The Democratic field for the 2020 U.S. presidential race is the biggest and most diverse of any party primary in recent history.
With over 20 candidates ― and some likely to drop out as the election approaches ― it can be hard to keep track of who is in the running. Here is a breakdown of all the Democratic contenders, those who have already folded, and those who could still throw their hats into the ring.
This is a brief look at candidates’ backgrounds and stated proposals, and is not meant to be comprehensive. We urge readers to further explore the candidates at length as the election nears.
Our list will be updated regularly until the primaries, so check back to see how the Democratic field shifts in the months to come.
Who’s In The Running:
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
Bennet’s campaign plans were initially thwarted when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. But the three-term senator announced his presidential run in May after his office said he was successfully treated.
The Colorado senator said he will focus on increasing wages, protecting young undocumented immigrants and overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, among other platform initiatives.
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D)
Biden announced his candidacy in April after months of speculation. He steadily led the race for the Democratic nomination in early polling, even as several women accused him of inappropriate and unwanted touching. Biden has also faced renewed criticism over his handling of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991 when Biden was Senate Judiciary Committee chair.
Despite the controversies, Biden has declared himself “the most qualified person” to be president. He served for 36 years in the Senate and eight years as vice president under President Barack Obama. Biden lists tackling income inequality, defending the Affordable Care Act and pursuing a “humane immigration policy” as some of his platform proposals.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Booker was first elected to the Senate in 2013, becoming the first black U.S. senator from New Jersey. He previously served two terms as mayor of Newark. The junior senator is on the Judiciary Committee and gained national prominence for his tough questioning in Senate hearings, including during last year’s confirmation hearing for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Booker is a strong proponent of criminal justice reform, including reduced sentences for nonviolent offenders. He also supports the Green New Deal, “Medicare for All” and the legalization of cannabis.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D)
Bullock announced his campaign in May with a direct attack on President Donald Trump.
“We need to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 and defeat the corrupt system that lets campaign money drown out the people’s voice, so we can finally make good on the promise of a fair shot for everyone,” the Montana governor said in his campaign announcement.
Bullock has one accomplishment that no other Democrat in the running so far can claim: He is the only Democratic candidate who won a statewide office in a state that went for Trump in 2016. The two-term governor has been in office since 2013, previously serving as state attorney general.
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D)
A military veteran and former Rhodes scholar, Buttigieg has served as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012. The mayor is openly gay and devoutly Christian and has admonished Vice President Mike Pence and other evangelicals for backing Trump.
Though largely unknown outside of South Bend before this year, Buttigieg’s campaign has captured national attention and raked in millions of dollars in donations. The mayor is running on a platform that highlights defending LGBTQ rights, combating climate change with a Green New Deal, protecting reproductive rights and investing in veterans’ mental health.
Former Obama housing chief Julián Castro (D)
Castro first rose to national prominence in 2012 when, as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, he was selected to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. He joined the Obama administration as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development two years later.
The Texas native has said his first action in office would be to sign an executive order recommitting the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement. Castro also supports establishing universal pre-kindergarten education, “Medicare for All” and a ban on assault weapons.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D)
After weeks of speculation that he would run, de Blasio joined an already crowded Democratic field in May. He has won two terms as mayor of New York City and previously served as public advocate and a member of the city council.
As a presidential candidate, De Blasio is likely to highlight his progressive accomplishments as mayor, including working to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, enacting universal pre-K and free preschool, and challenging the Trump family’s New York business enterprises.
Former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.)
Delaney was the first Democrat to announce his 2020 campaign, entering the field in July 2017 ― more than a year before any other candidate. The former businessman and three-term congressman has a net worth of over $230 million from founding two major financial firms.
Delaney has pledged to only endorse bipartisan legislation in the first 100 days of his presidency, debate congressional leaders four times a year and create a Climate Corps as part of a national service program for recent high school graduates.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii)
Gabbard became the first Samoan American and first Hindu member of Congress when she was elected to the House of Representatives in 2013. She previously served in the Hawaii House of Representatives and on the Honolulu City Council. During that time, she also enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard and was deployed to Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009.
