Ten Democrats have already announced they will be running for president in 2020. A handful of others have announced exploratory committees, or are expected to announce a run in the coming months. It’s anybody’s guess how many names will ultimately appear on the ballots of caucus and primary voters, but what has become clear is that the more the pool of candidates grows, the more enticing it is for lawmakers to test the water. On Sunday, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) teased a potential run during an appearance on Meet the Press. A day later, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) did the same while speaking to BuzzFeed News.
“We’ve got a million people that are going to run, which I think is great,” Bennet said, adding that he doesn’t think it “would hurt” to have “one more voice in that conversation that’s focused on America’s future.” Bennet, a 54-year-old moderate, went on to cite his background in the education system and private sector as potential selling points for his candidacy. “I’ve got a different set of experiences than the other folks in the race, many of whom are my friends and people that I like,” he said. “I spent time in business and time as a schools superintendent before I was in the in the job that I’m in now.”
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Moulton found his way into the spotlight recently through his unsuccessful effort to prevent Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from becoming speaker of the House. “This election was a call for change,” Moulton told reporters in November, referencing the midterm elections. “I think if our party answers that call, that call for change with the amazing victories we had across this country, by just saying we’re going to reinstall the same status quo leadership we’ve had since 2006, for over 10 years, I don’t think we’re answering the call of the American people.”
Though a few dozen Democrats expressed interest in electing someone other than Pelosi, the movement was unable to gain any real traction. When votes were cast last month, only 15 Democrats, nearly all of them freshman, voted against Pelosi. Moulton was not among them.
Speculation began to swirl that Moulton, 40, may have designs on the presidency when last month he announced he would be speaking to a Democratic committee in Bedford, New Hampshire, early in February. Days after doing so, he confirmed to BuzzFeed News that he is considering a run. “I’m thinking about running for president,” he said. “I’m not definitely running, but I’m going to take a very hard look at it. A very serious look at it. Because I believe it’s time for a new generation of leadership, and we gotta send Donald Trump packing.”
Moulton added that his experience in the military is part of what will separate him from other candidates. “Every single day I was inspired by the young Americans I served with but felt betrayed by the people in Washington that sent us there,” he said. “And that sense of anger and frustration is something that I’ve carried with me for a long time. It’s fundamentally why I decided to run for Congress a few years ago, to change that. And now I think I see that same kind of anger and frustration with Washington in a lot of the American people that I meet.”
Bennet and Moulton would both be extreme long-shots should they enter the race officially, but 2020 may be the year a long-shot could win. Trump’s victory in 2016 and the confusing specter of his re-election have all but obliterated conventional wisdom surrounding what makes a successful candidate. Last week, a Monmouth University poll found that Democratic voters prefer a nominee who they believe can beat Trump, rather than one with whom they agree on policy issues. What it will take to unseat Trump, however, remains a mystery.