Colorado Senator Michael Bennet Joins The Democratic Field

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet is the latest entrant into the race for the Democratic nomination for President, and the field isn't done growing.

Colorado’s senior Senator, Democrat Michael Bennet, became the latest entrant into the race for the Democratic nomination for President, making the 2020 Democratic field even larger than the Republican field in 2020, and he won’t be the last person getting into the race:

DENVER — Michael Bennet, the moderate, studious Democratic senator from Colorado known for his work on education and immigration reform, announced his candidacy for president on Thursday.

He joins a field so packed with candidates that it now includes six of his colleagues in the Senate and his former boss, John Hickenlooper, a past governor of Colorado.

“My plan is to run for president,” he said in an interview on “CBS This Morning.”

“I think this country faces two enormous challenges,” he added. “One is a lack of economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans, and the other is the need to restore integrity to our government.”

Until recently, Mr. Bennet, a former school superintendent usually known for his professorial reserve, was not considered a presidential contender.

But in an uncharacteristically fiery speech on the Senate floor in January, during a government shutdown, he excoriated his Republican colleague Ted Cruz, shouting repeatedly as he accused him of shedding “crocodile tears” over unpaid government workers. He denounced President Trump for shutting down the government over his desired border wall, which Mr. Bennet termed a promise the president couldn’t keep and America didn’t want.

The speech was viewed millions of times online, widely aired on cable news and led to calls for Mr. Bennet, 54, to consider a presidential run.

“He revealed that he is capable of anger and passion,” said former Senator Gary Hart of Colorado, a longtime friend of Mr. Bennet’s, who said the senator had come to him recently to discuss a possible campaign.

“When it gets to be that blatant, the hypocrisy on the other side, you have no choice but to speak out.”

Mr. Bennet now faces the challenge of setting himself apart in the Democratic field and competing against better-known candidates, some of whom have been laying the groundwork for their campaigns for months or years.

Mr. Bennet became a senator in 2009 after he was appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat who needed to fill a seat left empty by Ken Salazar, who had just become interior secretary. Mr. Bennet narrowly won re-election in 2010, then cruised to victory in 2016. He has described his top issues as education, climate change, immigration, health care and national security.

In early April, Mr. Bennet announced that he had prostate cancer, but he said he would not let it deter his presidential aspirations. “I am fortunate it was detected early,” he said at the time, “and as a result, my prognosis is good.” In mid-April, he had surgery that his staff called “completely successful.”

As a senator, Mr. Bennet is best known as a member of the so-called Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group that crafted a sweeping immigration reform bill in 2013. The legislation, which would have provided more than $46 billion to bolster border security while also carving a path to citizenship, passed in the Senate but never made it to the House. “If the president-elect really wants to fix our immigration system, he should study the work of the Gang of Eight,” Mr. Bennet wrote in an editorial in The Denver Post in 2017.

During his tenure, Mr. Bennet has developed a reputation as a studious senator with a habit of mulling decisions for weeks. He has bucked the more liberal base of his party on a number of big issues, including his support of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. His frustration with the Trump administration, however, has brought him more in line with colleagues to his left.

Bennett was born in India to American parents while his father was serving as an aide to the U.S> Ambassador to India. Before being appointed to the Senate he was the Superintendent of Schools in Denver. He has served in the Senate since 2010 after having been appointed by the state’s Governor at the time to fill out the remainder of the term of Ken Salazar, who had been appointed to serve in President Obama’s Cabinet. Bennet narrowly won the election for a full term in the Senate in 2010 over Republican Ken Buck and won re-election in 2016 by a slightly more comfortable margin. During his time in the Senate, Bennet has mostly stayed out of the spotlight but as noted has more recently come out of his shell as one of the harshest critics of the President and the Republican majority in the Senate among his Democratic colleagues. Notwithstanding that, it’s fair to say that Bennet has not particularly distinguished himself during his time in office but has instead earned a reputation as an effective legislator. Perhaps most interestingly, he has sometimes strayed from the Democratic fold on some votes and has not tried to appeal to the progressive wing of the Democratic party as much as other Senators such as Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.

