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Fran Miron, shown Sept. 5 on his farm in Hugo, Minn., is among the many farmers who objected to a 2015 expansion of waterway regulation by the Obama administration. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
Fran Miron, shown Sept. 5 on his farm in Hugo, Minn., is among the many farmers who objected to a 2015 expansion of waterway regulation by the Obama administration. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
September 11, 2019 at 8:59 p.m. PDT

For years, the fight over how much power the federal government should have to regulate the wetlands and tributaries that feed into the nation’s largest rivers has played out across the country.

In the halls of Washington and on sprawling farms and ranches, in courtrooms and corporate boardrooms, a legal tug of war has unfolded over a 2015 rule that gave the Environmental Protection Agency much broader authority over the nation’s waterways. Critics say the Obama-era rule gave the federal government far too much power; supporters countered it would prevent the loss of vast swaths of wetlands. Court rulings have temporarily blocked the regulation in 28 states, while keeping it in effect in 22 others.

On Thursday, the Trump administration plans to scrap the Obama-era definition of what qualifies as “waters of the United States

” under the Clean Water Act, returning the country to standards put in place in 1986.

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“What we have today is a patchwork across the country,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in an interview. “We need to have a uniform regulatory approach.”

Wheeler, who said the administration will finalize a new definition for which water bodies deserve federal protection within a matter of months, said the agency is seeking to end any lingering uncertainty and return more oversight to individual states.

“We want to make sure that we have a definition that once and for all will be the law of the land in all 50 states,” Wheeler said.

Critics say the rollback will speed the conversion of wetlands and headwaters, which provide critical habitat for wildlife and support the nation’s drinking-water supply. Americans drained about half of the 220 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States

between the 1780s and 1980s, most of it to expand farmland. That rate began to slow in the 1980s, and after George H.W. Bush took office he pledged to stem the tide of wetlands loss.

“The administration wants to go back to an era where we are destroying wetlands heedlessly,” Robert Irvin, president of the American Rivers organization, said of President Trump’s latest deregulatory effort.

The 2015 rule gave the federal government authority to oversee a wide array of lakes, streams, wetlands, storm-water controls and ditches feeding into larger waterways that are clearly protected under the 1972 Clean Water Act.

Swimmers, fishermen and picnickers at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis in 2016. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
Swimmers, fishermen and picnickers at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis in 2016. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Denise Stranko, federal legislative and policy manager for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, noted that all but one of the six states in the bay’s watershed, along with the District of Columbia, operate under the Obama-era standard. She added that once the administration finalizes its substitute proposal, tens of thousands of acres that connect underground or through ditches to nearby waterways will lose protection.

Targeting the Obama-era regulation ranked among Trump’s top priorities when he took office. In February 2017, he issued an executive order directing the EPA to review the regulation in an effort to pave the way for what Trump called “the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule.”

The Clean Water Act makes it unlawful to pollute a “water of the United States” without a permit, but what constitutes such water has been the subject of lengthy litigation.

In a 2006 decision, Rapanos v. United States, the Supreme Court’s four most conservative justices at the time offered a constrained view that only “navigable waters” met this test. But Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who refused to join the conservatives or the liberals on the court, said that the government could intervene when there was a “significant nexus” between large water bodies and smaller ones.

Trump’s executive order said federal officials should rely on the opinion of the then-Justice Antonin Scalia, who argued that the law should apply to wetlands connected to “relatively permanent” bodies of water as well as navigable waters.

Wheeler is slated to announce the final repeal of the 2015 rule at the National Association of Manufacturers, whose members had pushed to scale it back. “America is now one step closer to smart and balanced regulation that protects our nation’s precious water resources,” the group’s president, Jay Timmons, said in a statement.

EPA reverses federal limits on methane, a potent greenhouse gas

Thursday’s move is part of a broader effort by the administration to roll back regulations affecting the private sector before the end of Trump’s first term. Among the dozens already reversed are rules on everything from curbing methane emissions from drilling operations to holding oil and gas companies responsible for killing birds that get ensnared in their rigs’ waste pits.

Several of the administration’s early wins came through the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to nullify any rule within 60 days of enactment. The Republican-controlled Congress in 2017 was able to overturn several of President Barack Obama’s last environmental acts that way, sending the bills to Trump for his signature.

