It might feel like we just got through the midterms, but already the race for who will challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 election is heating up — and several Golden State politicos are in the middle of the action.
Sen. Kamala Harris
Most notable, perhaps, is U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. Harris is just finishing her second year in Washington, but she's been garnering buzz since the day she was elected.
Harris, who has a book out early next year (a common move by presidential hopefuls), campaigned for and raised millions for her Democratic colleagues during the midterms, has been making the rounds in some early caucus and primary states and seems to be testing out a campaign theme in recent speeches. She made waves during the Kavanaugh hearings, and in recent appearances she's been courting women — particularly women of color.
Harris has said she will make a decision about whether to run over the holidays and make an announcement in early January. If she does decide to run, expect to see enthusiasm from some quarters and questions about whether a black, progressive woman from California is best suited to challenge Trump.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti
Also expected to throw his hat in the ring is Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Garcetti doesn't have the name recognition of Harris, but also put in the work during the midterms in early caucus and primary states, and thinks he knows the special formula to challenge Trump. He'd be going against history: no one has successfully transitioned from running a city to running the country (but then again, no one had ever gone from being a New York real estate developer who had never held office to the White House before 2016).
Some in Los Angeles have bristled at the idea that Garcetti is using his office as a launching pad to higher office when the city faces plenty of challenges. Garcetti has said he will decide by the end of the year whether to run.
Congressman Eric Swalwell
Perhaps even more surprising, East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwell is also flirting with the idea of a presidential run (an announcement he made just a few weeks after appearing on KQED's Political Breakdown.)
Swalwell, who's just 38, seems like a bit of a longshot. As a young congressman, he has little name recognition outside the Bay Area — but he's no stranger to a tough fight or Iowa. Swalwell was elected to Congress after knocking off a 20-term Democrat who held the office before Swalwell was even born. Plus he was raised in Iowa, which has lent him some buzz there.
He's also been making the rounds on cable news, raising his profile by talking about the Robert Mueller investigation, and is a savvy social media user.
Billionaire Tom Steyer
Finally, billionaire hedge fund manager and Democratic activist Tom Steyer has also been exploring a run. In the clearest (and most bizarre) sign yet, he posted anonymous Linkedin ads recently, seeking state directors in three of the four early primary/caucus states.
Steyer (who also appeared on KQED's Political Breakdown earlier this year) may not be well known nationally either, but he has amassed an impressive email list of millions of Democratic activists in recent years. He also spent $120 million in the midterm elections — in part to help young voters turn out. All of which could help him launch a presidential bid.
Expect a lot more maneuvering from all these California Democrats in the first quarter of 2019.