Laying the Field: Profiles of the Candidates.
By Maya Gomes and Amelia Killackey
Kamala Harris is a formal attorney general of California, and in the 2016 midterm election became the first African American to represent California in the United States Senate. Harris has been an outspoken critic of both Donald Trump and of his policies and brings a personable command and ‘star power’ to a diverse and competitive Democratic field of candidates. Furthermore, while Harris has advocated for civil and middle-class rights, she has instead stated that “The core of [her] campaign is the people.” This is a difference from many other candidates who have centered their campaigns around one or two signature issues and has garnered Harris a lot of support from many Americans who feel both ignored and appalled by the actions of our current president.
Amy Klobuchar, a former attorney and current Senator from Minnesota, dramatically announced her official bid for the presidency in the midst of a raging snowstorm. Klobuchar is vocal on several key political issues, speaking out in support of climate change reform and cybersecurity, and championing legislation to lower prescription drug costs and battle the opioid crisis devastating the country. Klobuchar drew praise from many Democrats during her harsh questioning during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings but is outspokenly supportive of the notion that bipartisan cooperation is possible, a temperament that has been affirmed by several GOP senators praising her open-mindedness.
Tulsi Gabbard is an Army National Guard veteran and is a current congresswoman from Hawaii. Even in these early stages of the campaigns, Gabbard has a tough road ahead of her as she scrambles to make allies and apologize for a history of controversial and alienating comments. Although Gabbard was dubbed a rising progressive star when she was elected in 2012, she has repeatedly endured bad press for her history of anti-gay statements, her branding of ‘radical Islam,’ and her advocacy of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. Gabbard’s central campaign promise is geared towards foreign policy; she supports a compounded American withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria and a tougher stance against terrorism. Domestically, Gabbard supports climate change reform, abortion rights, and gun control amongst other issues.
Elizabeth Warren is Massachusetts Senator and former Harvard Professor who is considered one of the front runners in the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Warren has been thorough in her preparation for her presidential bid and has cemented her position as a champion of middle-class workers, who she feels are under attack from big corporations and political corruption. Warren has worked extensively on bankruptcy law, and headed the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which helped support banks in the fallout of the financial crisis. Warren is also a fierce advocate of women’s rights and has been stagnant in her support of pro-choice legislation. However, she has faced criticisms in the past for her continued claim of Native American heritage and drew ire from Cherokee leaders after she published the results of a DNA test to back her claims, which tribal leaders felt undermined and dismissed the value of tribal citizenship.
Jay Inslee is a former congressman and is the current Governor of Washington. Inslee put the issue of climate change at the forefront, both for his presidential campaign and his term as Governor. Inslee is a supporter of the Green New Deal, a push to decarbonize America’s economy, and co-wrote a book titled Apollo’s Fire: Igniting America’s Clean Energy Economy. Inslee publically likened climate change to terrorism, referencing the California wildfires, asking people to “imagine what the national response would have been if that had been caused by a direct terrorist threat” and followed by saying that “we have today a threat that is causing terrible results of this nature across the United States.”
Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur who has made his money building and then selling start-ups, and is running his campaign on the issue of jobs in America, specifically, what will happen when robots and artificial intelligence begin to take over essential middle-class jobs. Yang is a relatively unknown candidate, as he has no prior political experience, isn’t a well-known voice, and isn’t wealthy or famous to the point of commandeering extensive media attention. He is a strong advocate for the radical idea of universal basic income (which faces heavy opposition from Republicans), Medicare for all and “human-centered capitalism,” which promotes an economic system where the unit is each person, not each dollar.
Marianne Williamson is an author of over a dozen self-help and spirituality books and is a self-proclaimed “new age guru” who seeks to return America to its ethical center. Williamson is outspoken on several issues, proclaiming her support for the Green New Deal, abortion rights, gun control, free education, and has made the call for $100 billion dollars in reparations to black Americans a central component in her campaign. Despite running for Congress in 2014, Williamson has limited political experience, but has extensive experience as an outspoken social activist and is a co-founder of Project Angel Food—a meals-on-wheels service for people with serious illness in Los Angeles.
The only Republican who has so far stood up to challenge Trump in the primaries, William Weld is campaigning on behalf of the moderates who feel ostracized in America’s polarized political landscape. Weld is a former federal prosecutor and governor of Massachusetts, and in 2016 ran for vice president on the libertarian party ticket, but has since re-registered with the GOP. Weld is fiscally conservative yet socially liberal and has been an outspoken critic of President Trump as well as the GOP, stating that he “hopes to see the Republican Party assume once again the mantle of being the party of Lincoln,” and revealed that he is upset with how “our energies as a society are being sapped by the president’s culture of divisiveness of Washington.”
