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 TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports 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 BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia 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 HarrisScalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag Howard University's marching band to escort Harris at inauguration 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 SandersThe Memo: Trump leaves changed nation in his wake Cori Bush dismisses concerns of being 'co-opted' by establishment The Memo: Biden prepares for sea of challenges 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 ClintonGOP Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene referred to Parkland school shooting as 'false flag' event on Facebook Senators vet Mayorkas to take lead at DHS CNN poll: Melania Trump leaving office as least popular first lady ever 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-CortezFacebook has no current plan to end the Trump suspension New York court worker arrested, accused of threats related to inauguration Ocasio-Cortez: Facebook, Zuckerberg 'bear partial responsibility' for insurrection MORE (D-N.Y.) at a Queens rally. Fellow freshman “squad” members Reps. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarDemocrats poised to impeach Trump again Pence opposes removing Trump under 25th Amendment: reports Pelosi vows to impeach Trump again — if Pence doesn't remove him first MORE (D-Minn.) and Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibBiden and the new Congress must protect Americans from utility shutoffs Overnight Energy: EPA rule exempts many polluting industries from future air regulations | Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report | Officials ousted from White House after papers casting doubt on climate science Ex-Michigan governor to be charged over Flint water crisis: report MORE (D-Mich.) also back Sanders. 

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBiden pick for Pentagon cruises through confirmation hearing Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act Biden consumer bureau pick could take over agency on Inauguration Day 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 ButtigiegOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate majority offers Biden new avenues on Trump environmental rollbacks | Democrats eye action on range of climate bills | Biden pushing to cancel Keystone XL pipeline as soon as he takes office: reports Biden rolls out group of deputy secretary nominees On The Money: Retail sales drop in latest sign of weakening economy | Fast-food workers strike for minimum wage | US officials raise concerns over Mexico's handling of energy permits 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 GabbardTulsi Gabbard blasts new House rules on gender neutral language as 'height of hypocrisy' A vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting 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 BookerOfficials brace for second Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration Booker: It would be 'constitutionally dangerous' not to conduct full Trump impeachment trial 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 YangYang to quarantine after campaign staffer tests positive for COVID-19 Andrew Yang sparks Twitter uproar with pro-bodega video Yang announces run for New York City mayor 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 BloombergBiden selects Gina Raimondo for Commerce chief: reports 7 surprise moments from a tumultuous year in politics NFL, politics dominate 2020 ratings 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 KlobucharSenate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act Senate Democrats make democracy reform first bill of new majority Google completes Fitbit acquisition 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 SteyerOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far Late donor surges push election spending projections to new heights 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 BennetTop Democrat pushes for tying unemployment insurance to economic conditions 50-50 Senate opens the door to solutions outlasting Trump's moment of violence Build trust in vaccines by investing in community workers 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 CruzBlinken affirms plan to keep US embassy in Jerusalem The Intercept bureau chief: Biden's top candidate for DOJ antitrust division previously represented Google Attorneys urge Missouri Supreme Court to probe Hawley's actions before Capitol riot MORE (R-Texas) amid heightened tensions over the government shutdown.

Former Mass. Gov. Deval PatrickDeval PatrickBiden faces pressure to take action on racial justice issues Biden selects Susan Rice to lead Domestic Policy Council, McDonough for Veterans Affairs Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment 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 America's "soulless ethos" Marianne Williamson discusses speaking at People's Party Convention Fewer people watched opening night of Democratic convention compared to 2016 MORE 

Feb. 4: Launches campaign as an outsider who has authored self-help books and was also previously known as Oprah WinfreyOprah Gail Winfrey2020's top political celebrity moments Michelle Obama named most admired woman for third straight year: poll Oprah sells most of her stake in OWN channel to Discovery 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 GillibrandOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: 12 removed from National Guard inauguration security | Austin backs lifting transgender ban Biden Pentagon pick supports lifting transgender military ban Democrats looking to speed through Senate impeachment trial 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 FrankenHarrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans The Hill's Morning Report - Fearing defeat, Trump claims 'illegal' ballots MORE (D-Minn.) to resign after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct.

Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockBiden's identity politics do a disservice to his nominees Senate Democrat: Party's message to rural voters is 'really flawed' Ducey to lead Republican governors 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 BlasioOvernight Health Care: US passes 400,000 coronavirus deaths | How Biden HHS pick could make history | De Blasio says NYC will run out of COVID-19 vaccine this week De Blasio: New York City will run out of COVID-19 vaccine this week without resupply The Hill's Morning Report - Trump impeached again; now what? 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 HickenlooperSenate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes Democrats frustrated, GOP jubilant in Senate fight Chamber-endorsed Dems struggle on election night 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 GardnerOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs denounce Capitol attack | Contractors halt donations after siege | 'QAnon Shaman' at Capitol is Navy vet Lobbying world Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE

Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeThousands of troops dig in for inauguration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Nine, including former Michigan governor, charged over Flint water crisis | Regulator finalizes rule forcing banks to serve oil, gun companies | Trump admin adds hurdle to increase efficiency standards for furnaces, water heaters Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings 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 MoultonLawmakers want Pentagon, DOJ to punish current, former military members who participated in riot House chairman endorses Michele Flournoy for Biden's Pentagon chief Trump critic: I am not afraid of Trump MORE (D-Mass.) 

Launch: May 7, ends: Aug. 23

Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanCapitol officer claims MAGA hat was part of ruse to rescue colleagues: report Tim Ryan, Rosa DeLauro giving free coffee and donuts to National Guard stationed at Capitol Agency IGs to probe breakdown in response to Capitol riots MORE (D-Ohio)

Launch: April 11, ends: Oct. 24

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellSwalwell compares Trump to bin Laden: They 'inspired and radicalized' Pelosi names 9 impeachment managers House Judiciary Democrats ask Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump 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