The four-term congresswoman, who has been criticized for receiving campaign donations from arms dealers, has pointed to “the issue of war and peace” as motivation for her decision to run. Other policy positions Gabbard noted upon announcing her campaign included supporting “Medicare for All,” criminal justice reform and environmental advocacy.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Gillibrand first joined the Senate by appointment from then-Gov. David Paterson (D-N.Y.) after Obama selected Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state. She had served in the House for two years after a law career that included acting as a defense attorney for tobacco company Philip Morris.
The senator has spotlighted her pro-bono law work for women and children in her 2020 bid. Gillibrand has said she would work toward affordable child care, universal pre-K, a $15 minimum wage and tax relief for low-income families if she becomes president.
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
Harris served as the California attorney general for six years before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 as the first Indian American and just the second black woman to serve in the body. A former prosecutor, Harris gained national attention for her tough questioning of Attorney General William Barr and Kavanaugh in Senate hearings.
Harris announced her presidential bid on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Her platforms include support for “Medicare for All,” reducing sentences for low-level offenders, enforcing stricter gun control laws and legalizing cannabis.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D)
Inslee became governor in 2013 and previously served for 15 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. In March, he launched the first major presidential campaign centered entirely on combating climate change. “I’m running for president because I’m the only candidate who will make defeating climate change our nation’s No. 1 priority,” he said in a video announcing his bid.
The governor has proposed a “massive, full-scale mobilization of our federal government” toward “100% clean energy” that will involve investing in renewable energy, creating zero-emissions standards for cars and buildings, and working toward carbon-neutral energy.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Klobuchar was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006 after serving as a county prosecutor. The three-term Minnesota senator received national attention for her measured response to belligerent outbursts from Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.
Klobuchar has spoken publicly about her experience growing up with a father who was addicted to alcohol. She has proposed a $100 billion plan to combat drug and alcohol addiction. The senator has also said she would support expanding Medicare, rejoining the Paris climate deal and reforming Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam (D)
Messam launched his campaign in March, saying he believed he was the best Democratic candidate to beat Trump because “mayors get the job done.” Messam was elected mayor of Miramar, located about 20 miles north of Miami, in 2015. He previously served on the city commission, and before that, started a “climate-conscious” construction company with his wife Angela.
The mayor has highlighted eliminating student loan debt as one of his top priorities, along with strengthening gun control laws and repealing tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)
An Iraq War veteran, Moulton was first elected to Congress in 2014. The congressman led an unsuccessful effort to remove Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as House Speaker in 2018 after Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Moulton has advocated for stricter gun laws, including banning civilians from owning military-style weapons. The congressman also supports the legalization of cannabis, enacting the Green New Deal and protecting voting rights. He has said he would seek to grant statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas)
O’Rourke gained prominence with an underdog U.S. Senate race last year that ended in his defeat against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. He had previously served in the House since 2013. O’Rourke has touted his fierce criticism of the war on drugs and support for the Dream Act and pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
O’Rourke has said he would use his power as president to take executive action on climate change, increase Title X funding for women’s health care and protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)
In 2003, a 29-year-old Ryan became the youngest Democrat elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He has been re-elected five times since. The congressman announced his bid for the White House in April, citing acrimonious partisanship and the decline of American manufacturing among the reasons for his run.
“The devastating stress and anxiety that comes with living paycheck to paycheck, not being able to afford to put food on the table or take your child to the doctor is making us sick and has fractured and divided our communities across the nation,” Ryan states on his campaign website. “We have to fix it.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Sanders announced in February that he would make another bid for the White House after losing the Democratic nomination in 2016 to Hillary Clinton. The Vermont senator promised his second presidential bid would be a “continuation of what we did in 2016,” noting that many of the progressive policy proposals from his campaign “are now part of the political mainstream.”
An independent who caucuses with the Democrats, Sanders has long been considered one of the most progressive members of the Senate. His platform calls for “Medicare for All” and a $15 minimum wage. He also advocates for free college tuition, lowering the costs of prescription drugs and passing the Green New Deal to combat climate change.
Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Penn.)
