With 13 candidates so far, 11 months from the first caucus in Iowa, it’s hard enough already to keep track of the 2020 Democratic primary. That’s why Cockburn is introducing the Donkey Dow: a round-up of the movers and shakers in the race to face up against Donald Trump. Here’s how the candidates and contenders fared over the last few days.

donkey dow

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Are you part of the Yang gang yet? Outsider candidate Andrew Yang has had a barnstorming week – all thanks to the internet. The businessman and Universal Basic Income advocate has quietly reached the necessary 65,000 donations needed to secure a spot in the Democratic debates. He’s been propelled by a strong Twitter game, memelords nationwide, and possibly Nicolas Cage. Don’t rule this dark horse out.

Sen. Bernie Sanders had a strong week – but for unlikely reasons. There was widespread concern that Bernie’s presence would push the rest of the field left – but his steadfast anti-identity politics stance strangely poses him as a more moderate option to the likes of Booker and Harris. He visited New Hampshire for the first time since announcing, and hosted a kickoff rally at his alma mater Brooklyn College

It’s rare that a policy idea is outlandish enough to cut through the noise – hence the furore around AOC and Jeff Merkley’s Green New Deal last month. But Sen. Elizabeth Warren took a leaf from that playbook with her dream of breaking up big tech companies, which she expressed in a Medium post. Warren proposes ‘passing legislation that requires large tech platforms to be designated as “Platform Utilities” and broken apart from any participant on that platform.’ And it’s working wonders with her base. Could ‘break them up’ become 2020’s ‘lock her up’?


Poor Sen. Amy Klobuchar. As if being lambasted for treating her staff horribly for years wasn’t enough, she excruciatingly relived the tale of eating salad with a comb on a plane in front of a live audience at SXSW. She also borrowed from the Trump playbook of insulting nicknames: ‘You know what, I’d like to see how your hair will work in a blizzard, Mr Umbrella Man.’ Boom, roasted!

Is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand the only 2020 challenger with no unique selling point whatsoever? She’s not the only woman, not the only senator, not from the Midwest, and she’s white. Iowans aren’t just ignoring her in favor of ranch dressing – they have no interest whatsoever. Despite several visits to the state, she’s polling at 0 percent. The New York junior senator has to find some momentum from somewhere.

New faces

Two guv’nors. John Hickenlooper from Colorado oversaw his state becoming the first to legalize marijuana. If he won, he’d be only the second American president to have a four-syllable last name. Those are the most interesting things I could find out about him. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington is also in, pitching himself with a focus on the famously sexy issue of climate change. Neither man has a winning card when it comes to identity politics bingo, nor do they have clout in the Rust Belt or Sun Belt, which are believed to be the crucial 2020 voting blocs. But could they weather the early primaries through blandness alone?

Out of the race

To near universal delight, Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg. The former Mayor of New York said in an opinion piece for bloomberg.com that he was ‘clear-eyed about the difficulty of winning the Democratic nomination in such a crowded field’. His employees must be particularly relieved. Clinton meanwhile ruled out a third run in an interview with her local news station: ‘I’m not running, but I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe,’ she said. Cockburn can’t help but wonder whether a Clinton endorsement would help or hinder the eventual 2020 nominee…

Also ruling himself out this week was Ohio’s Sen. Sherrod Brown. Potentially a savvy move from him, as a lengthy presidential campaign could have put his invaluable Senate seat at risk.

Still waiting

Beto, Biden and Bill. All three of these Bs have been making suspicious rumblings this week, though two of them are significantly more anticipated than the third. Two weeks ago, O’Rourke declared he’d ‘made a decision’ and was ‘excited to share it with everyone very soon’…but still no word on that front. Former vice president Biden, a hot favorite, has been telling people he’s ‘95 percent likely’ to run, according to the New York Times. And New York Mayor Bill de Blasio spent the weekend in South Carolina, mulling a run. One area he’s not building momentum is among his former staffers: Politico reports one aide describing the idea of De Blasio 2020 was ‘fucking insane.’ Also the mayor blundered by flapping his arms to a song by #canceled singer R. Kelly. Perhaps his mind was telling him no, but his body, his body was telling him yes?

The rest

A triptych of CNN town halls last night for Maryland congressman John Delaney, Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg. Cockburn watched The Walking Dead instead – it’s a rather more exciting display of lifelessness – but gleans from Twitter that yet again Gabbard was asked to condemn Bashar al-Assad, this time by a corporate consultant who’s worked for Google and Goldman Sachs!

Julián Castro was also at SXSW, and had a pop at Bernie for not being in favor of reparations. If it was an attempt to draw attention to himself, it didn’t come off. And Cory Booker made it a full week without a blunder. Great job man!