Friday, June 14, 2019

Democratic Presidential Candidates Compete for Second Place; Vote Gravel!

I have never bought the conventional wisdom that the Democratic presidential nomination is wide open.  Barring a health crisis, former VP Joe Biden will win.  The debates and early state caucus/elections are more about auditions to be Biden's running mate than picking a nominee.  My money on that score is on California Senator Kamala Harris with my backup choice Minnesota Senator Amy Klobachur.  While I'm not sure who Biden would pick, I can guarantee his running mate won't be a white male.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is driving in the same lane as her Vermont counterpart from the Senate, Bernie Sanders.  One will eventually run the other off the road.  I think Warren wins that.  She has the same socialist polices as Bernie without the gruff personality.  Plus, she's a woman, which
Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel
is a major bonus with Democratic voters.

In a field dominated by third and fourth tier candidates struggling to break 1%, Harris and Warren stand out as solid second tier candidates.  But I don't see either as ever displacing Biden.  Neither are seen as electable as Biden.  But more importantly, they are not even winning their home states in the polls.  A California poll released yesterday has Harris in 4th place in her home state, with just 13%. (Warren in the California poll is actually second in that state with 19%.)   A Massachusetts poll earlier this week, had Warren in second, but with only 10%.  Biden led the poll in both states.

Meanwhile, former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg are attempting to drive in the same lane.  (Sorry for continuing to use that tired metaphor.)  O'Rourke is barely a second tier candidate.  At his rallies, O'Rourke appears to be desperately trying to channel President John Kennedy and that schtick is not selling nationally like it did in Texas.  "Mayor Pete," meanwhile, has been the most impressive candidate on the campaign trail.  He has displayed a temperament and intellect that is a wonderful contrast to President Trump.  Buttigieg also has a great resume, including military service that contrasts nicely with Donald "Bone Spurs" Trump.  I do have doubts about his ability to transition after a primary to run a general election, but of all the candidates who could break through and displace Biden as the nominee, my money would be on Buttigieg.

While there are some excellent candidates in the third tier, I think the odds of one of those candidates breaking from the back of the pack and sprinting by Biden are long.  (See, I changed metaphors - horse racing!)  But one of them, not sure which one, will eventually have a moment and move up into the second tier.  But "a moment" among the leaders is all they are likely to have. 

In short, I don't think the Democratic nomination is as wide open as people think it is.

I do note the newest entry into the Democratic race, former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel (gruh - vel').  Gravel has led a very interesting life.  No candidate, not even Biden, can match his personal, professional and political experience...which is not surprising since he's 89 years old.  Gravel is also known for the greatest political commercial ever made.



Vote Gravel!

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