J. Scott Applewhite / AP

When new candidates enter the presidential race, they do so by announcing an “exploratory committee.” That’s pretty much always one of those weird fictions of politics: They’re not exploring anything; they’ve already decided to run.

But Justin Amash has always been different.

Amash, the Republican turned independent congressman from Michigan, announced last month that he was launching an exploratory committee to run for the Libertarian Party nomination for president. Barely two weeks later, on Saturday, Amash announced that he won’t run after all. “After much reflection, I’ve concluded that circumstances don’t lend themselves to my success as a candidate for president this year, and therefore I will not be a candidate,” Amash tweeted.

What a weird sequence! For one thing, third-party candidates in the U.S. practically cannot win. It’s the law—well, it’s a law in political science, named for Maurice Duverger, who formulated it. While Amash insisted that he was in the race to win it, realistic observers understood that though he might affect the political debate or even the outcome of the race, he was not going to be the next president. For another, it’s hard to imagine what Amash learned in the last fortnight about his chances that he couldn’t have considered in mid-April.

Amash’s presumptive entry set off extensive scrutiny about how a third-party candidacy might sway the race: Would he take more votes away from Donald Trump or Joe Biden? Could Amash garner enough votes in his home state, a potentially decisive swing state, to decide the presidency? My colleague Abdallah Fayyad examined these theories in smart detail. Amash’s exit will at least relieve Biden supporters who were terrified that the Libertarian would play spoiler, though it’s not clear how much of a prospect that ever really was.

But Amash’s withdrawal could be a pivotal moment for the Libertarian Party. After years of toiling at 0.5 percent of the popular vote or less, the party has had a breakthrough the past two cycles, both times with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson atop the ticket. In 2012, the ticket drew 1 percent; in 2016, with widely loathed candidates atop both major-party tickets, Johnson drew 3.3 percent.

The Libertarian vote was almost certainly going to dip in 2020: The stakes of this election are different, the Democratic candidate is different, and the pandemic complicates third-party bids. Still, a high-profile candidate could have drawn on that momentum. Without Amash, the Libertarian Party probably doesn’t have that. The second-highest-profile contender was, uh, Lincoln Chafee, and he dropped out in early April, citing the pandemic. It’s never too late to get back in and turn the Libertarian Party into the vehicle for mandatory metric-system adoption, though.

Should there be new developments in the race going forward, this cheat sheet will be updated.

* * *

The Democrats


(Jeff Roberson / AP)

JOE BIDEN

Who is he?
Don’t play coy. You know the former vice president, senator from Delaware, and recurring Onion character.

Is he running?
Yes. After a long series of hesitations, Biden announced his campaign on April 25, 2019.

Why does he want to run?
Biden has wanted to be president since roughly forever, and he thinks he might be the best bet to win back blue-collar voters and defeat President Trump in 2020. (Trump reportedly agrees.)

Who wants him to run?
Biden’s sell is all about electability, and his dominant win in South Carolina—after a poor showing in the other early states—rallied the Democratic establishment to his side.

Can he win the nomination?
Indeed, he will.


(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)

BERNIE SANDERS

Who is he?
If you didn’t know the Vermont senator and self-described democratic socialist before his runner-up finish in the 2016 Democratic primary, you do now.

Is he running?
No. Sanders became the last Democratic rival to drop out, conceding the nomination to Biden on April 8, 2020.

Why did he want to run?
For the same reasons he wanted to run in 2016, and the same reasons he’s always run for office: Sanders is passionate about redistributing wealth, fighting inequality, and creating a bigger social-safety net.

Who wanted him to run?
Many of the same people who supported him last time, plus a few converts, minus those who are supporting Sanders-adjacent candidates like Elizabeth Warren or Tulsi Gabbard.

Could he have won the nomination?
It sure seemed like it there for a bit, huh? The parlor game of wondering if a few different choices—attacking Joe Biden head-on, for example—might have carried Sanders to victory will continue for months if not years.


(Simon Dawson / Reuters)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

Who is he?
The billionaire former mayor of New York, Bloomberg is a Democrat turned Republican turned independent turned Democrat again.

Is he running?
No longer. He ended his bid the day after a disappointing finish on Super Tuesday, having collected only a few dozen delegates.

Why did he want to run?
He was convinced that he’d be better and more competent at the job than anyone else, and he really wanted to light some money on fire. Bloomberg’s bid centered on his pet issues of gun control, climate change, and fighting the more fiscally liberal wing of the Democratic Party tooth and silver-plated nail.

Who wanted him to run?
What, was his considerable ego not enough? Though his tenure as mayor is generally well regarded, it’s unclear what Bloomberg’s Democratic constituency was beyond other wealthy, socially liberal, and fiscally conservative types, and it’s not as if he needed their money to run.

