This campaign season, I’m comparing each “tier” of presidential candidates to a type of solar orbiting body. Yesterday, I took a brief look at Tier 5: Small Solar System Bodies, which noted that nearly 200 insignificant candidates are running for the Democratic nomination.
Today, it’s time for the Tier 4: Unknown Dwarf Planets. These are undeclared candidates who probably can’t win or declared major candidates with almost impossibly long odds. It would shock me if any of these candidates became the nominee.
Tier 4: Unknown Dwarf Planets
We’re into the top 20. Time to start ranking…
20. Marianne Williamson, California best-selling author and spiritual teacher: I’ve seen a modicum of love for her online. She’s right on the cusp of SSSB status, but if she’s good enough to be Oprah’s spiritual adviser, maybe she can be one for the country.
19. Andrew Yang, New York entrepreneur: He filed his papers back on November 6, 2017 — three years before the next general election. That’s allowed him to raise, as of the last FEC public disclosure (which was before nearly every person on this list declared), the third most money of any candidate. His $660,000 trailed only President Trump and the next name on this list.
18. John Delaney, former Congressman from Maryland (2013-2019): Delaney declared even earlier than Yang — all the way back in June of 2017. He has since raised nearly 6 million dollars in 18 months, an impressive number… until Bernie Sanders beat it in under 24 hours.
17. Eric Swalwell, Congressman from California (2013-): Though he has yet to officially declare, he’s included on this list because he looks like likely to run after spending time in New Hampshire. He’s a young (38), bright guy with a smart grasp of social media, but I don’t see a path for a relatively obscure and inexperienced California Congressman in this election. He’s got a future in the party, though, and he would likely eye Kamala Harris or Diane Feinstein’s Senate seat if they leave the chamber.
16. Steve Bullock, Governor of Montana (2013-)
15. John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado (2011-2019): Hickenlooper gets the edge because he just officially declared his candidacy, but I lump them in together as moderate Midwestern governors who hope their relative centrism convinces Democrats to vote for someone who can win Trump voters. The party is simply not moving that way, though, and without more name recognition (Joe Biden), widespread party backing (Sherrod Brown), or a fresh look (Amy Klobuchar), that’ll turn out to be a hopeless pitch.
14. Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington (2013-): It’s a decent Democratic résumé: he’s the governor of a progressive state, the governor behind Washington v. Trump, an advocate for urgent action on climate change, and he was the 2018 chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association when the party picked up seven gubernatorial seats. Helping him get ranked at the top of this tier, he just became an official candidate on Friday and has since raised a cool million dollars. However, his delegate base — Washington, Oregon, Idaho — is relatively weak and, importantly, probably late on the primary calendar. Plus, he’s an old white guy in a young, mostly female, and heavily minority party. Unlike Michael Bloomberg, he can’t self-fund a hundred million dollars, while unlike Bernie Sanders, he has no national name recognition, and unlike Joe Biden, he has no case as a particularly strong general election candidate compared to the field. Those are the ways an old white guy can still be the nominee of such a diverse party.
And that does it for Tier 4 and Part II. (Rather than make this a five-thousand-word marathon, I’m trying to keep this ranking manageable for you!)
Tomorrow, we get into Tier 3: the Known Dwarf Planets — candidates that are both declared and have a puncher’s chance to become relevant. I hope to see you then.