In The Know

Meet the 2020 spouses who could make history

The 2020 Democratic field is the party’s largest and most diverse in U.S. history — and their families are no different. 
Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton joked in 2016 that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, would break new ground as America’s first ever “first dude.”
Now that the 2020 campaign is in full swing, the possibility of a first-ever first gentleman is back in play, with six women and an openly gay married man running for the highest office.
Here’s a look at the spouses you can expect to see on the campaign trail.
Jill Biden
Biden is no stranger to the political scene, having served as second lady during her husband, Joe’s, eight-year tenure as vice president during the Obama administration. 
{mosads}As second lady, Biden worked frequently with military families and on women’s issues while also teaching full time at Northern Virginia Community College.
Biden focused extensively on community colleges in her education outreach work, calling the institutions “one of America’s best-kept secrets.”
She has also worked with military families, teaming up with former first lady Michelle Obama to launch the “Joining Forces” initiative, which encourages Americans to support military families in their communities.
Joe and Jill Biden married in 1977 and have one daughter together, Ashley. Biden is a stepmother to Hunter and the late Beau Biden, who died in 2015 after battling brain cancer.
John Bessler
Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) husband, John Bessler, is a legal scholar who teaches law at the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Baltimore.
The professor has written extensively on the topic of capital punishment, publishing several books on the issue.
While Bessler could become the first first gentleman, he’s already broken ground in the Senate Spouse club.
Klobuchar said at a National Journal event in 2014 that her husband became the first man “to be consistently involved” in the group. As part of his involvement in the club, Bessler once attended former Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-Va.) wife’s baby shower, U.S. News & World Report reported in 2014.
“Members were asked to bring signed books, children’s book for the events,” Bessler said at the time. “So I think I carried over some Laura Ingalls Wilder [books] because they were tied to Minnesota.”
The couple married in 1993 and have one daughter, Abigail.
Chasten Buttigieg
Chasten Buttigieg and his husband, Pete, could make history in 2020 if the South Bend, Ind., mayor clinches the presidency — Buttigieg would be the first male first spouse and first gay first spouse.
The two would also be the first first family to have met on a dating app.
“I could be the first man in history to pick out the White House china,” Buttigieg, who met his husband on Hinge, said at a Human Rights Campaign dinner earlier this month.
Buttigieg, already, has propelled himself into the public eye with his quirky Twitter presence that has given voters an inside look at his experience on the trail.
“Friends: omg your campaign life must be so glamorous how exciting me: no, yeah, the pretzel dog or $7 LGA airport chili served in a coffee cup is the height of luxury,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
Buttigieg previously worked as a junior high school teacher and improv comedian before taking a leave to join his husband on the campaign trail.
The Buttigiegs were married last year and do not have children, though Buttigieg appears to have taken pride in his role as a dog dad to Truman and Buddy, who have their own Twitter account.  
Erica Lira Castro
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro’s wife, Erica Lira Castro, has an extensive background in education advocacy.
The San Antonio native teaches on the city’s south side at Harlandale Independent School District, according to The New York Times.
She teamed up with fellow 2020 candidate spouse Jill Biden in 2015 to encourage Hispanics to get involved in the education sphere as a part of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
“As our nation’s Hispanic student population grows, there’s an increasing need for more teachers who are Hispanic, for more teachers who understand Hispanic culture and communities,” Castro said in a video promoting the initiative.
The Castros were married in 2007 and have two children, Carina and Cristián Julián. 
Doug Emhoff
Like his wife, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Doug Emhoff has a background in law.
Emhoff, who is an entertainment litigator, represented advertising company TBWA in a lawsuit over the Taco Bell chihuahua.
The attorney, who has two children from his first marriage, met Harris on a blind date in 2013. The two were married the next year at a courthouse by Harris’s sister, Maya.
He told The Hollywood Reporter that the campaign trail is “endlessly fascinating” to him, but said he still enjoys his legal work.
{mossecondads}”With all this other stuff that’s happening in my life right now, it’s great to have [my practice], because it’s something that I love and I’m good at,” he told the publication.
Emhoff is currently a partner at DLA Piper and spends his time between Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
Harris is the stepmother to Cole and Ella Emhoff, who call her “Momala.”
Jonathan Gillibrand 
