2020 presidential candidates who could take on Trump

2020 presidential candidates who could take on Trump

2020 presidential candidates

POLITICO Illustration

Election 2020

The list of 2020 presidential candidates stretches across a wide spectrum of the left.


Who is running for president? Potential 2020 presidential candidates have been lining up to take on Donald Trump and the GOP, creating one of the most crowded fields in memory. It’s a group packed with traditional politicians, firebrand Trump foes and celebrities who have never held elected office.

We’ve categorized the possible Democratic presidential candidates into six groups: The Senators list carries Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders. The House Members include Tulsi Gabbard, Joe Kennedy and Beto O’Rourke. The Governors list is anchored by Andrew Cuomo and Deval Patrick. The most well known of The Mayors is Michael Bloomberg. The Obama Alums include Joe Biden, Eric Holder and others as potential 2020 presidential candidates. Finally, The Outsiders like Michael Avenatti and Oprah could reshape the road to 2020.

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We’ll be updating this 2020 candidates list regularly — check the latest at politico.com/2020candidates.

The Senators

Cory Booker

Resume: U.S. Senator (New Jersey); Mayor of Newark

Age: 49

What he’s known for: He kicked off the opposition to Brett Kavanaugh with his “I am Spartacus” moment that drew the ire of Republican colleagues.

2020 Status: He stumped in every early state, including a high-profile speech in Iowa that wowed attendees. His steadfast faith in not slugging it out with Trump and instead preaching love will continue to be tested.

Sherrod Brown

Resume: U.S. Senator (Ohio); U.S. Representative; Ohio Secretary of State; Ohio Representative

Age: 66

What he’s known for: He’s the Democrat who continues to win in Ohio, a critical swing state that has befuddled other Democratic presidential candidates in the last two decades who are not named Barack Obama.

2020 status: He’s been focused on winning reelection, which he capped with a victory speech full of possible 2020 lines.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Resume: U.S. Senator (New York); U.S. Representative

Age: 51

What she’s known for: Her determined approach to sexual assault and misconduct led her to say Bill Clinton should have resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Then she led the call among Senate Democrats for Al Franken to resign. Both stances triggered ire among some party donors and activists.

2020 status: She‘s visited New Hampshire and Nevada. And she’s endorsing progressive policy positions such as abolishing ICE and a federal jobs guarantee.

Tim Kaine

Resume: U.S. Senator (Virginia); 2016 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee; Governor; Lieutenant Governor; Mayor of Richmond; Richmond City councilor. Served as Democratic National Committee chairman from 2009-2011.

Age: 60

What he’s known for: Being America’s dad

2020 status: He’s stayed quiet on the presidential race, focusing heavily on his reelection campaign. But his resume is as detailed as anyone on this list, including two thorough vettings as a potential Veep.

Amy Klobuchar

Resume: U.S Senator (Minnesota); Hennepin County Attorney

Age: 58

What she’s known for: She’s the cautious centrist in a caucus full of characters.

2020 status: A Democrat in a state Trump came very close to winning, in recent years she’s made many trips to neighboring Iowa.

Jeff Merkley

Resume: U.S. Senator (Oregon); Speaker of the Oregon House; Oregon Representative

Age: 62

What he’s known for: The only senator to endorse Sanders in 2016, Merkley went viral early this year with a series of videos on opposing the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the border.

2020 status: He’s been open about the possibility of running, has visited all the early states and reportedly hired staffers in Iowa and Nevada through his PAC.

Kamala Harris

Age: 54

Resume: U.S. Senator (California); Attorney General of California; San Francisco District Attorney

What she’s known for: She’s used her perch on top committees to grill Trump administration officials and Kavanaugh.

2020 status: She stumped in all early states but New Hampshire, and cut checks to all of their state parties. Her advisers are plotting out an “SEC primary meets the West Coast offense” that will play up California’s earlier status and seek to make inroads in states like South Carolina and Nevada.

Bernie Sanders

Resume: U.S. Senator (Vermont); 2016 Democratic presidential candidate; U.S. Representative; Mayor of Burlington

Age: 77

What he’s known for: He’s defied all predictions by going from an unknown senator to a progressive icon. His signature issues have become the lingua franca of liberals on this list.

2020 status: He’s already stumped in all four early states. In a traditional year, he would carry a lot of weight as the 2016 runner-up, but his staffers are questioning whether they want to sign on for another campaign. He also acknowledges his age will be a topic of discussion.

