The Progressives Guide to Potential 2020 Nominees
As a progressive who supported Sanders in the 2016 primary, here is this progressive’s guide to the candidates running in 2020. It will include their name, highest elected public office, and will end with either an interested for someone who I would want to run, or a not interested for somebody who shouldn’t. Some people included are very likely not to run, but I include them because they are strong candidates.
Cory Booker (Senator From New Jersey)
A youthful African American Senator with a relatively high approval rating, Cory Booker’s predominant strength is criminal justice reform. A consistent fighter for the issue, credit where credit is due. He also passed another vital progressive litmus test by voting against the TPA. However, two separate aspects draw major red flags for any former Sanders supporter or other left wing democrat. First, is his criticism of Obama’s line of attack against Mitt Romney concerning Bane Capital in 2012. He stated Obama’s attacks on Romney’s ties to Bane Capital were, “nauseating,” and asked the president to stop attacking private equity. So any liberal who thinks more must be done to crack down on banking should be concerned. Second, is his backing, during his mayoral tenure, by the Democrats for Education Reform, a hedge fund manager filled group who backs vouchers and charter schools as an alternative to public education, and accordingly, Booker pushed for an expansion of voucher and charter alternatives. So he is uncomfortably centrist on public education.
Verdict: Not Interested
Andrew Cuomo (Governor of New York)
A man who requires no further introduction. The Governor of one of the most prominently democratic states in the country seems to have been running for the presidency since the day he got elected to higher office. He has recently tried to position himself as the firebrand pushing for bread and butter liberal causes. He aggressively pushed for the legalization of gay marriage before it became a nation wide effort, and signed a significant statewide minimum wage increase. He also fought hard for democrats in the 2016 State Senate Elections. But a look deeper shows many flaws in his liberal firebrand persona. Back in 2012, New York Dems from all stripes criticized the Governor for not seeming to care either way who won control of the Senate, and some blame his apathy for the continuing red streak in the Senate after that election. Furthermore, he has cut deals with hedge fund managers to not charge rent on private schools, has faced a series of very real corruption scandals that have shaken Albany, and corporate tax cuts and social spending reductions. He seems to be trying to mask the previous times he failed liberals with a re branding in the present as a liberal lion, but many progressives just are not buying it.
Verdict: Not Interested, but progressives wouldn’t die if he got the nomination
Bill De Blasio (Mayor of New York City)
More Progressive then his counterpart leading the state as a whole in Albany, his populist message propelled him into the mayoralty of the one city in the country that is prominent enough to serve as a springboard into the presidency. His fight against charter schools, push for universal pre-K, and his taking on of the NYPD, all cement his reputation as a solid leftist. However, his problem is the opposite of Cuomo’s. Cuomo is an effective administrator with a more troubling stance on liberal positions, De Blasio is a more principled liberal but a less effective administrator. His approval rating is consistently lower then the Governors.
Verdict: Slightly Interested
Al Franken (Senator from Minnesota)
The former comedian turned policy wonk, his Midwestern anti-free trade populism seems crucial to regain the rust belt states captured by Trump in 2016. He passes most Progressive litmus tests. His Open Secrets Profile Checks out, the League of Conservation voters is his second largest donor. He voted against TPA. He is one of the largest advocates for universal health care in the senate, has proposed financial reforms. His only flaw is is comments defending the NSA. Furthermore, nominating a former SNL writer and talk show host would be perfect acknowledgement of the reality show America apparently wants our politics to be. Nobody can claim he will be, “boring”, “robotic.” He will hopefully bring the entertainer level excitement Trump brings but combined with an actual resume.
Amy Klobuchar (Senator from Minnesota)
The OTHER Senator from Minnesota, like her colleague, a strong supporter of universal healthcare, social spending, and against free trade. However, her donation profile on Open Secrets shows a much larger portion of her fundraising from large donors and PACS. Also, her vote for the “Protect America Act of 2007” helped drastically weaken civil liberties and served to expand the surveillance state
Verdict: Not Interested
Kamala Harris (Senator-Elect from California)
The soon to be former Attorney General of California, Harris proved her progressive bona fides by refusing to persue the death penalty in the cases of Isaac Espinoza and Edwin Ramos, the former getting a harsh response even from fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein. She also created as AG a Hate Crimes Unit. However, her refusal to endorse California’s sentencing reform initiatives in 2014 is a blemish on her record. Her defeat of the more centrist democrat Lorreta Sanchez in the 2016 CA Senate General election was a victory for Progressives all over the country. She also has indicated as AG her desire to crack down on predatory lending.