Beto O’Rourke is a rising star in the Democratic party; he served as a congressman in Texas and just recently narrowly lost the race for a Senate seat to Ted Cruz. He enjoys a large social media presence, which connects to his ‘generational’ platform and has garnered him support from many younger voters. O’Rourke has been outspoken on the topic of immigration, supporting complete and comprehensive reform which would include the granting of citizenship to many undocumented immigrants and a more accessible path to legal immigration. Beto also supports large gun policy reform, the Green New Deal, affordable and universal education, and abortion rights.
John Delaney is a former congressman from Maryland and has so far led an aggressive and mostly self-funded campaign. Like many of the presidential hopefuls, Delaney has rejected the donations of large corporations, and in an effort to gain grassroots voters has pledged to donate 2 dollars of his own money to a charity of the donors choosing for the next 100,000 donations to his campaign. While Delaney is relatively unknown in the midst of the crowd Democratic heavyweights, he has been outspoken on several issues and has branded himself as a pragmatic, bipartisan problem solver. Delaney supports climate change reform, affordable education, universal healthcare and perhaps most importantly, the removal of corruption from American politics.
Cory Booker serves as the first African-American senator from New Jersey, aligning himself with the Democratic party. Prior to his senatorial position, he served as the 36th Mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013. Booker’s main ideas include creating unity in a country full of discord. Another one of Booker’s issues is addressing the racial inequality in the country. Booker supports generally Democratic issues such as supporting the Green New Deal, ending the privatized prison system and, supporting Medicare for All.
Peter Buttigieg is popular 37-year-old Democratic Mayor from South Bend, Indiana. If he would win the election, he would be the youngest and first openly gay president in American history. Buttigieg branded himself “the millennial mayor.” He believes that he represents and understands the youth of America. He will be living through the devastating effects of climate change along with the younger voters of America, unlike the majority of the candidates running in 2020. He is also an Afghanistan war veteran. One of Mayor Pete’s main focuses is economic growth. Under his mayoral terms, South Bend reconsidered its place in the worldwide economy by investing and attracting industry that focused on technology. Mayor Pete has the appeal to both Democratic and Republican, and young and old voters, as he won 80% of his last mayoral race.
Julián Castro is a Democratic politician who served in Obama’s cabinet in the Housing and Urban Development Department. He served as the Mayor of San Antonio from 2009 to 2014. During his time of being Mayor, he said that he provided universal preschool for the residents of his city. He also supports Medicare for All and housing accessibility. His main issues include improving the education system and immigration reform.
Kirsten Gillibrand is a current New York senator. After becoming a senator, Gillibrand represented New York’s 20th Congressional District from 2007 to 2009. She also worked on the Special Counsel to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Gillibrand has promised improvement on issues which include sexual assault in the military, transparency between politicians and their citizens. She also supports Medicare for All and paid family leave throughout the country. She has standard democratic viewpoints, though she emphasizes empowering and supporting working women.
John Hickenlooper is the former governor of Colorado, serving from 2011 to 2019. Before his term as Governor, Hickenlooper was the mayor of Denver for almost eight years. Hickenlooper’s emphasis on climate change action, gun control and expansion of Medicaid paints him as a pretty standard Democratic candidate. Hickenlooper says that has the power to win because, while he has the strength to challenge Trump, he also has bipartisan support to back him up. As an entrepreneur, he states that he can bring his strengths in business and apply them to the nation, boosting the economy. He also has economic boosting qualifications after raising Colorado’s former status as 40th biggest job creator out of the 50 states to being the state ranked first in job creation while he was in the governorship. He achieved this by creating Careerwise, a program to educational places and businesses to provide internships or apprenticeships is many different industries. So far, 20 other states have used this model for their own states.
Bernie Sanders is an Independent senator from Vermont. Sanders first ran for president in 2016, losing the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton. Sanders’ qualifications include serving as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont from 1981 to 1989, serving in the United States House of Representatives for 16 years, and then serving in the United States Senate from 2006 to the present. Sanders’ ideas have been called radical and socialist, as they include supporting the Green New Deal, tuition-free college and $15 minimum wage. Currently, Sanders is called the best known declared candidate and the highest approval ratings out of all the declared candidates.
Donald Trump is the President of the United States and will be running for reelection in 2020. Trump’s slogan is “Make America Great Again,” one we are all very much familiar with from the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s viewpoints include hardline stance immigration; specifically border control between America and Mexico. Another main issue are major tax cuts. Trump’s prior jobs include comedian, television personality and real estate developer. During the past four years, Trump has pulled out of the Paris Accord, an agreement stating that countries with decrease their carbon emissions, appointed two Supreme Court Judges (Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, both ultra-conservative) and stormed America by Twitter, sending out divisive and provoking Tweets that many believe have helped divide the country even more.