Since adjusting to life again as a private citizen, former President Barack Obama has reportedly taken more of a hands on approach to counsel several democratic political leaders who have the ability to run for president in the 2020 election cycle.
According to Politico, Obama has met with at least 10 2020 Democratic contenders. The meetings were arranged over the last year at Obama’s Washington office. The former president met with each person to discuss positioning in the age of Trump, the current status of the Democratic Party and the challenges which lay ahead.
Of all the leaders Obama met with, none were Black women, while three were Black men.
There is a large chance that potential candidates like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), will also meet with Obama in the upcoming months as 2020 inches closer.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has served in her position after being elected in 2012 as the first woman to hold the position in the history of Massachusetts. She is up for re-election this year.
Pros: An expert on bankruptcy and commercial law as a former litigator and a special advisor of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren is an outspoken candidate in regards to issues pertaining to women and middle-class families. She is a favorite among progressives which means that for the most part, she is able to work with and reach across the aisle.
Cons/controversies: Warren listed herself as having Native American ancestry as a listed professor in the Association of American Law Schools. Warren said that she never profited from her heritage but genealogy experts said it would be hard to determine Warren’s alleged ancestry. President Donald Trump has repeatedly used this against her, often referring to her as “Pocahontas.” Up until her early 40’s, Warren identified as Republican. When asked why she changed to Democrat she said, “I was a Republican because I thought that those were the people who best supported markets. I think that is not true anymore.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders is a longstanding congressional member, who hails from Brooklyn, New York. He most notably ran in the 2016 election and stepped down after Hillary Clinton was endorsed at the Democratic Convention. He served as a U.S. representative from 1991 to 2007, when he was elected to his current position.
Pros: Sanders was a favorite primarily among young liberals, for his stance on marijuana legislation, income equality, and his fight for a fair living wage, LGBTQ issues and eliminating college tuition.
Cons/controversies: Sanders has identified as an Independent as well as a Democrat during his career. A few days after the Democratic National Convention in July 2016, numerous news outlets reported on a series of leaked emails which showed Sanders’ campaign may have been compromised by several DNC leaders, including former chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. As a result Schultz and her successor, Donna Brazille, were forced to step down.
Former Vice President Joe Biden served two terms in his role as the right hand man to President Barack Obama.
Pros: Has extensive leadership experience as veteran in politics. From 1973 to 2009 Biden served as a Senator in his home state of Delaware. Because of his experience in congress, many leaders are willing to work with Biden, who was often used in his role to help sway votes.
Cons/controversies: Biden was the senior member on the Senate Judiciary Committee which investigated Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas prior to his confirmation hearing as a Supreme Court Justice. Though Thomas was later confirmed, Biden’s position to not allow three women witnesses to testify on Hill’s behalf was seen as problematic especially considering the optics of a Black woman testifying to an all white male committee. Biden voted against Thomas’ confirmation and later said that he owed Hill an apology for how he handled the proceedings.
Booker, the former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was voted into his role as a New Jersey Senator during a 2013 special election.
Pros: Booker is viewed with admiration by many of his peers because of his youth, but most importantly because during his time as a Senator, he has taken a hard stance on the living wage, women’s rights and demands transparency in Trump’s administration. During his tenure as mayor of Newark, Booker helped the city gain national attention–advocating for reduced crime efforts, employment and income equality.
Cons/controversies: Critics of Booker say that his time as Mayor of New Jersey resulted mostly in an investment in downtown development instead of key issues. Adversaries also argue that Booker’s fight to maintain low unemployment numbers during his mayoral tenure failed and that the crime rate in Newark was still considerably high in several neighborhoods.
Deval Patrick is a former lawyer and the former Massachusetts governor from from 2007-2015. Patrick also worked under former President Bill Clinton as an assistant attorney general under the civil rights division.
