2020 Presidential Candidates

List of Potential Contenders to Run Against Donald Trump

Trump oath
President Donald Trump takes the oath of office as his wife Melania holds the bible. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Call it the endless campaign, but 2020 presidential candidates are already beginning to woo voters, tap donors and build coalitions in what has become a nonstop race for the White House in modern politics. Their work began within weeks of Donald Trump taking the oath of office as the nation's 45th president. 

Here's an early look at the Democrats, and even members of Trump's own Republican Party, who are looking to unseat the controversial commander-in-chief.

Republican Donald Trump (Declared)

Donald Trump
Donald Trump financed part of his 2016 presidential campaign on his own. Scott Olson/Getty Images News

This one's pretty obvious. Or is it?

There are, of course, lots of one-term presidents — but only those who have been unceremoniously ejected from office after losing re-election. Few sitting presidents have decided to voluntarily quit the job after the first few years: James K. Polk, Calvin Coolidge and Lyndon B. Johnson

Trump might be the modern first president to call it quits after one term, his fellow Republicans speculated during his first year in the White House. 

"Four years is a long time, and especially for someone who has not spent a lifetime in politics, so I think those years affect him differently," said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in the 2016 election. "So I'm sure the president will make whatever decision is best for him and his family and the country.”

"If he runs again I would support him, yes, but I'm not so sure what will happen," Christie said.

The controversies Trump has endured, particularly the independent investigation into whether his campaign colluded with the Russians to influence the election, appeared to take their toll, the president's allies suggested.

So will he or won't he run again? History and tradition suggest he will. But Trump's presidency has been anything but traditional.

Republican John Kasich

Ohio Gov. John Kasich
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former member of Congress, is a Republican who ran for president in 2016. Scott Olson/Getty Images News

Ohio Gov. John Kasich continues to be a thorn in Trump's side and is among the most prominent members of the president's own party to routinely criticize his behavior and his policies. 

There are plenty of other reasons to believe Kasich is planning to run in 2020. He's written and published a book, like many presidents have done before him. He's not allowed to run for another term as governor in 2018, so he'll be looking for another job. He never made peace with Trump and wrote in Sen. John McCain's name for president in 2016.

Also: his campaign committee is still alive and well. 

Even if Trump decides to run for a second term, it is entirely possible the president will face a challenge from within his own party, and Kasich has positioned himself as a sort of anti-Trump who appeals to mainstream members of the GOP and has lots of governing cred.

Republican Joe Walsh (Declared)

Photograph of former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Illinois)
Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Illinois). Wikimedia Commons

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Illinois) announced on August 25 that he would challenge President Trump and if what he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos is any indication, it will be a fiery confrontation. “He (Trump) lies every time he opens his mouth,” Walsh said. “I'm running because he’s unfit, somebody needs to step up, and there needs to be an alternative.”

Now a conservative radio host, Walsh was elected to the House in 2010 and served one term. Then a part of the ultra-right Tea Party wave, Walsh admitted he had been a strong supporter of President Trump. "I regret that. And I’m sorry for that,” he said. “The country is sick of this guy's tantrum. He's a child. Again, the litany. He lies every time he opens his mouth.”

In a tweet announcing his campaign, Walsh said the U.S. “can't take four more years of Donald Trump,” adding, “"It won't be easy, but bravery is never easy."

Republican Mark Sanford (Declared)

Color photograph of former U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford
Former U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford. Mary Ann Chastain / Getty Images

Former U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina said that Republicans have "lost our way,” in announcing on September 9, that he would will launch a primary bid challenging President Trump. Sanford served in Congress from 1995 to 2001, and again from 2013 to 2019. He was also South Carolina's governor from 2003 to 2011.

Interviewed on “Fox News Sunday,” Sanford explained, “I think we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican.” He criticized President Trump's leadership style, suggesting the GOP should focus more on spending and the debt, warning the country is headed toward "the most significant financial storm" since the Great Depression."

“I think we need to have a conversation on humility and one's approach to politics," Sanford said. "At the end of the day, a tweet is interesting, maybe newsworthy, but it's not leadership. And we’re not gonna solve some of the profound problems that we have as Americans by tweet.”

