It seems like each week someone new announces they are running for the presidency in 2020. In the upcoming weeks and months, it is likely that we will see even more members of Congress, governors and businessmen jump in the race. Ideally, our government rests on free and fair elections, and a sign of a healthy democracy is the ability for citizens to run for whatever office interests them. However, with the expectation that the number of Democrats running for the nomination could rival the number of members of the Wu-Tang Clan, many loyal Democrats are asking themselves what happens when there are “too many” candidates running for the presidency?
Thus far no Republicans have been bold enough to step up and challenge President Trump to a primary. I do think there is a growing appetite for some members of the GOP to find a less scandal-ridden and a slightly less temperamental leader. However, challenging a sitting president from within the same party is a bold move, it rarely happens, and one would need to make sure they have ample party support before doing so. In recent memory, the challenger to the sitting president not only loses the primary but contributes to his party’s loss in November as well. Does anyone remember the hard fought Democratic primary battle between Ted Kennedy and sitting President Jimmy Carter in 1980? It didn’t end well for the Democrats, and Carter’s loss ushered in a 12-year reign of a Republican presidency.
Thus far, popular Democratic Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Kamala Harris (CA) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) have officially declared. South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI) have also declared. Of course, there are rumors that Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) and former Attorney General Eric Holder may also throw their hats in the ring. In addition, there are several other Democrats who are eyeing the presidency and/or being recruited to run. That is, many Democrats still think former Vice President Joe Biden should be the one to take on Trump.
The Democratic caucuses and primaries are just over a year away and the 2020 presidential election isn’t until next November, roughly 21 months from now. Democratic voters will have ample time to evaluate and learn about the myriad of candidates vying to become the leader who attempts to unseat Trump. Competitive elections are necessary, but it is also imperative the Democrats do not sling so many arrows that they arrive to the general election with their reputations and legislative records bruised beyond repair. So much is at stake, and hopefully some of the candidates will realize (sooner rather than later) whether or not they have a viable path to victory and not just a vanity project for themselves.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC and the host of The Aftermath and The Counter on Ozy.com.