Reversing older regulations, such as the Clean Water Rule, has proved more difficult. Wheeler said it was taking longer than first anticipated to finalize the administration’s new standards because staffers were conducting economic and scientific research to bolster the case for shrinking the federal government’s authority over wetlands and streams.

“I’m not in a rush to meet artificial deadlines,” he said. “I want to make sure that our regulations are grounded, that they have all the supporting information they need to be upheld by the courts.”

“Clearly the administration is intent on rolling back as many protections as it can before January of 2021,” he said. “Like any rushed efforts, they are likely to make mistakes that will be challenged and overturned in court.”

On a recent evening in Hugo, Minn., Fran Miron looked out over the 800-acre farm that his family has maintained for four generations and explained why he welcomes the Trump administration’s latest rollback. He said the Obama rule led to widespread confusion, as well as worries about increasing costs and red tape.

“In my opinion, and I think it’s shared by many, this was really just a power grab,” said Miron, 65, whose family milks 120 cows and grows corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

A former mayor of Hugo, Miron said he believes that the federal government doesn’t always know what’s best for a particular place.

“The best decisions are made locally because the local people understand the nature of the issues,” he said. “They understand the nuances of the land and our water.”

Miron, shown Sept. 5 on his farm, said he believes a 2015 rule that gave the EPA much broader authority over the nation’s waterways “was really just a power grab.” (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
Miron, shown Sept. 5 on his farm, said he believes a 2015 rule that gave the EPA much broader authority over the nation’s waterways “was really just a power grab.” (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)
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The mayor of tiny Vero Beach, Florida wrote a letter, on official letterhead, lambasting San Francisco and the Board of Supervisors.

Since Mayor Val Zudans is a “lifetime NRA member” he took particular umbrage to the supervisors designating it a “domestic terrorist organization.” (Courtesy photo)

A letter to the Florida mayor who trashed our fine city of San Francisco

The mayor of tiny Vero Beach, Florida wrote a letter, on official letterhead, lambasting San Francisco and the Board of Supervisors.

I’m in a Facebook group called San Francisco Current Events. It’s exactly what it sounds like; people share all kinds of newsworthy things going on in SF and the Bay Area. The other day I checked it out and found something extra special: the mayor of tiny Vero Beach, Florida wrote a letter, on official letterhead, lambasting San Francisco and the Board of Supervisors.

Since Mayor Val Zudans is a “lifetime NRA member, concealed carry permit holder” he took particular umbrage to the supervisors designating the NRA a “domestic terrorist organization” — and taking inspiration right out Trump’s playbook — used his official position to call San Francisco a “sanctuary for criminals, addicts, and homeless encampments” and that “Your most recent action stinks like the steaming excrement on your streets.”*

I’d like to take a moment to respond to Mayor Zudans’ letter:

Dear Mayor Zudans –

Your concern for the well being of San Francisco has been duly noted. After consulting with the citizenry of our fair city, it’s been universally agreed upon that nobody asked for your damn opinion. While I’m sure that being mayor of a town of 17,000 people has its challenges, San Francisco is a city of nearly a million people and has a $12 billion budget. Heeding your advice on how a city should be run would be like the San Francisco Giants taking advice from a t-ball coach.

Maybe I should use a more familiar analogy for you since Vero Beach doesn’t have a professional sports team…or even a real airport for that matter. You’re an ophthalmologist right? Your attempt to tell San Francisco how to run itself is like a drunken teenager watching a YouTube video on eye examinations trying to advise you on your practice. What I’m getting at here is: stay in your lane, Val. Stick to performing Lasik surgery and trying to upsell transition lenses.

In your absurd, misguided, and frankly uninspiring letter, you mention that owning a gun is one of our “God-given Constitutional liberties” and to be honest Val, that just made me smile. I’m not exactly a Biblical scholar, but I’m 100 percent certain there is no mention of guns anywhere in the New or Old Testament. Besides the fact that guns weren’t invented when any part of the Bible was written, could you imagine hippy-ass Jesus saying “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me…and obviously trust in my Beretta”?

On top of that, God didn’t give us this land, we disgustingly took it from Native Americans by force and through genocide…which is something I figured you might know about considering your city is in Indian River County. And God didn’t give us those Constitutional liberties, they were written by a bunch of men who owned slaves and treated women like second class citizens.

