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.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Bloomberg said in his announcement that he believed his experience “in business, government, and philanthropy will enable me to win and lead.”
A longtime registered Republican, Bloomberg has been an outspoken critic of Trump since the 2016 presidential election. He re-registered as a Democrat in October 2018, almost 20 years after he left the party.
Bloomberg served three terms as mayor of New York City with a mixed legacy that included erasing the city’s budget deficit and instituting the controversial “stop-and-frisk” police initiative, which disproportionately affected the city’s people of color.
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.
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.
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. 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.
Former Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick
Patrick, a former two-term Massachusetts governor, entered the field late in the process, announcing his candidacy on Nov. 14, just one day before the filing deadline for the New Hampshire primary.
Anonymous sources told both The Associated Press and The New York Times that Patrick was concerned the existing Democratic presidential candidates weren’t capable of uniting the party in a bid to unseat President Donald Trump. The 63-year-old currently works as a managing director at Bain Capital.
Patrick previously declared he wouldn’t seek the presidency. He told CBS he reversed course because “you can’t know if you can break through if you don’t get out there and try.”
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.
Hedge fund manager Tom Steyer
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
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).
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D)
Inslee dropped out of the race on Aug. 21, as he looked unlikely to qualify for the September debates. “It’s become clear that I’m not going to be carrying the ball, I’m not going to be the president, so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race,” he told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
The Washington governor ran the first major presidential campaign centered entirely on combating climate change. Inslee had proposed a “massive, full-scale mobilization of our federal government” toward “100% clean energy” that would involve investing in renewable energy, creating zero-emissions standards for cars and buildings, and working toward carbon-neutral energy.
“Look, I’ve been fighting climate change for 25 years, and I’ve never been so confident of the ability of America now to reach critical mass to move the ball,” Inslee told Maddow. “I believe we are going to have a candidate to fight this battle and inspire the people I met across the country.”
Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.)
Moulton dropped out of the race on Aug. 23, saying he would instead run for reelection to Congress and campaign his “ass off for whoever wins our nomination in 2020.”
“Today, I want to use this opportunity, with all of you here, to announce that I am ending my campaign for president,” he said in a prepared statement. “Though this campaign is not ending the way we hoped, I am leaving this race knowing that we raised issues that are vitally important to the American people and our future.”
Moulton, an Iraq War veteran, 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.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
“It’s important to know when it’s not your time and to know how you can best serve your community and country,” she said in an announcement video. “I believe I can best serve by helping to unite us to beat Donald Trump in 2020.”
The New York senator and former attorney framed her campaign as a fight to return to “America’s values,” highlighting her anti-Trump record and past political advocacy and legislation. She spotlighted her pro-bono law work for women and children and said she would work toward affordable child care, defend abortion rights and curb gun violence.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D)
De Blasio dropped out of the race on Sept. 20, saying, “It’s clearly not my time.”
The New York City mayor joined an already-crowded Democratic field in May and failed to gain traction as a candidate. Upon exiting the race, de Blasio said he would support whoever becomes the Democratic nominee. But he added: “I do believe we need a progressive.”
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)
“I got into this race in April to really give voice to the forgotten people of our country. I look forward to continuing that fight,” the Ohio congressman said in a Twitter announcement.
Ryan also didn’t make the cut for the September debate, struggling to gain traction in a Democratic field of over 20 candidates.
The congressman announced his bid for the White House in April, citing acrimonious partisanship and the decline of American manufacturing among his reasons to run.
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas)
O’Rourke dropped out of the race in early November as his polling numbers and fundraising dwindled in a crowded Democratic field.
In a blog post explaining his decision, the former Texas congressman said dropping out was “in the best interests of this party as we seek to unify around a nominee; and it is in the best interests of the country.”
O’Rourke gained prominence with an underdog U.S. Senate race in 2018 that ended in his defeat against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. He had previously served in the House since 2013. O’Rourke touted his fierce criticism of the war on drugs and support for the Dream Act and pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Miramar, Florida, Mayor Wayne Messam
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.
Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.)
The three-star admiral announced his decision in an email, telling supporters that he couldn’t fairly continue to seek contributions for a campaign that hasn’t shown viability.
“Without the privilege of national press, it is unfair to ask others to husband their resolve and to sacrifice resources any longer,” he said.
Sestak was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in a Republican-dominated district in 2006, and he 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, he spent roughly three decades in the Navy.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D)
Bullock was the lone Democratic candidate who won a statewide office in a state that voted for Trump in 2016, a fact he used to argue that he could win over Republican voters to defeat Trump in 2020.
“I entered this race as a voice to win back the places we lost, bridge divides and rid our system of the corrupting influence of Dark Money,” Bullock said in a statement. “While the concerns that propelled me to enter in the first place have not changed, I leave this race filled with gratitude and optimism, inspired and energized by the good people I’ve had the privilege of meeting over the course of the campaign.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
Harris exited the race in early December, saying her decision was based on her campaign’s financial struggles.
“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” the California senator said in an email to supporters. “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”
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.
Sara Boboltz, Andy Campbell and Ryan Grenoble contributed to this report.