An extraordinary alignment of ambition, opportunity and timing is raising the prospect that the Democratic Party in 2020 could have its biggest presidential field in a generation.
A sprawling roster of potential primary candidates is already surveying the political climate and reaching out to campaign consultants in stealthy meetings and calls, according to roughly a half-dozen party operatives familiar with the initial conversations.
At least a dozen senators are widely thought to be in the mix — including Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts’ Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey’s Cory Booker, California’s Kamala Harris, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, and both Minnesotans, Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. But the depleted bench of Democratic governors is also stocked with possible White House hopefuls, expanding the list of credible presidential prospects to as many as two dozen.
“You say there are 7,000 Democrats who think they’re going to be president? Well 3,500 of them have a good shot at it,” said Democratic strategist Erik Smith, a veteran of multiple presidential campaigns, including Barack Obama’s. “There are so many candidates who have held back over the last 10 years. A lot of them didn’t get into the race because Hillary Clinton was running in 2007, and then a lot stayed out in 2016 because she ran again, so you have a whole generation that’s been waiting in the wings for years. Those calls are definitely happening.”