The Insider's guide to the 2020 Democratic primary

By
The Editors
on
October 24, 2019
Category:
Election 2020

Nearly 80% of the 351 Vassar students who responded to our poll last month said they are “very likely” to vote in the 2020 presidential primary. Over 90% said they are some degree of likely. And yet, nearly a third of respondents said they were paying a little attention, barely any attention or no attention at all to the presidential race. Just a quarter said they were paying a lot of attention.

As part of our effort to improve Vassar students’ political awareness, the VPR wants to make sure that our peers have ample information on the Democratic presidential candidates when they go into the voting booth next year. That’s why the VPR editors have written this guide to the major Democratic candidates.

Joe Biden

RealClearPolitics Average: 28.7%
VPR Poll: 4.3%

Who he is

Joe Biden’s life in public service began well before his eight years as President Obama’s Vice President. After graduating from the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law, Biden served as a defense attorney and then County Council Member from 1968-1972. He went on to be elected to the US Senate, defeating incumbent Delaware Senator J. Caleb Boggs in an upset in 1973. He served in that role until 2009, during which time he ran for President twice—in 1988 and 2008.

Though Biden is widely considered to be one of the most centrist candidates of the 2020 Democratic field–he has sponsored myriad progressive bills throughout his years on Capitol Hill. These include bills ending harsher penalties for crack versus powder cocaine and criminalizing domestic violence. He was instrumental in pushing Obama to support same-sex marriage during their time in the White House.

Biden’s rigorous campaign focuses on defeating Donald Trump and steering America back towards its moralistic roots. In his announcement video, Biden employed some of the strongest anti-Trump rhetoric of any primary candidate so far, citing the Neo-Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville—and Trump’s response—as the catalyst for his presidential bid.

How he can win

The current frontrunner, Biden’s eight years as Vice President, during which he “generated goodwill” nationwide, as Time Magazine puts it, have given him near-total name recognition. Biden is popular with the white, working-class (in many cases Obama-to-Trump) voters who are key to winning the general election.

Biden’s comparative advantage is the electorate’s traditional view of electability: he is thought by many to be the only Democratic candidate capable of defeating Trump, with Democrats who, above all, fear a second Trump term being especially eager to support him.

Why he should win

Biden is pro-LGBTQ rights, he’s pro-choice, he’s pro-women’s rights, he’s pro-green energy—in fact, he has the “longest legislative record on climate change” of all other candidates—he’s pro-convicts’ rights, he’s pro-gun control. The list of progressive bona fides goes on and on.

No, the Democrats’ number one priority is not to elect a youthful, new face; according to polls, it is to elect a candidate who is tough, sensible, and good-hearted. Biden’s eight years in the West Wing have proven him to be all of these things. He “has a path,” as Politico puts it, “that diverges from left-wing and right-wing populism.” If you’re looking for a candidate to unify the country, Biden might be your man.

Fun fact

In 2017, Obama presented Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his dedication to the public sector. The medal was awarded with Distinction, an “additional honor given only to Pope John Paul II, former president Ronald Reagan, and retired General Colin Powell in the previous three administrations.”

Elizabeth Warren

RealClearPolitics Average: 22.1%
VPR Poll: 38.7%

Who she is
In 2013, Elizabeth Warren was elected as the first female US Senator from Massachusetts. As a member of the Democratic Party and a vocal progressive, Warren has been leading the way in progressive politics as a policy leader and as chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

Warren grew up in Oklahoma in a middle-class family that often struggled with economic hardship, and she has drawn on that during her political career. Warren received her undergraduate degree from the University of Houston and her law degree from Rutgers University. After that, Warren taught law for thirty years at six different universities, including Harvard Law School.

She’s since become a champion of the middle-class during her career, often saying that the political system is rigged against the disadvantaged. During the 2008 financial crisis, Warren was asked to serve on the Chair of Congressional Oversight Panel. Arguably the cornerstone of her pre-Senate career is her role in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2011. She originally proposed the CFPB, an agency aimed at writing and enforcing rules for financial firms to protect consumers in the wake of the 2008 recession.

How she can win

Warren’s biggest advantages are her strong public speaking skills, her robust policy acumen and her appeal to the middle class. Emphasizing her Midwestern, middle-class background, Warren appeals to a whole demographic of voters that often feel politically invisible. Warren is also known for coming off as genuine and folksy during her speeches, which appeals to many people who feel distrustful of the government.