Which brings me to my next point, you seem to be obsessed with the idea that, if something is a law, then it must be just. Remember how two sentences ago I mentioned owning slaves and treating women as second class citizens? Well, that used to be legal. Do you think prohibition was just and fair? That was, stupidly, a constitutional amendment. And didn’t Jesus get killed for breaking the law? Your argument is weaker than a Mai Tais at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort.

Most importantly though, the NRA is a domestic terrorist organization. In your insipid letter you quoted Webster’s Dictionary’s definition of the word terrorism as “the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion,” which I thank you for. There is no better way to describe what the NRA does in our country. Through lies and propaganda is convinces gullible marks like you that owning a firearm will protect you from our “tyrannical government” and save you from bad guys who want to shoot you first.

I covered this in my column a few weeks ago Val, but since you’re just now becoming an avid reader of my column, I’ll break it down for you real quick. If the government wants you, your guns won’t protect you. They have bigger guns, and drones, and tanks, and hell, they even bombed an entire neighborhood in Philly in 1985 to kill armed American citizens. As for the idiotic pissing contest that is the idea that “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”: that lie has been disproven through 40- plus years of data and reported by Stanford University and the FBI.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for being the most absurd Florida Man yet. It’s only through the hard work of enterprising nitwits like you that Florida can continue not just looking like America’s Limp Weenie, but acting like it to.

Sincerely,

Stuart Schuffman

*The difference here between the supervisors passing a unanimous resolution and an individual using his office as a pulpit shouldn’t need to be explained.

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of The Examiner.

 

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As evacuations continue, hundreds of Bahamians were told to get off a ferry headed to the US

Hurricane Dorian may have long since left the Bahamas, but the islands have only begun to grapple with the grim aftermath.

Less than a week since the Category 5 storm hit, 45 people have been confirmed dead — and that number is expected to rise drastically, officials say. Hundreds are still missing, nearly 70,000 have been left homeless by the disaster and hundreds more are desperately looking for a way out.

a group of people standing in front of a large crowd of people: People wait in Marsh Harbour Port to be evacuated to Nassau, in Abaco, Bahamas, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. The evacuation is slow and there is frustration for some who said they had nowhere to go after the Hurricane Dorian splintered whole neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)

© Gonzalo Gaudenzi/AP People wait in Marsh Harbour Port to be evacuated to Nassau, in Abaco, Bahamas, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. The evacuation is slow and there is frustration for some who said they had nowhere to go after the Hurricane Dorian splintered whole neighborhoods. (AP Photo/Gonzalo Gaudenzi)
Over the weekend, nearly 1,500 evacuees arrived in Palm Beach, Florida, on board the Grand Celebration humanitarian cruise ship. All of them were properly documented to enter the country, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said.

But on Sunday, a different story.

In a social media video taken aboard a ferry boat leaving the Bahamas, posted on Twitter by CNN affiliate WSVN reporter Brian Entin, an unidentified person announces via a loudspeaker that anyone traveling to the Unites States without a visa must disembark.

Entin told CNN he was on a Balearia ferry from Freeport to Fort Lauderdale when the announcement was made Sunday. His video shows families with children disembarking the vessel. One woman told Entin that as many as 130 people left the ferry after the announcement.

“CBP was notified of a vessel preparing to embark an unknown number of passengers in Freeport and requested that the operator of the vessel coordinate with U.S. and Bahamian government officials in Nassau before departing The Bahamas,” CBP said in a statement Sunday.

“Everyone who arrives to the United States from another country must present themselves to a CBP officer for inspection at an official CBP Port of Entry. All person must possess valid identity and travel documents,” the agency said. “CBP has a Preclearance operation in Nassau. CBP is committed to carrying out our duties with professionalism and efficiency — facilitating lawful international travel and trade.”

On its website, CBP says visas are not required for Bahamian residents flying into the US from the Bahamas if they also meet other criteria, including possessing a valid passport or travel documents, having no criminal record and carrying a police certificate issued within the past six months.

“CBP relies on the transportation companies in both the air and sea environments to be engaged in ensuring the safety and well-being of any individuals that have been devastated by this tragedy and that requires transparent communication and planning for adequate resources to receive any arrivals,” CBP said in its Sunday statement.

It was not immediately clear what the required documents are for Bahamians traveling by boat.

“This is the height of cruelty — denying help to those who need it most,” Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said on Twitter Sunday night. “This administration has said the words on the Statue of Liberty should be rewritten, and in their actions, they are already changing who we are as a country.”

