Democrats in the Pipeline: Planning for the Future II

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In Part I of our look at up-and-coming Democrats to watch in the coming years, we portrayed VP Kamala Harris, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Senators Cory Booker and Mark Kelly, Representative Ro Khanna, and Biden-Harris campaign co-chair Mitch Landrieu. Here we will highlight five others – four governors and a Cabinet member – in alphabetical order.


Wes Moore. Moore, as Governor of Maryland, has been in the national news a great deal lately because of a tragedy: on March 26, 2024, a cargo ship out of Singapore rammed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, causing the bridge to collapse and killing six men who were working on the bridge. Moore immediately began “visiting the site of the disaster, meeting with families and first responders, and securing federal assistance,” and has also taken other steps to address the complex crisis: his Administration launched the Maryland Tough Baltimore Strong Alliance, which is procuring essential support from over 80 companies; introduced legislation to provide scholarships and other support to the deceased workers’ families; and launched a website to provide comprehensive information about federal, state and local resources and programs related to the ridge collapse. While it is too soon for Moore to even think about a presidential race in 2028, as a young (45) African American he is a public official to watch. As NPR reports, Moore has a lengthy and impressive résumé: college football star, Rhodes Scholar, bestselling author, Army captain who served in Afghanistan, investment banker, and CEO of a major anti-poverty nonprofit, Robin Hood. We could do a lot worse than this rising star!

Gavin Newsom. Governor of California since 2019, Newsom has been a public figure for even longer – as Lieutenant Governor, Mayor of San Francisco and as a vocal supporter of marriage equality, gun control, and marijuana decriminalization. (He was also married to Kimberly Guilfoyle for several years, Guilfoyle now being an outspoken Trump supporter and engaged to Donald Jr. Newsom suggests that Guilfoyle “fell prey” to the culture of Fox News, which made her into a different person than she was when they were married.) Newsom’s recent initiatives in the largest State in the Union by population include legislation and other measures across the landscape: mental and reproductive health, infrastructure, housing and homelessness, climate change, and public and gun safety. There is definitely buzz about Newsom, at age 56, as a viable candidate for President in 2028. Stay tuned!

Gina Raimondo. Raimondo, former Governor of Rhode Island (2015-21), now serves as Commerce Secretary in the Biden-Harris Administration. Harvard-, Oxford- and Yale-educated, Raimondo clerked for US District Judge Kimba Wood; served as founding employee and senior vice president at Village Ventures, and co-founded Point Judith Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm. Raimondo also served as General Treasurer of Rhode Island (2011-21), so she has had years of executive and fiscal experience. As Commerce Secretary, she has had favorable reviews from such venues as CNBC, including her leadership in the Administration’s “efforts on workforce and technologies critical to national security and American competitiveness.” CNBC states that Raimondo “has positioned the U.S. economy to compete with its growing rival China in a battle for technology supremacy.” Thanks to the CHIPS For America funding program, Commerce under Raimondo “has begun a revival of its domestic semiconductor manufacturing supply chain, offering economic incentives to companies for creating and updating and creating new chip manufacturing infrastructure in the U.S.” To date, that has resulted in “over 550 statements of interest from companies looking to invest in America’s semiconductor industry.” Other initiatives in her area of responsibility include “closing the digital divide in America, and …  monitoring artificial intelligence via The National Institute of Standards and Technology.” While she has faced criticism from several sides on various issues, she is considered a rising star on the political landscape in part due to her “outsized role [that she played] in some of the [Biden-Harris] administration’s major legislative victories, including reaching out to executives to win their support for the infrastructure bill and leaning on her relationships with lawmakers and executives to get funding for the semiconductor industry put into law.” Raimondo is definitely a Democrat to watch.

Josh Shapiro. In 2022, Pennsylvania Republicans nominated far-right, Trump-supported State Senator Doug Mastriano for Governor. Roe v. Wade had been overturned by a Trump-nominated Supreme Court majority in June, so Josh Shapiro – Pennsylvania Attorney General – “made abortion rights a critical part of his campaign, highlighting his rival’s opposition to exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.” As AG since 2017, having previously held several Commonwealth positions, Shapiro has accomplished many things on behalf of his constituents: he identified over 300 Roman Catholic priests as predators; protected health care access through an agreement between two of the Commonwealth’s largest insurance companies; defended reproductive rights through a number of court cases; fought corruption by going after both Republicans and Democrats; and had over 8,000 drug dealers arrested. Significantly, Shapiro brought and won a number of court cases prior to Election Day 2020 to protect voters’ rights that were under attack by Trump’s Big Lie. When Shapiro defeated Mastriano by nearly 15 percentage points, he won with the most votes in any Pennsylvania gubernatorial election.  Shapiro serves as a member of the Biden presidential campaign advisory board, so he is definitely being considered by some as a 2028 candidate himself. A recent survey found that Shapiro enjoys a 64% approval rating in his first term as Governor as he tackles a wide array of challenges in a significant swing state.

Gretchen Whitmer. A final Governor to consider in our analysis is Michigan’s. Whitmer made national news because of a “wild plot” to kidnap her, a plot designed “to whip up anti-government extremists just before the 2020 presidential election.” Initially 14 men were charged, ultimately resulting in nine convictions, three guilty pleas, and two acquittals. Several of those involved were associated with extremist paramilitary groups. The reason the plot unfolded was to protest Whitmer’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whitmer was elected Governor in 2018, having previously served in both the Michigan House and Senate. She earned both her bachelor’s and law degrees from Michigan State University and prides herself on being a mother first and foremost (two daughters and three stepsons). Her accomplishments as Governor include fashioning a diverse cabinet; creating over 35,000 new jobs in the automobile industry; “passing balanced, bipartisan budgets; making the largest investment in K-12 education in state history; [and] closing the school funding gap without raising taxes.” She has also developed two successful workforce education programs to assist Michigan businesses; cut auto insurance costs; repealed the tampon tax; expanded low or no-cost childcare to over 100,000 additional families; repaired more than 16,000 lane miles of roads and over 1,200 bridges; and supported over 89,000 good-paying jobs. Whitmer is totally supportive of the Biden-Harris Administration and is being talked about as a presidential candidate in 2028.


Even if these women and men choose not to run, run and drop out, or run and are defeated in a primary, they will still, almost assuredly, have opportunities to serve on the national stage in future Democratic administrations. And there are certainly other figures not in this list who could emerge and rise to the top with the skill, drive and character to be viable candidates.

With the Republican party in complete disarray and almost completely beholden to a wanna-be dictator in Donald Trump, the Democrats and their allies are poised to lead, on behalf of all Americans, for decades – as long as we can hold onto our democracy in this election cycle…