Many potential presidential candidates have been on the rise as the 2020 election cycle heats up. The following is a list of those who are challengers to Trump in the upcoming election, from the least threatening to those who pose a serious danger to Trump’s second term.
17. John Delaney
DROPPED OUT: A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland, Delaney announced his bid for the presidency on July 28, 2017, making him the first Democrat to officially announce their intention of running in 2020. He has been frequently referred to as a moderate, although he concedes that he does not fit into a specific political identity and that he spans from a completely progressive, liberal end of the spectrum to a more moderate “solutions-oriented” one. Although Delaney launched his campaign at such an early date in order to gain name recognition, he is one who will soon drop from the radar (if he was ever on it to begin with) and does not pose a threat to other candidates.
16. Beto O'Rourke
DROPPED OUT: Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke lost his bid to unseat Senator Ted Cruz in 2018 and has since been on the hunt for the same level of attention he received for nearly defeating Cruz. He has a very meandering strategy, lacking a truly coherent policy vision or proposition—other than his recent social media stardom—that would justify entering a race teeming with many talented candidates. O’Rourke earned a moment of notability during a Democratic debate in September when he voiced his views on gun control (the only issue he has paved a clear view on) when he blurted “Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47!” but is otherwise a throw-away candidate.
15. Steve Bullock
DROPPED OUT: Stephen Bullock is a politician, attorney and former professor, currently serving as the 24th Governor of Montana since 2013. Bullock has been described by The Washington Post and ABC News as a moderate Democrat. He is pro-choice, believes humans are a major contributor to climate change and has very recently altered his positions on gun control to support universal background checks, limits on magazine sizes, temporary removal of firearms from potentially violent people (red flag laws) and banning certain types of semiautomatic weapons. Bullock endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election but expressed disagreement with Clinton's opposition to coal mining because it is an important industry in Montana. He is not a serious threat in the upcoming election.
14. Mark Sanford
Sanford is a Republican running against Trump in 2020. He is a former governor of South Carolina and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. As early as January 2008, there had been anticipation that Sanford would run for President in 2012, but in January of 2010, Sanford stated: “If there's anything that's abundantly clear, it's that I ain't running for president.” Sanford supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election but has since been a critic of him during the Trump presidency. He has publicly expressed interest in running as an opponent to Trump since this July, citing “his alarm over the nation's finances” as a reason for doing so. He subsequently declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination on Fox News last month but remains a minimal threat to Trump at the moment.
13. Julian Castro
Castro, a 45-year-old former housing secretary under Obama, is emphasizing immigration and education in his presidential campaign. He has drawn on his family’s background (having a grandmother who was an immigrant from Mexico) and his political experience in a border state as a former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. His immigration plan was one of the earliest and most detailed in the Democratic field but is also quite liberal in that it asks for an open border policy, which will make it very difficult for him to win over moderate voters. As mayor of San Antonio, he also created a public, free or low-cost pre-K program, which he wants to replicate at the national level. Castro was also a strong candidate in Hillary Clinton’s search for a running mate in 2016 but ultimately did not make the cut.
12. Bill Weld
William Weld is an attorney, businessman and Republican politician who served as the 68th Governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. In 2016, he left the Republican Party to become the Libertarian Party running mate of former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson. Together they received nearly 4.5 million votes, the highest amount for a Libertarian ticket, and the best for any third-party ticket since 1996.
Weld announced in April 2019 that he would be returning to the Republican Party to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican primaries. He has recently made it clear that he is not in support of Trump, stating that Trump has “show(n) contempt for the American people,” and that he would vote for Biden “in a heartbeat” rather than support Trump. Although he is very unlikely to be a serious opponent, Weld has faith that he could beat Trump in 2020 with help from independent voters.
11. Kamala Harris
DROPPED OUT: Harris became California's third female U.S. Senator and the first of either Jamaican or Indian ancestry when she defeated Loretta Sanchez in the 2016 Senate election in November 2016. Since becoming a Senator, she has supported single-payer healthcare, the DREAM Act, a ban on assault rifles, sanctuary cities and lowering the tax burden for the working and middle classes while raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest one percent of Americans. Harris's support rose by between 6 to 9 points in polls following the first Democratic presidential debate in 2019. But in the second debate, Harris was confronted by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard over her past positions on marijuana, cash bail and parole reform and Harris has fallen in the polls since the encounter. She has pitched herself as a history-making candidate who can appeal to both progressives and moderates, but she has been criticized for being insincere, making it difficult for her to gain enough favor to take down Trump.