Sestak was first elected to the U.S. House in a Republican-dominated district in 2006 and served two terms. He held positions on the Armed Services Committee and Education and Labor Committee, and as the vice chairman of the Small Business Committee.
He was the director of defense policy on the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s, and before that, had spent roughly three decades in the Navy.
In announcing his campaign in late June, Sestak described his platform by saying: “Our country desperately needs a president with a depth of global experience and an understanding of all the elements of our nation’s power, from our economy and our diplomacy to the power of our ideals and our military, including its limitations.”
Hedge fund manager Tom Steyer (D)
Steyer, a billionaire, is the largest individual donor in Democratic politics. After telling Politico in January that he would not run ― instead focusing on his multimillion-dollar effort to impeach Trump ― Steyer announced in July that he’d changed his mind.
He had previously said he was content with the landscape of candidates challenging the president, particularly Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for her economic message and Inslee for his environmental one. But he now believes he can do better, The Atlantic reported. In particular, the outlet noted, Steyer says he can challenge Trump on his image of a self-made businessman.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Warren first joined Congress in 2013 after a long career as an academic studying bankruptcy and personal finance. Before ever being elected to public office, she served in a number of advisory roles and helped Obama oversee the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010.
Warren has called for a more aggressive form of liberal politics that would include bolstering unions, outlawing gerrymandering, cracking down on corporate money in politics and championing the middle class. Some of her policy proposals include breaking up huge tech companies like Amazon and Google, investing $100 billion to fight the opioid crisis, and making two-year and four-year public colleges free.
Author Marianne Williamson
Touted as Oprah’s spiritual adviser, Williamson is probably best known for her popular self-help books and spiritually themed talks. She ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2014 and has repeatedly spoken out against the Trump administration and what she deems the “spiritual and moral rot” in Washington.
With her presidential campaign, Williamson has pledged to “forge a new, whole-person, heart-centered political dynamic.” Some of her proposals include establishing a Department of Childhood and Youth, reentering the Paris climate agreement and investing up to $500 billion in reparations for slavery to African-American communities.
Businessman Andrew Yang (D)
Yang is a businessman and philanthropist who founded Venture for America, a nonprofit fellowship program that places recent graduates in two-year apprenticeships with startups.
The successful tech entrepreneur is running on a platform of universal basic income with the tagline “let’s put humanity first.” He has proposed a $1,000-a-month stipend for all U.S. citizens to help ease financial anxiety for the underemployed as the economy moves increasingly toward automation. He is also a proponent of universal Medicare and statehood for Puerto Rico.
Who’s Dropped Out
Former West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D)
Ojeda announced he was folding his campaign less than two weeks after he vacated his West Virginia state Senate seat to run. He was the first Democratic candidate to drop out of the race.
An Army veteran and pro-coal populist Democrat, Ojeda announced his presidential run in November after losing a congressional race against Republican Carol Miller. But in January, the former state senator said he couldn’t in good conscience ask people to donate “to a campaign that’s probably not gonna get off the ground.”
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)
After a three-month campaign that failed to gain traction, Swalwell announced in July he was exiting the presidential race and shifting his focus to running for reelection to the House.
Swalwell was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013, and before that, served for three years on the city council of Dublin, California. The congressman launched his presidential campaign in April. Swalwell focused on gun violence during his brief run and was the only candidate to favor buybacks of assault weapons.
Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska)
Gravel dropped out of the race in early August and endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).
Perhaps best known for reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record, Gravel had said he hoped to push the Democratic field to the left. But the former Alaska senator’s campaign was unorthodox from the start. His 17-year-old campaign manager at one point insisted “the senator does not want people to vote for him.”
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)
A self-proclaimed moderate Democrat, Hickenlooper folded his campaign in mid-August after participating in two Democratic primary debates over the summer.
“Today, I’m ending my campaign for president,” he said in a videotaped statement on Aug. 15. “But I will never stop believing that America can only move forward when we work together.
The announcement came as the former Colorado governor appeared unlikely to qualify for the September primary debate. Hickenlooper did not immediately announce his plans, but he said he would give thought to a run for Senate in 2020 against Sen. Cory Gardner (R).
Sara Boboltz contributed to this report.