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Est. April 5, 2002
Jan 16, 2020 - Issue 802
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2020 Democrats, Diversity
Michael Bloomberg?

"The Democratic front runners,
Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Butttigieg,
although having led in different polls,
have not, to date, demonstrated
the political skills and understanding of the electorate
necessary to defeat President Trump."

The contest for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination is rapidly moving toward its first major test in the February 3rd Iowa Democratic caucuses. With a dozen candidates still in the race, only eight are actually running serious campaigns—former Vice President Joe Biden; former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Sens. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Andrew Yang (former tech executive); Tom Steyer (Billionaire former hedge fund manager); and Michael Bloomberg (Billionaire media executive and former Mayor of New York City) who is not participating in the early primaries.

Several others are running essentially vanity races: former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), former Congressman John Delaney (D-MD), and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). Gabbard is also viewed by some as functioning as a troll for Russian Premier Vladimir Putin as he continues his efforts to disrupt American elections.

But a major issue has emerged over the lack of racial diversity among the remaining candidates after Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro exited the race. Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam, an African American, was a candidate on paper only. The diversity issue is important because of the crucial roles that black, Hispanic, and Asian voters will play in determining the Democratic nominee and in the presidential election.

There have been numerous complaints that the lack of ethnic minority representation is a continuing blind spot within the Democratic Party which would be unable to prevail in most of its elections at the local, state, and national levels without substantial support from its minority base. Democrats were only able to flip the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 because of much larger than average minority turnout.

While greater minority representation would be significant, in addition to Andrew Yang who did not qualify for the last Democratic debate, it should be acknowledged that the ethnic minority candidates who dropped out of the race never attracted consistently large following from minority voters. Moreover, their own political records were rife with anti-minority stances, policies, and practices.

Kamala Harris was a cop’s cop while serving as San Francisco’s City Attorney, championing legislation that led to the fining and jailing of the parents of habitually truant students. In 2010, with her staff, she knowingly withheld information from the defense counsels for more than 1,000 defendants in drug and other criminal cases. She also ignored allegations that crime lab technician, Deborah Madden, in the police-run crime lab was “… stealing cocaine that was used as criminal evidence by prosecutors…”

Harris also failed to disclose to defense attorneys that police officers essential to hundreds of cases she had filed had been convicted of crimes or had been investigated for misconduct.

She launched her presidential campaign to a huge crowd and much fanfare in her hometown of Oakland, CA on the MLK Holiday in 2019. After an early bump in the polls, the aforementioned facts quietly made the rounds across the country preventing her campaign from gaining traction. She was never able to attract large numbers African American women, who are the base of the Democratic Party, despite being a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the largest African American sorority in the world.

Furthermore, field research has revealed that she was unable to effectively engage with attendees at donor gatherings, the candidates’ forum held by the National Education Association (NEA), or at the “She the People Presidential Forum” which was tailor-made for her candidacy. Overwhelmingly comprised of women of color, Elizabeth Warren made a more compelling case to the group. Harris never caught fire among blacks or any other Democratic group.

Cory Booker experienced a similar fate. He began his political career in 1998 as a contender for a Newark, New Jersey City Council seat when he upset a four-term incumbent, outspending him by10:1. He had the financial backing of Wall Street financiers, the Koch Bros., Eli Broad, the Walton family, Betsy DeVos, and their allies. They funded him through three campaigns for Mayor of Newark and a successful run for the U.S. Senate.

Booker was an aggressive supporter of school vouchers and corporate charter schools, turning Newark into one of the most charter-friendly school districts in the nation. He savagely attacked teachers and educational support personnel and worked with former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie to substantially reduce their ranks in Newark and throughout the state.

In 2012, while operating as an Obama surrogate, Booker strongly defended Mitt Romney and Bain Capital on Sunday’s NBC Meet the Press news show. During the 2000s, until 2016, he traveled the country with Betsy DeVos as her minority wingman, extolling the virtues of school choice while serving on the Board of the American Federation for Children a school choice advocacy group she founded and funded. Booker did not pull back until she was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education as he was preparing to launch a campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Julian Castro, the sole Latinx aspirant for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was never able to garner support from the Latinx or the larger Democratic base. He also was unable to raise sufficient funding to effectively introduce and ingratiate himself with his own or the larger Democratic community. He, Harris, and Booker never caught on with any part of Democratic base. They were not the best representatives for ethnic minority diversity. Neither was close to being Barack Obama, even in communities of their ethnicity.

The Democratic front runners, Biden, Sanders, Warren, and Butttigieg, although having led in different polls, have not, to date, demonstrated the political skills and understanding of the electorate necessary to defeat President Trump.

Biden leads the field nationally primarily because of his heavy African American support as a result of Him serving loyally as President Obama’s Vice President and the inability of his adversaries to attract any major support from this group. But any close observance of his performance so far shows he has lost a step which could be starkly revealed under the personal and political attacks sure to come from Trump.

However, a more troubling concern is his son Hunter, whose drug use, poor business and life decisions could explode at any time and take down the Biden campaign. The Trump forces are already preparing a bevy of vicious attack ads to exploit Hunter’s personal vulnerabilities of which there are many. But Biden could still win the nomination but would have difficulty in the general election.

Bernie Sanders’s socialist rigidity in his far-left positions (e.g., Medicare for All {MFA}) will likely keep him from winning the nomination as he has not expanded his base since 2016. Moreover, his recent scrum with Elizabeth Warren over whether a woman could win the presidency hurt him and her almost equally. Warren has also been wounded by MFA as she has not been able to adequately explain or defend its costs and is revising her position on the fly.

The public has become so disenchanted with her “plans for everything” that she has taken the word—plan-- out of her vocabulary during the past month. She does not want to explain the price of any more of her initiatives.

Klobuchar, like Harris, is a cop’s cop and if she ever rose to become a serious challenger she would have to clarify her actions as a prosecutor when minority males were killed in questionable circumstances during her administration as Hennepin County, MN Attorney from 1998 to 2006. She will likely be unable to overcome these incidents and gain black and Latinx support. Former South Bend Mayor Buttigieg’s dismissive response to a question about the police killing of South Bend resident Earl Logan, a black male, last July by an African American woman inflamed the black community. Those realities doom the Democratic presidential nominations of both.

Billionaire Tom Steyer, launched and funded a campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment hoping that he would be propelled to the Democratic presidential nomination (after stating he would not run for president). Steyer is trying to make his case using climate change which did not work for WA Gov. Jay Inslee. And Steyer is not rich enough to go all in and spend the billions of dollars that would be needed to have a chance of winning the nomination.

Having examined the above candidates, the question is: who has the best chance of defeating Trump in 2020? That individual is Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg is the most viable Democrat to beat Trump because he understands him, has a killer instinct, is a moderate-centrist, and willing to make the necessary political and long-term financial commitments to win the presidency.

Next week, we will present a detailed rationale as to why he is the only announced Democrat who can win the 2020 presidential race.

Note: This column is the opinion of Dr. Farrell and should not be considered an endorsement by

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 

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