Bennet’s entry into the race brings the number of current or former officeholders running for the Democratic nomination to 21, with the candidates in the race ranging all the way from a former Vice-President to the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, a city of about 100,000 people. He’s not going to be the last candidate to get in the race either. Yesterday it was reported that Montana Governor Steve Bullock will be entering the race in the next week or two, and there are several other Democrats who have at least expressed interest about getting into the race. These include Stacey Abrams, who ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Georgia last year and recently decided against running for Senate in that state in 2020, and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who has spent an awful lot of time in Iowa for a Mayor of New York. Even if those two candidates don’t run, though, this is easily the biggest field of “major” candidates that we have ever seen from either major party.

Michael Kelly at The New York Times catalogs where Bennet stands on the issues that have been most prevalent in the race. As noted, he has had the most to say over his time in office on issues such as immigration, education, climate change, and health care. As such, his position on issues such as foreign policy and others that are likely to come up during the course of the campaign are still somewhat of a mystery. Obviously, that has advantages and disadvantages.

Meanwhile, over at FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley plots out a potential path to victory for Bennet in the nomination fight. Suffice it to say, though, that it would not be an easy path for him and the odds are that he likely won’t make it to even the first round of primaries and caucuses and that he may not even qualify for the debates sponsored by the Democratic National Committee set to begin later this year. Moreover, given the fact that he is relatively unknown at this point, it’s likely that he’ll start out the race near the bottom in the polls alongside fellow Coloradan former Governor John Hickenlooper, who entered the race earlier this year. Whether he can break out of that pack at some point remains to be seen, but it seems highly doubtful.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. To quote Nancy Kerrigan: why?

  2. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Probably not a good sign when the nearly universal reaction to your candidacy is; “another one?”

  3. Jay L Gischer says:

    There’s something in the quoted article that seems weird to me:

    As a senator, Mr. Bennet is best known as a member of the so-called Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group that crafted a sweeping immigration reform bill in 2013. The legislation, which would have provided more than $46 billion to bolster border security while also carving a path to citizenship, passed in the Senate but never made it to the House.

    Never made it to the House? It sounds like it got lost during its walk across the Capitol. Or someone deleted the email by accident. No, it never made it through the House, because the Speaker never allowed a vote on it, or any legislative proceedings whatsoever. Which suited the House Freedom Caucus just fine, but maybe didn’t serve the interest of a number of other Republican (and Democratic) Representatives.

    This was representative democracy at its worst, and recording it as “never made it to the House” has a lot to do with why certain conservative friends think Democrats don’t want to do anything about immigration.

  4. de stijl says:

    As Abe Simpson once wisely said:

    Dear Mr. President,

    There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    https://youtu.be/O5dmxBUbzBU

    People should stop declaring for the presidency as a means to buff up their resume (hello, Herman Cain. We see you, stop waving.)

    Maybe I’m too harsh. On paper, Buttigieg is a non-starter: too young, no relavant experience, an obvious wannabe.

    But dude could easily win if things break right for him.

    What differentiates Mayor Pete from Bennet? Bennet is a sitting US Senator, whereas Buttigieg has civic administrative and executive experience but at a substantially lower level.

    I think the old standard of “Who’s next in line?” theory of who the nominee *should* be according to conventional wisdom got tossed out with Dole and Obama and Jeb! and Trump.

    Dole was the CW nominee and got waxed by a young upstart from Arkansas. Obama was a nobody from Chicago with a paltry resume. Jeb Bush was everybody’s odd’s on favorite to coast to the nomination and he just fizzled. No one called Trump (I did, btw, and caught shit for it) and directly mocked and belittled him as a buffoon and a carnival freak sideshow – yet Trump won.

    I think it’s safe to say the CW mold of “Who is presidential?” is completely and irredeemably broken.

  5. Kylopod says:

    Meanwhile, over at FiveThirtyEight, Geoffrey Skelley plots out a potential path to victory for Bennet in the nomination fight.

    Once again, it needs to be mentioned that 538 does this for just about every candidate who comes along, no matter how unlikely–just yesterday they had one of these articles for Marianne Williamson, a friggin’ California self-help guru who’s never held elected office.

