WASHINGTON — While the campaign for president seems to be endless, the recent and very public entry of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren into the 2020 election marks a beginning.
Democrats are likely to have a large primary field in their effort to defeat incumbent President Donald Trump and Warren is the first, but certainly not the last, qualified and politically viable candidate to run.
Viability is a word that pundits, strategists and activists use to narrow down large fields of candidates.
However, you may remember that Trump’s first campaign was, almost universally, considered not viable, so you need to understand that viability is ultimately determined by voters.
Several questions should be asked and answered when considering viability.
Is the candidate well-known? Is the candidate experienced working on specific issues crucial to voters? Will she or he be able to raise the money needed to compete? Can they connect to primary voters and to the wider general electorate?
I’d say viability, while not dependent on satisfying all of these criteria, certainly depends on satisfying most of them.
Warren is professionally accomplished as a law professor and scholar, experienced as an advocate for working class Americans in her work on fairness in banking, and has served with distinction as a United States senator.
And she has become well-known through her outspoken advocacy, is beloved by primary voters in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and is even a frequent target of Trump’s ire and ridicule.
Interestingly, she is also a former Republican, adding to her potential crossover general election appeal.
Warren’s experience advocating for consumer protections, especially in banking, allows her to deliver a genuine and expert narrative on the damaging economic divide that voters everywhere feel and are yearning to solve and she delivers this message in an engaging way when she campaigns or speaks publicly.
A result of her popularity is that Warren was in the top 10 for fundraising in 2018, despite not having a particularly competitive re-election. That suggests she has the basic campaign finance viability needed to compete.
All this adds up to make Warren a clearly viable, if we must use that term, candidate for president.
Now, while Warren is the first viable candidate to enter the race, even though a few others missing some of those key criteria have already entered, she will not be the last. Serious consideration will need to be given to other candidates as well.
Assumed candidacies include former Vice President Joe Biden as well as Sens. Bernie Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Jeff Merkley, Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand.
There are many other well-known Democrats considering as well, including the popular Beto O’Rourke of Texas, who narrowly lost his initial try for the U.S. Senate last year.
The list includes other elected officials such as Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Others expressing interest include former Attorney General Eric Holder, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and another dozen potential candidates.
While not delving into every candidate, a few short examples of viable candidates would be Biden, who has already won twice nationwide; Sanders, whose primary challenge of Hillary Clinton was remarkably strong and wide in its support; and Brown, who has won tough contests in battleground Ohio as a progressive while championing working class issues including trade.
The campaign for 2020 will be exciting and an important decision will need to be made. Voters are fortunate to have what seems to be a strong, inspiring, diverse, progressive, and yes, viable field of candidates to choose from and Warren definitely fits that bill.