Friday, December 22, 2017

Thinking ahead (to 2020)

It’s never too early to start considering Presidential candidates. Aaron Blake (Washington Post/The Fix) IDs The top 15 Democratic presidential candidates for 2020, ranked. I truncated the list to the top 10.
–10. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (Previous: 9) While others on this list have taken a step forward during the sexual harassment debate, Cuomo has taken a step back. Asked about allegations against a former senior aide and what he perhaps could have done differently, Cuomo told a reporter, “When you say it’s state government, you do a disservice to women, with all due respect, even though you’re a woman.” He added: “It’s not government, it’s society." If the current debate has shown us anything, it’s that politicians would be best served not to downplay these issues when they hit close to home.
–9. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (Previous: 10) On this list, Brown provides the most complete blend of progressive politics, populism, white working-class appeal, and coming from a vital swing state. That should never be discounted.
–8. California Gov. Jerry Brown (Previous: 5)
I had Brown a bit higher on this list last time around, despite the fact that he turns 80 in a few months. And now California has moved its primary much earlier, to March. That’s a huge swath of delegates for a California-based candidate to nab very early in the process.
–7. Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy (Previous: 3)
Murphy provided one of those perfunctory nondenial denials back in October. Asked by CBS News if he might run, he said: “I am not running for president. I am running for reelection to the Senate.” This is what politicians say when they need to make sure they get reelected first. It’s also completely in the present tense, so it will still be accurate if he does decide to run for president after he wins reelection in 2018.
–6. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (Previous: 8)
Booker told Politico last month that it would be “irresponsible” for anyone to say they will or won’t run for president in 2020 this far out. (In that spirit, I will also not rule out running.) This just feels like the time for Booker.
–5. California Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Previous: 7)
A few months ago, Harris got out front when it came to supporting single-payer health care. Last week, she got out front when it came to calling for President Trump to resign. If the 2020 Democratic primary is a race to the left, she seems intent upon not letting anyone outflank her.
–4. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (Previous: 6)
It was Trump’s tweet about Gillibrand that sparked Harris to act. After Gillibrand herself had urged Trump to resign, he tweeted that as a New York senator she “would do anything for” campaign contributions — which many took to be sexually suggestive. It’s difficult to imagine a bigger gift when it comes to raising Gillibrand’s profile in advance of a 2020 run for the Democratic nomination. Gillibrand also recently said she thought Bill Clinton should have resigned in the face of his own sexual misconduct allegations, and she was the first senator to call for fellow Democratic Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) to step down.


2020 candidates
Two 2020 candidates

–3. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Previous: 4)
If Warren runs, I think she tops this list. But I have a difficult time seeing her running if Bernie Sanders does, and I think Sanders is very likely to run. Warren has shown comparatively little inclination to run and hasn’t been front-and-center in helping elect Democrats or speaking to the media — though the latter seems to be changing at least somewhat.
–2. Former vice president Joe Biden (Previous: 2)
Biden remains in the second spot on this list, but not as firmly as before. The recent spate of sexual harassment allegations against politicians — and the reevaluation of past allegations — has put Biden’s handling of the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings back in the spotlight. Biden, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, has apologized more than once for how Anita Hill was treated, while also stressing he opposed Thomas’s nomination. But Hill has said Biden’s apology isn’t good enough. If the Democratic Party continues to make this a focal point over the next couple years, Biden’s actions could be gone through with a fine-toothed comb in a way he would rather they weren’t.
–1. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (Previous: 1)
A must-read story from Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti recently showed how Sanders conspicuously seems to be addressing the shortcomings that hampered his candidacy in 2016 — most notably his lack of familiarity with foreign policy and of inroads with powerful pro-Democratic groups, such as the American Federation of Teachers. Sanders has done nothing to diminish speculation that he will run again; the biggest question is, and will be, his age (76) — as it is with Brown (79) and Biden (75).

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