Five Democrats who could be dark horses in 2020

The race for the Democratic presidential nomination is a wide-open contest with no clear front-runner for the first time in years. 

While former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll Analysis: Harris, Buttigieg and Trump lead among California donations The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE, Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeThe Hill's Campaign Report: Stage set for second Democratic showdown Biden, Harris set for second Democratic debate showdown 2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally MORE (Texas), and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll Analysis: Harris, Buttigieg and Trump lead among California donations The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren adds her pronouns to Twitter bio Biden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (Mass.) have drawn a lot of attention, Democrats say the 2020 race is anybody’s game. 

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It’s a race that is expected to attract dozens of candidates, from big city mayors such as Los Angeles’s Eric Garcetti to bright new political stars such as former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost her bid to win Georgia’s governorship. 

Democratic House lawmakers, including Reps. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Moulton campaign makes formal case to DNC to be added to debate stage Bullock makes CNN debate stage MORE (Calif.) and John DelaneyJohn Kevin DelaneyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Stage set for next Democratic debate Delaney denies report staff asked him to drop out of 2020 race Biden, Harris set for second Democratic debate showdown MORE (Md.) — who has already announced his candidacy — are also in the mix.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it is a dark horse candidate — somebody we haven't even thought about —who ends up getting the nomination," said Democratic strategist Maria Cardona. 

Here are five dark horse contenders who could win it. And a warning: There may be others.

Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Biden, Harris set for second Democratic debate showdown Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator MORE

The Minnesota senator has long been on lists of 2020 contenders, but always seems to be in the second breath behind other female colleagues in the Senate — including Warren, Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll Analysis: Harris, Buttigieg and Trump lead among California donations The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (Calif.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Biden, Harris set for second Democratic debate showdown Rand Paul accuses Jon Stewart of being 'part of left-wing mob' after criticism over 9/11 victim fund MORE (N.Y.). 

But Klobuchar shouldn’t be underestimated. 

A new poll of Iowa voters showed she’s in the mix in the neighboring state, and she won national attention during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughLindsey Graham's Faustian bargain Liberal, conservative Supreme Court justices unite in praising Stevens The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment MORE

“She showed a lot of grit,” said Democratic strategist Patti Solis Doyle, who served as campaign manager during Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPoll: Majority of Democratic voters happy with their choices among 2020 contenders No presidential candidate can unite the country GOP lawmakers speak out against 'send her back' chants MORE’s 2008 presidential bid.  

In a year when women have dominated in politics across the board, Solis Doyle and others say Klobuchar should be a top contender. 

“There is no way that the Democratic Party will have two white men on the ticket in 2020 so each female candidate thinking about running should be given a close look,” she said.  

One key advantage for Klobuchar that could help her in comparison to colleagues Harris and Warren is that she hails from the Midwest, an area Democrats must win back from President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE in 2020. 

Mitch Landrieu 

The former New Orleans mayor caught the eye of Democrats after he delivered a powerful speech last year on the removal of Confederate monuments from his city. 

The speech went viral, leaving some wondering if a red-state Democrat like Landrieu could take the party by storm. 

Landrieu has kept a relatively low profile since leaving his mayoral office and Democrats who have spoken to him say he’s considering his options. 

Some Democrats see him as a candidate who could stand out in the crowd even as the party increasingly tacks left. 

“Before Obama, the two biggest Democratic dark horses have been Democrats holding local office, Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonNo presidential candidate can unite the country Lindsey Graham's Faustian bargain Military spending has many points of contention: Closing overseas bases isn't one of them MORE and Jimmy Carter,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon. “The South is becoming ever so slowly more friendly to Democrats. Landrieu could capitalize on that trend.”

Steve Bullock

Who can beat Trump? Maybe someone who won reelection handily in a state the president won solidly. 

Bullock, the governor of Montana, can tout his experience working with a legislative body that is largely Republican while presiding over a state economy with record-low unemployment and growth in industries including manufacturing. 

He’s shown all the signs that he’s prepared to launch a presidential bid, traveling to Iowa several times this year and quietly making the rounds on the fundraising circuit. 

He still lacks name recognition and that’s what’s hurting him now, one major Democratic donor said. 

“I’ll talk about him and the overwhelming reaction is ‘Who?’ If he fixes that, I think a lot of people will give him a good look,” the donor said.

Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei MORE

Democrats have been desperately hunting to find someone who could appeal to centrists and progressives alike and some see Brown, an Ohio senator who just won reelection in a state carried by Trump, as the solution. 

If Democrats can win back Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, they’d likely win the White House. Brown, a liberal on social policies who can sound like Trump on trade, is seen as someone who could appeal to voters in those states as well as his home state of Ohio. 

Brown has sounded more like a candidate testing a national message his his reelection victory, and it’s a message that has been geared to working-class Democrats. 

“Sherrod Brown has been a champion for America’s workers his entire career and America is just now catching on,” said Seth Bringman, a Democratic strategist who hails from Ohio. “He doesn’t cede one inch on progressive values and yet he wins Ohio handily because he is a fighter for struggling families at his very core.” 

Jay Inslee

The Washington governor’s profile has been on the rise in recent years and he has been drawing eyes to his policies and politics with appearances on national television. 

Most notably, he garnered attention after his state’s legal victories in blocking Trump’s travel ban last year. “He got thumped,” Inslee told CNN at the time, hitting back at Trump. 

More recently, he has sought to highlight climate change, an issue that will inevitably appeal to the base. 

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he said it was “absolutely imperative” for the Democratic Party to have a nominee who will champion the issue. “I believe it’s a potentially winning issue to run on,” he told the magazine. “And we need a candidate who will do that.”