    These articles are intended more as thought experiments than serious arguments for a candidate’s viability, but to some extent they reflect the anything-can-happen mentality that Trump’s rise inspired. Indeed, when I brought this up a few months ago I said that 538 does this “even for long-shot candidates like Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Buttigieg.” Since I wrote that, Buttigieg has come to look a lot less long-shot than when he started.

  6. James Pearce says:

    Why not? All Dem Senators should be running for prez.

    2
    4
  7. michael reynolds says:

    My fellow Americans:

    It has recently come to my attention that I am the only legally-eligible Democrat not to have declared my candidacy for president. Today, I remedy that historic oversight and announce both my campaign website, gimmeyerfuckinmoney.com and my five point plan for remaking America:

    1) Everything you want.
    2) For free.
    3) In less than a year. What? Not fast enough? OK then by the first week after inauguration.
    4) TK
    5) Follow-on to item 4 above.

  8. Kathy says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I figure it goes something like this:

    Bennet: Hi, I’m Mike. I’m a Democratic politician.
    Rich person: Oh, pleased to meet you. I’d like to contribute to your presidential campaign.
    Bennet: Oh, I’m not running for president.
    Rich person: Really? Then how do I know you’re a Democrat?
    Bennet: Ha, ha. Just kidding.
    Rich person (producing checkbook): That’s not funny. You might have been a Republican for all I know.

    Bennet (later and alone with his check): Damn. Now I have to make an announcement.

  9. de stijl says:

    People get fixated on who wins in Iowa and New Hampshire – it’s not destiny ffs. A decent pol can lose both and still win the nomination in the long run. The delegates allocated by both are tiny compared to what you need to win.

    A huge amount of the value of the early states is simply culling the field of pretenders.

    Anyone with the money can set up operations in both states, and the local media is cheap for ad buys.

    The benefit of IA and NH is that they cull the field: usually it’s like ten down three or four serious contenders in the aftermath. In 2020 it’s going be apparently 37 contenders down to, basically, three or four. No one has the time and the moxie to read and absorb all of the position papers from 37 candidates.

    Doug, for example, hates hates hates the Iowa caucuses because they have an over-weighted effect on the eventual outcome. The Iowa caucuses have a over-weighted effect precisely because people like Doug allow it to have that effect. An *ahem* enlightened take is that an early front-runner might easily fail going forward so we should not judge the first result as definitive. Close ahem.

    It’s demographically unrepresentative, too rural, too evangelical, it’s a caucus not a primary, too white, too something something. Boo friggin hoo. Every state is demographically non-standard compared to whole nation.

    It’s the first contest so people have ample time to write tons of stories the run-up and about how Beto’s meet and great at Java Joe’s went. About Kamala Harris playing cornhole at the state fair, and so on and so on. Iowa and New Hampshire are the only places where contenders have to do retail politics, and that is potentially revealing of their character. Once we’re past SC, it’s all ad buys and rallies – no meaningful interaction with actual voters as anything but as an audience at a rally.

    The worst wrinkle is now we’re pushing the Super Tuesday concept to happen earlier and with even more states with *everything* at stake. This is a stupendously bad idea. It makes reporters’ jobs and politicians’ jobs easier at at a huge cost at the loss of voters’ opportunity to fully evaluate the candidates over time.

    Front loading the delegate selection process is a really bad idea.

    A drawn out process allows us to contemplate and dissect who we want and why we want this person or policy, and gives us the opportunity to switch our allegiances and votes as the ground shifts.

    (Didn’t Doug advocate for a nationwide same-day primary a while back? Such a bad idea.)

  10. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @de stijl:

    Dole was the CW nominee and got waxed by a young upstart from Arkansas.

    To be fair, that upstart had been POTUS for 4 years by that point.

  11. de stijl says:

    @Kylopod:

    These articles [from 538] are intended more as thought experiments than serious arguments for a candidate’s viability, but to some extent they reflect the anything-can-happen mentality that Trump’s rise inspired.

    This needs highlighting. 538 is going to this type of story on every declared candidate.

  12. @de stijl:

    Dole didn’t get beat by an upstart from Arkansas, he got beat by the sitting President of the United States who was presiding at a time when the economy was booming, the Federal Government was actually functioning once Clinton and Gingrich got over their respective hissy fits, and the international scene was mostly quiet thanks to the end of the Cold War.

