Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far

Key moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far
© Getty Images

More than two dozen Democrats launched presidential campaigns in 2019 — but just 15 remain in the race as the year comes to a close. 

The race for the Democratic nomination has so far been marked by a fight between centrist candidates and those from the progressive camp over who is best suited to take on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE in 2020. 

As Democrats across the country prepare to cast votes in primaries in 2020, here’s a look back at some of the year’s key moments of the early stages of the primary race: 


Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Trump campaign eyes election night party at his sold-out DC hotel Harris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' MORE 

April 25: Officially enters crowded race, becoming an instant front-runner after skipping the 2016 race.

June 27: Comes under attack from Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris blasts GOP for confirming Amy Coney Barrett: 'We won't forget this' GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg The painstaking, state-by-state fight to protect abortion access MORE (D-Calif.) during the second night of the first primary debate over his stance on racial busing. 

August 2019: Becomes embroiled in the impeachment inquiry against Trump after a whistleblower complaint details a call in which the president pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersObama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom Ocasio-Cortez says Democrats must focus on winning White House for Biden MORE (I-Vt.)

Feb. 19: Launches second race for the Democratic nomination after an unexpectedly strong, but unsuccessful, challenge against 2016 nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHouse Judiciary Republicans mockingly tweet 'Happy Birthday' to Hillary Clinton after Barrett confirmation Hillary Clinton tweets 'vote them out' after Senate GOP confirm Barrett CNN: Kayleigh McEnany praised Biden as 'man of the people' in 2015 MORE.

Oct. 4: Suffers heart attack, reviving concerns about age for the 78-years-old candidate. He took a brief time off before returning to his campaign.


Oct. 19: Sanders is endorsed by progressive star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez: 'Plenty of people without college degrees could run this country better than Trump' Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to positive tests among Pence aides Ocasio-Cortez says Democrats must focus on winning White House for Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) at a Queens rally. Fellow freshman “squad” members Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarProgressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS 'human rights abuses' Ocasio-Cortez hits Trump for 'disrespect' over calling her AOC during debates Trump says he doesn't actually want Whitmer, Biden and Obama to be locked up despite chants MORE (D-Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibProgressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS 'human rights abuses' Ocasio-Cortez hits Trump for 'disrespect' over calling her AOC during debates Ocasio-Cortez draws hundreds of thousands of viewers on Twitch livestream MORE (D-Mich.) also back Sanders. 

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenAll fracked up: Biden's Keystone State breakdown What do Google, banks and chicken salad have in common? Final debate: War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit MORE (D-Mass.) 

Feb. 9: Formally kicks off her campaign, going on to unveil a slew of progressive policy proposals that she turns into a campaign slogan: “Warren has a plan for that.” 

Nov. 1: Releases her “Medicare for All plan” with details on cost after coming under heavy attack by opponents that she was not being transparent about a signature campaign issue. 

Dec. 19: Clashes with rival South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegLGBTQ voters must show up at the polls, or risk losing progress Buttigieg says it's time to 'turn the page' on Trump administration Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus cases surge in the Midwest; Trump hits campaign trail after COVID-19 MORE at the sixth Democratic debate over fundraising after weeks of sniping between the two candidates.

South Bend., Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg 

April 13: Officially launches his campaign after unexpectedly gaining traction despite being the youngest candidate and less well known than some of the other front-runners. He also becomes the first openly gay major Democratic presidential candidate. 

June 16: Buttigieg takes time off from his campaign to deal with a police-involved shooting of a black man in South Bend as his lack of support from minority voters continue to dog his campaign.

November: Several polls show a surge for Buttigieg in Iowa, bringing momentum to his campaign, though he remains fourth in most national polls.

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardHarris faces biggest moment in spotlight yet Ocasio-Cortez slams Tulsi Gabbard for amplifying ballot harvesting video Republicans call on DOJ to investigate Netflix over 'Cuties' film MORE (D-Hawaii) 

Jan. 11: Officially launches her campaign, focusing on her foreign policy experience as a military combat veteran. 

Oct. 18: Comes under attack from Hillary Clinton, who suggests that Gabbard is the “favorite of the Russians” to win the 2020 presidential election.

Dec. 18: Gabbard comes under fire from Democrats after voting “present” on the two articles of impeachment against Trump.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Obama endorses Espy in Mississippi Senate race Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority MORE (D-N.J.) 

Feb. 1: Officially files for election. Booker launches his campaign a few months later in April, with a call for unity from Newark, the city that launched him to national stardom after serving as mayor for two terms. 

December: Calls for lower criteria for primary debates after failing to make it to the event in December, saying the party needs more diverse voices represented on stage.

Former tech entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangPelosi spars with CNN's Blitzer over COVID-19 aid: 'You really don't know what you're talking about' The shape of guaranteed income Biden's latest small business outreach is just ... awful MORE

Nov. 6, 2017: Enters the field as a relative unknown, pushing a central campaign proposal: a universal basic income of $1,000 a month for every American adult.

Dec. 19: Becomes the only candidate of color and outsider to make the debate stage, signaling a campaign that has caught fire on the strength of his personality, viral momentum, grassroots enthusiasm and guerrilla marketing.

Former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergTexas and North Carolina: Democrats on the verge? The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Biden breaks all-time television spending record MORE 


Nov. 21: Files an official statement of candidacy as part of a series of steps to officially launch his presidential campaign after citing concerns that none of the existing candidates can take on President Trump.

Nov. 22: Unveils a multi-million ad blitz as part of an unorthodox campaign that will see him skip the first few nominating states to focus on the Super Tuesday states, raising strong criticism from his Democratic rivals about his spending.

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharStart focusing on veterans' health before they enlist Durbin says he will run for No. 2 spot if Dems win Senate majority Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D-Minn.) 

Feb. 11: Officially launches her campaign in the middle of a snow storm, calling herself a pragmatist and touting the work she’s done in the senate. 

Dec. 19: Receives strong reviews over her debate performance, bringing renewed attention to her candidacy as she places most of her focus on the Iowa caucus.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro 

Jan. 21: Launches campaign as one of highest-profile Latinos to ever run for president.


Nov. 10: Castro came out in support of replacing Iowa and New Hampshire as the first two voting states with others that are more diverse. 

Former hedge fund executive Tom SteyerTom SteyerTrump leads Biden in Texas by 4 points: poll Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein 2020 election already most expensive ever MORE 

July 9: Launches campaign vowing to end corruption in the political system after making a name for himself as one of the leading proponents to impeach Trump.

Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Cotton mocks NY Times over claim of nonpartisanship, promises to submit op-eds as test Democrats sense momentum for expanding child tax credit MORE (D-Colo.)

May 5: Kicks off presidential campaign just months after a memorable speech on the Senate floor in January in which he tore into Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP clears key hurdle on Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, setting up Monday confirmation Texas and North Carolina: Democrats on the verge? Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE (R-Texas) amid heightened tensions over the government shutdown.

Former Mass. Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickRalph Gants, chief justice of Massachusetts supreme court, dies at 65 It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process Top Democratic super PACs team up to boost Biden MORE 

Nov. 14: Launches campaign, vowing to unify the party among its centrist and progressive camps.

Former Rep. John DelaneyJohn DelaneyCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Rodney Davis Eurasia Group founder Ian Bremmer says Trump right on China but wrong on WHO; CDC issues new guidance for large gatherings The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says country needs to rethink what 'policing' means; US cases surpass 2 million with no end to pandemic in sight MORE (D-Md.) 

August 10, 2017: Becomes the earliest contender to launch their campaign, though he has struggled to gain traction since.

Author Marianne WilliamsonMarianne WilliamsonMarianne Williamson discusses speaking at People's Party Convention Fewer people watched opening night of Democratic convention compared to 2016 Marianne Williamson: Democratic convention 'like binge watching a Marriott commercial' MORE 

Feb. 4: Launches campaign as an outsider who has authored self-help books and was also previously known as Oprah WinfreyOprah Gail WinfreyNYT security guard who went viral for interaction with Biden will have prominent role at convention: report Louisville Breonna Taylor billboard erected by Oprah Magazine vandalized with red paint 'White privilege' is the biggest white lie of all MORE's spiritual adviser.


