Kamala Harris for president?

California senator is one of the frontrunners for the Dems

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The Democrats have a crowded list of candidates for 2020 - and Kamala Harris stands out

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

The 2020 presidential run is, in many ways, a rerun of the 2016 election - only with the parties in reverse. When Donald Trump ran for the Republican ticket, he entered a congested field of candidates. The former businessman had the loudest voice when competing against 16 other Republicans for their presidential nomination.

The Democrats, meanwhile, only had a handful of candidates - and it was clear from day one that Hillary Clinton would be their choice. At the Democratic National Convention, she promises to break the glass ceiling to become America's first female president - instead, the only thing that smashed was the party's electoral hopes.

With Donald Trump in the White House, Democrats are keen to oust him - and there is the sentiment that anybody but Trump would win the race in 2020. While the Republicans are likely to stick with the incumbent president, and far fewer contenders in the primaries this time round, it will be the Democrats whom will have the luxury of choice.

According to the Chicago Tribune, there are at least 25 candidates - mayors, governors, entrepreneurs, members of the House and Senate - who are considering a run. They have "hit the road to workshop their vision, experiment with catchphrases and test policy ideas that could keep President Donald Trump from winning a second term", the Tribune writes.

For the top choices in the field, there are two tiers of support for possible Democratic presidential candidates, the Hill reports. The top tier contains: former vice president Joe Biden (84 per cent), Bernie Sanders (75 per cent), and Elizabeth Warren (68 per cent). In the second tier, about half of all Democrats might support Kamala Harris (53 per cent), Cory Brooker (50 per cent), and Kristen Gillibrand (48 per cent).

Harris is a particularly interesting choice for the Democrats. When Americans go to the ballots, their choice of president is usually the opposite of the previous commander-in-chief. Charismatic Barack Obama followed George W. Bush, and Trump is the antithesis of his predecessor, attempting to rip apart his legacy; and, as the Hill adds, born again Christian Jimmy Carter followed "Tricky Dicky", Richard Nixon. Whomever contests Trump from the Democratic field will be the opposite of the unprecedented president - he has a disregard for law enforcement, constantly undermining it. Harris is a former attorney general in California who holds it to a high regard.

The California senator has been showing this in the congressional hearings for attorney general Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and more recently Gina Haspel, the first female nominee for director of the CIA. Woe betide anyone who crosses Harris, whose interrogation style is abrasive and relentless. She has, what the Globe and Mail calls, "punishing prosecutorial skills".

They argue: "Besides her prosecutorial style, there are other reasons for her popularity. She's a powerful advocate for strict gun laws, for people of colour, for immigrant groups. She hasn't been around Washington so long that her brain is addled."

The Globe and Mail adds: "And she has what Democrats need most against Donald Trump - tenacity. She doesn't back down."

The Republicans are concerned about Harris. She is seen as the top 2020 Democrat by the GOP with top officials telling the Washington Examiner: "She's smart, cautious, has strong ties to law enforcement and a minority." Another added that she represents the younger generation "in a potential field of grey hairs". The only second black woman to have been elected to the senate has spent just 15 months in the role.

Her only problem, however, is the feeling back home in California. As she builds a national reputation, Politico notes, she "remains something of a mystery back home". She has solid approval ratings, but they are not stratospheric - and more concerningly, 28 per cent of Californian voters say they do not know or have no opinion about their senator. This places her in the bottom 10 of name recognition among US senators in their home states.

Kamala Harris has more work to do back home, but the California senator is looking beyond her state - and could, one day soon, represent the 50 states of the US.

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