Mark Warner

Resume: U.S. Senator (Virginia); Governor

Age: 63

What he’s known for: He’s the Democratic face of the Russia probe, built from his role as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s ranking member.

2020 status: Warner has tried testing the waters in previous cycles, but he’s never before had a platform like the Russia investigation.

Elizabeth Warren

Resume: U.S. Senator (Massachusetts); Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program; Harvard Law school professor

Age: 69

What she’s known for: She was an academic who helped write the book on how to rein in Wall Street, only to have her dream job (running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) blocked by Republicans. As a senator she’s animated the Democratic base with a populist economic message.

2020 status: Focusing on her reelection bid, Warren skipped all early states but Nevada — although she made a point of appearing with key candidates in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere. Her decision to litigate questions about her Native American ancestry once and for all looks like someone trying to clear the air before a national campaign.

The House Members

John Delaney

Resume: U.S. Representative (Maryland); Businessman

Age: 55

What he’s known for: Being early. He’s already spent $2 million in Iowa and visited every one of its 99 counties more than two years before the first-in-the-nation caucuses.

2020 status: While almost everyone was trying to tamp down their public interest in running, Delaney announced his campaign and stumped in every early state along with airing TV ads. But can he survive the crush of news that will come as top-tier candidates announce?

Tulsi Gabbard

Resume: U.S. Representative (Hawaii); Honolulu City Councilor; Major, Army National Guard; Hawaii Representative

Age: 37

What she’s known for: She flouted the DNC in 2016 and backed up Sanders. Her approach to foreign policy, including a visit with Syrian President Bashar Assad, put her outside many in the Democratic mainstream.

2020 status: She visited every early state but South Carolina. A former top Sanders 2016 staffer is reportedly putting out feelers for a campaign.

Joe Kennedy

Resume: U.S. Representative (Massachusetts); Assistant District Attorney, Middlesex County and Cape and Island

Age: 38

What he’s known for: He provided the 2018 Democratic English-language response to the State of the Union. References to his famous family are never far away.

2020 status: After giving his State of the Union response, he headlined an event in New Hampshire and campaigned elsewhere including Texas and Florida. And yes, he’s good on the Chapstick now.

Seth Moulton

Resume: U.S. Representative (Massachusetts); Marine Corps, Captain (Ret.)

Age: 40

What he’s known for: He’s been pushing hard for more veterans to run for office. And he’s been a thorn in Nancy Pelosi’s side, positioning himself as part of the next generation of House Democrats.

2020 status: He stumped in New Hampshire and traveled to Iowa in the past, but if he runs Moulton could lean heavily on an array of military veterans and other candidates he endorsed up and down the midterm ballot.

Beto O’Rourke

Resume: U.S. Representative (Texas); El Paso City Councilor

Age: 46

What he’s known for: A backbench, moderate congressman who transformed into a liberal hero in his failed quest to unseat Ted Cruz.

2020 status: Large crowds, celebrity endorsers and record fundraising sound like a presidential campaign, even if this was just O’Rourke’s first statewide campaign. If he can survive potential second-guessing about how he conducted his campaign, he’ll come with more name recognition than many on this list.

Tim Ryan

Resume: U.S. Representative (Ohio); state senator

Age: 45

What he’s known for: He’s positioned as a lunch pail avatar of the Rust Belt who has criticized Pelosi for not being in touch with the party.

2020 status: He’s visited every early state but Nevada, and has also reportedly lured away a top 2016 Sanders alum to advise him in Iowa.

Eric Swalwell

Resume: U.S. Representative (California); Dublin town councilor; Deputy district attorney, Alameda County.

Age: 37

What he’s known for: He’s risen to prominence as a member of the House Intelligence Committee by taking on Trump and defending the Russia investigation.

2020 status: He’s visited every early state, including Iowa where he plays up his roots. (He was born in Sac City, a small Western Iowa town.)

The Governors

Steve Bullock

Resume: Governor (Montana); Attorney General; Executive Assistant Attorney General and acting Chief Deputy Attorney General of Montana. He served as DGA chairman in 2015 and is currently head of the National Governors Association.

Age: 52

What he’s known for: He showed the nation how to run as a red-state Democrat.

2020 status: He visited every early state but Nevada, and used his position atop governor groups to build out his national profile and stump in key races around the country.