Bahamas destruction like ‘nuclear bombs were dropped,’ USAID says

By Friday, the Coast Guard had rescued more than 230 people off the islands.

Those who lived through the storm bring with them horrific tales of survival: breaking through rooftops or swimming onto boats to try and ride out the violent waters. Some reported they had family members still missing and others recalled watching friends and neighbors drown in the storm surge.

USAID Administrator Mark Green told reporters on Sunday his agency is leading humanitarian relief efforts of the US government in the Bahamas by providing “lifesaving and life-sustaining assistance: food, water, sanitation, emergency shelter, and medical care needed to facilitate the Bahamian government’s response.”

On Saturday, USAID announced $1 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help people affected in the Bahamas. That brings the agency’s total funding to more than $2.8 million.

Green said he toured Abaco and other parts of the Bahamas after the hurricane and said some areas looked “almost as though nuclear bombs were dropped on them.”

Search and rescue operations continue

Local authorities believe there are people buried under the rubble, but they have no way of knowing how many or when they will be able to get to them.

Search and rescue personnel who arrived with cadaver dogs on the Abaco Islands brought body bags and coolers to store human remains, said Joy Jibrilu, director general of the country’s tourism and aviation ministry.

Marsh Harbour, the biggest town in the Abacos, was one of the hardest hit. A truck delivered at least two bodies to a makeshift mortuary Saturday. The morticians told CNN the difficulty in reaching the dead was slowing their work. Dive teams were needed to recover many submerged bodies, they said.

Authorities have said the current death toll may rise as search and rescue operations begin and they start sifting through the wreckage. In the hardest hit areas of Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands, entire neighborhoods had been cleared out, trees and poles were down and boats were scattered.

The public should prepare for “unimaginable information about the death toll and the human suffering,” Health Minister Duane Sands told Guardian Radio 96.9 FM.

 

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San Francisco just passed a resolution calling the NRA a ‘domestic terrorist organization’

National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre.  (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution Tuesday declaring the National Rifle Association a “domestic terrorist organization” and urging the city to examine its financial relationships with companies that do business with the group.

The sharply worded declaration noted recent acts of gun violence, including the July shooting that killed three people, all younger than 26, at a food festival in Gilroy, Calif., south of San Francisco.

“The National Rifle Association musters its considerable wealth and organizational strength to promote gun ownership and incite gun owners to acts of violence,” it read. “The National Rifle Association spreads propaganda that misinforms and aims to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence, and … the leadership of National Rifle Association promotes extremist positions, in defiance of the views of a majority of its membership and the public, and undermine the general welfare.”

NRA money flowed to board members amid allegedly lavish spending by top officials and vendors

The resolution, adopted unanimously by the board’s 11 supervisors, notes many of the statistics that make the United States stand out in terms of gun violence, stating that the country’s gun homicide rate is “25 times higher than any other high-income country in the world” and that 36,000 people in the United States die in gun-related incidents every year, an average of 100 per day.

It also said the city would assess its financial and contractual relationships with vendors that do business with the NRA.

“The City and County of San Francisco should take every reasonable step to limit those entities who do business with the City and County of San Francisco from doing business with this domestic terrorist organization,” it noted.

The news of its passage quickly drew attention from conservatives and right-leaning media outlets.

Supervisor Catherine Stefani told reporters that she had decided to write the declaration after the shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. A gunman there killed a 6-year-old, a 13-year-old and a 25-year-old before taking his own life. The mass shooting was followed within days by massacres in El Paso, where a gunman killed 22 people, and Dayton, Ohio, where a man killed nine people.

“The NRA conspires to limit gun violence research, restrict gun violence data sharing and most importantly aggressively tries to block every piece of sensible gun violence prevention legislation proposed on any level, local state or federal,” Stefani said, according to KQED. “When they use phrases like, ‘I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands’ on bumper stickers, they are saying reasoned debate about public safety should be met with violence.”

Stefani told The Washington Post that she believed the group had earned the designation as a “terrorist organization.”

“They should reasonably know by now that they are fueling the hate fire in this country,” she said. “People are dying, and they continue to stand in the way of reform.”

Amy Hunter, a spokeswoman for the NRA, called the resolution a “reckless assault on a law-abiding organization, its members and the freedoms they all stand for.”