Democrat Tom Steyer (Declared)

Photo of Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer seated in a classroom
Democratic Presidential Candidate Tom Steyer. Wikimedia Commons

Best known for his self-financed nationwide campaign to impeach President Trump, billionaire Democrat Tom Steyer launched his presidential campaign on July 9, 2019. In his announcement video, Steyer echoed the message shared by Democratic candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as President Trump, that too many Americans feel the government deck is stacked against them. “Really, what we're doing is trying to make democracy work by pushing power down to the people,” he said before listing corruption and family cronyism in politics, along with climate change as his main issues.

Democrat Bernie Sanders (Declared)

Sen. Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Phil Roeder/Flickr.com

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a strong following, particularly among younger, more liberal members of the Democratic Party. He gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money during the intraparty battle for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination by drawing large crowds with his passionate speeches about income inequality in the corrupting influence of money in the American political system.

Democrat Elizabeth Warren (Declared)

Elizabeth Warren
Democratic U.S. Sen Elizabeth Warren is considered to be a strong choice for the presidential nomination in 2020. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Elizabeth Warren is a U.S. senator from Massachusetts who was rumored to have been on Hillary Clinton's short list of potential running mates in the 2016 election. She has earned a reputation as a consumer advocate and advocate for the middle class because of her expertise in bankruptcy and the economic pressures facing many Americans. She, like Sanders, has taken a tough stance against Wall Street. Sen. Warren officially announced her candidacy on February 9, 2019, after a contentious week of dodging flack over her disputed claim of Native American ancestry.

Republican Mike Pence

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is picture here speaking in 2015.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump chose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be his running mate in the 2016 election. Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images Stringer

Yes, you read the right. Trump's right-hand man, his running-mate in 2016, his loyal defender in the White House, Mike Pence. The sitting vice president was reportedly "cultivating some of the party’s most prominent donors, courting conservative interest groups" and carefully enhancing his profiles as part of a "shadow campaign for 2020," The New York Times reported in the summer of 2017.

Pence was said to be preparing a campaign in the event Trump declined to run again, or was not able to run again.

Democrat Joe Biden (Declared)

Vice President Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden is sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in January 2013. Mark Wilson/Getty Images News

Two-term vice president under Barack Obama, former U.S. Senator Joe Biden announced his long-anticipated candidacy in a video released on April 25, 2019. “We are in a battle for the soul of this nation,” Biden states in the video, adding, “The core values of this nation … our standing in the world … our very democracy . . . everything that has made America—America—is at stake.”

Long a vocal critic of President Trump, Biden has supported legislation to address climate change, opposed Trump’s immigration policies, and supported LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and the rights of transgender persons to serve in the military. Ideologically, Biden is viewed as a centrist whose policies reflect an emphasis on bipartisanship. 

Republican Tom Cotton

Tom Cotton
Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton is said to be weighing a run for president in 2020. Alex Wong/Getty Images News

Tom Cotton is a U.S. senator from Arkansas who made headlines early in 2017 when he traveled to Iowa, home to the famed Iowa Caucuses, to attend a fundraiser for a local Republican committee. In a speech to more than 100 Republicans gathered there, Cotton said: “I’m ready for that new beginning." Many political observers believe Cotton was implying he was planning to campaign for president in 2020, but he denied it to reporters, saying he was merely looking forward to his Senate re-election campaign that year.

Democrat Kamala Harris (Declared)

2020 Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris Launches Presidential Campaign. Mason Trinca / Getty Images

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, former Attorney General of California, would be the first African-American woman and the first Asian-American woman to win a major party presidential nomination. She joins Shirley Chisholm and Carol Moseley Braun as two African-American women who previously sought to run on the Democratic ticket. In announcing her candidacy, Harris noted her close relationship with party luminaries Sen. Dianne Feinstein and former Vice President Joe Biden. “I have the unique experience of having been a leader in local government, state government, and federal government,” she said regarding her credentials. “The American public wants a fighter ... and I’m prepared to do that.”

Republican Ben Sasse

Ben Sasse
Republican U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse is said to be considering a run for president in 2020. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Ben Sasse is a U.S. senator from Nebraska and one of the strongest Republican critics of Trump. Sasse, once described as an "arrogant academic," has been asked repeatedly whether he is planning a direct challenge to Trump, and he has not explicitly denied it. Sasse, too, has written a book, The Vanishing American Adult.

