the campaign finance system; he also calls for more gun restrictions and wants to end gerrymandering despite benefiting from it himself. Despite his diligent campaigning, Delaney is still not a household name.

Photo of Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard

Representative from Hawaii's 2nd District

About The Candidate

38 years old

Announced candidacy on Jan. 11, 2019

NPR Analysis

A supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary against Hillary Clinton, Gabbard decided to give it a go herself in 2020. Gabbard served in the Army National Guard, stepping down from the Hawaii state Legislature in 2004 for the first of two deployments to the Middle East. She is running as an anti-war Democrat. She has landed in controversy, however, for meeting with Syrian leader Bashar Assad without the Obama administration’s knowledge in January 2017. She has declined to apologize for that but did apologize when confronted with her past positions against LGBTQ rights.

Photo of Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

Representative from Massachusetts' 6th District

About The Candidate

40 years old

Announced candidacy on April 22, 2019

NPR Analysis

A three-term congressman and Iraq War veteran from Massachusetts, Moulton ousted a longtime incumbent and has called for generational change in Democratic leadership. He opposed Nancy Pelosi’s speakership and recruited candidates who pledged to not support her. Like other resistant Democrats, he ultimately voted for her. A Marine who served four tours in Iraq and was awarded a Bronze Star, Moulton’s opposition to how the U.S. got into the war inspired him to first run for Congress. His focus on national security could distinguish him in a field focused on domestic issues. His opening message is that “Washington is anchored to the past” and that the country needs to “restore our moral authority,” a critique of President Trump.

Photo of Beto O'Rourke

Beto O'Rourke

Former representative from Texas' 16th District

About The Candidate

46 years old

Announced candidacy on March 14, 2019

NPR Analysis

The former Texas congressman offers a fresh face and a degree of charisma that stands out in the Democratic field. He has been praised by Barack Obama, the former president, for his forthrightness and passion, even on thorny issues. In his 2018 Senate campaign, he drew big crowds and enthusiasm and was able to raise presidential amounts of money. But he will have to overcome that what he’s most famous for is a narrow loss to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. His record in Congress is thin, and he doesn’t represent the kind of diversity many Democrats are itching for. Still, O’Rourke has political skills that provide potential.

Photo of Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

Representative from Ohio's 13th District

About The Candidate

45 years old

Announced candidacy on April 4, 2019

NPR Analysis

The congressman from an area of Ohio that voted for Barack Obama and then Donald Trump for president brings a populist focus on Midwestern blue-collar voters. Expect manufacturing, trade (he’s anti-NAFTA) and workers to be what Ryan brings to the table, especially in a Democratic primary field that many feel has pulled the party left and away from its union worker roots. Ryan first rose to national prominence in Washington by challenging Nancy Pelosi to lead congressional Democrats in 2016. The former football player is big into meditation and healthy eating. He has written two books about the subjects — A Mindful Nation and The Real Food Revolution.

Photo of Joe Sestak

Joe Sestak

Former representative from Pennsylvania's 7th District

About The Candidate

67 years old

Announced candidacy on June 22, 2019

NPR Analysis

The 24th candidate — and seventh current or former member of the U.S. House — to enter the crowded Democratic race, Sestak spent his career in the U.S. Navy before entering politics. The three-star admiral commanded an aircraft carrier strike group and worked in President Bill Clinton’s National Security Council before running for Congress in 2006. Sestak is best known for upsetting Sen. Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania’s 2010 Democratic Senate primary. He lost the general election that year to Republican Pat Toomey, and exited Congress. Sestak immediately began positioning himself for another Senate run in 2016, but lost in the primary.

Obama Administration

Photo of Julián Castro

Julián Castro

Former secretary of housing and urban development

About The Candidate

44 years old

Announced candidacy on Jan. 12, 2019

NPR Analysis

Castro made his presidential announcement from San Antonio and in two languages. “Yo soy candidato” — “I am a candidate” — was meant to resonate with Latinos at a time when many have felt under attack in the Trump era. Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio and a housing secretary under President Barack Obama, has championed social justice issues and drawn on his own story to demonstrate why affirmative action is a positive for the country. He has a lot of work to do to get people to know him better, as he has had a limited time on the national stage.

Photo of Joe Biden

Joe Biden

Former vice president

About The Candidate

76 years old

Announced candidacy on April 25, 2019

NPR Analysis

He is the only person in the field to be on the last two winning Democratic presidential tickets, as Barack Obama’s vice president. Polls show him leading the field, but Biden is seen as a pragmatist who is friendly to Republicans and landed in controversy even before his presidential campaign began. Several women said he made them feel uncomfortable because of unwanted touching. He wrote the Violence Against Women Act but faces questions about the treatment of Anita Hill during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing, which he chaired in 1991. Biden is also under scrutiny for positions in decades past on crime, while banking on his broad appeal to moderate voters who went for Trump in a crowded field of many lesser-known candidates.

