Look out, Cory – Here Comes Kamala!


As my readers know, I have a proclivity towards making analogies between political campaigns and national sports events.  There is an absolutely perfect sports analogy to be made with presidential nomination campaigns: the NCAA basketball national championship tournament. 

As with the NCAA basketball championship, you have brackets emerging in presidential nomination campaigns.  The nature of the brackets changes from campaign to campaign, and they will tell you something about the likely final outcome.

Three brackets have already emerged for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination sweepstakes:  1) the Traditional Democrat bracket; 2) the Progressive Democrat bracket; and 3) the Star Quality bracket, this last bracket in many ways overlapping the first two.

The present leading candidate in the Traditional Democrat bracket is Joe Biden – if he runs.  He has all the prerequisites to be a great president.  At the time of the inauguration of the next president on January 20, 2021, however, Biden will be 78.  The search is obviously already on for a younger candidate to represent this bracket.

The leading dark horse candidate for this bracket leader is former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.  Other than Biden himself, Patrick has the closest relationship with Barack Obama and Obama political guru David Axelrod, and his Bain Capital position enables him to establish strong Wall Street fundraising connections.

There are two leading candidates for the Progressive Democrat bracket winner: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Bernie has the undying affection of progressive Democrats for his valiant 2016 run for the White House.  He will, however, be 79 years old at the time of the next presidential inauguration, Sentiment yields to reality, and women progressive Democrats love Elizabeth Warren.  She wins the Progressive Democrat bracket. 

In many ways, the Democratic Star Quality bracket is the most fascinating.  Up until recently, New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker had this bracket all to himself.  He is a superb charismatic orator with an excellent fundraising record.  California’s Senator Kamala Harris, however, is in the process of eclipsing him.  In addition to having major league charisma, Kamala has a wide edge over Cory in two areas: 1) Fundraising ability, empowered by an all-star California fundraising list; and 2) career accomplishment and competency as an attorney, culminating in her service as Attorney General of the State of California.

Kamala’s fundraising prowess has already propelled her into the lead for the likely presidential endorsement of Andrew Gillum, the 2018 Democratic candidate for governor of Florida. The day after his primary victory last week, Gillum enlisted Bernie Sanders and Kamala to do some kickoff fundraising for him.  These two senators raised close to a million dollars for Gillum in 24 hours. As I stated in my column last week, Gillum’s presidential backing will be the most significant endorsement in the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination sweepstakes if he is elected in November.  Kamala has literally earned that endorsement, and she will get it. 

Kamala is one of the most competent attorneys to ever serve in the United States Senate.  The nation will see her abundant legal skills on display this week in the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  Cory will perform well at the hearings, but he will not come close to Kamala. 

And in this era of identity politics, Kamala outpaces them all. Her father was an immigrant from Jamaica, and her mother was an immigrant from India.  How appropriate that she should follow in the White House America’s leading xenophobic president, Donald Trump! 

The San Francisco – Oakland metropolitan area is the land of superstars, Kevin Durant and Steph Curry of the National Basketball Association Champion Golden State Warriors and Kamala Harris of the United States Senate.  Neither Kevin nor Steph will become American political leaders.  Kamala Harris may well be on her way into the Oval Office. 

So look out, Cory Booker – here comes Kamala Harris!

Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman. 

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