With her combination of progressive views and trust from the Democratic establishment–something that fellow progressive Bernie Sanders lacks–she could just be the perfect candidate to build a coalition of 2016 Sanders and Clinton voters.

Why she should win

Warren’s work to help the economically disadvantaged working-class and her calls for structural economic changes offers Democratic voters an achievable vision for the progress they so desperately want. Her inspirational message calling for dramatic changes to the current political system–such as lobbying reform to eliminate corruption in Washington and scrapping the filibuster–is refreshing and inspiring for many people frustrated with the inertia and unaccountability of Washington.

Warren seems to have also been able to inspire and energize a wide swath of Democratic voters unlike any other candidate. Her charisma and sunny disposition, albeit with a realistic outlook, offer rare optimism in a dark political era.

Fun fact

Warren was the star of her high school debate team at Northwest Classen High School and won the state debate championship. She received a debate scholarship to George Washington University at age 16, where she attended for two years before dropping out to marry her high school sweetheart.

Bernie Sanders

RealClearPolitics Average: 16.7%
VPR Poll: 38.7%

Who he is

Bernie Sanders– an independent senator from Vermont– is a front-runner among the democratic presidential candidates. Born and raised in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn, Sanders attended one year at Brooklyn College before earning a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Chicago. Upon starting his political career, Sanders made multiple unsuccessful bids for governor of Vermont and for the US Congress. In 1991, Sanders was elected to the House of Representatives and was subsequently reelected seven times. As a self-described democratic socialist, Sanders went on to win a Senate seat in 2006. Throughout his time in Congress, Sanders has pushed for social-welfare and tax reforms in addition to supporting bills concerning climate change. During his bid for President in 2016, Sanders surprised many Americans by coming close to Hillary Clinton. While he was not elected to be the democratic candidate, Sanders captured the attention of young voters and remains a powerful force in support of progressive politics.

How he can win

With a strong fundraising base that carried over from his 2016 presidential campaign, Sanders is no longer considered an underdog in the race. Sanders inspires many of the younger voters of the US as he fights for policy that would make a meaningful difference in the lives of many Americans. If Sanders’ 2016 campaign slogan was “Feel the Bern,” Time says that this time around it is to feel the pain: “It is a campaign about stress and anxiety, about tens of millions of people suffering alone, together.” Sanders acknowledges these sufferings along his campaign trail and aims to focus on policy that will positively impact the people. He frames his 2020 campaign with the slogan, “Not Me. Us.”

Why he should win

Throughout his political career, Sanders has pushed for universal, government-provided health care, espousing medicare for all. By raising taxes for those making over $250,000 a year, Sanders would use that money to fund his healthcare plan. He is also campaigning for free tuition at public colleges and universities, stricter gun laws and regulations, and would charge companies for carbon emissions. In addition, Sanders aims to break up big banks and open up the Federal Reserve, which will push banks to loan more money to smaller businesses.

Fun Fact

Last year, Levi Sanders– Bernie Sanders’ son– ran in the primaries for a swing seat in New Hampshire’s 1st District. The elder Sanders, who doesn’t believe in dynastic politics or nepotism, refused to endorse his son. Levi ended up receiving less that 2% of votes, and while it was a long-shot campaign to begin with, some wonder whether Bernie Sanders’ lack of support, framed in terms of morality, contributed to Levi’s loss.

Pete Buttigieg

RealClearPolitics Average: 6.4%
VPR Poll: 8.3%

Who he is

Pete Buttigeig (pronounced BOOT-edge-edge) is the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a Harvard College graduate and former Rhodes Scholar, and a former consultant for McKinsey & Company and US Navy Reserve officer who served a seven-month tour in Afghanistan in 2014. At the age or 37, Buttigieg is the youngest serious Democratic candidate for president.

Buttiegieg is currently serving his second term as Mayor of South Bend. In the runup to his reelection, Buttiegieg came out as gay. He is a Christian, and has also mentioned that his faith has had a major influence in his life. He has taught himself some level of several languages, including Norwegian, Italian, Spanish, Maltese (the language of his father’s home country), Arabic, and French. The rest of Buttigieg’s resume is filled with accomplishments and awards, a major draw for his candidacy.

How he can win

Buttigeig’s myriad academic accomplishments, youth, sexuality, and general attitudes about politics put him in stark contrast with the current president, and the rest of the Democratic field. Many voters are looking for someone they can trust–who is smart and experienced in domestic and global issues, but also connected to everyday American lives.