Could he have won the nomination?
Apparently not.


(Matthew Putney / Reuters)

TOM STEYER

Who is he?
A retired California hedge-funder, Steyer has poured his fortune into political advocacy on climate change and flirted with running for office.

Is he running?
Not anymore. He dropped out after finishing third and earning no delegates in South Carolina on February 29, 2020.

Why did he want to run?
Impeachment, baby.

Who wanted him to run?
Steyer managed to gain ground among African American voters in South Carolina. It was pretty threadbare beyond that.

Could he have won the nomination?
Nope.


(Aaron P. Bernstein / REUTERS)

AMY KLOBUCHAR

Who is she?
She has been a senator from Minnesota since 2007.

Is she running?
She did, from February 9, 2019, to March 2, 2020, when she abruptly dropped out on the eve of Super Tuesday and endorsed Biden.

Why did she want to run?
Klobuchar represents a kind of heartland Democrat—progressive, but not aggressively so—and she hoped to have widespread appeal both in the Midwest and elsewhere. She tended to talk vaguely about middle-class issues.

Who wanted her to run?
She built a constituency among mainstream Democrats. Her exchange with Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing won her a lot of fans.

Could she have won the nomination?
No.

What else do we know?
Sadly, she did not use this fly logo.

(Jonathan Bachman / Reuters)

ELIZABETH WARREN

Who is she?
A senator from Massachusetts since 2013, Warren was previously a professor at Harvard Law School, helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and wrote a book on middle-class incomes.

Is she running?
She suspended her campaign on March 5, 2020, two days after amassing just a few dozen delegates on Super Tuesday.

Why did she want to run?
Warren’s campaign was tightly focused on inequality, her signature issue since before entering politics. She proposed an “ultra-millionaire tax” on people worth more than $50 million and a major overhaul of housing policies.

Who wanted her to run?
People who backed Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016; people who were Bernie-curious but worried he was too irascible; people who didn’t like Bernie but are left-curious; Donald Trump.

Could she have won the nomination?
No.

What else do we know?
She’s got a good doggo.


(City of South Bend, IN)

PETE BUTTIGIEG

Who is he?
The 37-year-old openly gay former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Afghan War veteran went from near-anonymity to buzzy-candidate status in his first couple of months in the race.

Is he running?
Not anymore. He dropped out on March 1, 2020, and later endorsed Biden.

Why did he want to run?
Buttigieg’s sell was all about generation. He’s a Millennial and thinks his cohort faces new and unusual pressures and dilemmas that he is singularly equipped to resolve. Plus, it was a useful way to differentiate himself from the blue-haired bigwigs in the blue party.

Who wants him to run?
Buttigieg had slowly climbed in the polls, grabbing attention for crisp answers and an almost Obamaesque demeanor; he had the support of some Obama alumni. He hoped to reach midwestern voters who deserted the Democrats in 2016.

Could he have won the nomination?
For brief moments along the way, it seemed possible.

What else do we know?
It’s “BOOT-edge-edge,” and it’s Maltese for “lord of the poultry.”


(Marco Garcia / AP)

TULSI GABBARD

Who is she?
Gabbard, 37, has represented Hawaii in the U.S. House since 2013. She previously served in Iraq.

Is she running?
Not anymore. Gabbard dropped out on March 19, 2020, long after it became clear she wouldn’t win.

Why did she want to run?
Gabbard said her central issue is “war and peace,” which basically means a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Who wanted her to run?
Gabbard hoped to draw support from Sanders backers. She supported Bernie in 2016, resigning from a post as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee to do so, and she’s modeled herself largely on him.

Could he have won the nomination?
Naaaaaaah.

What else do we know?
If elected, she would have been the first Hindu president.


Brian Snyder / Reuters

DEVAL PATRICK

Who is he?
Patrick was governor of Massachusetts from 2007 to 2015, after serving in a top role in Bill Clinton’s Justice Department. More recently, he’s worked at Bain Capital.

Is he running?
No. Patrick entered the race on November 14, 2019, but left on February 12, 2020.

Why did he want to run?
To be president, of course. But having passed on a run earlier, Patrick reconsidered because of worries that no one in the Democratic field has strong momentum and can unite the party.

Who wanted him to run?
There was an appetite for new candidates among some in the Democratic donor class, but no sign that voters agreed.

Could he have won the nomination?
We’re not saying that a former Massachusetts governor and Bain employee can’t win the presidency, but recent history wasn’t encouraging. Take it from Patrick: “I recognize running for president is a Hail Mary under any circumstances. This is a Hail Mary from two stadiums over.”

What else do we know?
Patrick’s estranged father played in the alien jazz great Sun Ra’s Arkestra.


