Who Are the Democrats Running for President?
The list includes nine U.S. senators, three billionaires and one former vice president.
Some Democrats are still considering whether to run for president, some made it official and some never even entered the fray. But the 2020 parlor game is well underway.
Here's the U.S. News analysis of the initial field, separated into three tiers, based on public polling data and evaluations of each contender's strength and seriousness. Otherwise, in each tier, the candidates are listed alphabetically. We’ll update it along the way when a candidate officially gets in or steps aside.
Updated on 4/22/19 to include all announced candidates.
The early front-runners for the 2020 Democratic nomination, based on their high name recognition, top position in polls and potential to grow their support with Democratic voters.
Bio: Former vice president and senator from Delaware who has already run unsuccessfully for the presidency twice before in 2008 and 1988.
Pros: Biden is universally known and well-liked among party stalwarts. He brings authenticity and a working man’s charisma to the trail, could prove formidable in Midwestern states that slipped away in 2016 and would be a cunning and seasoned debater against Trump.
Cons: He’s an old white face who climbed the ranks of the Democratic Party in a much less progressive era. His role in the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and passage of the 1994 crime bill could come back to haunt him.
On 2020: He announced his presidential candidacy in a video to supporters on April 25, 2019.
Updated on 4/26/2019
Bio: First-term New Jersey senator, former Newark mayor.
Pros: Booker is a magnetic speaker who can captivate a room through uplifting rhetoric. He bears a hopeful, optimistic demeanor that could contrast well with Trump’s division.
Cons: A top recipient of Wall Street money, opponents would label him a “corporate Democrat.”
His 2012 “Meet the Press” interview when he criticized Barack Obama’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s private equity experience hasn’t been forgotten by the hardcore left. His record of cleaning up Newark would also be under the microscope.
On 2020: He announced his presidential candidacy in a video to supporters on Feb. 1, 2019.
Updated on 2/1/2019
Bio: First-term California senator, former state attorney general and San Francisco district attorney.
Pros: Harris has been described as “the female Obama.” Along with being a fresh face and female, she’s part African-American and part Indian, checking off several important demographics in the Democratic Party. She hails from the donor- and delegate-rich state of California, which moved its primary up to March 3, 2020.
Cons: Her previous record on criminal justice reform – when she argued against the release of nonviolent offenders – could wrankle some on the left. Some former staffers have complained she’s exceedingly demanding without accepting culpability for management decisions.
On 2020: She announced her presidential candidacy on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Jan. 21, 2019, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Updated on 1/22/2019
Bio: Former three-term Texas congressman, 2018 Senate candidate.
Pros: Coming off a narrow loss to Sen. Ted Cruz, the timing of his inspirational, if unsuccessful, candidacy makes him the hottest name in Democratic politics heading into the new year. And a robust online presence propelled his popularity far outside of Texas.
Cons: He supported a controversial El Paso redevelopment plan in which his wealthy father-in-law was an investor. His House voting record would also be raked over for progressive apostasies. A recent headline in The Guardian noted “he frequently voted for Republican legislation.”
On 2020: He announced his presidential candidacy in an email to supporters on March 14, 2019.
Updated on 3/14/2019
Bio: Third-term Vermont senator who identifies as an independent socialist. The surprise runner-up for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Pros: Sanders built a massive grassroots following during his 2016 run that made him the populist folk hero of the left, particularly among young progressives. He would begin as a unique front-runner with the ability to raise north of $250 million for a primary.
Cons: He acquired powerful opponents aligned with Hillary Clinton who still hold a 2016 grudge. White, old and male, he’s been criticized for blind spots on racial justice issues.
On 2020: He announced his presidential candidacy in an email to supporters on Feb. 19, 2019.
Updated on 2/19/2019
Bio: Second-term Massachusetts senator, former Harvard law school professor and longtime consumer advocate.
Pros: Warren holds impeccable progressive credentials, especially on economic issues, and brings the added advantage of being a woman.
Cons: Her claim to Native American heritage hands Trump an easy attack line, and her release of a DNA test in October to prove her ancestry was widely viewed as a head-scratching political blunder from which she has yet to recover.
On 2020: She announced a presidential exploratory committee on Dec. 31, 2018.
Updated on 1/3/2019
The group that doesn’t have the buzz or early poll position of the top contenders but still boasts impressive resumes and will be tested and thoroughly scrutinized once they hit the trail.
Mike Bloomberg – OUT
Bio: CEO Bloomberg L.P., former New York City mayor.
Pros: A billionaire technocrat and one of the richest people on the planet, Bloomberg could self-fund a race without having to devote time to wooing donors. He has an empire of success to point to in both the public and private squares.
Cons: Having originally run for mayor as a Republican, Bloomberg considered previous presidential runs as an independent, including in 2020 when he criticized President Barack Obama’s economic policies. It was only in October of this year that he re-registered as a Democrat.
