Thinning the 2020 Presidential Herd, the Sequel -- Sunday Political Brunch May 12, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Last week we gave you snapshots of seven of the 21 Democratic candidates for president in 2020. People liked it, and I promised more. So, let’s “meet and greet” another seven. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Bettin’ on Bennet?” – The most recent entrant in the race is Senator Michael Bennett (D) Colorado. Who? Well, before we have another “birther” debate, Bennet was born in New Delhi, India where his American diplomat father was serving in the U.S. Embassy. So, yes, he’s a native born American. He’s been a school superintendent, an aide to a big city mayor, and worked in the U.S. Justice Department. That plus ten years in the U.S. Senate, and at the relatively young age of 54, Bennet may be viable for several more presidential cycles.

“Bookin’ with Booker!” – I remember covering and meeting Cory Booker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention when he spoke to the Iowa delegation. You got the idea he was warming up to Iowans for a reason. At the time, Booker was Mayor of Newark. He’s also a Stanford-educated Rhodes Scholar, who got his law degree at Yale. He’s 50 and has a promising future. If he doesn’t win the nomination, look for him as a potential pick for vice-president.

“Casting a Castro Vote?” – Former HUD Secretary and Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro (D) Texas remains someone to keep an eye on for the next several presidential cycles. He’s just 44, so he’ll be viable for some time. The oddity is that his twin brother is Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) Texas, a six-year congressman who also served a good stretch in the Texas Legislature. His brother is not running for president (yet), but my question is, does one Castro brother pull votes from the other? This will be interesting to watch as I suspect these two will be on the political landscape for quite some time. We’ve never seen this kind of “twin trouble” in U.S. politics.

“Delayin’ for Delaney?” – Former Rep. John Delaney (D) Maryland was the first Democrat to announce a presidential bid for 2020. He served six year in Congress, but I’m not so sure being first in line for the presidency really matters now that 20 people have lined up behind him. But Delaney has a more interesting story in the business world, compared to the political world. He co-founded two very successful companies, Health Care Financial Partners and CapitalSource. Delaney made a lot of money as a savvy businessman and was the only CEO of a publicly traded company while serving in Congress. He has financial chops. Keep an eye out for him.

“From the North Country (Way North!!) – He’s a life-long hell-raiser and at 88 years young former Senator Mike Gravel (D) Alaska may be the most colorful candidate in the race. Yes, he’s a longshot, but he could stir the pot on a debate stage if most of the other 20 candidates are dull and vanilla. A fierce anti-Vietnam War crusader, Gravel made headlines trying to end the military draft and assisted in the controversial release of the Pentagon Papers. Many will view him as a “troublemaking 60s has-been,” but he could be provocative and a wild-card in the debates, where so many candidates are running far-left where he has authentic credentials. The entertainment factor alone could be worth the price of admission.

“Hiccups for Hickenlooper!” – I know he’s polling in the weeds, but I would keep an eye on former Governor John Hickenlooper (D) Colorado, who also served two terms as Mayor of Denver. Is this the year of the mayor? I ask because Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) South Bend has been polling well in presidential match ups. Mayors are politicians who are closest to the people. They are often hands-on on problem-solvers, whereas governors, senators and representatives are more distant. Former New York City Mayors Rudi Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg have polled well over the years. I just wonder if city halls are the new political launch pad. Watch!

“Jammin’ for Gillibrand!” – I’ve written about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in this column before. I think she’s impressive. But Democrats are sure to win New York and its 29 Electoral College votes so where does she help her party beyond the Empire State. My gut says female candidates have an advantage in 2020, but they need chops beyond gender identification. She’s not polled well nationally, but I see her as a contender as we get closer to Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Why All of This Matters?” – Right now, polls show Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders polling in the 30-plus percent range, with everyone way back in the back. But consider this: with 21 candidates, someone could win the Iowa Caucuses with as little as 4.8 percent of the vote, if everyone is bunched up in the pack. This is about creating a niche voting base, and then expanding it. With this many people in the race, anyone can win if their message and platform catch fire!

If you voted today, who would you pick for president in 2020? Click the comment button!

Mark Curtis, Ed. D, is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five surrounding states, and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He’s a weekly contributing writer for the White House Patch at

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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