Democrats in the Pipeline: Planning for the Future I

| Present

If Joe Biden wins the Presidency again this November (as millions of Americans hope!), and if the Biden-Harris Administration continues making as much progress as it has in the past four years, their successes will provide a golden opportunity for other Democrats to run for President in 2028 and beyond. Let us take a look at some of them. In Part I, we will highlight VP Kamala Harris and five others; in Part II, we will consider another five.

Kamala Harris. We start with VP Harris because of her current position then continue alphabetically: “15 vice presidents … went on to become president.” Kamala Devi Harris, who will turn 60 later this year, is the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected VP. She has been a public servant ever since earning her law degree from Hastings College of the Law, University of California, in 1989: deputy district attorney in Alameda County, Calif. (1990-98); managing attorney, San Francisco DA’s Office; chief, San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Children and Families; San Francisco DA (2004-11); attorney general of California (2011-16); and US Senator (January 2017 to January 2021). She resigned her Senate seat to become VP. Harris serves as President of the Senate, in which role she has made a number of tie-breaking votes on behalf of the American people – continuing a lifelong passion for justice for all.

Pete Buttigieg. Former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, 2020 presidential candidate, and now Secretary of Transportation, Buttigieg is the first openly gay US Cabinet secretary confirmed by the Senate. Married to Chasten (Glezman) Buttigieg, the couple adopted fraternal twins in September 2021. Buttigieg, only 42 years old, has earned nation-wide respect for his smooth, fearless appearances on media outlets. As CNN points out, Buttigieg is effective because “he answers questions in a straightforward manner, leading with facts and not opinions or hypotheticals. He speaks calmly, and he rarely raises his voice.” Tech journalist Kara Swisher added, via Twitter, “I gotta say @PeteButtigieg conducts a master class of how to appear on Fox News and stick the landing.” Buttigieg’s background is impressive: he has served the nation in the military; he has been a successful two-term elected executive; he has character; he is an effective administrator with vision; and he exhibits true family values. Buttigieg is definitely a Democrat who is rising in the field – for the right reasons.

Cory Booker. Booker has been a New Jersey Senator since late 2013 (winning first in a special election then to a full six-year term in November 2014) and ran for President in 2020. Earlier in his career he served successfully as Mayor of Newark, and he currently holds seats on the Judiciary Committee, the Foreign Relations, Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and the Small Business Committees. Among his main priorities as a public servant have been promoting and strengthening the Affordable Care Act, criminal justice reform, and supporting economic policies that assist average Americans. Whether or not he has presidential ambitions in 2028 is unclear, but at 55, he is someone to watch.

Mark Kelly. Mark Kelly may be well-known as the twin brother of astronaut Scott Kelly, an astronaut himself, and the husband of Gabby Giffords, who was almost killed in a shooting in 2011 while serving as a Representative in Congress. But Kelly, Senator since December 2020, “has been one of the most successful Democrats to run statewide in Arizona. In 2020, he won a 2020 special election by more than 2 percentage points over Republican incumbent Martha McSally.” In the 2022 election, Kelly beat Blake Masters, who had been endorsed by the disgraced, two-time-impeached and four-times-indicted former President Donald Trump. As Senator, Kelly helped pass the American Rescue Plan to combat the Covid pandemic and has prioritized bipartisanship on behalf of the American public, such as supporting the Infrastructure Act, creating good-paying jobs and lowering taxes for middle-class families. Kelly’s committee assignments include Armed Services, Environment and Public Works, Intelligence, Aging, and Joint Economic. Of course, he and Giffords support sensible gun reform. Kelly is courageous and dedicated and has proven himself an effective legislator – another Democrat to watch.

Ro Khanna. A four-term US Representative from California, Khanna is the son of Indian immigrant parents – his father a chemical engineer, his mother a substitute school teacher. Khanna presently serves as a Biden surrogate, having himself taught economics at Stanford University before earning a law degree. Khanna has worked with Republicans on important initiatives such as the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, as well as other legislation around climate change. He promotes the labor movement, a foreign policy of military restraint and diplomatic engagement, Medicare for All, student loan debt forgiveness, and avoiding reliance on PACs and lobbyists, and he has had five bills signed into law. He serves on the following House Committees (as well as a number of subcommittees): House Armed Services; the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans; and Oversight and Accountability. Khanna admits that jumping into a presidential race directly from the House is a long shot: “the first and only House member to leap directly to the presidency was James Garfield more than 143 years ago.” And if he did, he may well be up against two fellow Californians: VP Harris and Governor Gavin Newsom (whom we will profile next time). But he is definitely someone to watch in the upcoming years.

Mitch Landrieu. We portrayed Landrieu in 2018. Since then, the former Mayor of New Orleans and Lt. Governor of Louisiana has served as senior adviser and infrastructure implementation coordinator in the Biden-Harris White House (2021-24), where he spearheaded the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Landrieu is now joining the reelection campaign as national co-chair,  which will entail traveling throughout the country to promote the Act’s success and the many other accomplishments of the Administration on behalf of all Americans. Would Landrieu, who was born in 1960, be “too old” (68) in 2028 if he wanted to run for President? We shall see.


We will consider several other men and women in Part II of our look at possible Democratic candidates for President in 2028 (and other important positions, depending on what takes place in the next few years).

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