5 more Democratic presidential hopefuls who may have other ambitions

Jessica Rae Fisher
5 min readMay 21, 2019


This is the sixth piece in my series on the 2020 election.

Unless there are any surprises (personally, I welcome them) there are only two more candidates expected to get into the 2020 Democratic presidential primary: Stacey Abrams and Joe Sanberg.

While we wait to see if these two will enter the race, the field has grown by eight candidates since I wrote 7 Democratic party hopefuls who may have other ambitions, and I want to talk about 5 of those candidates who I think may have other ambitions.

As I said before, there are plenty of reasons to run other than winning — to attempt to shape the debate, to raise one’s national profile, to build one’s war chest, to build connections, to shape the convention, maybe to get the VP nod or make the VP shortlist, and/or possibly even to strengthen one’s resume for an application in a future presidential administration.

Some of these play into why some of these candidates may ultimately be running — so that they can run for governor or for the senate in 2022 or 2024. At least one, if not two of the candidates on this list may even be looking at future runs for the House of Representatives.

Without further ado —

1. Bill de Blasio

Though I don’t know that there’s a good entry point for de Blasio into higher office in New York. It seems like he would have his pick of Congressional races to throw his hat into, if he were so inclined.

If Senator Gillibrand is elected president in 2020, that could provide an opening for de Blasio. If Gillibrand retains her Senate seat, it doesn’t seem likely that either her or Senator Schumer will retire in 2022. Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo, who is 61, is staying out of the 2020 fray, so if he has presidential ambitions, he may try to hold on to the Governor’s mansion until 2024.

de Blasio, a breakthrough candidate in the 2013 mayoral election, only announced his presidential candidacy five days ago, entering into a crowded field, and he’s already one of the 18 candidates who has qualified to be in the first primary debate in scheduled to take place on June 26th and 27th.

Joining de Blasio on this list are a slew of Democratic Representatives.

2. Seth Moulton

The representative from Massachusetts was first elected in 2015. Of the options available, it is more likely that Moulton would run for governor in 2022 against incumbent Charlie Baker. However, he may face off in a primary against Joe Kennedy III, among others. Moulton’s entry into the presidential primary suggests he’s not, currently, interested in Senator Markey’s seat. By 2020 there could be an appointment and/or a special election for Senator Warren’s seat, if she’s elected president. If she doesn’t win the nomination and subsequently the presidency, she may be weak in 2024, when that seat will be up for reelection. Otherwise, Moulton would only be 46 in 2026, in time to run for Senator Markey’s current seat.

3. Tim Ryan

Representative Tim Ryan may be hoping to fill the Sherrod Brown sized hole in some primary voters hearts. He may also be after Senator Brown’s seat. Honestly, though, it’s much more likely that the representative, if he’s looking to seek higher office in Ohio, will either run against Governor Mike DeWine in 2022 or run against Senator Rob Portman that same year.

Being from a battle ground state, his popularity and success would be a more long term investment for the Democratic Party. Additionally, the Democrats can use all the governorships and senators they can get. A Governor or Senator Ryan would be a much stronger candidate in 2024, when it’s likely that the presidential race will be open on both sides again.

Check out a documentary on Representative Ryan’s first run for Congress on Amazon Prime.

4. Eric Swalwell

Representative Swalwell first one elected office in 2010, when he was elected to the Dublin City Council, where he served for three years before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013.

Of the 12 candidates featured total over these two lists, Swalwell may have the most narrow path forward. I originally thought about writing about more senators who could run for governor and vice versa, but I wanted to keep this list short and exclusive. After all, again, 12 candidates would be half the current field, not counting one withdrawal and two potential announcements to come.

In either senate primary Swalwell would face either Senator Feinstein, who while she only has a 43% approval rating (this number does seem to be a national number and not a California number, which is obviously important) has also served in that position since 1992. If Senator Harris wins the presidency, this would create an opportunity for Representative Swalwell to pursue that senate seat, by appointment, special, and regular election.

5. Marianne Williamson

This brings us to Marianne Williamson to close on. Williamson has never held elected office before, making her unique on this list. However, she ran as an independent for Congress in California’s 33rd district in 2014.

Given this history it seems possible that Williamson is hoping to raise her profile for another congressional run. Similarly, she may be interested in running as an Independent against either Senators Feinstein or Harris, or against Governor Newsom.

However this Democratic presidential primary plays out — if it has the chance to be open and broad, and all of the candidates have their chance to speak and their moment in the sun, these same folks could continue to play no insignificant role in their party’s politics, their home state’s politics, and the nation’s politics, for at least a decade to come.

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Jessica Rae Fisher

Trans woman writer | @MetalRiot | @Medium | @GAHighlands alumna | @KennesawState alumna | @GSUSociology PhD Student | #Metalhead