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The Governors Who Want to Be President.

A profile of a few of the Governors who may run in 2020.

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The Governors Who Want to Be President.

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If you follow the news coverage of politicians around the country or check their twitter feed, you are likely to see a trend: a huge number of them want to be president in 2020. Whether it is through their visits to Iowa, foreign policy speeches, or appearances on Sunday morning  television talk shows, one can tell who is seriously contemplating a run for that office.

Much like the Republicans in 2016, this field of Democratic hopefuls is expected to be very large, some saying as large as 20+ candidates. Over the next few weeks, through my deep dive into the presidential election, I will profile some of the possible candidates and what they will bring to this very important race.

In this article, I will be focusing on the possible governors who may run for the presidency. Historically, governors have fared quite well in presidential elections. Their role as chief executive of their state gives them experience that many value in a presidential candidate. However, governors are not often very well known outside of their state and do not have the same foreign policy credentials as senators.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT)

Who?! Don’t worry, that is a reasonable response. Many people outside of the mountainous West have never heard of Bullock, the popular two-term governor of Montana. That is not surprising. I believe, however, that more people should be paying attention to Bullock, who has an interesting pedigree that could bridge the divide in our nation.

Born in Montana, Bullock grew up the son of a teacher. He attended Claremont McKenna College in California and got his law degree with honors from Columbia Law School. He worked in private practice and then served as the State Attorney General. He was elected governor in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, despite the fact that President Trump carried that state by 20 points.

Bullock speaking in Iowa this summer.

Bullock’s bipartisan appeal is something that makes him a very interesting candidate in my eyes. He has been a defender of liberal social policies, such as tribal sovereignty, abortion, and LGBTQ rights, and he has advocated strongly against dark money in politics. However, he has also promoted bipartisanship and economic growth as governor of a red state.

I first began to look into Bullock after reading an op-ed he penned in the wake of the school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. In it, he wrote about losing his 11-year-old nephew to a school shooting. He also spoke about his 14-year-old son shooting his first deer in hunting season. He talked about the importance of balancing safety and rights and spoke of how sensible gun owners would support his thinking on gun policy, which includes background checks, banning semiautomatic weapons, and rejecting plans to arm teachers in the classroom.

I believe that this sums up Bullock’s appeal. He is someone who can champion liberal causes without forgetting the many people in this country whose lifestyles lead them to engage in practices that may not be familiar to those of us living on the East or West Coasts.

Bullock has reiterated this point, telling the New York Times, “We just haven’t been able to figure out the ways to speak to people off of the coasts. And if we can’t speak the language of Iowa or Michigan or Wisconsin, even if you get an electoral majority, you’re never going to have a governing majority.”

Now I think that there is a large chance that Bullock’s anonymity will be too hard for him to overcome. However, if he is able to break through the noise, I think he could be a candidate on whom people should focus, since he could also appeal to more moderate voters and some across the aisle.

Born in Pennsylvania, Hickenlooper moved to Colorado after college. There he opened a successful brewing company. Soon after, he became the mayor of Denver. In 2010, he was elected governor of Colorado, a post he has held for 8 year, and that he is about to leave due to term limits.


Former President Obama shares a beer with Governor Hickenlooper.

Hickenlooper’s personality and campaign style are quirky, to say the least. I have listened to podcasts with him in which he makes weed jokes, since he was the governor who oversaw Colorado’s legalization of pot. He is a funny person, earnest, and extremely open about his private life. His biography, the “Opposite of Woe: My Life in Beer and Politics” is filled with funny anecdotes about his childhood, his teen years, and his ascent to this very important position. That is part of the power of Hickenlooper. He does not feel like a politician, but he also has the experience that many of us think is important.

With his 8 years of running Colorado, Hickenlooper has overseen many changes in the state. He helped Colorado transition to be the first state to legalize marijuana, despite his own disapproval. He placed stiff gun restrictions in place following the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. He has also overseen a large economic boom in Colorado. Some of this, however, may come back to get him in the Democratic primary, especially his open approach to hydraulic fracking, despite supporting ambitious climate change policies.

Overall, I think that Hickenlooper is similar to Bullock in that he has long odds to make it, but, if he gets some recognition, I believe he could do very well.

Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) 

After his resounding win in this year’s gubernatorial race, all signs pointed to New York governor Andrew Cuomo running for president. In fact, these signs have been present for a long time, especially if one follows him on social media or follows NY state politics. Since Trump’s election in 2016, Cuomo has been an outspoken critic. He took actions such as touring Puerto Rico after the hurricane and trying to circumvent Trump’s tax law. That is why I was so surprised to see an interview with Cuomo in which he ruled out running for President. Now it is not uncommon for politicians to say that they are not running for president; at this stage in the game, it really is common to play coy about running.


Governor Cuomo visits Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

So why may he not run? Well, he has had some corruption scandals involving his aides. In addition, he may not want to get into such a large and raucous field in which he may not win. However, I will say that I do not count Cuomo out completely. I believe that there is still a chance that he may run.

John Kasich (R-OH) 

At first, you might be thinking: why is there a Republican on this list?

I put Governor Kasich of Ohio on the list because I feel that he is one of the most interesting figures going into 2020. Kasich first ran for president against Donald Trump in 2016. In that campaign, Kasich ran on a platform of bipartisanship and Christian compassion. Since losing the election, the two-term governor of Ohio has been a major critic of the president. If one turns on any Sunday morning talk show, one is likely to see Kasich seeing interviewed. He has promoted himself as a bipartisan problem-solver with years of experience as both a governor and as a member of Congress.

Governor Kasich on Meet the Press.

Now that Kasich has been term-limited out as Governor, there is a possibility that he will try to run once again for president. This would not be an easy task by any measure. It is nearly impossible to beat an incumbent president in the primary. In addition, President Trump remains very popular among Republican Primary voters. Therefore, It is likely that, if Kasich were to run, it would be more of an ideological challenge than anything else.

Another option is that Kasich may try to run as an independent candidate. I hope this does not happen. Although I wish a more moderate Republican would unseat Trump, I feel that, if Kasich ran as an independent, he could serve as a spoiler and siphon off moderate voters who might otherwise vote Democrat.

All of these possible candidates come with their own sets of benefits, as well as their own baggage. Can Hickenlooper and Bullock overcome a lack of name recognition? Will Cuomo run? Does Kasich have a shot? These are all questions that can only be answered as time goes on and as we see how it all plays out.

For a long time, the role of governor was seen as a natural stepping stone to the presidency. However, in our changing society, these patterns may no longer be true. Will people seek out a moderate pragmatist with lots of experience to counteract President Trump, or will they want someone else — someone more fiery and liberal to take on our current president? Next, I will write about some possible candidates from the Senate, who may be better known but more liberal — something that may be important in such a large primary field. 


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The Governors Who Want to Be President.