    I doubt anyone could have beat Clinton in 1996 .

    It was Bush 41 who got whacked by the upstart from Arkansas.

  13. de stijl says:

    We’re in a cessation right now and all of the news organizations have people on the ground in Iowa and New Hampshire filing stories about fluff about candidates that won’t make the top ten in caucus results and the cognoscenti eat it up and think it’s meaningful. It’s not. It’s speculative fluff.

    As we get closer, guaranteed there will pieces about how a caucus differs from a primary and how that is salt-of-the-earth, No! it’s unrepresentative privileged tyranny says another piece.

    Basically, it’s too many reporters and too many politicians and operatives in one place for a long time so they just sorta clusterf*ck each other for months on end. This is why Iowa and New Hampshire get slagged by folks like Doug. It’s not that it is systematically bad, but because too much attention is paid to a benign process because it happens first in a series of events with enormous consequences and the outcome is globally important.

  14. de stijl says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:

    To be fair, that upstart had been POTUS for 4 years by that point.

    Oops. I fucked that up bad. In my defense, I am quite old.

  15. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl:

    A decent pol can lose both and still win the nomination in the long run.

    Historically, just one candidate did: Bill Clinton in 1992. There were some weird elements to that race, starting with the fact that one of the candidates (Harkin) was from Iowa, which made the rest of the field ignore the state so that it came to be seen as irrelevant. Then the Clinton campaign managed to spin a defeat in NH into a victory by saying they broke expectations, and the press somehow bought it. But ultimately it was the South that saved Clinton.

    Hillary in 2016 followed a similar path. She just barely won Iowa then got crushed in NH. But Sanders couldn’t lay a glove on her in the South, which mainly pointed to his weakness with African American voters. Indeed, the Southern states where he performed best happened to be the three whitest states in the South: WV, KY, and OK.

    One of the reasons a lot of us hate the fact that Iowa and NH come first is because of the power it gives to these lily-white states over the much more diverse Democratic electorate. A good candidate can turn that to their advantage, the way Obama did in 2008. But why should they have to?

  16. de stijl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yeah, I botched that.

  17. de stijl says:

    @Neil J Hudelson:
    @Doug Mataconis:

    Arguably, Clinton was fairly young for Presidentin’ in ’96 and he was definitely from Arkansas – the town was called Hope, I’ve been told. So, I’m technically correct – which is the best form of being correct.

    Still trying to figure out why Bush 41 in ’90 slipped my memory – stupid brain!

  18. Gustopher says:

    @de stijl:

    As Abe Simpson once wisely said:

    Dear Mr. President,

    There are too many states nowadays. Please eliminate three.

    P.S. I am not a crackpot.

    That Abe Simpson was a pretty smart guy. We don’t need two Dakotas, and Wyoming could easily be merged with whatever is next to Wyoming… There are more square states that could be merged, but it’s worth noting that nothing good comes from Texas, so maybe give it back to Mexico.

  19. de stijl says:

    I messed up the timeline badly, but I believe the thesis stands. Does anyone think that the “Who’s up next?” model of candidate selection or that pre IA/NH/SC conventional wisdom matters at all?

    Obligatory Simpsons clip
    https://youtu.be/lgBFiCmYedc

  20. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    why Bush 41 in ’90 slipped my memory

    Because that happened in 1992, ya idjit. Stupid brain!

    If we had presidential elections every 5 years instead of 4 it would be much easier to remember. Who doesn’t like things divisible by 5? Prime number obsessed weirdos, that’s who. Basically, I blame math.

  21. Kylopod says:

    @de stijl:

    why Bush 41 in ’90 slipped my memory


    Because that happened in 1992, ya idjit. Stupid brain!

    I thought that was snark.

    I was reminded of The West Wing which takes place in a universe where there were presidential elections in 1994, 1998, 2002, and so on. At the same time, the show’s characters make references to real historical elections like Dewey vs. Truman in 1948. The discrepancy is never explained, but one fan theory I’ve seen has it that when Nixon resigned in 1974, instead of Ford serving the rest of Nixon’s term as in the real world, a special election was held and a new four-year cycle was established starting at that point. How that would work legally and constitutionally, I have no idea. The show’s decision probably had to do with the fact that it debuted in 1999 at what was supposedly the beginning of Bartlett’s term, and they wanted to keep the show relatively in line with current events.

