Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020

Some Dems sizzle, others see their stock fall on road to 2020
© Greg Nash

Several potential Democratic presidential candidates have seen their stock fall since the beginning of the year, while others have risen.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (I-Vt.) has seen rivals jump on to his single-payer health-care bill, while former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenOvernight Tech: FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices | Biden scolds social media firms over transparency Medicaid funds shouldn't be used to subsidize state taxes on health care Biden hits social media firms over lack of transparency MORE is preparing a major book tour through key swing states.

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Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisDemocrats turn on Al Franken Minnesota's largest newspaper calls on Franken to resign Democratic senator predicts Franken will resign Thursday MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Tech: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court fight | Warren backs bid to block AT&T, Time Warner merger | NC county refuses to pay ransom to hackers Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (D-Mass.) have both generated headlines as Democratic opponents of President Trump who have been “shushed” by Republican lawmakers.

With so many Democrats fighting for attention, other rising stars seen as potential players in 2020, most notably Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharFranken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics MORE (Minn.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocrats turn on Al Franken Report: Franken will resign Thursday Minnesota's largest newspaper calls on Franken to resign MORE (N.Y.), have been crowded out of the spotlight.

And third-tier potential Democratic candidates such as Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Reps. Tim Ryan (Ohio), Seth Moulton (Mass.) and Rep. John Delaney (Md.), who has announced he is running for president, are yet to be taken seriously.

“You almost never hear their names come up in conversation, and when they do it’s almost met with a grin like, ‘Yeah, OK, that will never happen,’ ” said one top Democratic consultant. “There’s just no buzz around any of them, and you need some buzz.”

Gillibrand did win some attention by being the only senator to oppose Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital | Mattis, Tillerson reportedly opposed move | Pentagon admits 2,000 US troops are in Syria | Trump calls on Saudis to 'immediately' lift Yemen blockade Trump has yet to name ambassadors to key nations in Mideast Mattis, Tillerson warned Trump of security concerns in Israel embassy move MORE’s nomination, and she has also earned some headlines with choice four-letter words about President Trump.

“If we are not helping people, we should go the f--- home,” she said in June at the Personal Democracy Forum at New York University.

Earlier this month, Rolling Stone ran a piece with a headline that said Gillibrand was outsmarting Trump.

Klobuchar, for her part, is liked in Washington for her policy chops and an understated and underrated sense of humor.

Yet she risks getting overlooked by another potential candidate from Minnesota: Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats turn on Al Franken Schumer called, met with Franken and told him to resign Overnight Finance: Trump says shutdown 'could happen' | Ryan, conservatives inch closer to spending deal | Senate approves motion to go to tax conference | Ryan promises 'entitlement reform' in 2018 MORE, who received good press for a book tour and raised questions during Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat House passes concealed carry gun bill Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee next week MORE’s confirmation hearing that led the former Alabama senator to recuse himself from the Justice Depatment’s investigation into Russian election meddling.

While Gillibrand stood to the side of Sanders as he offered his single-payer bill on Wednesday, Klobuchar, who is not a co-sponsor of the legislation, was giving a speech about Russia on the Senate floor.

Klobuchar’s office did not comment for this story.

It’s very early, with more than two years to go before the Iowa caucuses. Still, strategists say there’s a risk of being drowned out early in the “invisible campaign,” which is preceding what is expected to be a crowded Democratic race.

“In a field where 20-something people may show up in Iowa at the state fair, you really need to be in the top five,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. “If you’re in the top five, you’re in a good place to wage an incredible campaign.”

Polls consistently show the same front-runners.

A Zogby Analytics online survey conducted this month shows Sanders with a sizable lead among likely voters at 28 percent. Biden came in second at 17 percent. Warren came in third at 12 percent.

A poll conducted in June for Morning Consult and Politico showed that 74 percent of Democrats viewed Biden favorably, followed by Warren at 51 percent.

At the same time, the party has been craving “fresh blood”— Democrats who haven’t been on the scene and don’t have years of baggage weighing them down in a presidential campaign.

That desire could help potential candidates such as Gillibrand, Klobuchar or even Ryan, though they have plenty of competition in that space.

Harris, a new rising star on the scene, gained national attention when she was shushed by Republican senators in Senate Intelligence Committee hearings.

And Warren, who, like Sanders, has an established base of support but who would be a new candidate for president, gave the liberal base a battle cry with the “she persisted” line coined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.).

Candidates do face the risk of peaking too soon, says Democratic strategist Jim Manley.

At times in 2014 and 2015, it was Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLexington mayor launches bid for Congress Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics Meet the Iran hawk who could be Trump's next secretary of State MORE (Ky.) who seemed like the Republican senator to watch for in 2016. Then he faded.

“Cycle after cycle, there’s always someone who is the flavor of the month,” Manley said.

Still, Democratic strategist David Wade, who served as a longtime senior aide to John KerryJohn Forbes KerryLobbying world Kerry: Trump not pursuing 'smart' or 'clever' plan on North Korea Tillerson will not send high-ranking delegation to India with Ivanka Trump: report MORE, emphasized that candidates with an eye on 2020 should “always place a premium on patience and purpose.”

“Good candidates get their moment to audition on the national stage, and it takes patience because you can’t force the moment,” Wade said. “But it also demands purpose. Purpose is knowing what your candidate’s profile is and what lane they occupy.”

In the years before the 2004 Democratic primaries ultimately won by Kerry, “multiple candidates had their moment in the sun, and many melted,” Wade said.

To be competitive and stand out, lawmakers can develop an agenda, fill a federal war chest and travel the country building a fundraising network that can be transferred to a presidential campaign.

And with the fight over nominations and the contentious Trump agenda, lawmakers with the right speeches and tactics are uniquely positioned to break through quickly.

“I think it’s too early to discount people’s chances,” said Grant Reeher, the director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University. “I think the candidates that we’re thinking about for 2020 aren’t people we’re thinking about right now.”