Congressman John Delaney triggered a round of groaning and eye-rolls when the obscure Maryland legislator became the first Democrat to officially throw his hat into the ring for the 2020 presidential election, in July 2017. We don’t even know the exact date that the Iowa caucuses will be held, two-and-half years from now.
Delaney might be jumping the gun, but he’s not alone in looking past next year’s mid-term elections. On the Democratic side, an early pre-primary field is shaping up to rival the 2016 Republicans, with potentially as many as 20 candidates vying for the chance to challenge Trump.
On the Republican side, an incumbent president would usually sail through his own party’s primary unopposed, but Trump is no normal incumbent president. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan have all been bandied about as potential GOP primary challengers to Trump. If so, it would give us our first seriously contested primary featuring an incumbent president since 1980, when Sen. Ted Kennedy came close to replacing Jimmy Carter as the Democratic nominee.
And in the Libertarian Party?
And in the Libertarian Party, the nation’s third-largest, many are eager to continue the growth from a breakout election than garnered 3.2 percent for the two-governor ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. That’s 4.5 million votes. Johnson, however, has sworn off running again himself in 2020. “I look forward to supporting the Libertarian candidate, but that candidate won’t be me,” he has said frequently to reporters.
So who will carry the banner of the Libertarian Party in 2020? Will the Libertarians continue to hold their perch as the largest alternative to the two major parties, or will another independent or minor-party candidate overtake them?
Will the Libertarian Party finally make it into the much-coveted presidential debates, as Johnson strove to do but fell short? Will they clear the 5 percent threshold unlocking millions in federal financing, or slide back to less than 1 percent of the popular vote?
The answers to these questions depend heavily on who the party nominates in 2020. And every day for the next nine days, beginning on Friday, August 4, The Jack News will be profiling each of nine potential contenders for that role.
All delegates arrive at the convention unpledged
Unlike the Republicans and the Democrats, the Libertarians don’t use state-run primary elections to determine their nominee. Instead, state parties select delegates arrive on the Libertarian National Convention unbound and unpledged. Every Libertarian convention is an old-school contested convention, making for potentially riveting C-SPAN viewing – in the best possible way — for the nation’s political-science enthusiasts.
Approximately 1,000 delegates will control a prize no other third party can offer: The potential for ballot access in all fifty states. Starting from scratch with a new party or as an independent, such a feat would cost between $10 million and $15 million. Along that comes with the support of state and local parties, tens of thousands of eager volunteers, and the mantle of a political movement dating back to 1972
Who will the Libertarians choose in 2020?
(Photo of the Statute of the Liberty that is the official symbol of the Libertarian Party.)