(JOSHUA LOTT / AFP / Getty)

ANDREW YANG

Who is he?
Yang is a tech entrepreneur who created the test-preparation company Manhattan Prep and then Venture for America, which tries to incubate start-ups outside New York and the Bay Area, and which is based in New York.

Is he running?
No. He filed to run on November 6, 2017, but dropped out on February 11, 2020.

Why did he want to run?
Yang was a 360-degree sprinkler of policy proposals, but his best-known idea was a $1,000 a month universal basic income for every American adult.

Who wanted him to run?
A motley internet movement, including many fans of Joe Rogan’s podcast.

Could he have won the nomination?
Nope.


(Samantha Sais / Reuters)

MICHAEL BENNET

Who is he?
The Coloradan was appointed to the Senate in 2009 and has since won reelection twice.

Is he running?
No. Bennet announced his campaign on May 2, 2019, but dropped out on February 11, 2020, following the New Hampshire primary.

Why did he want to run?
Bennet presented himself as someone with experience in business and management who knows how to work with Republicans.

Who wanted him to run?
James Carville. Bennet also gained new fans with a viral video of his impassioned rant about Ted Cruz during the January 2019 government shutdown.

Could he have won the nomination?
No.


(KC McGinnis / Reuters)

JOHN DELANEY

Who is he?
A former four-term congressman from Maryland, he might be even less known than Pete Buttigieg, who at least has a memorable name.

Is he running?
No. Delaney announced way back in June 2017, hoping that a head start could make up for his lack of name recognition, but dropped out on January 31, 2020.

Why did he want to run?
Delaney, a successful businessman, pitched himself as a centrist problem-solver.

Who wanted him to run?
Unclear. He all but moved to Iowa in hopes of locking up the first caucus state, but didn’t even crack 1 percent in a recent Des Moines Register poll.

Could he have won the nomination?
Nah.


(Joshua Roberts / Reuters)

CORY BOOKER

Who is he?
A senator from New Jersey, he was previously the social-media-savvy mayor of Newark.

Is he running?
No. He launched his campaign on February 1, 2019, but dropped out on January 13, 2020.

Why did he want to run?
Once a leading moderate, Booker has been big on criminal-justice reform, including marijuana liberalization in the Senate. He also embraced progressive ideas, including Medicare for All and some sort of universal nest egg for children.

Who wanted him to run?
Not nearly enough voters. He aimed for Obama-style uplift and inspiration to attract voters, but was edged out by other candidates on both sides.

Could he have won the nomination?
Not this year.


(Amy Harris / Invision / AP)

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

Who is she?
If you don’t know the inspirational author and speaker, you know her aphorisms (e.g., “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”).

Is she running?
No. She announced her candidacy on January 28, 2019, but left the race on January 10, 2020.

Why did she want to run?
It’s a little tough to say. She wrote on her website, “My campaign for the presidency is dedicated to this search for higher wisdom.” She criticized Hillary Clinton for coziness with corporate interests in 2016, and she ran for the U.S. House in 2014.

Who wanted her to run?
Williamson has a lot of fans, but whether they really wanted her as president was another question.

Could she have won the nomination?
Stranger things have happened, but no.


(DEPartment of Housing & Urban Development)

JULIÁN CASTRO

Who is he?
Castro was the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, before serving as secretary of housing and urban development under Barack Obama from 2014 to 2017.

Is he running?
No. He announced his bid on January 12, 2019, in San Antonio, but dropped out on January 2, 2020, and endorsed Elizabeth Warren four days later.

Why did he want to run?
Castro began the career searching for an Obama-style message, but evolved into a more aggressive, left-wing candidate, especially on immigration and police reform.

Who wanted him to run?
Castro attracted a small but passionate following.

Could he have won the nomination?
No. “I am not a front-runner in this race, but I have not been a front-runner at any time in my life,” Castro said during his announcement.

What else do we know?
Castro’s twin brother, Joaquin, who serves in the U.S. House, once subbed in for his brother in a parade during Julián’s mayoral campaign, so if you go to a campaign event, ask for proof that it’s really him.


(Dimitrios Kambouris)

KAMALA HARRIS

Who is she?
Harris, a first-term senator from California, was elected in 2016. She was previously the state’s attorney general.

Is she running?
No. She declared her candidacy on January 21, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but ended her campaign on December 3, 2019.

Why did she want to run?
Harris thought that a woman of color who is an ex-prosecutor would check a range of boxes for Democratic voters. She tried to stake out a broad platform, trying to appeal to a wide swath of the party, but ended up without a clear identity.

Who wanted her to run?
Harris briefly became the great hope for Democrats who weren’t strong lefties but worried about Biden. But she was unable to maintain and build her momentum, and she sank from third in the race to the single digits.