Kirsten Gilibrand (Senator from New York)
Her current record of generally left leaning positions doesnt negate the fact that she previously identified as a Blue Dog Democrat as a representative. While a case can be made that she had to do so as she served at the will of a conservative electorate, whether it is her fault or not, and I am leaning towards it being not, her centrist record does not appeal. Taking conservative issues on illegal immigration, the former centrist also remained quiet on “Dont Ask, Dont Tell”, as a house member. The New York Post reports that Gilibrand hass begun reaching out to former Hillary Clinton donors for a potential 2020 race. Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in her Open Secrets Profile are both in the top 5 of her donors. She did however, vote against TPA
Verdict: Not Interested
Mark Dayton (Current, by 2020 former, Governor of Minnesota)
The most popular Democratic Governor measured by approval rating, the populist governor of a rust belt state, he positioned himself as a liberal firebrand from the start, in his 1982 Senate campaign, which was ultimately unsuccessful When he finally did get elected Senator however, he made a mark early on by voting against the Iraq War. As Governor, he has fought with Republicans over the state budget, advocated for a progressive tax to fund a healthcare expansion, and supported from the start same sex marriage. Despite all of this, until 2013 he inexplicably was against medical marijuana legalization. But that doesnt change his standing as the the most liberal governor in the US, with high approval ratings, and gives Dems the chance of regaining the rust belt. He also railed against the amount of fundraising politicians have to do
Tom Wolf (Governor of Pennsylvania)
Similar attributes as Mark Dayton. One of the most liberal governors in the US, a rust belt populist. Democrats seeking to regain PA after their embarrassing defeat at the hands of Donald Trump. He enacted a fracking ban, vetoed a Republican budget, increased education spending, and overall has been a good Governor. Two areas of concern however. He is tentatively pro TPP, which is particularly egregious considering he is the governor of PA. He also sits at currently a negative approval rating, meaning that his chances of winning the Dem’s back PA are hurt.
Verdict: Not Interested
Gavin Newsom (Lieutenant Governor of CA, running for, and knowing Jerry Brown’s current approval rating, likely by 2020 to be the current, Governor of California)
Assuming he wins the race, Newsom is in a powerful position for presidential prospects, as the governor for the epicenter of stare level american liberalism. He ran as a centrist during his runs for San Francisco mayor, which may seem concerning to some liberals, but his record as Mayor on certain issues contrasts. He was fighting for the trends of history in 2004 as he violated state law by handing out same sex marriage licenses. He joined unions on the picket line, but he was seen in the bay area as a fiscal conservative. He also is unclear on his support for the TPP. Newsom will be an effective governor, and he should be applauded for his stand on social issues, as well as gun control, but is fiscal centrism is concerning
Verdict: Not Interested
Bernie Sanders (Senator from Vermont)
The man who made me active in politics. His call for a “political revolution” energized me and millions of young people into a campaign that while ultimately doomed to failure fueled the fire of the progressive movement that burns bright today. He checks off every box on the progressive litmus test. Fervent opponent of the Iraq war from the start, early critic of the Libyan Intervention, one of the first democratic candidates to openly criticize the practices of Israel, against the big banks, opposes the TPP, etc. However, he will be uncomfortably old in 2020, and should he run, must pick an incredibly qualified, incredibly healthy Vice President, preferably young.
Verdict: Very Interested
Tim Kaine (Senator from Virginia, 2016 VP Nominee)
Losing a presidential general election should disqualify you from running again. An effective governor, and a decent Senator, Kaine’s main issue is his inability to electrify the liberal base. A very bland campaigner, he was previously for the TPP, he supported VA’s right to work law, and pushed for more deregulation. The notion that establishment democrats are floating him for 2020 is laughable.
Verdict: Not Interested
Sherrod Brown (Senator from Ohio)
One of the most liberal members of the senate, he fits the rust belt populism that the Dems will need to regain the White House in 2020. One of the most outspoken opponents of the TPP, Brown also has been an outspoken advocate for breaking up to big to fail banks, supports NSA reform with votes against allowing warrant less surveillance and voted upto hold the FISA warrant requirement for wiretapping abroad, and is critical of out of control military spending. He is however not one of the most stirring campaign speakers, and is the Senator from an increasingly red state with a GOP governor, making the vacancy of his seat a very serious concern, however, his PPP approval rating for 42 percent approval versus 33 percent disapproval indicates he may be able to make Ohio blue in 2020.
Elizabeth Warren (Senator from Massachusetts)
Liberal firebrand, arch nemesis of all thinks finance industry, Warren was the only female Democratic senator not to endorse Hillary Clinton during the primary, cementing her current reputation as one of the leaders of the progressive wing of the Democratic party. She has been adamant in her belief that Hillary Clinton didnt just lose because of racism and sexism, that instead Trump cooped a populist message that she feels the Dems should have better articulated, and that moving forward, the Democratics need to embrace a message of economic populism and rid themselves of corporate influence. Her credentials are solidified by her constant attacks by big business Democratic donors, in a back and forth that included her warning Hillary Clinton to not pick Wall Street executives for her cabinet, and Wall Street donors incessantly lobbying for Hillary Clinton to not pick Warren as her VP. Her being vocally against Obama’s TPP, one of the chief architects of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a advocate for lower student loan rates, hersupport for single payer healthcare, her advocacy to immediately withdraw from Afganistan, and her support for miltary cuts all cement her record as likely the top progressive to run in 2020. Her fiery speeches and hhigh approval rating in a nationwide approval rating poll show that she is a force to contend with in 2020
Verdict: So very very Interested. Please run Liz.