On 2020: He announced he would not run for president on March 5, 20109.
Updated on 3/5/2019.
Sherrod Brown –?OUT
Bio: Third-term Ohio senator, former seven-term congressman.
Pros: Brown has a proven ability to win in a key Midwestern industrial state trending against Democrats with a populist message tailored to blue-collar workers on kitchen table issues.
Cons: A three-decades old domestic violence charge against Brown has been downplayed by his ex-wife, but it would surely invite more scrutiny on the national stage.
On 2020: Announced he would not run for president on March 7, 2019.
Updated on 3/7/2019
Hillary Clinton – OUT
Bio: Former secretary of state, New York senator, first lady and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee.
Pros: Clinton can claim a popular victory over President Trump by nearly 3 million votes and remains one of the most recognizable names in American politics.
Cons: She has already run and lost twice as a front-runner, and she remains an unpopular figure nationally. Clinton fatigue has thickened amid palpable dread about the country reliving a Clinton-Trump match-up.
On 2020: Decided against running on March 4, 2019.
Updated on 3/5/2019
Bio: Fourth-term Hawaii congresswoman, former state representative.
Pros: Gabbard could stake a claim to being the youngest female candidate in the field. Her military service in the Army National Guard coupled with her practice of Hinduism would give her a colorful and unique story for voters looking for something different.
Cons: Her secret meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2017 sparked a controversy about her motives and whether she violated House rules.
On 2020: She announced her presidential candidacy to Van Jones on CNN on Jan. 11, 2019.
Updated on 1/14/2019
Eric Garcetti – OUT
Bio: Second-term mayor of Los Angeles, city council president.
Pros: Garcetti has put together a concerted effort to raise money for key state parties around the country, leveraging the glitz and wealth of his Hollywood base.
Cons: A sitting mayor has never been elected president of the U.S. The last time one was nominated was in 1812.
On 2020: Decided against running on Jan. 29, 2019.
Updated on 1/30/2019
Bio: Second-term New York senator, former two-term congresswoman.
Pros: Gillibrand forged an enhanced national profile over the last year as the leading political advocate for the #MeToo movement. Her home state lends her natural connections to the donor community.
Cons: A former moderate and Blue Dog Democrat, she would be forced to wrestle with policy conversions on a number of issues, including gun rights.
On 2020: She announced a presidential exploratory committee on Jan. 15, 2019.
Bio: Former two-term Colorado governor, former Denver mayor.
Pros: A former pub owner with quirky instincts, Hickenlooper might be willing to take unconventional risks to stand out in a large field.
Cons: Carrying a centrist political profile, he’s still trying to figure out if there’s space in a primary for someone who doesn’t necessarily cater to the party’s most extreme tastes.
On 2020: He announced his presidential campaign in a YouTube video released on March 4, 2019.
Updated on 3/4/2019
Eric Holder – OUT
Bio: National Democratic Redistricting Committee chairman, former U.S. attorney general.
Pros: As chairman of the NDRC, he’s traversed the country to combat GOP gerrymandering. The post has placed him at the forefront of a crucial cause and allowed him to foster relationships with state-based Democratic officials.
Cons: Consumed by a legal career, he has never run for or been elected to any office.
On 2020: Decided against running on March 4, 2019.
Updated on 3/5/2019
Bio: Third-term Minnesota senator, former Hennepin County attorney.
Pros: Touting “heartland economics,” she could separate herself from the flank of coastal candidates as a common-sense progressive who can appeal to the country’s battleground midsection. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said she has “exactly the right profile of somebody who ought to run for president.”
Cons: Hailing from a state that borders Iowa, she would be expected to perform very well in the first-in-the-nation caucus state.
On 2020: She announced her presidential candidacy in a speech in Minneapolis on Feb. 10, 2019.
Terry McAuliffe – OUT
Bio: Former Virginia governor, former Democratic National Committee chairman.
Pros: McAuliffe is a gregarious politician who loves the back-and-forth with people and the press, and he has a lengthy Rolodex of donors and party faithful from his time at the DNC and as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. He also has a proven ability to raise gobs of money.
Cons: His longtime connections to his best friend Bill Clinton could be a handicap under a new glare. His role in a GreenTech auto venture went south, spurring a lawsuit from Chinese investors, a lawsuit that was dismissed.
On 2020: Decided against running on April 17, 2019.
Clarified on 12/24: This article has been updated to include details about the lawsuit from Chinese investors.
Updated on 4/17/19
Tom Steyer –?OUT
Bio: Founder and president, NextGen America; former managing partner, Farallon Capital.
Pros: A billionaire who poured millions of dollars into Democratic candidates and get-out-the-vote efforts in 2018, Steyer hasbeen one of the most vocal advocates for Trump’s impeachment. His advocacy has also taken him across the country with stops in key early primary states.
