By Colby Etherton
The first Democratic debate is less than two weeks away, and there are so many hopefuls running that NBC (the media sponsor of the debate) has divided the debate into two nights to make room for everyone. The lineups are as follows, per CNN Politics:
June 26: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker from New Jersey, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan from Ohio, former U.S. Rep. John Delaney from Maryland, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke from Texas, and former Housing/Urban Development Sec. Julián Castro.
June 27: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand from New York, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris from California, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet from Colorado, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell from California, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, former Gov. John Hickenlooper from Colorado, businessman Andrew Yang, and author/spiritual advisor Marianne Williamson.
A lot of attention has been drawn to the fact that two dozen candidates are running for the Democratic nomination in 2020, hoping to unseat Donald Trump. In theory, this seems advantageous to a lot of voters; after all, we’ll have more choices, and surely will be more likely to find a candidate that aligns perfectly with our views. Right?
In practice, I can’t help but feel annoyed by the bloated field. I appreciate that there’s no shortage of people who are like-minded in wanting to defeat the greatest existential threat to our country, but looking at this field of candidates, I can’t help but wonder if the best way to do that is for each and every one of them to run for the White House.
Unseating Donald Trump is beyond crucial, but the often-overlooked aspect of politics is that it’s a long game. Senate seats, house seats, governor, city council, you name it — the lower seats are just as important when it comes to inciting change. I’m of the frame of mind that a lot of these candidates would be better-suited elsewhere (or where they already are), at least for this election cycle.
Take Texas’ very own Beto O’Rourke, for example. I emphatically supported his Senate campaign against Ted Cruz. He was a slow-burn, but with time, he took off on a national level, drawing eyes from all over the country to this state’s U.S. Senate race. I understand using that momentum to launch a presidential bid, but it’s a sorely missed opportunity. Elections can be wildly unpredictable (case in point: the 2016 Republican primaries and 2016 general election), but O’Rourke is something of a long shot in this crowded field of candidates.
more realistic that would have a massive impact both on our state and country,
especially when it comes to pushing back against harmful Republican
policies, would’ve been another U.S. Senate run against John Cornyn,
Texas’ other incumbent senator. O’Rourke would arguably have a better shot
against him than he did against Ted Cruz because, as despised as Cruz is, Cruz
benefits from huge name
recognition and his ability to rile up this state’s large conservative base. Take the far-less galvanizing Cornyn and pit him against O’Rourke, with a large grassroots movement behind him, and there’s a strong chance O’Rourke is the first Democratic Senator from Texas since 1993.
That goes for another candidate (who won’t be appearing in the first debate; yep, there’s more of ‘em), current Montana governor Steve Bullock. Steve Bullock is a Democratic governor in a state that Trump won by twenty points — an unusual distinction. In the 2018 midterms, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester narrowly won his bid for reelection in Montana. All of this is to say that Montana is a rare opportunity, a conservative state where both Senate seats can be held by Democrats. According to Vox, in-state polls in the state of Montana have Steve Bullock as the highest-approved politician in the state, which would make him, in theory, the best possible candidate to field for the Senate.
I’m all for passion and believing that your track record and your vision would be an asset as president, especially in comparison to the dumpster fire that we have now. But for me, it goes back to the big picture. If a lot of these long-shot candidates jockeyed for different seats, massive victories could be made.
The downside to such a crowded field is that there’s going to be a severe lack of equal airtime for every candidate. It’s going to be difficult for each candidate to telegraph their own respective, unique message in the few minutes that they’ll get. Many will have to fight for that airtime against candidates that are perceived to be heavy-hitters (think Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, and Elizabeth Warren). It’s another downside to the expansive field.
Perhaps it’s controversial to say, but the sooner this field narrows, the better.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the MONTROSE STAR.