Democrat Cory Booker (Declared)

Cory Booker
Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is said to be on the short list of potential challengers to Donald Trump in 2020. Drew Angered/Getty Images

Cory Booker, a U.S. senator from New Jersey, is a former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who many believe began laying the groundwork for a 2020 candidacy when he testidied against a colleague in the U.S. Senate, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who was nominated for attorney general by Trump in 2017. Booker's speech in opposition to his colleague was likened to former President Barack Obama's soaring rhetoric.

Said Booker:

“If confirmed, Senator Sessions will be required to pursue justice for women, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the equal rights of gay and lesbian and transgender Americans, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend voting rights, but his record indicates that he won’t. He will be expected to defend the rights of immigrants and affirm their human dignity, but the record indicates that he won’t.”

Republican Bill Weld (Declared)

Portrait of Bill Weld
Portrait of Bill Weld. Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Former Republican Governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld broke into presidential politics when he ran as the Libertarian Party’s nominee for vice president in the 2016 election, sharing the ticket with Gary Johnson. The pair won 4.5 million popular votes, the best showing ever for a Libertarian ticket. Once again a Republican, Weld announced that he had formed a 2020 presidential exploratory committee on February 15, 2019. Weld has been critical of President Donald Trump’s economic policy and personality, accused him of working harder on dividing the people than on reducing the federal deficit or reducing unemployment.

Democrat Julian Castro (Declared)

Julian Castro picture
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gives the keynote address on day one of the Democratic National Convention in August 2012. Joe Raedle/Getty Images News

Julián Castro is a Hispanic politician and rising star in the Democratic Party. He served as the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and later earned a position in President Barack Obama's cabinet. Castro has been described as the "Latino Obama" and is often described as having the potential to become the first Latino president. Castro has launched a  political action committee, “Opportunity First,” fueling speculation that he is weighing a run in 2020. 

Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand (Withdrawn)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) Announces She's a Candidate for President. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Widely known for her #MeToo social media advocacy for survivors of sexual violence, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has announced an exploratory committee for a run for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Announcing her candidacy on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Gillibrand stated her intention bring Democrats and Republicans together. “You have to start by restoring what’s been lost, restoring our leadership in the world,” she said. Gillibrand has state her belief that the future of the Democratic Party depends on harnessing the power of women. “I’m going to run for president of the United States because as a young mom I am going to fight for other people’s kids as hard as I would fight for my own,’’ she said.

Democrat John Delaney (Declared)

John K. Delaney, U.S. Representative from Maryland
John K. Delaney, U.S. Representative from Maryland. United States Congress / Public Domain

A U.S. Representative from Maryland, John K. Delaney calls himself a “solutions-oriented moderate” who received the top score of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign for his support of equality-related legislation. “No one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love,” he stated of the rating. Delaney has stated that if elected, he would support an increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 23% “to raise about $200 billion for infrastructure.”

Democrat Tulsi Gabbard (Declared)

US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Tulsi Gabbard speaks at Bernie Sanders 'A future to believe in San Francisco. Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images

Tulsi Gabbard, a U.S. Representative from Hawaii, strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and led protests against it arguing that it would largely benefit multinational corporations at the expense of American workers while actively contributing to threats to the environment, such as global warming. Gabbard supports universal health care, making community college tuition-free for all Americans, and increasing the hourly federal minimum wage to $15 nationwide. 

Democrat Amy Klobuchar (Declared)

US Senator Amy Klobuchar
Sen. Klobuchar addresses Pro-Equality Members of 116th Congress. Getty Images Entertainment

First elected in 2006, Amy Klobuchar is the Senior U.S. Senator and first female Senator from Minnesota. Considered a “rising star” of the Democratic Party, her political positions have generally been along liberal lines. She supports LGBT rights and the full restoration of Obamacare, and is strongly pro-choice on abortion. Due to her staunch support of Roe v. Wade, Klobuchar opposed President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Democrat Beto O'Rourke (Withdrawn)

Beto O'Rourke
Beto O'Rourke speaks onstage at Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

Beto O'Rourke served as a U.S. Representative from Texas from 2013 to 2019. He gained nationwide notoriety and significant support among Democrats when he almost unseated heavily-favored Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate race. Saying he does not know exactly where he falls on the political spectrum, O'Rourke had been variously classified as a progressive, liberal, or centrist. In Congress, has sponsored bipartisan bills as well as broken with his party on issues like trade. He has been given an 88% rating by the American Civil Liberties Union, but only a 44% rating from the more conservative United States Chamber of Commerce.

