The next presidential election will be held in November 2020, nearly two years from now, but the Democrats are sprinting toward the starting blocks already.
These four Dems are wearing running shoes and getting ready for the long and tiring pace toward voting day.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been reaching out to more women than men for campaign roles, though she is expected to select a man — her current top aide — to manage a campaign likely to be based near her upstate New York home.
Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey has been interviewing possible campaign managers, as well as strategists who could run his Iowa caucus effort.
Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator, has completed a detailed review of her writings and political record to identify potential vulnerabilities and her aides have been scouting headquarters near Boston.
California’s Sen. Kamala Harris is checking out Baltimore or Atlanta as a possible base of operations for her likely presidential bid and is close to bringing on a top aide to run her campaign.
These four high-profile Democratic senators are poised to enter the 2020 presidential race in the next several weeks, advisers and people briefed by their associates say, after spending December finalizing the outlines of their political operations, selecting top campaign staff and conducting research into their own political weak spots.
In some cases, they may first announce the creation of presidential exploratory committees to ramp up their fundraising and hiring efforts, before launching their candidacies more formally in the following weeks.
For the Senate foursome, moving quickly into the race is also a pre-emptive effort to undercut the early advantages of a duo of universally known contenders: former vice president Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Both well-publicized men already have existing networks of support among early-state activists and party donors, and the stature to generate impressive displays of support at early rallies.
“Between the first of January and the middle of February, it would not surprise me for us to see six to eight people say, ‘I’m jumping in’,” Jaime Harrison, a former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman who now serves as associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee said.
Some people say that there may be as many as 20 Democrats declaring their candidacy for the nation’s highest post.
“You have to have a diverse leadership team, and that, more than anything, is something that these campaigns have to be paying attention to,” Anne Caprara, a Democratic operative who is now working as chief of staff to the incoming governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, after running his successful campaign, said.
The focus on staff diversity reflects not only the influence of the #MeToo movement on Democratic politics but the demands of a party that has shifted to the left during the Trump era, as well as a changing primary map.