This week’s events have many people yearning for new leadership in the United States. The combination of President Trump’s controversial comments about immigrants coming to the United States from “shithole countries” and the false-alarm missile alert in Hawaii, paired with the other recent missteps of the current administration have many, from both sides of the political spectrum, looking to the 2020 presidential elections. The following is a list of the 10 candidates I believe are best equipped to take on Donald Trump in 2020.
Spoiler Alert: The Rock and Oprah are not on this list.
Sherrod Brown-Democratic Senator from Ohio who was strongly considered to be Hillary Clinton’s running-mate in 2016
Tim Kaine- Democratic Senator from Virginia who actually was Hillary Clinton’s running-mate in 2016
Terry McAuliffe- Democratic Governor from Virginia who would most likely have the strong support of the Clintons due to their close relationship
10. Gavin Newsom
Probably the most unknown person on this list, Gavin Newsom is the Lieutenant Governor of California. Newsom is currently the frontrunner to replace term-limited Governor Jerry Brown in 2018. Brown would also be on this list if not for his age (Brown will be 82 on Election Day in 2020). Prior to being elected Lieutenant Governor, Newsom served as Mayor of San Francisco. During his tenure as mayor, Newsom established himself as a major advocate for gay rights by directing the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite this being a violation of California state law at the time. Additionally, Newsom has strongly supported gun-control laws, led the charge for recreational marijuana legalization in the state, called for the establishment of “sanctuary cities” in California, and helped facilitate the addition of computer science to the core curriculum in California schools. Newsom’s strong liberal positions on many issues have garnered him a strong endorsement from liberal pundit and comedian Bill Maher. On several occasions, Maher has declared his support for Newsom and urged him to throw his name into the 2020 race. Also worth mentioning is Newsom’s charisma and overall appeal, the likes of which have arguably not been seen since the days of the Kennedys. The man radiates a presidential aura. The speech given by the relatively unknown Newsom at the 2016 Democratic Convention is comparable to the one given by then unknown Illinois State Senator Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic Convention, which has been credited with leading to the election of Barack Obama in 2008. If he runs, Newsom will be my candidate. He ranks so low on this list solely due to his lack of national exposure and the fact that it is unclear if Newsom has any real interest in running in 2020. If he decides not to run this time, I would wager that his name will come up again in 2024 or 2028.
9. A Moderate Republican
Donald Trump is not the most popular man, even within his own party. There is a huge possibility that he will face a conservative challenger, either in the form of a primary challenge or a third party bid. Attempting to defeat Trump by appealing to the right wing of the right wing party would be foolish, as that is the core of President Trump’s support. Therefore, a moderate Republican would be best equipped to challenge Trump from within the party. Of the potential candidates, my personal favorite is Ohio Governor John Kasich. A two-term governor, Kasich has reached his term limit and can’t seek reelection in 2018. The obvious next step is another shot at the presidency. Kasich was more successful than nearly any of his Republican peers when he ran in 2016. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is also a strong contender. Romney is rumored to be preparing to seek election to a Utah Senate seat. Many, including myself, believe this is in preparation for another Presidential run. Other potential Republican challengers include Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. Each of these individuals have criticized Trump in the past and have the national name recognition required to stage a successful run.
8. Deval Patrick
Another relative unknown, Deval Patrick is the former Governor of Massachusetts, being the only African-American to ever hold this office. Prior to his time as Governor, Patrick served as United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division during the Clinton Administration. As Governor, Patrick oversaw healthcare reform in Massachusetts, increased funding for education, pushed for gun control laws, created the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and supported legislation which allowed casino gaming in his state. Despite his immense background in public service, most do not believe Patrick is interested in running for President. However, Patrick makes this list mainly because he is believed to have the support of one prominent Democrat: President Barack Obama. Reports have suggested that member’s of President Obama’s inner-circle and even the former president himself are urging Patrick to run in 2020. An endorsement from President Obama is enough to skyrocket anyone to the main stage of the Democratic race and no one, excluding one other person, has as good a chance to receive that as Deval Patrick.