Cons: He made his fortune as a hedge fund manager in California and has never previously run for office. He has clashed with Democratic Party leadership about how to combat Trump and his “Need to Impeach” initiative.
On 2020: Decided against running for president Jan. 9, 2019.
Updated on 1/9/2019
Bio: Former Starbucks CEO and executive chairman, former Seattle Supersonics owner.
Pros: A business titan without political experience could provide a menacing match-up for Trump. Schultz has hired public relations officials with presidential experience, including Steve Schmidt, the senior strategist for John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid.
Cons: A presidential bid would heap a mammoth amount of scrutiny on one of the world’s most recognizable brands, potentially impacting his legacy. He has also questioned how Democrats plan to pay for single-payer health care and provide everyone a job. With a book – “From The Ground Up” – due in February, he may just be floating his name to juice sales.
On 2020: “I do not have to run for president to improve the lives of others,” Schultz told Yahoo in September. “And so I’m looking at a range of options and we’ll just see what happens.”
The longest shot candidates – some who may be running for vice president or a future Cabinet position. No one can be counted out, but members of this group have the steepest hill to climb to propel themselves into serious contention.
Bio: Second-term Montana governor, former state attorney general.
Pros: His narrow re-election in a red state during Donald Trump’s victory lifted his political profile, and he’s used 2018 to travel the country and tout a bipartisan governing record that goes beyond anti-Trump resistance.
Cons: A new legislative session that convenes in January and runs through the spring will consume much of Bullock’s time during the first quarter of the year, likely delaying his decision for several months.
On 2020: He announced is candidacy in a video on May 14, 2019.
Updated on 5/14/2019
Bio: Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Naval Reserve lieutenant.
Pros: A fresh-faced mayor from the heartland who has served in Afghanistan and come out as openly gay, Buttigieg provides an outside-the-box profile. He networked with activists and donors during his campaign for DNC chairman.
Cons: The proper pronunciation of his name (Boot-edge-edge) has been a stumbling block for some. His venture for DNC chairman was unsuccessful and his experience would be an issue.
On 2020: He officially announced his presidential candidacy on April 14, 2019, at a rally in South Bend, Indiana.
Updated on 4/15/2019
Bob Casey Jr. –?OUT
Bio: Third-term Pennsylvania senator, former state treasurer and state auditor.
Pros: Casey knows how to win the key commonwealth battleground state that Democrats will need to flip in 2020.
Cons: He has shown little preparation for an actual run, with the exception of citing his third consecutive victory.
On 2020: Announced he would not run for president on Jan. 18, 2019.
Updated on 3/5/2019
Bio: former Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, former San Antonio mayor.
Pros: Castro announced an exploratory committee on Dec. 12 and is likely to formally announce a run on Jan. 12. He is one of the few Hispanic politicians openly discussing a presidential bid.
Cons: His service in a second-tier Cabinet position will prompt questions about the resume he would bring to the presidency. His candidacy may be viewed as primarily a way to position himself for the vice presidency.
On 2020: He announced his presidential candidacy at a rally in San Antonio on Jan. 12, 2019.
Updated on 1/14/2019
Bio: Three-term Maryland congressman, founder of CapitalSource and Health Care Financial Partners.
Pros: Delaney became first formally announced candidate in the race on July 28, 2017. He has already logged more visits to the early primary states than any other contender, including 20 to Iowa.
Cons: Despite more than a year of campaigning and his personal financial investment, he’s remained only a blip in early polling.
On 2020: “As a practical matter, there are people probably running for president now, they're just not telling anyone it," he told U.S. News in 2017. “I don't see any downside to getting in early. It gives me more time to do the work carefully, thoughtfully, methodically – which is kind of the way I like to do things."
Bio: Second-term Washington governor, former nine-term congressman.
Pros: Inslee would attempt to carve out a campaign around the urgent issue of climate change, highlighting his state’s advances in renewable energy. He oversaw significant gubernatorial gains during his tenure as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.
Cons: He is unknown nationally, and the environment has never proven to be a galvanizing issue in a presidential campaign.
On 2020: He announced his presidential candidacy in a video to the public on March 1, 2019.
Updated on 3/1/2019
Bio: Former secretary of state, former Massachusetts senator, 2004 Democratic nominee for president.
Pros: Kerry brings the experience of having run before. He could stand out during foreign policy flashpoints.
Cons: He comes from a different generation of Democratic politics and could face other younger rivals from his home state.
On 2020: “I’m not taking anything off the table,” he said during a panel at Harvard’s Institute of Politics. “Am I gonna think about it? Yeah, I’m gonna think about it.”
Jeff Merkley – OUT
Bio: Second-term Oregon senator, former Oregon speaker of the House.