Could she have won the nomination?
Perhaps with a different campaign approach Harris would have had good luck—and she’s young enough that she may have another shot. But she didn’t have the right stuff for 2020.


(Matthew Brown / AP)

STEVE BULLOCK

Who is he?
Bullock is the governor of Montana, where he won reelection in 2016 even as Trump won the state.

Is he running?
No. Bullock launched his campaign on May 14 but withdrew on December 2, 2019.

Why did he want to run?
Bullock portrayed himself as a candidate who could win in Trump country and get things done across the aisle. He’s also been an outspoken advocate of campaign-finance reform.

Who wanted him to run?
Unclear. The Great Plains and Mountain West aren’t traditional bases for national Democrats.

Could he have won the nomination?
Nope.


(matt rourke / ap)

JOE SESTAK

Who is he?
A former vice admiral and two-term member of Congress from Pennsylvania, he twice ran for U.S. Senate.

Is he running?
No. He announced on June 23 but bowed out on December 1, 2019.

Why did he want to run?
Sestak’s announcement focused on his long career in the military and the importance of American foreign policy. It was a little evocative of retired General Wesley Clark’s 2004 campaign.

Who wanted him to run?
It’s a mystery. Sestak said he delayed a campaign launch while his daughter was treated for cancer, which is praiseworthy, but there wasn’t even a murmur about him running before his announcement. Sestak is best known these days for losing Senate races in 2010 (in the general election) and 2016 (in the Democratic primary).

Could he have won the nomination?
No.

What else do we know?
This logo, boy, I dunno.


(City of Miramar, FLorida)

WAYNE MESSAM

Who is he?
Many people thought a young black mayor from Florida would run in 2020. They just thought it would be Tallahassee’s Andrew Gillum, not Miramar’s Wayne Messam, who was elected in 2015.

Is he running?
No. Messam announced his candidacy on March 28 but dropped out—having never showed much sign of a campaign—on November 20, 2019.

Why did he want to run?
He had a lot of standard rhetoric about the fading American dream. “The promise of America belongs to all of us,” Messam said in his announcement video. “That’s why I’m going to be running for president. To be your champion.”

Who wanted him to run?
Bueller?

Could he have won?
Sure, Messam won a national championship as a wide receiver for the 1993 Florida State Seminoles. The presidency? Um, no.


(Kathy Willens / AP)

BETO O’ROURKE

Who is he?
The man, the myth, the legend, the former U.S. representative from El Paso and Democratic candidate for Senate in Texas.

Is he running?
No. O’Rourke dropped out on November 1, 2019.

Why did he want to run?
O’Rourke struggled to figure that out. After the August El Paso massacre, he announced a new approach of attacking the Trump presidency head-on.

Who wanted him to run?
A lot of live-stream watchers and thirsty tweeters, a coterie of ex–Obama aides, and a bunch of operatives running the Draft Beto campaign.

Could he have won the nomination?
No. After a fast start, O’Rourke never regained the momentum of his announcement.

What else do we know?
This video is very important.


(Jonathan Bachman / Reuters)

TIM RYAN

Who is he?
The Ohioan is a member of the House, representing Youngstown and America’s greatest city, Akron.

Is he running?
No. Ryan jumped in the race in April 2019 but dropped out on October 24, 2019.

Why did he want to run?
Ryan is a classic Rust Belt Democrat and friend of labor, and he’s concerned about the fate of manufacturing. He is also an outspoken critic of Democratic leadership, mounting a quixotic challenge to Nancy Pelosi in 2016.

Who wanted him to run?
Ryan had some support in the Rust Belt, but never managed to grow his national profile or support.

Could he have won the nomination?
No.

What else do we know?
He’s big on meditation.


(Mike Segar / Reuters)

BILL DE BLASIO

Who is he?
The mayor of New York City.

Is he running?
No. He dropped out of the race on September 20, 2019.

Why did he want to run?
De Blasio was the harbinger of the Democratic Party’s leftward shift on economic issues, and they’d be at the center of his campaign, though the movement seems to have left him behind.

Who wanted him to run?
Practically no one. By the time he dropped out, de Blasio was polling at 0 percent even in New York.

Could he have won the nomination?
No.

What else do we know?
De Blasio was the tallest candidate since Bill Bradley, in 2000. Both men are 6 foot 5.


(mary Altaffer / AP)

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND

Who is she?
Gillibrand has been a senator from New York since 2009, replacing Hillary Clinton. Before that, she served in the U.S. House.

Is she running?
No. Gillibrand dropped out of the race on August 28, 2019, after failing to qualify for the third debate. She had launched her campaign officially on March 17.