7. Seth Moulton
Seth Moulton is the Congressman from the Massachusetts 6th District. Moulton is a decorated Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of Harvard University. He identifies himself as a progressive Democrat and has the issues record to prove it. Moulton admits to using and supports the legalization of marijuana, favors stronger gun control laws, and firmly defends both same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Moulton is also staunchly anti-Trump, comparing the President’s rise to power to that of Adolf Hitler. Immediately following Trump’s election, advisors to Moulton began urging him to challenge the new President-elect in 2020. Moulton is somewhat of a controversial figure in the Democratic Party, due to his support of removing current Democratic leadership, in favor of younger Democrats, such as himself. Moulton is the youngest person on this this, being 42 on Election Day in 2020. Moulton brings a young, progressive voice to the potential field in 2020, making him a very interesting candidate.
6. Cory Booker
Cory Booker is the junior Senator from New Jersey, being the first African-American Senator from the state. Prior to being elected to the United States Senate, Booker served as the Mayor of Newark. Booker has been identified as being fiscally-conservative and socially-progressive. This has led to him being heavily criticized by the left wing of the Democratic Party. However, Booker is still one of the party’s most prominent members. Booker supports single-payer healthcare, abortion rights, affirmative action, and opposes the War on Drugs. recently, Booker vigorously criticized the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Neilsen for claiming to not remember whether or not President Trump had made racist remarks about predominantly black countries. The video is absolutely worth watching if you haven’t seen it. Ever since Barack Obama’s election in 2008, Booker’s name has been mentioned as a future presidential candidate. While he ultimately decided against running in 2016, all signs point to Booker running in 2020.
5. Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris is the junior Senator from the state of California. Prior to her election to the United States Senate, Harris served as the Attorney General of California. Harris possessed a rating of 100% from NARAL, a pro-choice group, as well as an F rating from the NRA, due to her vigorous support of gun control legislation. Harris co-sponsored Bernie Sanders’ single-payer healthcare bill, known as the “Medicare for All” bill. Harris has a strong record of opposing the death penalty, dating back to her days as District Attorney of San Francisco. Harris also advocates for strong environmental laws and their vigorous enforcement. During her time as DA, Harris established the Environmental Justice Unit in San Francisco’s District Attorney’s Office and prosecuted several corporations and individuals for crimes against the environment. Her extremely strong credentials, as well as her hypothetical ability to win her immensely important home state of California make Kamala Harris a strong contender for the Presidency in 2020.
4. Kirsten Gillibrand
Kirsten Gillibrand is the junior Senator from New York. Gillibrand was appointed to the United States Senate by then Governor David Paterson, replacing former Senator Hillary Clinton, who had been nominated to become President Obama’s Secretary of State. Gillibrand won reelection to the Senate with 72.2% of the vote, which is the largest victory in a statewide election in New York history. Gillibrand has a phenomenal record on women’s issues. As a Senator, she proposed legislation that would remove sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. This was intended to prevent the covering up of sexual assaults in the military. Although the legislation did not ultimately pass, it did establish her as an advocate for women across the nation. Gillibrand was the first member of her caucus to call for the resignation of Democratic Senator Al Franken, following accusations of sexual assault. Additionally, Gillibrand made waves in the media when she said that former President Bill Clinton should have resigned following the accusations of sexual assault made against him. Gillibrand is also a supporter of abortion rights. Gillibrand was very pro-gun during her time in the US House of Representatives, although her position has since shifted slightly since her joining the Senate. Gillibrand has become increasingly critical of the Trump Administration, leading to her rise to prominence on the national stage. The general belief is that Gillibrand is preparing to challenge Trump in 2020, and that she will be one of the frontrunners in the Democratic primary.
3. Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders is the Independent Senator from Vermont. In 2016, Bernie Sanders changed Democratic politics. The Bernie Movement energized the liberal wing of the Democratic Party in ways that had never been seen before. Millennials overwhelmingly supported the Democratic Socialist over the other candidates in 2016. The left wing of the Democratic Party seemingly became the majority. Sanders’ support for free college education, single-payer healthcare, legalization of marijuana, and many other hot button liberal issues led to his rapid rise in popularity. No candidate on this list is as progressive as Sanders. He boasts a nearly 75% approval rating, making him the most popular politician in America. Even former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner went as far as to call Sanders “the most honest guy who ran for president” in an interview with POLITICO. Sanders appears to be gearing up for another run at the presidency. He has been strengthening his foreign policy credentials, which was seen as his greatest weakness in 2016. Additionally, Sanders has continued to tour the country, drawing immense crowds to hear him speak. Age, however, is not Bernie’s friend. Sanders will be 78 in 2020. If he were 10 years younger, Sanders would without question be atop the list of potential candidates and would almost certainly be a lock to win the nomination, given his popularity. Despite the age issue, Sanders is still viewed as the most likely nominee for 2020, and is still near the top of this list.
2. Joe Biden
Joe Biden is the former Vice President and US Senator from Delaware. Biden served as Vice President to the immensely popular Democratic President Barack Obama. Biden was viewed as a favorite to win the Democratic nomination in 2016, although he decided not to run following the death of his son, Beau Biden. Since then, Biden has expressed nothing but regret about not running. He has been a vocal critic of Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 campaign. Many, including political pundits, Republican Senator Ben Sasse, and Biden himself believe that he would have destroyed Donald Trump if he had decided to run in 2016. This belief has a lot of merit. Biden appeals to blue-collar white voters in the ways that both Clinton and Sanders didn’t. Biden would have almost certainly maintained and expanded upon the policies of the Obama Administration. If Biden had simply maintained the base of support that Obama had in 2008 and 2012, he would have easily defeated Trump. Reports from the Trump Administration suggest that Biden is the candidate of whom Trump is the most afraid. The biggest issue with Biden now is his age. Similar to Sanders, Biden will be 77 in 2020. However, Biden has refused to rule out a run, and has even hinted at its possibility. He would be a frontrunner for the nomination in 2020 if he chose to seek it.
1. Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren is the senior Senator from Massachusetts. Prior to being recruited to run for the United States Senate, Warren taught law at Harvard University. Warren was heavily speculated to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, although that role ultimately went to Tim Kaine. Warren is a champion of progressive policies. Her views are most comparable to those of Bernie Sanders. She supports single-payer healthcare, abortion rights, gun control, and other liberal positions. Warren sits on several congressional committees. She is arguably the most prominent member of the Democratic Party. She has been a vocal critic of the Trump Administration from its beginning. President Trump began firing back at Warren, referring to her as “Pocahontas.” This being a racial slur aimed at her Native American ancestry. As a target of Trump’s immaturity and bigotry, Warren is the perfect candidate to run against him in 2020. The big question is whether or not Warren will run. While she is arguably the current leader in the race, many believe that she will not run if Bernie Sanders does. This makes sense considering their positions on the issues align so well. They would only split the progressive wing of the party if they were both to run. However, in the event she does run, Elizabeth Warren is the strongest candidate to end the Trump presidency in 2020.
Personally, I believe that each of these candidates would make fine Presidents. As I stated above, Gavin Newsom is my favorite. I firmly believe he is the future of the Democratic Party. However, I believe that the strongest ticket in 2020 would consist of one of my top three picks with Newsom as their running mate. This would allow a high profile Democrat to win the Presidency in 2020, and would set Newsom up as the party’s presumptive nominee in 2024 or 2028.
While this article is not the kind of article I would traditionally write, I belive that it is important to inform as many people as possible about the potential leaders of our country and to help them make an informed decision when voting. I hope to write more about these potential candidates as 2020 draws closer. If I help even just one person make a more informed choice in voting, I have done exactly what I set out to do.