14 candidates have dropped out of the race this year. Here are some of their most memorable moments.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) 

Launch: Jan. 21, ends: Dec. 3

June 27: Surges in polls and sees bump in fundraising after a strong performance in the first Democratic debate, where she faced-off with Biden, but her campaign falters and she eventually ends her campaign over a lack of funding. 

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) 

Launch: March 14, ends: Nov. 1

August: Takes time off campaigning after a mass shooting in his home town of El Paso, drawing praise among Democrats for his call for more action on gun control, but is unable to overcome a series of missteps including a widely panned cover interview with Vanity Fair.

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandInternal Democratic poll: Desiree Tims gains on Mike Turner in Ohio House race Hillicon Valley: Facebook, Twitter's handling of New York Post article raises election night concerns | FCC to move forward with considering order targeting tech's liability shield | YouTube expands polices to tackle QAnon Democrats question Amazon over reported interference of workers' rights to organize MORE (D-N.Y.) 

Launch: March 17, ends: Aug. 28

March 17: Gillibrand faced criticism as soon as she launched her campaign over her call in 2017 for Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenTina Smith and Jason Lewis tied in Minnesota Ted Cruz mocks Al Franken over 'I Hate Ted Cruz Pint Glass' GOP Senate candidate says Trump, Republicans will surprise in Minnesota MORE (D-Minn.) to resign after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct.

Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockInterior says Pendley to remain at BLM despite 'dramatic tweets' from Democrats Democrat trails by 3 points in Montana Senate race: poll Poll shows statistical tie in Montana Senate race MORE 

Launched: May 14, ends: Dec. 2

May 14: Bullock pitches himself as a strong candidate to take on Trump, noting that he was the only candidate to win in a state-wide race in a state Trump carried in 2016, but his campaign failed to catch fire.

New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioVideo shows NYPD officers using patrol vehicle speakers to share 'Trump 2020' message Median rent in Manhattan falls below ,000 for first time in nearly a decade De Blasio's obsession with racial balance in schools has a clear victim: Asian students MORE 

Launch: May 16, ends: Sept. 20

May 16: The New York City mayor’s race never gained traction despite leading one of the biggest cities in the world and boasting strong progressive credentials.

Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperBiden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big Push to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Democratic super PAC pulls remaining ads from Colorado Senate race MORE

Launch March 4, ends: Aug. 15

Aug. 15: Hickenlooper ends his long-shot campaign in August to run for senate, becoming a strong challenger to vulnerable Republican Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerDemocrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Trump expressed doubt to donors GOP can hold Senate: report The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in MORE

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert Inslee10 under-the-radar races to watch in November On The Trail: A third coronavirus wave builds just before Election Day Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE 

Launch: March 1, ends: Aug. 21

Aug. 21: Decides to seek reelection in Washington after making climate change the central focus of his presidential campaign. 

Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonTrump slight against Gold Star families adds to military woes Overnight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military's eighth COVID death identified Bipartisan congressional task force recommends extending nuclear treaty with Russia MORE (D-Mass.) 

Launch: May 7, ends: Aug. 23

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanNow's the time to make 'Social Emotional Learning' a national priority Mourners gather outside Supreme Court after passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Lincoln Project hits Trump for criticizing Goodyear, 'an American company' MORE (D-Ohio)

Launch: April 11, ends: Oct. 24

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellGraham says SC people of color can go anywhere in the state but 'need to be conservative, not liberal' President Trump, Melania Trump test positive for COVID-19 House in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power MORE (D-Calif.) 

Launch: April 8, ends: July 8

Miramar, Fla., Wayne MessamWayne Martin MessamKey moments in the 2020 Democratic presidential race so far Wayne Messam suspends Democratic presidential campaign 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the November forum MORE

Launch: March 15, ends: Nov. 20

Former West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda

Launch: Nov. 11, ends: Jan. 25

Former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.)

Launch: July 1, ends: Dec. 1

Former Sen. Mike Gravel (Alaska)

Launch: April 2, ends: July 31