Democrat Jay Inslee (Declared)

Official portrait of Washington state governor Jay Inslee.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. Public Domain

In announcing his candidacy on March 1, 2019, Washington State’s Democratic Governor, Jay Inslee stressed what he called the “existential threat” of climate change to the safety and security of the United States. As governor, Inslee emphasized climate change, education, and drug policy reform, and gained national attention for his criticism of President Trump. In 2017, he filed a lawsuit that succeeded in temporarily blocking implementation of Trump’s terrorism-related executive order banning Syrian refugees from entering the United States. 

Democrat John Hickenlooper (Withdrawn)

John Hickenlooper during the World Economic Forum 2013
John Hickenlooper During the World Economic Forum 2013. Wikimedia Commons

Colorado’s two-term governor John Hickenlooper joined the sprawling field of Democratic hopefuls on March 4, 2019. As governor, the 66-year-old former brewpub owner and Denver mayor persuaded several Republican mayors to support a tax hike to fund a rail network around Denver, limited methane emissions from energy exploration, backed and signed gun control laws, and expanded the state’s Medicaid program. Since 2003, Hickenlooper has campaigned for increasing state services to the homeless. In 2006, he opposed a ballot initiative which decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use in Denver.

Democrat Pete Buttigieg (Declared)

Portrait of Pete Buttigieg
Portrait of Pete Buttigieg. Wikimedia Commons

Describing himself as “a millennial Mayor, Afghanistan war veteran, and husband,” Pete Buttigieg is also the first openly gay, and at just 37, the youngest candidate to ever run for president. Serving as the 32nd mayor of South Bend, Indiana since 2012, the Washington Post has called him “the most interesting Mayor you’ve never heard of” and President Obama named him one of four Democrats who best represented the future of the Democratic Party.

Democrat Andrew Yang (Declared)

Portrait of Andrew Yang
Portrait of Andrew Yang. Wikimedia Commons

An entrepreneur known for his nonprofit Venture for America, Andrew Yang’s platform includes giving all adult U.S. citizens $1,000 month in a universal basic income he calls a “Freedom Dividend.” His campaign website states, “Every U.S. citizen over the age of 18 would receive $1,000 a month, regardless of income or employment status, free and clear.” He also proposes regulating the addictive nature of media, adding a White House Psychologist, and making Tax Day a national holiday. His campaign slogan is “Humanity First.”

Democrat Marianne Williamson (Declared)

Photograph of Marianne Williamson
Marianne Williamson. Wikimedia Commons

As the well-known author of more than a dozen self-help and spirituality books, Marianne Williamson of California has campaigned for the rights of gay men with AIDS and created a charity that now supplies meals to people with serious illnesses. In 2014, then an Independent, Williamson ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives. As a presidential candidate, Williamson has proposed paying $100 billion in reparations for slavery, with $10 billion to be distributed annually over a decade for economic and education projects. On her campaign website, she states: “We need a moral and spiritual awakening in the country … Nothing short of that is adequate to fundamentally change the patterns of our political dysfunction.”

Democrat Michael Bennet (Declared)

Photo of US Senator Michael Bennet
US Senator Michael Bennet. United States Senate / Public Domain

Colorado’s Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet would join Governor John Hickenlooper as the second Colorado Democrat in the 2020 race for president. Bennet gained national exposure for his stinging rebuke of Texas’ Democratic Sen. Ted Cruz on the Senate floor during the record-setting government shutdown driven by President Trump’s border wall funding demand. While he opposes Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan, Bennet has proposed “Medicare X,” which would “create a public option modeled after Medicare alongside private options on the ObamaCare marketplaces.” A cosponsor of the Dream Act of 2017, Bennet is a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform.

Democrat Seth Moulton (Withdrawn)

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass.
Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

When he entered the race on April 22, Massachusetts’ Democratic Sen. Seth Moulton told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that “I’m running because I’m a patriot, because I believe in this country and because I’ve never wanted to sit on the sidelines when it comes to serving it.” Considered a moderate, Moulton has supported legalizing marijuana, same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and stronger gun control. An Iraq War veteran himself, Moulton has encouraged other veterans to run for Congress. Most recently, he released his “National Service Education” plan to encourage young Americans to serve their country and has promised, if elected, create a job-rich “Federal Green Corps.”