Andrew Cuomo

Resume: Governor (New York); Attorney General; Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Age: 60

What he’s known for: He’s Andrew Cuomo. He doesn’t show up to his own victory party, because when you’re a three-term governor and son of a political institution you don’t need to.

2020 status: He ruled out a 2020 run during his high-profile primary contest with actress and activist Cynthia Nixon. But lots of past candidates have said they wouldn’t run only to change course.

John Hickenlooper

Resume: Governor (Colorado); Mayor of Denver; Brewer

Age: 66

What he’s known for: He’s a centrist, business-oriented governor who led the way on gun control.

2020 status: He visited Iowa and New Hampshire, where he‘s been surprisingly candid about his intentions. The biggest question is if his friendship with Ohio Gov. John Kasich is just that or a hint at an unprecedented bipartisan unity ticket.

Jay Inslee

Resume: Governor (Washington); U.S. Representative; Washington state Representative. He is currently chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

Age: 67

What he’s known for: He’s the climate guy.

2020 status: He visited every early state but South Carolina, although he cut Democrats in the Palmetto State a sizable check. Like other past chairs, he’s used his DGA post to burnish his profile. He’s also been very candid about his 2020 intentions.

Terry McAuliffe

Resume: Governor (Virginia); Democratic National Committee chairman. He also served as co-chairman of Bill Clinton’s 1996 reelection campaign and chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run.

Age: 61

What he’s known for: He’s the ultimate Clinton insider who transitioned to being a job-growth governor.

2020 status: He visited every early state but South Carolina — though he held a fundraiser in Washington for the party’s gubernatorial nominee.

Martin O’Malley

Resume: 2016 presidential candidate; Governor (Maryland); Mayor of Baltimore; Baltimore City Councilor; Assistant State’s Attorney for the City of Baltimore. He also served as DGA chair from 2011-2012.

Age: 55

What he’s known for: He’s seen as an ahead-of-the-curve progressive who was swarmed by the Sanders wave.

2020 status: He’s returned to every early state, if you count a 2017 South Carolina swing. His early 2016 efforts endeared him to early nominating state activists, but in the end he was overshadowed by Sanders’ unexpected rise. Would he try again?

Deval Patrick

Resume: Bain Capital, Managing Director of the Double Impact business; Governor (Massachusetts); general counsel to top companies like Texaco and Coca-Cola; Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights

Age: 62

What he’s known for: He’s an Obama acolyte who wrapped up his governorship and rode off back into the private sector.

2020 status: He skipped the early states, but did some light midterm stumping. The biggest question is whether someone who works for Bain Capital — yes, the Bain Capital founded by Mitt Romney — can get Democrats to forget everything they were taught to loathe about it. Top Obama alums are not holding his current gig against him and are reportedly pressing him to run.

The Mayors

Michael Bloomberg

Resume: Returned to Bloomberg and expanded his focus on philanthropy; Mayor of New York City; CEO and founder of Bloomberg L.P.

Age: 76

What he’s known for: He’s a fiscally conservative, socially liberal mayor who has seesawed between parties. His ability to write large checks is far more consistent.

2020 status: He skipped the early states but spent the midterms cutting enormous checks to Democrats. Just before Tuesday, he released an ad touting his bipartisan cred and lambasting Washington for failing to lead. Oh and he’s also a registered Democrat, again.

Pete Buttigieg

Resume: Mayor of South Bend; Navy Reserve, Lieutenant

Age: 36

What he’s known for: He’s been positioned as a leader among the next generation of Democrats — openly gay, millennial and Afghanistan veteran.

2020 status: He stumped in South Carolina and had a 2017 stop in Iowa. He was one of just a handful of people on this list to secretly meet with President Barack Obama and boosted his profile during his run for DNC chair. But unlike other mayors on this list, he doesn’t have a long list of other elected experience nor has he led a major city.

Eric Garcetti

Resume: Mayor of Los Angeles; President of the Los Angeles City Council; Navy Reserve, Lieutenant; Los Angeles City Councilor

Age: 47

What he’s known for: He’s focused on liberal priorities in a major city on the left coast.

2020 status: He’s visited every early state and acknowledged that he’s thinking of a 2020 bid — although he might want to stay away from comparing California to Iowa, again.

Mitch Landrieu

Resume: Mayor of New Orleans; Lieutenant Governor (Louisiana); Louisiana Representative. He also served as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors from 2017-2018.