Why did she want to run?
Gillibrand emphasized women’s issues, ranging from sexual harassment in the military and more recent #MeToo stories to equal pay, and her role as a mom is central in her announcement video. Once a fairly conservative Democrat, she has moved left in recent years.

Who wanted her to run?
Vanishingly few voters. While Gillibrand entered the race as a big name, she struggled to gain the polling or donors needed to stay in debates, much less make a play for the nomination.

Could she have won the nomination?
Nope.

What else do we know?
Just like you, she hated the Game of Thrones finale and is mad online about it.


(Brian Snyder / Reuters)

SETH MOULTON

Who is he?
A third-term congressman from Massachusetts, Moulton graduated from Harvard, then served in the Marines in Iraq.

Is he running?
No. Moulton, who announced his campaign on April 22, 2019, left the race on August 23.

Why did he want to run?
In an interview with BuzzFeed, he said he felt the Democratic Party needs younger leaders and, alluding to his military career, “someone … for whom standing up to a bully like Donald Trump isn’t the biggest challenge he or she has ever faced in life.”

Who wanted him to run?
Almost no one. Moulton never gained much attraction, and some polls found him polling at precisely zero.

Could he have won?
No.


(Mary Schwalm / AP)

JAY INSLEE

Who is he?
Inslee is a second-term governor of Washington, and was previously in the U.S. House.

Is he running?
No. Inslee announced on August 21, 2019, that he was ending his campaign.

Why did he want to run?
Climate change. That’s been Inslee’s big issue as governor, and it will be at the center of his campaign for president, too.

Who wanted him to run?
Inslee generated excitement from climate activists, but never gained enough attention from the broad Democratic electorate to gain traction.

Could he have won the nomination?
No.


(Lawrence Bryant / REuters)

STACEY ABRAMS

Who is she?
Abrams ran unsuccessfully for governor of Georgia in 2018 and was previously the Democratic leader in the state House.

Is she running?
No. Abrams will instead focus on advocating against voter suppression, The New York Times reported on August 13, 2019. She’s likely to be mentioned as a running mate for the eventual nominee, too.

Why did she want to run?
Throughout her career, Abrams has focused on bread-and-butter issues such as criminal-justice reform and education, and since losing a 2018 election stained by problems with ballot access, she’s made voting rights a special focus.

Who wanted her to run?
Abrams has drawn excitement from young Democrats, the liberal wing of the party, and African Americans. Her rebuttal to President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address won her new fans, and the former Obama aide Dan Pfeiffer says she should run.

Could she have won?
No.


(Department of Labor)

JOHN HICKENLOOPER

Who is he?
Hickenlooper was the governor of Colorado until January, and previously held the most Colorado trifecta of jobs imaginable: mayor of Denver, geologist, and brewery owner.

Is he running?
No. Hickenlooper is leaving the race on August 15, 2019.

Why did he want to run?
Hickenlooper branded himself as an effective manager and deal maker who has governed effectively in a purple state while still staying progressive. He said he worried the Democratic field could be too focused on grievance and not enough on policy.

Who wanted him to run?
Not nearly enough people. Hickenlooper was never able to get out of the low single digits in polling, and was at precisely zero in one late poll.

Could he have won the nomination?
No.


(Alex Wong / Getty)

MIKE GRAVEL

Who is he?
Gravel, 89, represented Alaska for two terms in the Senate, during which he read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and fought against the Vietnam War. These days he’s probably better known for his 2008 presidential campaign.

Is he running?
No. After launching on April 8, 2019, his campaign announced it was ending on August 5, and Gravel has endorsed Bernie Sanders.

Why did he want to run?
Gravel was running to bring attention to his pet issues: direct democracy, nuclear nonproliferation, and a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Who wanted him to run?
This is where it gets weird. The committee is the brainchild of three students in college and high school who have basically created a Draft Gravel movement. But Gravel decided he liked the idea and went along with it.

Could he have won the nomination?
No. He initially said he didn’t even want to, though his campaign—worried it might be disqualified for Democratic debates—then said he was running for real. He didn't qualify anyway.

What else do we know?
Gravel produced the greatest presidential spot this side of the “Daisy” ad—and then he remade it this cycle.


(J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

ERIC SWALWELL

Who is he?
Swalwell, who is 38, is a U.S. representative from California’s Bay Area.

Is he running?
No. Swalwell left the race on July 8, 2019,  exactly three months after he announced his candidacy on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

Why did he want to run?
Swalwell was running on a gun-control platform. He also says the Democratic Party needs fresh blood. “We can’t count on the same old leaders to solve the same old problems,” he told The Mercury News. “It’s going to take new energy and new ideas and a new confidence to do that.”

Who wanted him to run?
Not nearly enough people. Swalwell never busted through the 1 percent threshold.