State Officials

Photo of Steve Bullock

Steve Bullock

Governor of Montana

About The Candidate

53 years old

Announced candidacy on May 14, 2019

NPR Analysis

The two-term Montana governor won reelection the same year Donald Trump won his state in the presidential election by more than 20 points. As former chairman of the bipartisan National Governors Association, he wears the moderate label while pointing out progressive values such as limiting “dark money” for groups that spend in Montana. He’s pro-union, expanded Medicaid, increased education spending, froze college tuition and supports abortion rights. Bullock’s failure to warn future employers about alleged sexual harassment by a fired aide — he called himself “wrong and naive” — as well as past support for expanded gun rights and a low national profile present hurdles for his candidacy in this very crowded field.

Photo of John Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper

Former governor of Colorado

About The Candidate

67 years old

Announced candidacy on March 4, 2019

NPR Analysis

The former Colorado governor, 67, led a state that has been part of major social change in the past decade. It was one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, something Hickenlooper was initially against. He has since said it looks like it might work. Marijuana won’t be at the heart of his campaign. He will tout years of executive experience, including as Denver’s mayor. As governor, Hickenlooper signed a health care expansion, gun restrictions and environmental regulations into law, and he focused on ending homelessness. He won’t be the candidate of the far left, and he needs to break through given lower name recognition than others in the field.

Photo of Jay Inslee

Jay Inslee

Governor of Washington

About The Candidate

68 years old

Announced candidacy on March 1, 2019

NPR Analysis

The governor of Washington state has made climate change his central issue. “I’ve got three grandkids, and I want them to experience what I have: salmon in the river, snow in the mountains, clean air and forests to hike in,” he said. Inslee has been pushing for action on climate change for years, and has spoken positively about the Green New Deal. He has criticized Republicans for an “allergy to science” and has been an antagonist of President Trump’s on climate, as well as Syrian refugees and immigration. Inslee is not as well known nationally as some of the other candidates.

Photo of Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams

Former Georgia House minority leader and state representative

About The Candidate

45 years old

Has not announced

April 7, MSNBC

Running for president had not been on my timetable this quickly, but the energy and again the passion that I’m feeling means that I have to give it serious consideration.

Mayors

Photo of Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor of South Bend, Ind.

About The Candidate

37 years old

Announced exploratory committee on Jan. 23, 2019

NPR Analysis

One of the youngest candidates, he has cast his candidacy as about the future. He wants policies “untethered to the politics of the past” and has played up being part of a “generation that is stepping forward.” He’s an Afghanistan War veteran and the first married gay man to make a run at the presidency. For Buttigieg, it will be difficult to vault onto the national scene as a small-city mayor.

Photo of Bill de Blasio

Bill de Blasio

Mayor of New York City

About The Candidate

58 years old

Announced candidacy on May 16, 2019

NPR Analysis

The 58-year-old liberal mayor of New York is little known outside the country’s most populous city, where he has been elected twice. But he will tout education policies, such as getting universal pre-K in New York, as well as raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour and its citywide Green New Deal, which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 30% by 2030. Still, even some allies are wary of a White House run, and de Blasio has plenty of detractors who are eager to point out a controversy surrounding his ethics in fundraising.

Photo of Wayne Messam

Wayne Messam

Mayor of Miramar, Fla.

About The Candidate

45 years old

Announced candidacy on March 28, 2019

NPR Analysis

It’s everybody in the pool in the Democratic primary. Jumping in now is the mayor of Miramar, Fla., in South Florida with a population of about 150,000 (which, by the way, is larger than an Indiana town where another popular Democratic presidential candidate is mayor). Messam, the son of Jamaican immigrants who worked in Florida’s sugar cane fields, has been mayor since 2015. He served on the city commission before that, owns a construction company and played football as a wide receiver at Florida State University in the 1990s. Messam is largely unknown outside Miramar, so his candidacy faces that challenge in picking up traction.

Outsiders

Photo of Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer

Billionaire business executive, activist

About The Candidate

62 years old

Announced candidacy on July 9, 2019

NPR Analysis

Impeachment, impeachment, impeachment. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Steyer, a California billionaire hedge-fund manager, announced for president as liberals increase pressure on congressional leaders to go forward with impeachment proceedings of President Trump after the Mueller report was released. Steyer had promised to spend some $40 million on ads promoting impeachment and announced in January he would not run for president. But his change of heart will mean impeachment will get more of a focus in this Democratic presidential race.

Photo of Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson

Spiritual guru, entrepreneur

About The Candidate

67 years old

Announced candidacy on Jan. 28, 2019

NPR Analysis

The best-selling New Age author and friend of Oprah Winfrey said in November, “We had a miracle in this country in 1776, and we need another one.” Williamson has already visited Iowa. In 2014, Williamson ran for a congressional seat in California as an independent. Despite spending $2 million, with endorsements by singer Alanis Morissette and former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, she finished fourth.

Photo of Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang

Founder of Venture for America

About The Candidate

44 years old

Announced candidacy on Nov. 6, 2017

NPR Analysis

Yang got his start in tech startups, worked with the Obama administration advocating for entrepreneurship and wrote a book about how automation is hurting regular people. He’s in favor of establishing a “universal basic income” for all adults and proposes giving Americans $1,000 a month to offset the loss of wages from automation. He has been traveling to early states but is not well-known.

Dropped Out

Photo of Eric Swalwell

Eric Swalwell

Representative from California's 15th District

Announced candidacy on April 8, 2019. Dropped out on July 8, 2019.