The long road back to the White House for the Democratic Party began the moment Hillary Clinton conceded the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump on Nov. 9, with the DNC forced to weigh viable candidates for an upcoming election cycle that could be just as unconventional as its predecessor.
The Democrats will be running against the Trump administration’s policies, a curious position to be in considering its unpredictability on so many issues. The Trump transition has already been met with controversy, suggesting there will no shortage of talking points and issues, and perhaps enough vulnerability to successfully overtake an incumbent for the first time since 1992.
There are plenty of names that have already been thrown around, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro.
But one possible candidate appears to have an edge on the very early contenders for the nomination: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.
A rising star within the party, the charismatic Booker checks off several boxes. By 2020 he will be of good age (51) to assume office, is very personable in interviews and has name recognition after one of the most memorable speeches of the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Booker also has some heroic and good-natured back stories that can endear him to independent voters. In 2012, the former Mayor of Newark saved a woman from a house fire. He also opened his home to a dozen neighbors who were without power during Hurricane Sandy. Booker once helped a pedestrian hit by a car and rescued a dog from freezing temperatures.
He won’t be subjected to questions of authenticity, an issue that plagued Clinton on the campaign trail. Many appear charmed by his affable personality, and the former Stanford Cardinal football player may be able to siphon more male votes that Clinton struggled to gain. Booker also boasts nearly 2 million followers on Twitter.
Booker, who is up for re-election in 2018, has introduced 11 bills into Congress. He has been in the senate since winning a special election in October 2013.
But there are still obstacles for a Booker victory in 2020. He would represent the third consecutive non-white male Democratic nominee after white males played such a crucial role in Trump’s victory in November. Booker may also have to fend off a primary battle from the likes of a left-leaning candidate who may question his ties to the financial industry. As a senator, his voting record is closer to Kaine than it is to popular 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders, according to GovTrack.com.
New Jersey is also a traditionally blue state, so he doesn't offer an opportunity for the Democrats to carry a swing state. Booker is also a bachelor, and there’s hasn’t been a president who was unmarried since James Buchanan (1857-61).
If Booker does indeed run and win the nomination, who would he run with? Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who was adamant about not running for president or serving as a running mate in 2016, decides to leave the Senate, seems like the obvious choice. Brown remains a popular blue-collar senator in a crucial battleground state, and will also be considered a top choice to run on top of the ticket. However, he consistently turned down overtures to run for president or accept a running-mate role in 2016.