Age: 58

What he’s known for: He’s a leading Democrat in the south.

2020 status: Landrieu has used his statements on Confederate monuments to build a national reputation. He skipped the early states, but for a 2017 stop in South Carolina.

The Obama Alums

Joe Biden

Resume: Vice President of the United States; U.S. Senator (Delaware); New Castle County Council member. He also ran for president in 2008 and 1988.

Age: 75

What he’s known for: Everyone knows Joe Biden.

2020 status: He visited every early state, amid a bevy of midterm stumping. While the Kavanaugh confirmation has faded from view, Biden may still face questions over his handling of Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearings and his treatment of Anita Hill.

Julian Castro

Resume: U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Mayor of San Antonio; San Antonio City Councilor

Age: 44

What he’s known for: He rode a wave of liberal excitement into a Cabinet seat and was mentioned as a possible 2016 running mate.

2020 status: He’s visited every early state but South Carolina. He has said he’d make a decision by early next year, but is leaning toward running.

Eric Holder

Resume: U.S. Attorney General; U.S. Deputy Attorney General; U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C.; Associate Judge of the Superior Court of D.C.

Age: 67

What he’s known for: He changed the course of the Justice Department after the Bush years with a focus on civil rights and policing. His policies and his friendship with Obama led him to become a Republican boogeyman.

2020 status: He’s visited every early state but Iowa. He spent his post Obama years fighting gerrymandering, an issue that is reportedly a top legislative priority for congressional Democrats.

John Kerry

Resume: U.S. Secretary of State; U.S. Senator (Massachusetts); 2004 Democratic presidential nominee; Lieutenant Governor; Assistant District Attorney; U.S. Navy, Lieutenant (Ret.)

Age: 74

What he’s known for: He survived the 2004 election and later found a new life as Obama’s chief diplomat.

2020 status: He gave an early 2018 lecture in Nevada and stumped in 2017 for an old friend in Iowa, but has largely stayed away from the campaign trail.

The Outsiders

Michael Avenatti

Age: 47

Resume: Attorney; Entrepreneur

What he’s known for: As Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti began with a case that looked like a tabloid tale and ended up bringing down the president’s longtime personal attorney and introducing the possibility of campaign finance violations. Since then, he’s tussled with the administration over separating migrant families at the border and injected himself, controversially, into the Kavanaugh confirmation process.

2020 status: He’s visited every early state. He’s also quietly building out a campaign team with the brains behind Ready for Hillary and the possibility of luring away a top Sanders staffer. And he’s already released an ad for the PAC he formed.

Mark Cuban

Age: 60

Resume: Reality TV star; NBA owner; Businessman and investor

What he’s known for: He knows how to play Trump — with an NBA team.

2020 status: A top Trump agitator in 2016, Cuban has the business background and potential name recognition to take down the former reality TV star in the White House.

Howard Schultz

Age: 65

Resume: CEO of Starbucks

What he’s known for: He’ll talk to the nation over a cup of coffee.

2020 status: The former head of a company he built into an internationally recognized brand, Schultz is often mentioned for business background. But in today’s hypercritical world is he willing to risk so directly tying Starbucks to a political campaign?

Tom Steyer

Age: 61

Resume: Investor; Activist; Philanthropist

What he’s known for: He’s a leading donor to the left, focused on climate activism.

2020 status: No one quite knows what Steyer is going to do with the massive list of people who have signed a petition to impeach President Donald Trump. But the California investor has passed on statewide runs, and after visiting every early state continues to stoke speculation that his ultimate prize is in Washington. Like others in this section, he could easily run without ever gladhanding a single donor.

Oprah Winfrey

Age: 64

Resume: Media executive; Philanthropist; Actress; Talk show host; Television producer

What she’s known for: Being Oprah.

2020 status: Of anyone on this list, no one has more consistently and emphatically denied interest in running. But we did get to see what it’s like when Oprah knocks on doors. Spoiler alert: There are no free cars.

The Rock

Age: 46

Resume: Actor; WWE wrestler

What he’s known for: Being the Rock and knowing what is cooking.

2020 status: Dwayne Johnson says he doesn’t have the experience for the job, but his name keeps reemerging. Who knows what the future holds if the “Fast and the Furious” franchise ever ends?

See candidates: Who is running for president in 2020?
The Senators | The House Members | The Governors | The Mayors | The Obama Alums | The Outsiders

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