Democrat Wayne Messam (Declared)

Portrait of Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam
Florida Mayor Wayne Messam. City of Miramar, Florida / Public Domain

As Miramar, Florida’s first African American mayor, Wayne Messam joined the field of Democratic presidential contenders on March 28. A former wide receiver on the 1993 national championship winning Florida State University football team, Messam is an advocate for the long-forgotten American dream, according to his campaign website. In a video, Messam says the American dream, shared by his Jamaican immigrant parents is “real” to him. “I'm passionate about the American dream because it's not a fictitious thing for me,” he states. As mayor, he passed a living minimum wage ordinance and sued the State of Florida to allow mayors to advocate for gun control legislation. As part of his plan to revive the American dream, Messam supports the cancellation of the nation’s $1.5 trillion in student debt. 

Democrat Tim Ryan (Withdrawn)

Portrait of Rep. Tim Ryan
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio). Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, first elected to Congress in 2003, announced his presidential bid on April 4, 2019. Appearing on ABC's “The View,” Ryan described himself as a progressive “who knows how to talk to working-class people.” Believing he can win in Ohio and other key states with many working-class voters, Ryan said, “That means Donald Trump is going back to Mar-a-Lago full time.” A critic of President Trump’s immigration police and supporter of preserving Obamacare, Ryan stated, “The country is divided,” adding. “We can't get anything done because of these huge divisions that we have.” 

Democrat Eric Swalwell (Withdrawn)

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell.

 United States Congress / Public Domain

Rep. Swalwell withdrew his candidacy on July 8, 2019. 

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell of California joins the ever-growing field of Democratic hopefuls as one of President Trump’s most outspoken critics in Congress. Serving in Congress since 2012, Swalwell has advocated for increasing school funding, while cutting defense spending. He has stated that as president would protect Social Security by requiring wealthier Americans would pay more into the program. Staunchly pro-choice on abortion, he also supports same-sex marriage. A vocal advocate of strict gun control, Swalwell has called for a mandatory buyback program of “military-style semi-automatic assault weapons,” with the prosecution of gun owners who fail to comply. 

Democrat Steve Bullock (Declared)

Montana Governor Steve Bullock
Montana Governor Steve Bullock.

Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain


Montana’s Democratic governor Steve Bullock declared his candidacy in a video released on May 14, 2019. In his video, Bullock suggests that as the only Democrat in the race to have won an election in a traditionally Republican state, he was particularly able to defeat President Trump in 2020. Bullock was elected to his second term as Montana’s governor on the same night in 2016 that Trump won the state in a landslide. Bullock embraces the core Democratic platform of protecting abortion rights, addressing climate change, stricter gun control laws, and LBGT rights. “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,” Bullock said in his announcement. 

Democrat Bill de Blasio (Withdrawn)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his candidacy on May 16, 2019, via a video featuring his campaign slogan “Working People First.” Mayor de Blasio goes on to take aim at President Trump stating, “Donald Trump must be stopped. I've beaten him before and I will do it again.” Hoping to defy poor early polling numbers and limited campaign funding, believes his platform’s foundation of ending financial inequality will resonate with working-class voters. “I’m Bill de Blasio and I’m running for president because it’s time we put working people first,” he stated.

Democrat Deval Patrick (Declared)

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick speaking from a podium
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick attends the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal Ceremony. Paul Marotta / Contributor / Getty Images

Former Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts announced his candidacy on November 14, 2019. A late-comer to the race, Patrick was the first black governor of Massachusetts, and was one of President Barack Obama’s biggest supporters and political advisers.

"I've had the chance to live my American dream," he said in announcement video Thursday morning. "But over the years, I've seen the path to that dream closing off bit by bit. The anxiety and even anger that I saw in my neighbors on the South Side, the sense that the government and the economy were letting us down, were no longer about us, is what folks feel all over America today in all kinds of communities."

Of the 2020 election, Patrick stated, “This time is about more than removing an unpopular and divisive leader—as important as that is—but about delivering instead for you,” he said, while recognizing the difficulty of that task. “We will build as we climb ... this won't be easy.”

Updated by Robert Longley