Editorial

The Observer-Reporter building in Washington

Ever heard of Steve Bullock? No, he’s not a second baseman for the Pirates’ Class AA farm team. He’s the governor of Montana, and the latest Democrat to announce his candidacy for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

For the record, there are now 22 Democrats lined up to seek the chance to take on incumbent Republican President Donald Trump next year.

For those of you not keeping score at home, here are the contenders, in addition to Bullock: Former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, California Sen. Kamala Harris, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, former Maryland congressman John Delaney, Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam, author Marianne Williamson and former tech executive Andrew Yang.

Wow, that’s going to be one long primary ballot.

One might question why some of the lesser-known (or almost totally unknown) candidates are putting in their time and trying to raise money to run up against the “big names” such as Biden, Sanders and Warren.

Perhaps it’s because, as long as there have been politics and elections in this country, strange things and major upsets have occurred.

In the 1948 presidential election, Republican Thomas E. Dewey was almost universally expected to supplant Democratic President Harry S. Truman in the White House. On the night of the vote, the Chicago Daily Tribune even put its paper to bed with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Truman was only too happy to pose with a copy of the paper the next day, after he had claimed a surprising victory.

In 1976, who would have predicted that a little-known former Georgia governor and peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter would emerge from a field of 15 Democrats to grab the party’s nomination and go on to defeat incumbent President Gerald Ford?

Likewise, who would have thought in 1992 that a similarly little-known former Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton would win the Democratic nomination and then score a victory over incumbent Republican George H.W. Bush? A number of high-profile Democrats decided to pass on the race because Bush was riding high after the success of the Gulf War. But by the time Election Day rolled around in 1992, the economy was tanking and Clinton took advantage of it.

More recently, what was supposed to be a coronation of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary process instead was the crowning of upstart first-term Sen. Barack Obama.

Eight years later, Clinton was back, with nearly all the support of superdelegates and Democratic financial backers, yet she struggled to fend off a challenge from Sanders, foreshadowing the mother of all upsets when she lost the race for the White House to Trump.

What all this means is that while Biden and Sanders are leading pretty much all the polls right now, it could be a totally different outlook in a year’s time.

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