NRA shakes up legal team amid intensifying civil war

“This is just another worthless and disgusting ‘sound bite remedy’ to the violence epidemic gripping our nation,” she said. “We remain undeterred — guided by our values and belief in those who want to find real solutions to gun violence.”

The NRA has been at the center of political tensions in recent years as horrific acts of gun violence continue to regularly punctuate the political conversation. New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is investigating the group’s finances over its tax-exempt status as a nonprofit group.

Lawrence B. Glickman, professor of history at Cornell University, said it was unusual for governments to orchestrate boycotts of private entities.

“Municipalities in the era of the American Revolution called for ostracism or boycotting of individuals who violated the non-importation movement by using, for example, British tea,” he wrote in an email. “Those might be the clearest antecedents for the SF Board of Supervisors decision.”

 

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A little boy spends his birthday savings on victims of Hurricane Dorian

Jermaine Bell was going to Disney World.

No matter how long it took, or how much birthday money he would have to save, the 6-year-old South Carolina boy would spend his special day in “The Happiest Place On Earth.”

And, as local TV station WJBF reports, he was pretty close to realizing that dream, planning for a visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom just in time for his seventh birthday this month.

Then he heard the story of the hurricane: how it transformed the Bahamas into the unhappiest place on Earth — and how it continues to churn up the East Coast, leaving a trail of tears in its wake.

How could Bell dream of Disney World when so many others were living a nightmare?

So the boy gathered his savings — and went to the grocery store. Instead of a romp in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Bell bought much-needed food and water for thousands of people forced to leave their homes in advance of the storm.

“The people that are traveling to go to places, I wanted them to have some food to eat, so they can enjoy the ride to the place that they’re going to stay at,” Bell told WJBF.

Indeed, Bell made it hard for anyone to miss his offer. He hauled a couple of homemade signs to Highway 125 in Allendale with the words “Free hot dogs and water” scrawled on them.

And he stood at the side of that highway, calling out to motorists, many of them tired and traumatized after leaving their homes behind. In all, he served more than 100 evacuees.

Jermaine Bell serving hot dogs to hurricane evacuees.Jermaine Bell served more than 100 hurricane evacuees. (Photo: Daniel Latimer)

“I am very proud,” his grandmother Aretha Grant told CNN. “We knew Jermaine was very special, but we didn’t know he was special in this way, to be such a giver like this.”

Indeed, at his little stand in Allendale, Bell is giving people something much more precious than hot dogs. He’s offering hope — and along the way, the little boy with the big heart is making his own magic kingdom.

Want to follow Bell’s shining example? Click here to help people affected by Hurricane Dorian.

 

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A grandmother prevented a mass shooting by noticing the red flags and getting her grandson help

Given the sheer number of mass shootings that have happened since the assault weapons ban ended in 2004, Americans are starting to notice when someone exhibits behaviors that could lead to committing an act of horrific violence.

According to FBI statistics, mass shooters exhibit an average of 4.7 examples of “concerning behavior” before their attacks. These include: mental health issues, interpersonal problems, suicidal ideation, discussing an attack, poor work performance, threats or confrontations.

Mass shooters also had, on average, 3.6 stressors, which include: mental health, financial strain, job-related problems, conflicts with friends/peers, mental problems, and drug/alcohol abuse.

A grandmother in Lubbock, Texas noticed her grandson, 19-year-old William Patrick Williams, was exhibiting signs of committing a horrific massacre and averted the tragedy by getting him help.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Texas, in July, Williams told his grandmother he had purchased an AK-47 and planned to “shoot up” a hotel and then take his own life.

After hearing Williams’ plans, his grandmother convinced him to go to the hospital to get mental help.

AK-47via brian.ch / FlickrWhile Williams was in treatment, police searched his hotel room and found an AK-47, 17 magazines, multiple knives, a black shirt that said “Let ‘Em Come,” and a black trench coat.

RELATED: These gun owners support stricter gun control for amazing reasons we all need to hear

It was later discovered that Williams allegedly lied on the paperwork he filled out to purchase the weapon. He was arrested on Thursday, August 1 by the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the FBI for making false statements to a firearms dealer. He could face up to five years in prison.

“This was a tragedy averted,” U.S. Attorney Nealy Cox told NBC News. “I want to praise the defendant’s grandmother, who saved lives by interrupting this plot.”

