Government

Democratic presidential race grows and grows

Delaney and Warren soon to be joined by many others

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Warren, then a U.S. representative from Massachusetts, campaigns Oct. 19, 2014, at the University of Iowa for Bruce Braley (right), who lost that U.S. Senate race to Joni Ernst. (The Gazette)
U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Warren, then a U.S. representative from Massachusetts, campaigns Oct. 19, 2014, at the University of Iowa for Bruce Braley (right), who lost that U.S. Senate race to Joni Ernst. (The Gazette)
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Now it’s a race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has joined former Maryland Rep. John Delaney in seeking the party’s nomination, posting a four-minute video Monday telling supporters she’s running to restore the promise of America that “if you work hard and play by the rules, you ought to be able to take care of yourself and the people you love.”

“Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie, and they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice,” according to Warren, who has been in discussions with Iowa Democrats about a campaign visit, perhaps as soon as this weekend.

The race assuredly will grow much more crowded, and reflect a new political reality: That Donald Trump’s success in turning a lack of political experience into a win will bring out all stripes of candidates who are asking themselves: Why not me?

All kinds of Democrats — from those with decades of public service to those with only a few years (or even none), from those in their 70s to those much younger — will make this what Democrats are calling the least predictable election cycle in a quarter century or more.

Warren and Delaney, who entered the race in July 2017 and has visited all 99 Iowa counties during 20 trips to the state, will be followed by as many as a couple of dozen more contenders.

“I think we all knew we’d be seeing these announcements soon, but I thought it would start after Jan. 1,” Linn County Democratic Party Chairman Bret Nilles said.

While there is a genuine hunger among Iowa Democrats for a challenger who can beat Trump in 2020, winning one of the three proverbial tickets out of Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses will be a challenge in such a large field, according to longtime Democratic campaign operative Grant Woodard.

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“It’s going to be interesting to see how much oxygen will be available to these folks,” the Des Moines lawyer said.

Many only talking about running as well as those who are seen as potential candidates are well-known among Democrats. “But you get a step below those top-tier candidates and name recognition could be a problem,” he said.

Warren, 69, a senator since 2013, is well-known among Iowa activists.

She campaigned for U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley when he was running, unsuccessfully, for the Senate in 2014.

But she has polled in single digits among likely 2020 Iowa Democratic caucusgoers when they were asked about possible contenders.

She finishing fourth behind former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke in a December Iowa Poll, and third to Biden and Sanders in an earlier Focus on Rural America poll.

Iowa Democrats report receiving phone calls from potential presidential candidates who are surveying the field or seeking support. Behind the scenes, Woodard said, some Iowa Democrats are getting calls from operatives who are looking for potential campaign staffers and checking references on folks who have worked in previous campaigns.

Woodard, who is not aligned with any campaign, called Warren’s end-of-year announcement a “bold move” that probably will advance the timetable for making an announcement for some 2020 hopefuls by a week or more.

“We’re going to see a mad dash as others get into the race,” he said. “Some of these other candidates won’t be having a quiet New Year’s Eve.”

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Besides Biden, Sanders and O’Rourke, other Democrats believed to be weighing presidential runs or at least have presidential aspirations are Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio; Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois; Govs. Steve Bullock of Montana and John Hickenlooper of Colorado; former Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro; and serial entrepreneur Andrew Yang of New York — among others.

In all, there are more than two dozen Democratic names on handicapping charts. And while many of them will not end up entering the race, the field could number in double digits by the time everyone makes a decision.

The Washington Post contributed.

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