Pros: The only senator to endorse Bernie Sanders in 2016, Merkley has established credible progressive bona fides. Through his PAC, he’s already made hires in early states.
Cons: Virtually unknown nationally, he’s perhaps the least visible of the more than a half-dozen senators contemplating a run.
On 2020: Decided against running on March 5, 2019.
Updated on 3/5/2019.
Richard Ojeda – OUT
Bio: Unsuccessful 2018 congressional candidate, West Virginia state senator, U.S. Army major.
Pros: Ojeda became the second formal 2020 Democratic candidate for president on Nov. 12, 2018, days after he lost a congressional race in West Virginia’s 3rd District.
Cons: He voted for Trump in 2016 but now says it was a mistake. Despite overperforming in a district Trump carried by 50 points, he still lost his congressional race by double digits.
On 2020: Decided against running for president Jan. 25, 2019.
Updated on 1/25/2019
Martin O’Malley – OUT
Bio: 2016 presidential candidate, former two-term Maryland governor.
Pros: O’Malley has been through the ringer before having run last time. He can light up a room with his acoustic guitar and Celtic rock tunes.
Cons: He failed to gain much traction in the 2016 race, and it’s hard to see how 2020 would be any different with a much larger field of competitors.
On 2020: Decided against running for president Jan. 3, 2019.
Updated on 1/3/2019
Bio: Nine-term Ohio congressman, Ohio state senator.
Pros: Ryan would present himself as someone able to connect with white working class voters in the Midwest. He has hired former Bernie Sanders adviser Pete D’Alessandro to help him make introductions in Iowa.
Cons: His attempt at ousting Pelosi after the 2016 election fell short and there’s little reason to think he’d have any more success in a national primary electorate that’s becoming more liberal.
On 2020: He announced his presidential candidacy in an appearance on "The View" on April 4, 2019.
Updated on 4/5/2019
Adam Schiff – OUT
Bio: Ten-term California congressman, incoming chairman of House Intelligence Committee, former California state senator.
Pros: Thrust into the spotlight as the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff’s prudent, no-frills demeanor has stood out during Trump’s frenetic tenure.
Cons: As the new steward of a high-powered committee, his day job is about to become much busier. Seems less serious about moving forward with a full-blown bid than some of his colleagues.
On 2020: Announced he was not running for president on Feb. 4, 2019.
Updated on 3/5/2019
Bio: Fourth-term California congressman, Dublin city councilman.
Pros: The TV-ready congressman has made a point at being a ubiquitous presence on cable television. A presidential run would only heighten his wave of publicity.
Cons: If he runs, some believe he’d likely bow out in time to run for re-election to his safe seat outside of San Francisco.
On 2020: He announced his presidential candidacy on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert on April 8, 2019.
Updated on 4/9/2019
Bio: Spiritual lecturer, author.
Pros: Williamson announced an exploratory committee on Nov. 15, 2018. A vivid communicator, she has an established following from her 12 books, including multiple best-sellers, and promotes a robust social media presence.
Cons: She has never been elected to public office and lost a California congressional race in 2014, despite a bevy of endorsements from celebrities.
On 2020: She announced her candidacy on Jan. 28, 2019.
Updated on 1/29/2019
Pros: He’s an entrepreneur who is using outside-the-box tactics, like a campaign hologram, to build his budding fan base.
Cons: He has smaller national name recognition than his rivals and hasn’t been included in all polling of the race.
On 2020: Filed his candidacy on Nov. 6, 2017.
Pros: As the mayor of Miramar, Florida, he’s the only candidate who hails from the Sunshine State.
Cons: Mayor Pete Buttigieg has already captured the hearts and minds of Democrats. Is there room for another to do so?
On 2020: Announced his candidacy on March 28, 2019.
Pros: A Marine who served in combat, Moulton is offering a campaign centered around service and will occupy the centrist lane of the party.
Cons: Just like other later entrants, he’s playing catch-up in the race for resources and experienced staff.
On 2020: Announced his candidacy on April 22, 2019
Pros: He’s a moderate technocratic senator from the swing state of Colorado who plans to focus on economic mobility and the need to restore government integrity.
Cons: He’s now the second moderate Colorado politician in the race and may face difficulty qualifying for the first debate in June.
On 2020: Announced his candidacy on May 2, 2019.
Pros: The former Alaska senator has run before and is polling just as well as many more serious candidates at the bottom of list.
Cons: His candidacy is largely being considered a vanity project of a small group of supporters who urged him to run.
On 2020: Formally filed his candidacy on April 2, 2019.
Bill de Blasio
Pros: As the mayor of New York City, de Blasio enters the contest better known than other candidates and will automatically earn coverage from the nation’s largest media market.
Cons: Many of his own advisers reportedly advised him against a presidential run and his late start puts him in danger of missing the first debate in June.
On 2020: Formally announced his candidacy on May 16, 2019.
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