Williams’ grandmother saved countless lives, including that of her grandson, by seeing the warning signs and taking action.

While lawmakers fail to pass common sense gun laws that can reduce the number of mass shootings, the best way we can prevent these tragedies is to be vigilant like Williams grandmother — know the red flags and if you see something, say something.

 

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The RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Leaderboard

The 2020 race is tightening.

Rex/Shutterstock (4)

Editor’s Note: Rolling Stone will soon update the 2020 leaderboard to reflect the impact of the primary debates in Detroit. For a preview of our thinking, read our assessments of the winners and losers from nights one and two of the debates, as well as our consolidated debate scorecard, grading the performance of all 20 candidates.

The first Democratic debates shook up the contours of the 2020 race, with Joe Biden falling back from undisputed frontrunner to join a crowded, four-contender pack, along with Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and his new nemesis Kamala Harris.

Will the second round of debates on July 29 and 30th offer similar breakout moments for candidates seeking to join the top tier? Already Cory Booker is previewing his attacks on Biden over criminal justice reform — though Biden is promising supporters he won’t be so “polite” this time, prepared to punch back. With the sting of the first debate fading, and the former vice president’s poll numbers on the rebound, a strong performance could suggest that Biden’s status at the front of the pack is less precarious than it recently seemed.

The Michigan debates also feature a must-see face-off between the leading change agents in the race, with Sanders and Warren competing to differentiate their visions for sweeping transformation of America’s tax structure and social contract.

RELATED: RS Politics 2020 Democratic Primary Policy Guide

The Rolling Stone leaderboard is now tracking all twenty candidates who will stand on the debate stage in Detroit, and a handful who won’t. Those ranks include the billionaire activist Tom Steyer, whose bank account and increasingly relevant impeachment crusadecould leave a mark on the race yet.

1) Joe Biden

Website: JoeBiden.com
The first Democratic debates in Miami exposed Biden as unsteady — and unready to defend the many problematic parts of his record, including his coziness with segregationists and opposition to busing to integrate schools. One bad debate does not a campaign make. And while Biden now seems far from inevitable as the party’s 2020 nominee, the former vice president still offers America a seductive promise — a reboot from the Trump catastrophe. And rather than risk falling in love with a progressive New Hope, many rank-and-file Democrats, particularly older voters, seem happy to fall in line behind Biden, 76, who is raising plenty of cash: $21.5 million in the second quarter alone. At his Philadelphia kickoff rally in May, Biden touted his record as a Mr. Fixit: “I know how to make government work.”
Signature Policy: Biden has peerless foreign policy credentials and isn’t afraid to tout them: “I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president,” he’s said. “I know as much about American foreign policy [as] anyone around, including even maybe Kissinger.” (Read more about Biden’s platform.)
Signature Apology: “I’m sorry I didn’t understand more,” Biden told reporters after being rebuked by multiple women for his space-invader style of politics. “I’m not sorry for any of my intentions. I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally to a man or a woman. So that’s not the reputation I’ve had since I was in high school, for God’s sakes.”
RS Coverage: Joe Biden Is Not Helping

2) Elizabeth Warren

Website: ElizabethWarren.com
The Massachusetts senator continues to outpace her competitors on policy, including calling to wipe out student debtfor tens of millions of Americans. Warren is targeting Democrats who seek progressive purity from their 2020 champion, including in fundraising. Eschewing fundraisers with big contributors seeking political favors, Warren raised more than $19 million from grassroots donors in the second quarter, and joining Sanders as the only candidates with more than 1 million total donations. But unlike Sanders, who embraces the mantle of democratic socialism, the 70-year-old Warren is a capitalist at heart, having spent a career trying to make the system work for working people. As a law professor, she sparred with then Senator Joe Biden about the 2005 bankruptcy bill he backed, which Warren argued favored special interests. “At a time when the biggest financial institutions in this country were trying to put the squeeze on millions of hardworking families,” Warren has said, “Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies.”
Signature Policy: Warren wants to address American inequality with a wealth tax, imposed annually on “ultra-millionaires,” to pay for benefits, including universal free or low-cost childcare, for “yacht-less Americans.” Fortunes greater than $50 million would be taxed at 2 percent. Billionaires would pay 3 percent. The proposal has greater than 60 percent support and would raise $2.75 trillion over 10 years. (Read more about Warren’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Warren has apologized for conflating “family stories” about Cherokee heritage with native identity. “I am sorry,” Warren said, “for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.”
RS Coverage: Elizabeth Warren Wants to Wipe Out Student Debt for 42 Million Americans

