Tom West, West Words

Tom West

Break out the brie and wine (since DFL bean feeds are long gone) and settle down for the official unofficial start of the 2020 presidential campaign. Wednesday and Thursday, 20 Democrats will “debate” an idea on which they all agree — ousting President Trump.

The only question is, can any of them make any headway over the other 19? Each night, 10 of them will get about seven or eight minutes each to make an impression.

The Democrats, embarrassed when caught rigging the 2016 nomination for Hilary Clinton, are trying to appear inclusive this time. Any Dem with a pulse and outsized ambition was welcomed to try.

Twenty-four did. To make the debate stage, the Democratic National Committee said that they had to get at least 1 percent in three different polls or garner donations from 65,000 unique donors, with at least 500 donors from each of 20 different states.

The four who didn’t make the stage include Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam and former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel.

Here’s a nutshell on the other 20, listed in the order of their average polling support.

Joe Biden, age 76, polling 33.1% — The former vice president and Delaware senator is running as a blue-collar moderate while being attacked by liberal elites for touching women inappropriately.

Bernie Sanders, 77, 17.6% — In spite of an uncanny resemblance to the Sesame Street muppet Waldorf, the Vermont senator is the candidate most likely to destroy the U.S. economy. He loved the Soviet Union.

Elizabeth Warren, 70, 9.8% — The Massachusetts senator is running as a policy wonk. She has a position paper on almost everything. Trump dubbed her “Pocahontas” after she claimed minority status on a Harvard admission form, even though she was only somewhere between 1/64 and 1/1024 Native American.

Kamala Harris, 54, 7.4% — A former state attorney general and daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, the California senator hopes to outflank Cory Booker among African-Americans, and clean up in the crucial California primary. Has repeatedly said if Congress won’t act, she will rule by presidential executive order.

Pete Buttigieg, 37, 6.8% — The mayor of South Bend, Ind., is a military veteran and the first openly gay married person to run for president. His father is an immigrant from Malta, which explains his unpronounceable surname.

Beto O’Rourke, 46, 3.8% — His stump style has drawn comparisons to JFK and Obama. The former congressman from El Paso lost a Senate bid in 2018. In his younger years, charges were dropped after he was arrested for burglary and then DWI.

Cory Booker, 49, 2.2% — The New Jersey senator and former Newark mayor backs criminal justice reform, Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Critics say he is too cozy with Wall Street.

Amy Klobuchar, 58, 1.3% — Iowa is critical for Minnesota’s favorite daughter. The senator has focused on infrastructure, opioids and prescription drug costs. She has been attacked by progressives for allegedly abusing her staff and for not fully embracing liberal projects like Medicare for All. She says she wants to work on goals that actually have a chance of being enacted.

Julian Castro, 44, 1.1% — The only Latino running, the former San Antonio mayor and HUD secretary is pushing immigration reform, Medicare for All and universal pre-kindergarten.

Bill de Blasio, 58, 1.0% — The two-term mayor of New York City, De Blasio says there’s plenty of money in the country, but it’s in the wrong hands.

Andrew Yang, 44, 0.9% — The technology executive’s boldest proposal is a universal basic income of $1,000 per month for all Americans, paid for by a tax on companies that benefit the most from automation.

John Hickenlooper, 67, 0.7% — The moderate, former Colorado governor’s main issues include gun control, the Green New Deal and marijuana legalization.

Tulsi Gabbard, 37, 0.6% — The Hawaii congresswoman and military veteran resigned as vice chair of the DNC in 2016 to support Bernie Sanders. She is the first Samoan American and first Hindu elected to Congress. She has been criticized for using anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

Michael Bennet, 54, 0.6% — The Colorado senator has urged Democrats to reject candidates who are too progressive.

Jay Inslee, 68, 0.6% —The governor of Washington says he’s the only candidate whose top priority is climate change.

Tim Ryan, 45, 0.6% — Elected to Congress in 2003, the moderate Ohioan offended some Dems when he challenged Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leadership in 2016. He continues to push for a generational change in leadership.

Kirsten Gillibrand, 52, 0.6% — The New York senator and close friend of the Clintons led the #MeToo effort to oust Al Franken from the Senate.

Marianne Williamson, 66, 0.5% — The author and self-help spiritual guide to celebrities made the field strictly through grassroots fundraising. She lost a bid for Congress in 2014.

John Delaney, 56, 0.3% — The moderate, former three-term congressman from Maryland was the first to announce his candidacy. He opposes the Green New Deal and supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It’s said he is doing everything right except becoming popular.

Eric Swalwell, 38, 0.3% — The California congressman has been an unwavering advocate for gun control and doing something about Russian election interference.

Tom West, now retired, is the former general manager of this paper. Reach him at

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