Buttigieg, fits this description. He is a multilingual Rhodes Scholar and Harvard grad, as well as a military veteran, a lifelong Christian, a mayor of a small town, and an openly gay man. Buttigeig is able to be many things to many different people. He makes sure to emphasize his vision for an America of civic and local virtue, while also highlighting his progressive policies–from ending the Electoral College, overturning the Citizens United decision, and expanding the Supreme Court, to reducing income inequality and instituting a carbon tax.

Why he should win

First of all, unlike Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, Buttigieg has little to no risk of dying while in office. Furthermore, unlike Elizabeth Warren or Sanders, Buttigieg has a history of being fiscally conservative and describes himself as a democratic capitalist (as opposed to a “socialist”).

Admittedly, much of his policies reflect his “democratic socialist” rivals’, but his terminology could make the difference if he ever faces Donald Trump on the debate stage, where he would be impervious to the predictable name calling. Buttigieg has set himself up as someone who is forward-thinking and fast on his feet, able to make good decisions as issues arise. In this sense, Buttigieg edges out his opponents.

Fun fact

Buttigieg said in April that he and his husband Chasten are planning to have a baby at some point, stating “We’re hoping to have a little one soon” but conceding that running for President has “slowed down the path a little bit” to becoming a parent.

Kamala Harris

RealClearPolitics Average: 5.4%
VPR Poll: 6.3%

Who she is

The junior senator from California has made a big name for herself after only two full years in Congress, and the Golden State Democratic starlet has shown herself to be a contender in the polls, hovering at around 5th in the pack of 20 candidates.

A two-term District Attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California, Harris is deeply nested in the legal arena—although her past tough-on-crime stances have drawn friction against her current progressive proposals. In her time in state government, Harris focused on strengthening and streamlining the criminal justice system while tackling issues from truancy to the state’s mortgage crisis.

Born to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Harris draws on her uniquely multicultural background as one of the backbones of her character and tends to capture audiences with her strong oratorical presence, earning her the reputation of a commanding leader with lofty dreams for a more inclusive future.

How she can win

Harris’ more measured past makes many progressive Democrats worry that she may not have what it takes to bring her dreams to fruition. On the other hand, moderates are wary of her current progressive rhetoric and big-government proposals. If she can successfully marry the two, she could emerge as a powerful pick with equally powerful ideals who manages to stay grounded in middle-of-the-road America.

If she can pull off a win in her home state of California and heavily African-American South Carolina, two early and potent primaries, Harris could be well on her way to amassing an impressive delegate count.

Why she should win

From her co-sponsorship of the Equality Act in the Senate to the ruthless war she waged against big banks—winning $26 billion in debt reduction for homeowners—as Attorney General, Harris has proven time and time again that she’s unafraid to pursue what’s right.

Assured of the need for a just and inclusive government deserved by an incredibly diverse electorate, we can be sure that a President Harris would stop at little to award women, the LGBT community, immigrants, and racial minorities with higher levels of equality and representation.

Does it sound like I’ve been harping on about equality for a long time? That’s because equality is, in essence, the foundation of Kamala Harris’ candidacy.

Fun fact

Kamala (pronounced comma-la) is the Sanskrit word for lotus, as well as the Hindu goddess of wealth and good fortune. Her sister’s namesake is yet another Hindu goddess, because according to their mother, Shymala, a cancer researcher, “a culture that worships goddesses produces strong women”—strong women, indeed!

Andrew Yang

RealClearPolitics Average: 2.6%
VPR Poll: 6.3%

Who he is

Andrew Yang comes from one of the least typical professional backgrounds of any Democratic presidential candidate. Born to Taiwanese immigrant parents in Upstate New York, Yang went on to earn a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. After several years in corporate law, he worked in various private sector companies–including a healthcare software company, MMF Systems, and a test prep company, Manhattan Prep–before co-founding the non-profit Venture for America (VFA) in 2011. VFA aims to recruit top American college graduates to work for and found startups across the country, as opposed to working for large corporations clustered in a few metropoles. He stepped down as CEO of VFA in 2017 in order to run for president.

To say the least, Andrew Yang is a long-shot candidate. When he first announced his campaign, his name recognition was negligible, but since then, his candidacy has achieved some notoriety for its uniqueness. Yang’s signature issue is what he calls the “Freedom Dividend,” a form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) for Americans aged 18-64 in response to the automation of the workforce. The Freedom Dividend would guarantee a monthly income of $1,000 to all Americans who do not receive another form of government aid. This kind of proposal could win him some support on the left of the Democratic Party, but his willingness to identify as a capitalist combined with his softer rhetoric on big business compared to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren might not appeal to self-described “democratic socialists.”

