By Jim Ellis
April 1, 2019 — Several presumed presidential candidates whose aspirations appeared dormant have suddenly sprung to life. In reading the current political tea leaves, and should the latest trends prove true, we could return to projections of a Democratic presidential field as large as 23 candidates.
While it has been generally regarded as a given that former Vice President Joe Biden would enter the race next month, and all indications are that he will, as many as six others may also soon join according to individual published reports late last week.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), whose name surfaced months ago as an individual contemplating becoming a national candidate, all of a sudden says that he will likely do so. This, after seemingly weeks of not even being mentioned in the long list of aspiring candidates.
Ex-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who looked to be gearing up early but hadn’t been heard from lately, also confirms that he is headed toward announcing his candidacy this month.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has brandished more overt signs of planning to run. Always admitting that he was considering becoming a candidate, Gov. Bullock has spent some time in Iowa conducting meetings and getting to know the political terrain. He has also firmly ruled out challenging Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) and appears headed toward the national stage. Bullock is ineligible to seek a third term as governor, so these underlying signals seem more indicative that he will, in fact, run for president.
Three US House members are also headed toward candidacy. Reps. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Tim Ryan (D-OH), and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) are all sounding like presidential contenders as recently as this week.
Rep. Moulton, who helped lead the unsuccessful Democratic opposition to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and thus has little in the way to expect from a House career, has made several trips to New Hampshire. Moulton’s 66th District of Massachusetts borders New Hampshire, so he is already a known entity in the Granite State. Those close to the congressman reportedly indicate that he is planning to enter the presidential race.
Rep. Ryan said earlier this week that he is also likely to enter the presidential race but will simultaneously file for re-election to the House, which is permissible under Ohio election law. Even if Ryan becomes a presidential candidate, he is unlikely to go far, but the Ohio primary scheduled for March 10, 2020 could award him some key early delegate votes.
California Congressman Swalwell has been talking about running for president for the better part of a year, but he has still yet to enter the race. Swalwell now says he is close to a decision and pledges to not seek re-election to the House if he enters the national race. Of the three congressmen, Rep. Swalwell may be the least likely to actually become a presidential candidate because he would be risking the most.
Additionally, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, clearly one of the lower-tier candidates, appears to be making a move. He has likely qualified as a debate participant for the June and July series because he already has more than 65,000 individual donors to his campaign, has 200 contributors from at least 20 states, and not only reached one percent in a national poll, he has surpassed the minimum number by four-fold. The new Quinnipiac University survey (March 21-25; 1,358 US registered voters, 559 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Buttigieg jumping to four percent support, slightly ahead of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and two full points beyond Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) preference level.
Businessman Andrew Yang has also been making a mark. He, too, has surpassed the fundraising requirements and has reached one percent in polling several times. His guaranteed universal income proposal and comments about circumcision has generated some national media attention, and his videos have gone viral on the Internet.
Is it possible that any one of these lesser known candidates catches a wave to catapult him or her into serious contention? It’s possible, but highly unlikely that any of the aforementioned later entries reaches a position to seriously contest for the nomination. But, then again, the same thing was said about Donald Trump at this point in 2015.