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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 Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Senator from California

About The Candidate

55 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

78 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 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

45 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 Deval Patrick

Deval Patrick

Former governor of Massachusetts

About The Candidate

63 years old

Announced candidacy on Nov. 14, 2019

NPR Analysis

The former two-term governor of Massachusetts is only the second African-American elected as a governor in any state in the country. He also served in the Clinton administration and has extensive experience in the private sector, most recently serving as a managing director for social impact investing at Bain Capital. The private equity firm, co-founded by Mitt Romney, was lambasted by Democrats in 2012. Patrick is close to former President Obama and was initially seen by a number of Obama-allies as a potentially promising candidate. But he faces a huge hurdle entering an already-crowded race less than three months before voters begin casting ballots. Because he has entered the contest so late, he’s unlikely to make the debate stage next month and he has missed the filing deadlines in two key southern states: Arkansas and Alabama.

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 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 Beto O'Rourke

Beto O'Rourke

Former representative from Texas' 16th District

Announced candidacy on March 14, 2019. Dropped out on Nov. 1, 2019.

Photo of Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

Representative from Ohio's 13th District

Announced candidacy on April 4, 2019. Dropped out on Oct. 24, 2019.

Photo of Bill de Blasio

Bill de Blasio

Mayor of New York City

Announced candidacy on May 16, 2019. Dropped out on Sept. 20, 2019.

Photo of Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand

Senator from New York

Announced exploratory committee on Jan. 15, 2019; announced candidacy on March 17, 2019. Dropped out on Aug. 28, 2019.

Photo of Seth Moulton

Seth Moulton

Representative from Massachusetts' 6th District

Announced candidacy on April 22, 2019. Dropped out on Aug. 23, 2019.

Photo of Jay Inslee

Jay Inslee

Governor of Washington

Announced candidacy on March 1, 2019. Dropped out on Aug. 21, 2019.

Photo of John Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper

Former governor of Colorado

Announced candidacy on March 4, 2019. Dropped out on Aug. 15, 2019.

Photo of Eric Swalwell

Eric Swalwell

Representative from California's 15th District

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