How he can win:

Yang has tried to carve out a niche for himself with the Freedom Dividend and other unorthodox policy proposals. He also has a massive presence on social media, especially platforms with a young audience such as Reddit. His social media presence in addition to the Freedom Dividend mean that Yang’s biggest appeal could be to young voters, who typically skew left. Though he is not running a “blow up the system” outsider campaign, his outsider status does make his appeal to the establishment quite limited. That being said, Yang has a not-insignificant base of support from independents, Libertarians, and Republicans.

Why he should win:

Andrew Yang’s policies make him thoroughly unique among the Democratic candidates. Yang may seem to some to be an outlandish candidate. However, by looking to the future through a pragmatic lens, he distinguishes himself from the truly outlandish plans proposed and supported by many of his opponents. He also gives well-earned attention to the bloated and inefficient federal bureaucracy. In a party where solutions to issues almost without fail involve more bureaucracy and more spending, Yang has found a middle ground which seeks to streamline the federal government without resorting to stringent austerity measures.

Fun fact:

Andrew Yang describes himself as “an Asian man who likes MATH,” where MATH stands for Make America Think Harder–a clear and contrasting allusion to Donald Trump’s famous MAGA slogan.

Beto O’Rourke

RealClearPolitics Average: 2.4%
VPR Poll: 1.4%

Who he is

Former US Representative Beto O’Rourke, who hails from El Paso, Texas, is in many ways the quintessential embodiment of generation X. Born to a successful businessman and politician father and a politically connected mother, O’Rourke branched out into an alternative world in his youth. He was a member of a hacking group called the Cult of the Dead Cow in his teenage years. In college, he played in a punk rock band. During that time he also got a DUI, which has haunted his political career ever since.

After working aimlessly as a nanny and in other odd jobs in New York, O’Rourke returned to El Paso where he began a software business. In 2005, he ran a successful campaign for El Paso City Council. From there, he went on to become a Congressman for three terms. In 2018 he ran for US Senate against Ted Cruz. As the Democratic nominee for Senate, O’Rourke was vaulted into national prominence after a viral speech in support of kneeling for the national anthem. Though he lost that race, he kept the margin narrow in a historically red state and used the momentum to launch a Presidential run.

How he can win

O’Rourke began his 2020 campaign with enormous momentum. After his launch in mid-March, he rocketed up to the polls. However, he has since plummeted as a result of a poor media strategy.

But O’Rourke is authentic–unafraid to drop an F bomb and speak his mind unscripted in a stump speech–and has an idiosyncratic style of campaigning which appeals to people looking for a change. He’s a powerful public speaker and gifted communicator with a penchant for uplifting platitudes. If Beto can outlast some of his opponents and steal some spotlight, he may get a chance to catch his second wind.

Why he should win

Beto could make a strong argument for being the “electability” candidate: the candidate most likely to beat Trump. As a Texas native who nearly won the state in 2018, O’Rourke could seriously challenge Trump–who is much more unpopular than Cruz in the Lone Star state–for Texas’s 36 electoral votes.

Along with Arizona, such a Southwestern strategy could yield considerably more electoral votes than Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania combined. Many Democratic strategists see that strategy as the future path for Democratic Presidential nominees sooner or later.

Fun fact

O’Rourke’s first ever political opponent, two term incumbent El Paso Councilman Anthony Cobos–who O’Rourke defeated–was sentenced to corruption charges in 2013 and sentenced to four years in federal prison. The people of District 8 dodged a bullet by electing Beto.

Cory Booker

RealClearPolitics Average: 1.7%
VPR Poll: 1.1%

Who he is

Cory Booker is a Democratic senator from New Jersey. Elected to the United States Senate in 2013, he became the first African-American senator to represent New Jersey. Prior to his stint in the Senate, Booker began his career in the city of Newark, first as a community organizer, then on the Municipal Council from 1998 to 2002, and serving as mayor from 2006 to 2013. He announced his candidacy for president of the United States on February 1, 2019.

