Buckle up everyone - the 2020 election season has officially begun. More than 20 Democrats are vying to become the 2020 Democratic nominee for president in 2020, and their first chance to convince voters they should be the person to take up residence in the White House is this week.
The first debate, scheduled for Wednesday, June 26, will be broadcast by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern Time with a second debate airing the following night.
Wednesday's debate will feature ten candidates, including: Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney. You can read more about those candidates and their positions here.
Thursday night's debate will reportedly feature: Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and self-help author Marianne Williamson.
There's a lot of names on the list, so don't feel bad if you don't recognize them all. If you need a reminder, here's a quick primer on the candidates you'll be seeing on the second night of the Democratic debates on Thursday.
Vice-President Joe Biden
Widely considered to be one of the top contenders in the Democratic primary, Biden has run for president twice before - once in 1988 and again in 2008. 2020 is widely considered to be the 76-year-old's last chance to run for president. After losing to President Barack Obama in 2008, he went on to serve two terms as Obama's Vice President. Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Biden grew up in Delaware where he would eventually run for the Senate in 1972 - becoming one of the youngest people elected to that position in history.
Biden announced his candidacy on April 25, 2019, as a centrist Democrat who says he's one of the few people on stage who can work with both sides of the aisle. One of his signature issues is to restore America's standing on the global stage as well as strengthening economic protections for low-income workers.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
A firebrand independent Senator from Vermont (who caucuses with Democrats), this is Sanders' second swing at the Democratic nomination for President after he unsuccessfully ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016. His career in politics began when he was first elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1981 by a margin of only ten votes. In 1990, Sanders ran for Vermont's house seat and won, representing the state until he ran for Senate in 2006.
Sanders announced his presidential campaign on February 19 on Vermont Public Radio. The self-described Democratic Socialist has a range of progressive policy positions that include things like bold action on Climate Change, Medicare-for-all, and a tax system that is fair, progressive and transparent.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
The former prosecutor turned Senator has been representing California as its junior Senator after she was elected in 2016. Harris was born in Oakland, California, and worked in the San Francisco's District Attorney's Office in the 90s. In 2004, Harris ran for District Attorney of San Francisco and won. She was asked to serve as Gov. Jerry Brown's Attorney General in 2011, where she worked until being elected Senator.
Harris, widely considered a top contender for the job, declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President on January 21, tying the record for most money raised in the first 24-hours after her announcement. Harris has a range of progressive policy positions including supporting single-payer healthcare, protection for illegal immigrants, and lowering the tax burden on the working and middle class while raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest 1 percent.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
First appointed as New York's junior Senator in 2008 by Gov. David Paterson, Gillibrand has built a fiery reputation over the years as one of the Senate's most outspoken voices. Once known as a 'Blue-Dog' Democrat, Gillibrand moved to the left as Senator, supporting progressive positions such as paid family leave, a federal jobs guarantee, and the aboltion of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Gillibrand first announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination on March 17, pledging that she would not accept campaign donations from Political Action Committees.
Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO)
First appointed to the Senate in 2009, Bennet began his career as a law clerk and later counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in the Bill Clinton Administration. He went on to become the superintendent of Denver's public school system in 2005 with many believing him to be a candidate for Secretary of Education under Obama.
Bennet announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president on May 2, calling for a modernization of America's economy, emphasizing fields like artificial intelligence and increased spending on infrastructure.
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg
A long-shot campaigner, Buttigieg caught the attention of Democrats nationwide after he wrote an essay that chronicled why Democrats lost in 2016 and how they could recover. Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan in 2014 as an intelligence officer in the Navy reserve, was first elected mayor of South Bend in 2011.
One of the most progressive politicians running, Buttigieg announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination on April 14. As one of the more progressive politicians running, Buttigieg is campaigning on not only his youthful appeal to voters, but also his support for universal healthcare, reducing income inequality, and universal background checks for firearms purchases.
Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
One of the most successful moderate Democrats in a purple state, Gov. Hickenlooper is a former geologist who struck it rich after opening Wynkoop Brewery Company in Denver. After serving as the mayor of Denver for several years, he ran for Governor of Colorado in 2010 winning handily. During his time as governor, Hickelooper oversaw the legalization of recreational weed in Colorado, guiding the program through its nascent stages.
On March 4, Hickenlooper announced he was running for the Democratic nomination, with his campaign promoting his strengths in reaching across the aisle to focus on the issues that matter to the American people the expansion of Medicaid, gay rights and gun control.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Raised in Sac City, Iowa and Dublin, California, Swalwell was first elected to the U.S. House in 2012, defeating a 40-year incumbent who had held the office since 1973 (Swalwell was born in 1980). Swalwell has begun to collect national name recognition thanks to his recent appearances as a cable news guest and member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.
Swalwell announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination for president on April 8, during an episode of Stephen Colbert. He's come out in support of repealing the No Child Left Behind Act and increase funding for education while decreasing funding for defense. He's also called for federal investment in renewable energy jobs and for the federal government to raise the cap on the Social Security payroll tax.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
Yang began his career working over the years in startups and early-growth companies as a founder or executive. In 2009, Yang founded Venture for America, a program that caught the attention of then-President Barack Obama, who selected him as a "Champion of Change" in 2012 and in 2015 as a "Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship."
Yang announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in November 2017, with his campaign focusing on what he called a "Freedom Dividend," a form of Universal Basic Income for every American over the age of 18. The Freedom Dividend is something Yang believes will be needed to combat the rapid rise of artificial intelligence and automation that threatens to put people out of work over the next several decades.
Self-help author Marianne Williamson
As the author of more than a dozen self-help and spiritual novles, Williamson is no stranger to politics, having run for Congress as an independent in 2014, an election she ultimately lost.
Williamson announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination on January 29. Among her signature issue is a proposal she made for $100 billion in reparations for slavery with $10 billion to be distributed annual over ten years for economic and education projects.