  22. de stijl says:

    @Kylopod:

    I thought that was snark.

    Sadly, no. That was a flat-out brain malfunction. I totally spaced out the basics of the 1992 election – which is odd, and somehow conflated ’92 with ’96 previously above.

    This bit was intended as snark:

    In my defense, I am quite old.

    In retrospect, scary. I have a family history of dementia and Alzheimer’s on the maternal side. Both grandmother and mother. Forgetting seemingly easy and memorable dates from the relatively recent past frightens me a bit outside of the public shame I rightfully had today.

    Hopefully (knock on wood), it was a one off event.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    I’ve always had a bad memory and it does seem a bit worse lately, but it’s possibly a result of overmedication. (Cannabis.) But I had a guy at a cigar lounge outside of DC, some kind of economist IIRC, who said the problem has to do with search time relative to database. His idea was that an older brain contains more data, but we have long since set a sort of mental timer for searches: 2 seconds, 10 seconds, whatever, and that search window used to be fine before the database became so overloaded.

    I am prepared to pretend to believe that.

  24. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I can hold with that – my brain is full of important and interesting information, so I sometimes lose the the placeholder that tells me where it’s filed, and it’s so damn full it takes n seconds to rifle thru it all to find the pertinent bit. It’s a useful myth.

    Earlier today I wanted to hear a song. I knew the artist, when it was recorded, the record label, most of the lyrics just off the top of my head, and I could picture the album cover – hell, I even own it on vinyl somewhere in the attic. Could not think of the name of the song. So I went to wikipedia and was scrolling through the discography, and all of the sudden my brain went “you know the artist and the lyrics – just search on that, idjit!” Two seconds and done.

    Alzheimer’s and dementia scare the utter crap out of me. I’ve seen it twice very up close. The lucid bits are the worst, because you want it to continue and just go back to where things were before. Next minute, she doesn’t even know who you are.

    In no way am I suicidal – life is way too much fun and interesting, if you pay attention you learn new stuff all the time, every single god damn day; a long and curious life is what I want.

    Hopefully, this never happens, but if I start going down that path and there is no way back, then I’m going to go out on my terms while I’m still me, and chock full of the best drugs I can afford. No question and full stop.

    This seems appropriate – schmaltzy and snotty (also the outro for Goodfellas):
    Sid Viscious / My Way
    https://youtu.be/rDyb_alTkMQ

    The song I was looking for was:
    The Replacements / Little Mascara
    https://youtu.be/nVIPy5s5izI

    For the kids you stay together/
    And you nap ’em and slap ’em/
    In the high chair

    All you ever wanted/
    Was someone Mommy’s scared of

    Today I Learned: (this bit from Westerberg)

    By 1983, the band would sometimes perform a set of cover songs intended to antagonize whoever was in the audience. Westerberg explained that the punks who made up their audience “thought that’s what they were supposed to be standing for, like ‘Anybody does what they want’ and ‘There are no rules’ […] But there were rules and you couldn’t do that, and you had to be fast, and you had to wear black, and you couldn’t wear a plaid shirt with flares … So we’d play the DeFranco Family, that kind of shit, just to piss ’em off.”

  25. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @de stijl: If I get dementia of some sort I will be the 3rd or 4th generation in a row on my father’s side, with my mom joining on her side of the family–making a twofer. Fortunately, COPD, a resurgence of asthma, and worsening heart issues argue for my being able to break the chain by not living into my 80s–which is when Alzheimer’s and other dementias really start to kick in. One can hope.

    On to other matters:

    …Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group that crafted a sweeping immigration reform bill in 2013. The legislation, which would have provided more than $46 billion to bolster border security…

    The *Legend of the Wall* [tm] continues to grow as we move from $46 billion to 25 billion to 5.3 (?) billion to 1.6 in stolen conversion of Federal funds. Art of the Deal my aspidistra. link