How he can win

Booker’s path to the nomination and presidency likely resemble those of President Obama in 2008 in that his formative community and political experiences took place in a majority-black city, and could help him appeal to Democratic voters nostalgic for the Obama years. Booker also espouses progressive policies like Medicare for All, and maintains a tone of positivity, explicitly condemning divisive rhetoric. His message of hope and unity is also similar to that of the 2008 Obama campaign.

Booker, who is 49-years-old–putting him on the younger side of Democratic candidates–and a vegan, could also appeal to millennial voters. His voting record in the Senate is left-of-center, but certainly not radical. For example, he voted for the First Step Act of 2018 and the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014, showing that he can work across the aisle. His appeal to establishment Democrats and his overlapping attractiveness to African-American voters could hold him in good stead both in the mostly-white early primary/caucus states of Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as through the heavily-African-American Democratic electorate in the Southeast.

Why he should win

The main thrust of Booker’s campaign, though, is optimism. Many Democratic candidates are making their cases based on healing division and uniting the nation, but few are as well-equipped to do so as Booker. As mayor of Newark, Booker fostered an image of approachability and solidarity, living in a run-down building and once shoveling snow from a resident’s driveway. In addition to his relentlessly positive message, Booker does not demonize his opponents on either side of the aisle and has a record of pragmatist bona fides.

It is hard to imagine a candidate whose personal style presents a clearer contrast with that of President Trump. In an election cycle when Democratic primary voters are prioritizing electability above all else, Booker, with his appeal to the center and his proven record, would be a dangerous opponent for the current president.

Fun fact:

Cory Booker attended Stanford University where he was a star football player and scholar. He also served as senior-class president and led a student-run crisis hotline along with other community service-oriented endeavors. Booker later studied history at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Amy Klobuchar

RealClearPolitics Average: 1.0%
VPR Poll: 0.3%

Who she is

Amy Klobuchar has been a United States Senator since 2007 and was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Minnesota. Hailing from Minneapolis, Klobuchar is a member of the Minnesota Democratic-Farm-Labor Party. Before being elected to the Senate, she received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School. She served as the county attorney for Hennepin County. During her time in that position, Klobuchar was passionate about DWI laws, safer school initiatives, and reforming the criminal justice system.

In the Senate, Klobuchar has pushed for legislation on issues such as human trafficking and consumer product safety. Klobuchar is a member of the Joint Economic Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee. She is also the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights and the Senate Rules Committee.

How she can win

Amy Klobuchar emphasizes her working-class roots, often speaking about how her grandfather was an iron miner in northern Minnesota, her father was a newspaperman, and her mother an elementary school teacher. She also highlights her ability and willingness to work across partisan lines, especially when it comes to supporting families and workers.

By further emphasizing her middle-class, Midwestern roots, Klobuchar has a good chance of appealing to workers in Midwestern swing states in the Midwest. Additionally, by placing herself in a position where she is willing to overlook partisanship, Klobuchar further appeals to those swing-voters who may not want an entirely progressive president.

Why she should win

A large part of  Klobuchar’s platform is her desire to end partisan division in Washington. In a time when legislation is slow to pass due to partisan gridlock, and hostility between parties is commonplace, Klobuchar’s promise to work between parties is reassuring. Her experience in discussing policies with both Democrats and Republicans in order to pass legislation further shows that she has been successful in this area. Additionally, describing her campaign as “homegrown,” Klobuchar’s appeal to working-class Americans is strong.

She consistently uses rhetoric to equalize herself with average Americans in order to demonstrate that she is not above any of her voters; rather, she is one of them. Her closeness and relatability are qualities that foster a feeling of trust among voters. These qualities are a breath of fresh air during this era of hostile, aggressive politics. Klobuchar’s determination to work through party differences and her down-to-earth nature are traits that would serve her well as president.

Fun fact

During the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, Klobuchar asked the nominee whether or not he had ever blacked out while drinking, to which he retorted, “Have you?” This exchange landed Klobuchar a spoof on Saturday Night Live.

Tulsi Gabbard

RealClearPolitics Average: 1.0%
VPR Poll: 0.9%

Who she is

The first Hindu and Samoan American member of the U.S. Congress, Gabbard has served her Hawaiian district in the House of Representatives since 2012. Since coming to Congress and launching her presidential bid, she has become known for her progressive platform—even stepping down from her position as a Vice-Chair of the DNC in 2016 to endorse Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination.