3) Kamala Harris

Website: KamalaHarris.org
Harris showed both fearlessness and surgical precision in attacking Biden in the Miami debates. The performance vaulted the 54-year-old former prosecutor back into the top tier of 2020 candidates, with a pair of polls even showing her in second place. The Californian stands astride the tectonic plates of the Democratic Party — an establishment politician who has adopted a platform responsive to the passion of the grassroots, including a Green New Deal and marijuana legalization. Her fundraising in the second quarter reflects success in sustaining this tricky balance: Harris raised $12 million, including $2 million in a post-debate surge. Black women are the heart of the Democratic Party, and seeing themselves reflected in the Howard University-educated Harris (born to Jamaican and Tamil Indian parents) could boost her prospects in an early-vote state like South Carolina.
Signature Policy: Harris has promised executive action to punish pay disparities. She would require companies to receive an “Equal Pay Certification” and fine one percent of corporate profits for every percent of wage gap that persists between male and female employees. (Read more about Harris’ platform.)
Signature Apology: Harris has accepted accountability for missteps as California’s attorney general: “The bottom line is the buck stops with me, and I take full responsibility for what my office did.”
RS Coverage: Kamala Harris’ Moment

4) Bernie Sanders

Website: BernieSanders.com
The 77-year-old Sanders has dipped slightly in the polls, but he remains a force thanks to a potent combination of people-power and cash. His campaign announced in July that it raised $18 million in the second quarter, with an average donation of $18. And the campaign’s focus on grassroots organizing is peerless in the 2020 field. Sanders does not have the left lane to himself anymore — many candidates have embraced his once-distinctive proposals. But he is seen as an uncompromising champion of policies like Medicare for All. And he’s one-upped Warren’s income-based college debt relief by calling for a complete wipeout of the nation’s $1.6 trillion in student debt.
Signature Policy: Sanders’ 2016 campaign set the table for 2020. He gets full credit for mainstreaming a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free college. Sanders recently introduced the “For the 99.8% Act” that would sharply increase the estate tax, including imposing a 77 percent tax on estates in excess of $1 billion, raising an estimated $315 billion over a decade. (Read more about Sanders’ platform.)
Signature Apology: Sanders apologized to former female staffers for a 2016 campaign marred by pay disparities and allegations of sexual harassment by male staffers, promising to “do better” moving forward.
RS Coverage: On the Trail With Bernie Sanders 2.0

5) Pete Buttigieg

Website: PeteForAmerica.com
The 37-year-old mayor vaulted from dark-horse to phenom in a matter of months, but has lately plateaued. Plainspoken and steeped in the values of the Christian left, Buttigieg has wowed pundits and prospective voters alike. He was featured in a photo-shoot in Vogue, and (with his husband Chasten) scored the cover of Time. Is “Mayor Pete” a true contender? His fundraising is prodigious: Buttigieg raised nearly $25 million in the second quarter alone. We only wish he were as quick to understand the traumas of black America as he was to learn Norwegian. Indeed, his lack of resonance with black voters is holding him back. In recent polls he’s registered at zero percent support among African Americans in South Carolina, Florida,and Mississippi

, despite scoring in or near double digits with whites.
Signature Policy: “The electoral college needs to go.” (Read more about Buttigieg’s platform.)
Signature Apology: After news reports revealed that Buttigieg declared “all lives matter” in 2015, Mayor Pete distanced himself from the comment, insisting he “did not understand” at the time that the slogan was “being used to devalue what the Black Lives Matter movement was telling us.”
RS Coverage: Is America Ready for Mayor Pete?