Can he have won the nomination?
Clearly not.


(Phil Long / Reuters)

SHERROD BROWN

Who is he?
By statute, I am required to mention the senator from Ohio’s tousled hair, rumpled appearance, and gravelly voice.

Is he running?
No. Brown told the Youngstown Vindicator on March 7, 2019, that he will not run.

Why did he want to run?
Brown’s campaign would have focused on workers and inequality. He’s somewhat akin to Bernie Sanders, but his progressivism is of the midwestern, organized-labor variety.

Who wanted him to run?
Leftist Democrats who though Sanders is too old and Elizabeth Warren too weak a candidate; lots of dudes in union halls in Northeast Ohio.

Could he have won the nomination?
Possibly.

What else do we know?
Like Warren, Brown has a very good dog.


(Mark Tenally / AP)

TERRY MCAULIFFE

Who is he?
Once known primarily as a close friend of Bill Clinton’s and a Democratic fundraising prodigy, McAuliffe reinvented himself as the governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018.

Is he running?
No. McAuliffe said April 17, 2019, he wouldn’t compete.

Why did he want to run?
McAuliffe holds up his governorship as proof that he can be a problem solver and deal maker across the aisle, and his Clintonesque politics would have contrasted him with many of the candidates in the field.

Who wanted him to run?
McAuliffe himself concluded he just didn’t have a big enough constituency in the wide Democratic field.

Could he have won the nomination?
Probably not.


(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)

ERIC HOLDER

Who is he?
Holder was the U.S. attorney general from 2009 to 2015, and he’s currently leading a Democratic redistricting initiative with help from some retiree named Barack Obama.

Is he running?
No. After toying with the idea, he wrote in The Washington Post on March 7, 2019, that he would not run.

Why did he want to run?
Holder has three big areas of interest: redistricting, civil rights, and beating Donald Trump by all means necessary.

Who wanted him to run?
Tough to say. Obamaworld isn’t really lining up behind him, and he’s never held elected office, despite a successful Washington career.

Could he have won the nomination?
Probably not.


(Faith Ninivaggi / Reuters)

MITCH LANDRIEU

Who is he?
Landrieu served as the mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018. He was previously Louisiana’s lieutenant governor.

Is he running?
It seems unlikely. “Probably not, but if I change my mind, you’re going to be the first to know,” he told the New York Times editor Dean Baquet in December.

Why did he want to run?
Like the other mayors contemplating a run, Landrieu considers himself a problem-solver. He’s also become a campaigner for racial reconciliation, taking down Confederate monuments in New Orleans, and staking a claim for progressivism in the Deep South.

Who wanted him to run?
Not clear.

Could he have won the nomination?
Probably not.


(Jeenah Moon / Reuters)

ANDREW CUOMO

Who is he?
Cuomo is the governor of New York. He was formerly the secretary of housing and urban development under Bill Clinton.

Is he running?
No. Though he's long toyed with the idea, Cuomo said in November 2018, "I am ruling it out." Then again, his father was indecisive about running for president, too.

Why did he want to run?
One can adopt a Freudian analysis related to his father's unfinished business, or one can note that Cuomo thinks he's got more management experience and success, including working with Republicans, than any Democratic candidate.

Who wanted him to run?
Practically no one. Cuomo's defenders bristle that he doesn't get enough credit, but his work with Republicans has infuriated Empire State Democrats without winning any real GOP friends.

Could he have won the nomination?
No.


(Yuri Gripas / Reuters)

ERIC GARCETTI

Who is he?
Garcetti is the mayor of Los Angeles.

Is he running?
No. Garcetti flirted with the idea, visiting South Carolina and naming a hypothetical Cabinet full of mayors, but said on January 29, 2020, that he would not run.

Why did he want to run?
Garcetti’s pitch was that mayors actually get things done and that his lack of experience in Washington was a positive.

Who wanted him to run?
Garcetti was reelected in a landslide in 2017, but he had no apparent national constituency.

Could he have won the nomination?
Doubtful.


(Andrew Harnik / AP)

HILLARY CLINTON

Who is she?
Come on.

Is she running?
No, she announced on March 4, 2019, that she wouldn’t. But until she issues a Shermanesque denial signed in blood—or the filing deadline passes—the rumors probably won’t die.

Why does she want to run?
She doesn’t.

Who wants her to run?
Pundits, mostly.

Can she win the nomination?
See above.


(Mike Blake / Reuters)

MICHAEL AVENATTI

Who is he?
Formerly Stormy Daniels’s lawyer, he’s now facing a dizzying array of federal charges.

Is he running?
Haha, no way. He now says he might once again, but he won’t. And if he does, it won’t matter.

Why did he want to run?
Attention, power, self-aggrandizement

Who wanted him to run?
Some very loud, very devoted fans.

Could he have won the nomination?
No, and his comment to Time that the nominee “better be a white male” was the final straw.



REPUBLICANS


(Leah Millis / Reuters)

DONALD TRUMP

Who is he?
Really?

Fine. Is he running?
Yes. He filed for reelection the day of his inauguration.

Why does he want to run?
Build the wall, Keep America Great, etc.

Who wants him to run?
Consistently about 35 to 40 percent of the country; a small majority consistently says he should not.

Can he win the nomination?
Yes. While his low approval ratings overall have stoked talk of a primary challenge, Trump remains very popular among Republican voters, and as president has broad power to muscle the GOP process to protect himself.

What else do we know?
You may have heard that in December 2019 he became the third president to ever be impeached.


(Stephan Savoia / AP)

WILLIAM WELD

Who is he?
Weld, a former Justice Department official, was the governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997 and was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential nominee in 2016.

Is he running?
He dropped out on March 18, 2020, after Trump effectively clinched renomination.

Why did he run?
Calling President Trump “unstable,” Weld has said, “I think our country is in grave peril and I cannot sit any longer quietly on the sidelines.”

Who wanted him to run?
Weld always inspired respect from certain quarters, and the 2016 Libertarian ticket did well by the party’s standards, but Weld’s unorthodox politics and hot-and-cold relationship with the GOP probably didn’t help his support.

Can he win the nomination?
No.

What else do we know?
This logo is so cool.


(Carolyn Kaster / AP)

JOE WALSH

Who is he?
After a strong run in the James Gang, Walsh joined the Eagles as lead guitari—wait, no, wrong guy. This Joe Walsh was a Tea Party congressman from Illinois from 2011 to 2013.

Is he running?
No. Walsh said on August 24, 2019, that he would run against Trump, but dropped out on February 7 after drawing just 1 percent in the Iowa caucus.

Why was he running?
Once a strong Trump backer, Walsh has undergone a strange political transformation over the past three years and now routinely attacks Trump, whom he sees as insufficiently conservative and too deferential to Russia.

Who wanted him to run?
Clearly, not many people. The tireless but hapless Bill Kristol encouraged Walsh to run, but that was about it, based on a February Twitter thread in which he said that he had “that my Republican Party isn’t a Party, it’s a cult.”

Could he have won the nomination?
Absolutely not.


(Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

MARK SANFORD

Who is he?
Sanford was governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011 and a U.S. representative from 1995 to 2001 and 2013 to 2019.

Is he running?
No. Sanford announced his campaign launch on September 8, 2019 but suspended it on November 12.

Why was he running?
Sanford has been an outspoken critic of Donald Trump. “I think we have to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican,” Sanford said on Fox News Sunday, adding that the GOP “has lost our way.”

Who wanted him to run?
Lots of reporters who are eager to make bad Appalachian Trail jokes. There must have been some Never Trump fiscal conservatives who didn’t want Trump but wouldn’t vote for Weld. Not many, though.

Could he have won the nomination?
No. “I don’t think on the Republican side there’s any appetite for a serious nuanced debate with impeachment in the air,” he said as he left the race.


(Elizabeth Frantz / Reuters)

JOHN KASICH

Who is he?
Kasich recently finished up two terms as governor of Ohio, previously served in the U.S. House, and ran in the 2016 GOP primary.

Is he running?
No, and it seems he won’t. “There is no path right now for me. I don’t see a way to get there,” he said May 30, 2019. “I’ve never gotten involved in a political race where I didn’t think I could win.”

Why did he want to run?
Kasich has long wanted to be president—he ran, quixotically, in 2000. But Kasich has styled himself as a vocal Trump critic, and sees himself as an alternative to the president who is both truer to conservative principles and more reliable and moral.

Who wanted him to run?
Maybe some dead-end Never Trump conservatives. It’s tough to say.

Could he have won the nomination?
Even he doesn’t think so. Kasich previously ruled out an independent or third-party run, but has since reopened that door.

What else do we know?
John Kasich bought a Roots CD and hated it so much, he threw it out his car window. John Kasich hated the Coen brothers’ classic Fargo so much, he tried to get his local Blockbuster to quit renting it. George Will laughed at him. John Kasich is the Bill Brasky of philistinism, but John Kasich probably hated that skit, too.


(Patrick Semansky / AP)

LARRY HOGAN

Who is he?
In November, Hogan became the first Republican to be reelected as governor of Maryland since 1954.

Is he running?
No. After some flirtation, he ruled out a run on June 1, 2019.

Why did he want to run?
Hogan is a pragmatic, moderate Republican who has won widespread acclaim in a solidly Democratic state—in other words, everything Trump is not.

Who wanted him to run?
Never Trump conservatives; whatever the Republican equivalent of a “good government” type is.

Could he have won the nomination?
As long as Trump was running, no.


(Official Senate PhotO)

JEFF FLAKE

Who is he?
The Arizonan, a former U.S. House member, decided not to run for reelection to the Senate in 2019.

Is he running?
No. When he took a contributor role with CBS on January 23, 2019, he said he was not running.

Why did he want to run?
Starting in 2016, Flake was perhaps Trump’s most outspoken critic among elected Republicans, lambasting the president as immoral, unserious, and unconservative.

Who wanted him to run?
Liberal pundits.

Could he have won the nomination?
No. Flake retired because he didn’t even think he could win the Republican Senate nomination.


THIRD PARTIES AND INDEPENDENTS


Lexi Browning / Reuters

DON BLANKENSHIP

Who is he?
The former CEO of the coal company Massey Energy, Blankenship was convicted of conspiracy to violate mine-safety laws over an explosion that killed 29 miners in 2010. He ran for U.S. Senate in West Virginia in 2018.

Is he running?
Yes. Blankenship announced on November 11 that he’s running for the Constitution Party’s nomination, and won the nomination in May.

Why does he want to run?
Blankenship is billing himself as a man who can actually do what Trump promised. The men share many political views as well as a general coarseness and bigotry. “President Trump means well, but he simply cannot get it done because he is too busy mending his self-inflicted wounds and tripping over his ego,” Blankenship said in a statement.

Who wants him to run?
Beats us. For what it’s worth, it took two ballots for him to win the Constitution nod.


(OFFICE OF JUSTIN AMASH)

JUSTIN AMASH

Who is he?
Amash has represented a Grand Rapids, Michigan-area seat in the U.S. House since 2011.

Is he running?
No. On April 28, 2020, Amash announced an exploratory committee to run for president on the Libertarian Party ticket, but he decided against a run on May 16.

Why did he want to run?
Amash has cut a path as a strong libertarian in the House, especially in recent months as a critic of President Trump. On July 4, he announced he was leaving the Republican Party, feeding presidential speculation.

Who wanted him to run?
Libertarians, duh. “There’s a lot of people who consider Amash to be the best congressman from the perspective of a libertarian,” Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark told MLive. “They think he’s the best congressman for our goals since Ron Paul.”

Could he have won the nomination?
Probably.


Gary Cameron / Reuters

LINCOLN CHAFEE
Who is he?

The failson scion of a Rhode Island Republican family, Chafee served in the Senate as a Republican (1999–2007); as governor, as an independent and then a Democrat (2011–15); and then ran for president as a Democrat in 2016.

Is he running?
No. He filed papers to run for the Libertarian Party nomination on January 5, but dropped out on April 7.

Why did he want to run?
It’s time to go metric, baby.

Who wanted him to run?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Could he have won the nomination?
Given that he dropped his bid even without any serious rivals in the race, apparently not.


(JASON REDMOND / Reuters)

HOWARD SCHULTZ

Who is he?
That guy who used to sell you over-roasted coffee. Schultz stepped down as CEO of Starbucks in 2018.

Is he running?
No. Schultz officially ruled out a run on September 6, roughly four months after laying off most of his staff and announcing he’d take the summer off due to health problems. “I have concluded that an independent campaign for the White House is not how I can best serve our country at this time,” he wrote in a message.

Why did he want to run?
Personal pique over Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s support for a 70 percent marginal tax rate. No, seriously. Schultz has offered some vague platitudes about centrist ideas and bringing the country together, but most of it aligns with standard Democratic positions.

Who wanted him to run?
Donald Trump.

Can he have won the nomination?
The great thing about being a billionaire self-funder as an independent is that you don’t have to win a nomination. The downside is that you still have to win votes eventually.


(Darrin Zammit Lupi / Reuters)

JOHN MCAFEE

Who is he?
He’s the guy who made your antivirus program turned international fugitive turned unsuccessful 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate. A typical politician, basically.

Is he running?
He says he’s going to either vie for the Libertarian nomination again or run as an independent, though it’s probably worth regarding what he says with some skepticism.

Why does he want to run?
To promote cryptocurrency, brah. “See, I don’t want to be president,” he told a crypto trade publication in November 2018. “I couldn’t be … no one’s going to elect me president, please God. However, I’ve got the right to run.”

Who wants him to run?
Rubberneckers, disaster enthusiasts.

Can he win the nomination?
“No one’s going to elect me president, please God.”

What else do we know?
You want to see what it’s like as the opposite sex for three hours? What being kissed by God feels like? You want the infinite experience of freedom? Knowledge of yourself? Eroticism that incinerates you? A simple good time? Forgetfulness? He’s your man.

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