by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Every presidential primary ends with one winner and a lot of losers. Some might argue that one or two once-little-known candidates who overperform low expectations get to enjoy a form of moral victory. (Ben Carson and Rick Perry might be happy how the 2016 cycle ended, with both taking roles in Trump’s cabinet. Bernie Sanders might be, too.) But running for president and flopping is a deep disappointment, and while the occasional figure can emerge from a failed bid to move on to different victories — Lamar Alexander and Elizabeth Dole became senators, Jerry Brown became governor again, Howard Dean became chair of the Democratic National Committee — a lot of failed presidential candidates fade away into the private sector and obscurity beyond occasional cable-news appearances: Bill Bradley, Tommy Thompson, Wesley Clark, Dick Gephardt, Alan Keyes, Bob Graham, Bill Richardson, Evan Bayh, Michele Bachmann.
The 2020 Democratic primary is going to end with about 23 campaigns falling short of actual victory and any moral victories. Perhaps two candidates will end up in a unity ticket, and perhaps one or two will have set themselves up for another run for another office someday. But the coming year will bring a lot of anticlimax, frustration, and disillusionment for a lot of once-promising figures in the party.
Geraghty proceeds to rank each candidate, though he says the ranking matter little after the first four or five: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg.