Several potential Democratic presidential candidates have seen their stock fall since the beginning of the year, while others have risen.
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) has seen rivals jump on to his single-payer health-care bill, while former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE is preparing a major book tour through key swing states.
ADVERTISEMENTSens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) have both generated headlines as Democratic opponents of President Trump who have been “shushed” by Republican lawmakers.
With so many Democrats fighting for attention, other rising stars seen as potential players in 2020, most notably Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (Minn.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody Senate Dems press DOJ over coronavirus safety precautions in juvenile detention centers MORE (N.Y.), have been crowded out of the spotlight.
And third-tier potential Democratic candidates such as Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Reps. Tim Ryan (Ohio), Seth Moulton (Mass.) and Rep. John Delaney (Md.), who has announced he is running for president, are yet to be taken seriously.
“You almost never hear their names come up in conversation, and when they do it’s almost met with a grin like, ‘Yeah, OK, that will never happen,’ ” said one top Democratic consultant. “There’s just no buzz around any of them, and you need some buzz.”
Gillibrand did win some attention by being the only senator to oppose Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisMilley discussed resigning from post after Trump photo-op: report Hundreds of West Point alumni call out Esper over military’s role in protests OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill MORE’s nomination, and she has also earned some headlines with choice four-letter words about President Trump.
“If we are not helping people, we should go the f— home,” she said in June at the Personal Democracy Forum at New York University.
Earlier this month, Rolling Stone ran a piece with a headline that said Gillibrand was outsmarting Trump.
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Klobuchar, for her part, is liked in Washington for her policy chops and an understated and underrated sense of humor.
Yet she risks getting overlooked by another potential candidate from Minnesota: Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenPolitical world mourns loss of comedian Jerry Stiller Maher to Tara Reade on timing of sexual assault allegation: ‘Why wait until Biden is our only hope?’ Democrats begin to confront Biden allegations MORE, who received good press for a book tour and raised questions during Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants MORE’s confirmation hearing that led the former Alabama senator to recuse himself from the Justice Depatment’s investigation into Russian election meddling.
While Gillibrand stood to the side of Sanders as he offered his single-payer bill on Wednesday, Klobuchar, who is not a co-sponsor of the legislation, was giving a speech about Russia on the Senate floor.
Klobuchar’s office did not comment for this story.
It’s very early, with more than two years to go before the Iowa caucuses. Still, strategists say there’s a risk of being drowned out early in the “invisible campaign,” which is preceding what is expected to be a crowded Democratic race.
“In a field where 20-something people may show up in Iowa at the state fair, you really need to be in the top five,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “If you’re in the top five, you’re in a good place to wage an incredible campaign.”
Polls consistently show the same front-runners.
A Zogby Analytics online survey conducted this month shows Sanders with a sizable lead among likely voters at 28 percent. Biden came in second at 17 percent. Warren came in third at 12 percent.
A poll conducted in June for Morning Consult and Politico showed that 74 percent of Democrats viewed Biden favorably, followed by Warren at 51 percent.
At the same time, the party has been craving “fresh blood”— Democrats who haven’t been on the scene and don’t have years of baggage weighing them down in a presidential campaign.
That desire could help potential candidates such as Gillibrand, Klobuchar or even Ryan, though they have plenty of competition in that space.
Harris, a new rising star on the scene, gained national attention when she was shushed by Republican senators in Senate Intelligence Committee hearings.
And Warren, who, like Sanders, has an established base of support but who would be a new candidate for president, gave the liberal base a battle cry with the “she persisted” line coined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.).
Candidates do face the risk of peaking too soon, says Democratic strategist Jim Manley.
At times in 2014 and 2015, it was Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Louisville passes ‘Breonna’s Law’ banning no-knock warrants Rand Paul aide joins Trump campaign, RNC fundraising group MORE (Ky.) who seemed like the Republican senator to watch for in 2016. Then he faded.
“Cycle after cycle, there’s always someone who is the flavor of the month,” Manley said.
Still, Democratic strategist David Wade, who served as a longtime senior aide to John KerryJohn Forbes KerryThe Memo: Trump’s troubles deepen as voters see country on wrong path The continuous whipsawing of climate change policy Budowsky: United Democrats and Biden’s New Deal MORE, emphasized that candidates with an eye on 2020 should “always place a premium on patience and purpose.”
“Good candidates get their moment to audition on the national stage, and it takes patience because you can’t force the moment,” Wade said. “But it also demands purpose. Purpose is knowing what your candidate’s profile is and what lane they occupy.”
In the years before the 2004 Democratic primaries ultimately won by Kerry, “multiple candidates had their moment in the sun, and many melted,” Wade said.
To be competitive and stand out, lawmakers can develop an agenda, fill a federal war chest and travel the country building a fundraising network that can be transferred to a presidential campaign.
And with the fight over nominations and the contentious Trump agenda, lawmakers with the right speeches and tactics are uniquely positioned to break through quickly.
“I think it’s too early to discount people’s chances,” said Grant Reeher, the director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. “I think the candidates that we’re thinking about for 2020 aren’t people we’re thinking about right now.”