British American financier Jonathan Gillibrand has remained largely out of the public eye, but has played a major role in his wife’s, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.), political career.
“He’s always said, ‘As long as you’re making a difference, as long as you’re helping people, this is something we’re going to do. And the day that you’re not is the day we’re not going to do it!’ ” the senator told New York Family of her husband in 2013.
Gillibrand is the founder of his own firm, Venture Capital Partners.
The senator said her husband has held multiple jobs and has been flexible with her career, taking care of the couple’s two school-age children and leaving Wall Street to move upstate for his wife’s political ambitions.
“Throughout the last six years, he’s had different jobs and different levels of flexibility. He’s always there for me emotionally when I need encouragement. And he always reminds me why we’re doing this,” she said in 2013.
The two met on a blind date while he was studying at Columbia University and later married in 2001.
Bruce Mann
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) shares a love of teaching with her husband, Bruce Mann.
Mann is a professor at Harvard Law School, teaching American Legal History, Property, and Trusts and Estates, according to the school.
Mann, who frequently joins Warren on the campaign trail, has said he’s often introduced as the senator’s husband, which he told MassLive “has been fine with me.”
Mann told the outlet in 2012 that he did not expect to be in the limelight as Warren’s husband.
“Oh God no. Never. We have each had academic careers for roughly 35 years. This is not something we ever aimed for, ever thought about, ever expected,” he said. 
Warren has two children from her first marriage, Alex and Amelia, and three grandchildren, Octavia, Atticus and Lavinia.
Amy O’Rourke
While Texas native Amy O’Rourke has maintained a relatively quiet presence since her husband, Beto, announced his candidacy, she has been a steadfast presence in his political campaigns.
O’Rourke is often seen with her husband on the campaign trail and appeared with him in his presidential campaign launch video. She has an extensive background in education, having taught kindergarten in Guatemala after graduating from Williams College.
She also taught in El Paso, the couple’s home base, later becoming superintendent at La Fe Preparatory School, which is a dual-language elementary charter school. 
O’Rourke emphasized the need for bilingual education at the charter school on her application to the school in 2006.
“The local school district has failed to create an educational system that can generate true success for all students in the community,” she wrote, according to The Texas Tribune. “The public schools are facing the unfortunate struggle of determining the best approach to address language barriers in the Segundo Barrio.”
O’Rourke currently serves as a director at the El Paso-based education nonprofit Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development.
The O’Rourkes met on a blind date in Juarez, Mexico, in 2004. The two married in 2005 and have a daughter and two sons: Molly, Ulysses and Henry.
Jane Sanders
Like Jill Biden, Jane Sanders gained extensive political and policy experience working with her husband, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Sanders currently serves as a chief adviser on her husband’s presidential campaign and previously worked as his administrative assistant, spokeswoman, policy adviser, chief of staff and media buyer during his time in Congress.
The Washington Post reported in 1996 that she drafted “more than 50 pieces of legislation” with her husband on Capitol Hill. 
Sanders co-founded the Sanders Institute, a think tank that shuttered earlier this year amid criticism that it blurred the lines between family, fundraising and campaigns.
“I think that was the most important thing to do — to not accept donations, because nobody should think that they’re giving money to an organization and that gains them access or favor to anybody else and anybody running for office,” Sanders told The Associated Press. “It just seemed the responsible thing to do.”
Sanders has three children from a previous marriage, Carina Driscoll, David Driscoll and Heather Driscoll, and is a stepmother to Levi Sanders.
Abraham Williams
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) met Abraham Williams, a filmmaker and cinematographer, in 2012.
Williams, who shot Gabbard’s congressional campaign ads, discussed his passion for filming and editing on his professional website.
“I am excited about producing beautiful, cinematic images through creative camera work and lighting, to tell powerful stories that touch and move the viewer in a special, unique way,” he wrote. 
Williams has been a vocal supporter of Gabbard’s White House bid since she launched her campaign in February. 
The two are avid surfers, according to The New York Times. Williams proposed to Gabbard by making a special flotation device attached to his surfboard for the ring, asking Gabbard if she would marry him while the two waited for the next wave.
Williams and Gabbard were married in 2015 by a Hindu priest, who performed a Vedic ceremony.
Tags Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Bill Clinton Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Kirsten Gillibrand Michelle Obama Tulsi Gabbard

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