Kamala Harris is Frontrunner, But Challengers Abound
By Noah Kotlarek
As 2019 arrives so do the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. As of now, Senator Kamala Harris (California), Obama’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro (Texas), Representative Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii), Former Representative John Delaney (Maryland), and entrepreneur Andrew Yang (New York) have announced that they are running in the democratic primary. Senators Kristen Gillibrand (New York), Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (Indiana) are running exploratory committees. Richard Ojeda has dropped out of the race. Many expect former representative Beto O’Rourke (Texas), Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey), and former Vice President Joe Biden to announce their runs soon.
Of the candidates who have announced their bid, Sen. Kamala Harris is the front runner. Kamala Harris (54), was born in Oakland, California to a Tamil mother and Jamaican father, both immigrants. She had a syncretically religious childhood as she spent time in both a Hindu temple and a black Baptist church. At Twelve, she moved to Québec. Then when it was time for college she went to the HBCU Howard University in Washington, D.C. and on to UC Hastings to earn her Juris Doctor. Before her election to Senator in 2016, Harris served as District Attorney for San Francisco and Attorney General for California. Her most notable achievements in these positions were her efforts to give a second chance to first time nonviolent criminals and fighting financial institutions during the housing crisis.
Harris went viral during the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings in 2018 and on January 21, 2019 she announced she would be running for President. In her snappy and energetic announcement video, Harris claims she is running to maintain American values that are at stake: justice, truth, decency, and equality
Julián Castro (44) is an optimistic democrat, he believes that as long as you work hard you will be able to “thrive” in America. Castro grew up in San Antonio, Texas where his politically interested parents would take him and his twin (State Representative Joaquin Castro) to Chicano rallies. During his time as an undergraduate at Stanford he interned under President Clinton at the White House. After that he graduated from Harvard Law School and a year later in 2001 became the mayor of San Antonio. From 2014 to 2017 he served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Castro will be counting on the Latino community to support him in the primary, as shown by the emphasis on his Spanish language skills in his campaign kickoff.
Tulsi Gabbard (37) is the first Hindu and first American Samoan-born congressmember. She served in Iraq and Kuwait. Though young and a veteran, her history with the LGBT community will prove difficult for her in the primary. In the early 2000s she worked to protect “traditional” marriage and was a proponent of conversion therapy. In 2000, Tulsi said in defense of her mother (who was running for office), “we will not allow [the homosexual extremists] to force their values down the throats of the children in our schools.” In addition, in 2004 she said, “Democrats… should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists.” In 2012 she changed her views and is now a supporter of same-sex marriage. But will this recent conversion be enough to win over Democrats in the primary?
John Delaney and Andrew Yang are long-shot candidates. John Delaney has been campaigning since July 28, 2017. The focus of his campaign is the future. He wants to invest in infrastructure and technology. Representative Delaney sees that America has moved on from its days of blue collar automotive manufacturing in Detroit and must focus on being the leader in technology and more advanced manufacturing. According to him, this new and exciting technology will provide more jobs then it displaces. Delaney presents himself as an honest, hardworking, and down-to-earth guy. Though he is an older white male his approach is refreshing. He starts off his campaign ads very frankly by saying, “I’m going to tell you something you may never have heard from someone running for president before: the truth.”
Andrew Yang too has been campaigning for a while. He like Delaney has a focus on blue-collar workers. Yang notices the correlation between the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs in the Midwest and the increased Midwestern support for Trump in the 2016 election. To appeal to those who have lost their work and placed their hope in Trump, Yang proposes the Universal Basic Income Program, which would give each qualifying American family $1000 per month. Though this sounds nice it’s probably not realistic and Andrew Yang has little name recognition compared to other contenders.
Of those who are yet to announce their bids, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Representative O’Rourke seem to be the toughest challengers for Kamala Harris.