Gabbard has long been a trailblazer—elected to the Hawaii State House of Representatives in 2002 at age 21, she was the state’s youngest-ever female representative—despite the fact that her former socially conservative activity, including lobbying for her father’s PAC, the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, have come into conflict with the Democratic Party’s current platform. After serving in the Hawaii National Guard, an experience that she credits for her shift from her aforementioned conservatism, she returned to politics and her current advocacy for pacifism.

Focusing on that pacifism and an all-encompassing “aloha,” Gabbard’s campaign is rooted fundamentally in the idea of love.

How she can win

Unlike most Democratic candidates who are focusing their campaigns on early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, Gabbard has taken a scattershot approach to campaigning, visiting areas with high South Asian populations.

It’s a risky game to play, but for her campaign, which has focused on a niche range of issues, to pursue such a specific demographic is a play to capture a small, but deep pocket of the electorate—in a field with 20 candidates, even a small pocket of voters, if loyal, could have the potential to propel Gabbard forward.

Why she should win

If you follow Gabbard’s campaign, there are three words you’ll hear a lot of: pacifism, love, and aloha. Serving as the framework for her campaign, these principles paint a bigger picture of the goals of a would-be Gabbard White House: one based on restoring civility to a federal government plagued by Trumped-up partisanship.

While not the policy guru of Elizabeth Warren or the lefty-celebrity of Pete Buttigieg, Gabbard has a laser-sharp focus on the ideals that she hopes to bring to the presidency and the country. A Gabbard win would mean four years of just what we’ve heard time and time again from her campaign: pacifism, love, and aloha.

Fun fact

In the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s death and President Trump’s continued support for Saudi Arabia—despite reports that the country’s crown prince ordered Khashoggi’s death—Gabbard called the president “Saudi Arabia’s bitch.” Say what you want, but she’s not afraid to say what she thinks.

Julian Castro

RealClearPolitics Average: 1.5%
VPR Poll: 0.3%

Who he is

Julián Castro was serving as San Antonio’s Mayor when he delivered his “electrifying” speech at the 2012 DNC convention—the first-ever Latino to do so—that launched him to stardom and landed him on the incumbent administration’s shortlist for the cabinetry. The youngest member of Obama’s cabinet, Castro served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014-2016, where he tirelessly combatted homelessness and poor housing conditions of low-income families. A 3rd generation Mexican-American, Castro has spearheaded the immigration reform discussions this election cycle.  

Aggressively anti-Trump, Castro has a clear, corrective dream for America. To win in 2020, the Democratic Party must “offer a compelling, strong vision for the future that connects with families,” he says. “That’s why I’ve articulated this vision—of being the smartest, the healthiest, the fairest, and the most prosperous nation on Earth.”  Castro’s tactical policy proposals all work towards this vision. Fittingly, his slogan is Julián for the Future.

How he can win

A Castro name on the ticket would prove a formidable threat to Trump and his bid for a second term. Castro has the most executive experience on a federal level of all other candidates, with the exception of Joe Biden. Castro wholeheartedly believes that if he wins the nomination, he could win Texas, Arizona, and Florida in the general election. Finally, a Castro nomination could, for the first time, lead to Latinx representation in the White House. As The New York Times writes, “Democrats across the country hope that Julián’s presence in the race will inspire Hispanic voters, a group that the Pew Research Center predicts will be the biggest minority voting bloc in 2020.”

Why he should win

Castro is running his campaign on a platform of level-headed honesty and trust. His biggest sell is his People First Immigration Policy, easily the most comprehensive and fierce of all current Democratic candidates. Castro’s immigration plan includes heavy restructuring and investigating of ICE, decriminalizing of undocumented immigration, and providing 11 million undocumented individuals easier paths to citizenship. He would also increase refugee admissions, reversing the current White House’s recent cuts.

If he were elected, Castro promises to pursue universal Pre-K, an initiative he successfully enacted in San Antonio as Mayor. Castro says that, on his first day in office, he will re-enter the Paris Climate accords. He’s a deeply progressive candidate, but “not blazingly so,” as The New York Times puts it—he’s appealing to the whole spectrum of the Democratic party, something liberals desperately need to win in 2020.

Fun fact

A proud Mexican-American, Julián Castro chose to highlight the accent in his name on his canvassing signs. Castro has talked quite a bit about how he came to relate to his name and its role in his sense of self-identity. Castro mused to Trevor Noah in an interview, “I bet if I did that on the sign, that that would be the first time that anybody has run for president with an accent over a letter… Something that simple, but that’s who you are, and you should run as who you are.”

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