Pros: Patricks’s name has been tossed around for some time as a possible candidate for 2020, but for the most part Patrick has declined to announce his bid for candidacy as it’s far too early in the game. Patrick is the only African-American to be elected to the position and assumed his role after Mitt Rombey
Cons/controversies: Patrick’s tenure as Governor was littered with a several controversies–mostly dealing with finances and financial allotments. He was taken to task about an aide’s $75,000 salary and was also discovered to have spent a plethora of taxpayer money on drapery and a Cadillac vehicle.
Mitch Landrieu was the mayor of New Orleans from 2010-2018. Prior to his tenure as mayor he was the Louisiana Lieutenant Governor and served as a state senator.
Pros: Landrieu has mostly received positive national attention, heralded as the leader who helped revitalize New Orleans after the former administration in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In 2017, Landrieu was heralded as a national hero after he green light the removal of several confederate statues in the city of New Orleans.
Cons/controversies: Critics of Landrieu were not swayed by the media attention and positive reviews Landrieu received during his time as mayor. Many residents of New Orleans still suffer under the weight of Hurricane Katrina coupled with the increasing rate of gentrification in the city center. A petition was formed in 2017 to remove Landrieu from office after New Orleans residents complained of water and sewer damage. Further investigation showed that the city’s pumping system was not operating at full capacity.
Garrcetti is the current mayor of Los Angeles, serving in his second term after being elected in 2013. Prior to his term as mayor, he served on city council for 12 years from 2001-2013.
Pros: Garcetti is Los Angeles’ youngest mayor to hold office and has had tremendous outreach with the youth, holding press conferences to reduce gang violence, racial equality and environmental sustainability. Garcetti is also the second Mexican-American mayor in the city’s history in 100 years.
Cons/controversies: During his first few months in office, critics said Garcetti was reluctant to take a side on important issues and operated too fiercely in ambiguity. Critics have been vocal about Garcetti’s support for a controversial zoning housing bill and an investment in a bill which would provide veteran officers and firefighters almost twice their pay at the end of their careers.
Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana making him the youngest mayor to lead a city with at least 100,00 residents. He is also the first openly gay elected politician in Indiana.
Pros: Buttigieg has served two terms, after he was initially elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2014. In 2013, he was named mayor of the year tying with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His efforts in South Bend have mainly focused on development and infrastructure.
Cons/controversies: Critics may hit Buttigieg for his lack of federal government experience. The 36-year-old also faced controversy over, high lead levels in the city’s water supply and an incident with the South Bend police department, which included the demotion of the city’s first Black police chief after a taped conversation between four white officers revealed racist remarks. Buttigieg also was called to task after several South Bend officers used excessive force by raiding the home of DeShawn Franklin, a Black teen who was tasered and beaten. Franklin was falsely accused of crime he did not commit.
Kander is former Missouri Secretary of State. Prior to his role, he was a state legislator from 2009-2013 . In 2016 Kander lost his senatorial bid in a tight race against Republican Roy Blunt.
Pros: Since his loss in 2016, Kander formed an organization called Let America Vote which focuses on reforming voting laws and eliminating gerrymandering.
Cons/controversies: Since he’s stepped down from political office for over a year critics may delve deeper into what Kander’s journey has been since his defeat in 2016.
Eric Holder is the former United States Attorney General who held office from 2009 to 2015. Holder was the first African-American to hold the position and was later succeeded by Loretta Lynch.
Pros: Holder has the experience of dealing with the politics of Washington, as prior to his role as attorney general, he worked as a deputy attorney general under Janet Reno. He is a strong proponent of voting rights and equality for all.
Cons/controversies: Holder, a no-holds barr outspoken critic of inequality and racism, one in which his tone was never widely received, especially by conservatives. His jurisdiction as Attorney General is met with criticism because of the incessant Justice Department investigations where no fault was found in cases involving unarmed Black men and women killed by police. Critics may also turn to Holder’s position during the Fast and Furious incident where under the Justice Department’s watch, several thousands guns were obtained by drug gangs at the Mexican border. The Justice Department was later cleared of any wrongdoing.