Dustbin 2020: The best Dems who surely won’t get the nomination

Dustbin 2020: The best Dems who surely won’t get the nomination
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If you believe Democratic pundits, the downfall of Donald Trump along with whatever remains of the GOP in Congress is all but certain in 2020. The only thing yet to be sorted is which liberal lion will assume the mantle.

With less than one hundred days away from the start of the presidential primary season, and under pressure to unite against Trump sooner rather than later, Democrats are giving clear signals that they prefer a candidate who incites the base rather than pulls from the middle. Fearful of repeating the mistakes of 2016, the party is looking hard left for its new champion.


President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE and the GOP may be putting on a brave face when it comes to Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 Newsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Trump, Biden in dead heat in hypothetical 2020 matchup among Texas voters MORE; but in truth, they know that someone of his mold poses the greatest danger of drawing the white working class back into the fold in those swing states few expected Trump to win two years ago. 


Biden faces good odds in the primary. But beyond ‘Uncle Joe,’ there are several potential contenders that have similar blue-collar appeal and have been reserved in their support for the polarizing #AbolishICE and #Socialism rhetoric. Perhaps this makes them potentially good general election candidates; yet sadly, this is why they are sure to be relegated to the early dustbin of 2020 contenders.

Each stands almost no chance of winning the nomination of a party with little appetite for moderation; and as cisgender white men, they’ve already lost the identity politics lottery the left tends to play. There’s simply no breathing room for a new Jim Webb or Joe Lieberman when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is sucking up all the oxygen in the modern Democratic Party.

Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) John RyanTim Ryan ‘seriously considering’ 2020 bid Baseball legend Frank Robinson, first black manager in MLB, dies at 83 House Democrat warns ethics committee about Steve King promoting white nationalism website MORE -- Perhaps the clearest sign Tim Ryan is serious about running for President came last week when he hired a veteran Iowa consultant fresh from Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 MORE’ 2016 team.  This week he is set to speak along side Michael Avenatti at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding.  

Since his 2016 challenge of Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiNational emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win Congress allows Violence Against Women Act to lapse High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks MORE for leader, Ryan has been trying to shed his moderate image.  He felt the wind blow on marijuana, abortion, and guns, and has publicly changed course; but progressives will be sure to remind primary voters that he favors Trump-like corporate tax cuts, and he’ll wear his 2003 “A” rating from the NRA as a scarlet letter.   

Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Pollster says current 2020 surveys like picking best picture Oscar before movies come out Shep Smith: Signing funding bill is a 'loss' for Trump no matter how it's packaged MORE -- Brown was expecting a tight re-election this year, and now is set to face Rep. Jim RenacciJames (Jim) B. RenacciGOP rep: If Mueller had found collusion, ‘investigation would have wrapped up very quickly’ House Ethics Committee extends probe into Renacci Sherrod Brown says he has 'no real timetable' for deciding on 2020 presidential run MORE (R-OH16) in November.  Despite having the President’s endorsement in a state Trump won +8, the Republican challenger is down 15 points in the latest RealClearPolitics average to the popular Democrat incumbent. 

Yet the anti-NAFTA, Trump-tariff-‘totin, Rust Belt Senator may be a tough sell for progressives, despite the GOP’s best efforts to paint him as a through-and-through liberal in this election cycle. Brown has his progressive bona fides, for sure; he’s been rated as one of the Senate’s most liberal members by multiple organizations.  He consistently opposed the Iraq War, defended Obamacare, and opposed Gorsuch; but he is a white male in a cycle where Democrats are debating whether the 2020 nominee must be a woman or at least check some other identity politics box.

Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Steel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry MORE -- As CNBC reported, Democratic donors are pushing Mark Warner to enter the field as a moderate (read safe) alternative to Sanders, Warren, Harris, et al.. They see him as having enough Trump bashing sound bites to make him a credible choice for the left, but also an ample pro-growth record to not spook the business community. 

As Ed Gillespie said of him in their 2014 debate, “Governor Warner would not recognize Senator Warner today.”  Though he is now playing the role of the party stalwart ever-opposed to the Trump Agenda, the self-proclaimed “radical centrist” was already facing heat from the left for playing footsie with Republicans well before 2016.

Mitch Landrieu -- Telling Jake Tapper on State of the Union last week that he, too, was a “radical centrist,” Mitch Landrieu is playing an odd long game.  After all, it was only a few days after he had already told David Axelrod on a different CNN show that Joe Biden ought to be the nominee.  Perhaps it was his way of projecting his own blue-collar appeal to the forefront, or perhaps it was the truth.

Even though he is not nearly at the top of anyone’s 2020 list, there is already pushback, including his own hometown paper, which described him as “not the torch-wielding revolutionary the far left is hoping will rise up to vanquish Donald Trump.”  Similar articles acknowledging that he may be a fine mayor, but a poor presidential candidate for progressives, have ran in The New Republic and Vice.

With all signs pointing to an enthused and motivated progressive base, these four candidates face strong headwinds in the effort to convince primary voters that the Democratic Party needs consensus building  and a focus on who best could win back those moderate voters that were lost in 2016.  But after seeing the cult following of young liberals like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and how they are dragging the party further from the center, perhaps its best they take a pass this go around, rather than end up in the dustbin of failed centrist Dems.  

Joseph Borelli is the minority whip of the New York City Council, Republican commentator, professor and Lindsay Fellow at the City University of New York's Institute for State and Local Governance. He served as co-chair of Donald Trump’s New York campaign. He has also been published in the NY Daily News, DC Examiner and Washington Times and appears on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, BBC and HLN. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeBorelliNYC