Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) stood outside in a blizzard on Feb. 10 and declared her candidacy for president of the United States, becoming the fourth woman senator to announce in the past few weeks.
Klobuchar joined fellow senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and bestselling author and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson have also announced their candidacies.
The scorecard for Democratic hopefuls, crowded though it might be, suggests one of these women will be the the Democratic nominee by summer 2020.
If past is prologue, as it so often is in American politics, several things augur well for a woman nominee. Hillary Clinton’s historic candidacy and questionable loss left millions feeling angry and cheated. How could Clinton have won more votes than anyone in U.S. history except Barack Obama in 2008 — three million more than Donald Trump — and not be in the White House?
Questions over Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election made most Americans aware of a flaw in the U.S. electoral system: In any other government, a new election with Clinton and Trump would have been held. In 2016 alone, four countries including Austria and Kenya, held new presidential elections when the original was deemed suspect. For those who see Trump’s presidency as illegitimate, the candidacies of women for 2020 have particular resonance.
When Harris announced her bid, a diverse crowd of over 20,000 stood cheering in Oakland, much like the similarly diverse and excited crowd that filled New York’s Roosevelt Island, the day Clinton formally announced her candidacy.
For woman and LGBTQ people, the candidacy of Clinton sent a powerful message. In her campaign video, Clinton had a gay male couple as well as a lesbian couple among the diverse group of women, people of color, immigrants and workers that provided the backdrop for her vision of an inclusive campaign and an equally inclusive America.
The four women senators running for president all have long, strong histories of fighting for the rights of women and LGBTQ people. All support the Equality Act with Gillibrand and Klobuchar being original co-sponsors of the act.
All support same-sex marriage at a time when the Republican platform continues to state marriage is between a man and a woman and GOP lawmakers in Tennessee are attempting to negate the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergfell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States.
Each of the four women senators has strongly stated she supports equality under the law and would ban discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity.
All four have come out against President Trump’s ban on trans people in the military.
Gillibrand brought a trans man, Lt. Comdr. Blake Dremann, to the State of the Union. Gillibrand said, “President Trump’s decision to ban [trans people] from military service is cruel and undermines our military readiness.”
Gillibrand leads on trans issues. On Feb. 7, she introduced a bill in the
Senate that would prohibit the Pentagon from discharging any currently serving member of the military solely on the basis of gender identity. It would also prohibit recruits from being denied entry into the military solely based on gender identity.
The Human Rights Campaign has endorsed all four women and each has a full 100 percent ranking based on their voting history on LGBTQ issues pre- and post-Trump.
All four women rank as progressives politically, but Gillibrand and Warren are the furthest left. According to the Congressional record, Gillibrand is the only member of the Senate to have voted against all of Trump’s nominees and she currently ranks as the most progressive member of the Senate, followed by Warren. Harris also ranks in the top 10 and Klobuchar in the top 20.
The presence of all these strong women candidates in the race increases the likelihood that a woman can win the presidency in 2020. The Midterm elections were a strong statement about where Democratic voters stand. Newly elected congresswomen like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley each trounced longtime Democratic congressmen in their respective districts — 20-year veterans who bear a striking political resemblance to former vice president Joe Biden.
The writing seems to be on the wall as the women are climbing in the polls while Biden, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke — none of who has declared — continue to fall. The failure of Biden and Sanders specifically to gain any kind of strong support from leading Democratic voices, plus the introduction of women with strong left platforms that Sanders has championed, suggests that even if voters want the same message, they want new messengers.
Several of the latest polls have Harris leading, with Warren, Klobuchar and Gillibrand (in that order) continuing to rise.
It’s a full year until the first votes are cast in the primary and until then it is anyone’s game. There are also strong contenders in centrist senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). But for now, these women senators are the four candidacies to watch and the ones getting the most traction in the news. Women are 51 percent of the American population and have never been represented by the presidency. The centenary of suffrage is the year of the woman. Will that woman be Harris, Gillibrand, Klobuchar or Warren? We shall see.