6) Cory Booker

Website: CoryBooker.com
The former super-mayor of Newark, Booker is running on a values-heavy message of love, unity and “a revival of civic grace.” The 50-year-old has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate, and he’s changed the conversation around federal cannabis legalization with his proposed Marijuana Justice Act. “I get angry when I see people taking just one step — legalizing marijuana — without doing anything to address past harms,” he told Rolling Stone in a recent interview. Booker has also demonstrated his policy chops by unveiling an ambitious affordable housing plan that would provide tax credits to renters, increase housing investments in rural America, and push localities to reform their zoning laws that stand in the way of building more affordable housing units. But his outward liberalism has been undercut at times by problematic connections to Wall Street and Big Pharma. He vowed to not accept corporate PAC or lobbyist donations, and announced raising $4.5 million in the second quarter.
Signature Policy: Baby bonds. Booker would target the wealth gap in America by seeding “American Opportunity Accounts” for children that would allow kids from the poorest families to enter adulthood with a nest egg of up to $46,000 to invest in education, home ownership or retirement. (Read more about Booker’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Booker has disavowed the tough-on-crime approach he championed in his early days as Newark mayor. In his book United, Booker credits his then-chief of staff for delivering a wake-up call on racial disparities in policing: “He told me that if I had so quickly forgotten my own life experiences, I had my head up my large black posterior region.”
RS Coverage: Why Cory Booker Cares So Much About Legal Weed

7) Julián Castro

Website: JulianForTheFuture.com
After toiling in relative obscurity since he entered the race in January, Castro had a breakout moment at the first Democratic debate. He spoke forcefully about the need to decriminalize unauthorized border crossings and make them a civil violation. He hammered fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke for not supporting that plan. His stage presence and command of the issues showed why Hillary nearly picked him as her 2016 running mate. The only Latino contender in the field, Castro, 44, is also one of the youngest. His “People First” policy agenda earned high marks for offering a sweeping immigration plan that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants; an education overhaul that would reinvest in public education from pre-K through college; and a $5-billion plan to “eliminate lead poisoning as a major public health threat.”
Signature Policy: Pre-K for USA, nationwide universal pre-kindergarten programs, are the centerpiece of his People First education plan. “Investing in early childhood education isn’t just the right thing to do on behalf of our children,” Castro says. “It’s an investment that we can’t afford not to make.” (Read more about Castro’s platform.)
Signature Apology: In 2016, Castro apologized for dissing Trump and talking up Clinton while on the job as HUD secretary, a violation of the Hatch Act

. “When an error is made — even an inadvertent one — the error should be acknowledged,” Castro said. “I made one here.”
RS Coverage: Julian Castro Officially Enters the 2020 Presidential Race

8) Amy Klobuchar

Website: Amy-Klobuchar.com
The Minnesota senator’s understated persona stands in contrast to Trump’s bluster and bravado, winning her plaudits from conservatives including Washington Post columnist George Will and Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins. In theory, Klobuchar should benefit from a near-home-field advantage in neighboring Iowa, which holds the first-in-the-nation caucus. But the latest poll has her bumping along at 4 percent support. Klobuchar didn’t score any major breakthroughs in the Miami debates, but voter opinions of her improved incrementally after she argued she could win in the “reddest of districts.”
Signature Policy: Known for playing small-ball, Klobuchar has emphasized her record of enacting practical laws that have reduced the backlog of rape kits and banned lead in toys. If Biden continues to decline, Klobuchar seems likely to corral some of his moderate-minded voters. (Read more about Klobuchar’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Klobuchar has been dogged by reports she abused and demeaned staff, including by throwing a binder that “accidentally” hit a staffer. The senator has admitted she has pushed employees “too hard” at times and can be a “tough boss,” but added she just wants to hold her employees — and the country — to high standards.
RS Coverage: Amy Klobuchar on Al Franken, Brett Kavanaugh and the Road Ahead

9) Beto O’Rourke

Website: BetoORourke.com
After firing up the nationwide political machine that helped him nearly topple Texas mega-villain Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, O’Rourke began his presidential bid with a burst of cash and momentum, but stalled out almost immediately. In May, just six weeks after his official launch, O’Rourke attempted a campaign re-set, apologizing for a Vanity Fair cover timed to his launch, and swearing off money from fossil fuel executives under pressure from environmental activists. His troubles followed him onto the debate stage in Miami, where it was clear O’Rourke’s rivals were out for blood. New York mayor Bill de Blasio chided Beto for supporting a broken private insurance system, and fellow Texan Castro castigated him for not doing “his homework” on immigration. O’Rourke’s fundraising has also seen a precipitous drop off, falling from $9.4 million in the first quarter to $3.6 in the second.
Signature Policy: O’Rourke has struggled to find his policy niche. A former representative for El Paso, he first prioritized immigration reform, before turning to climate policy, most recently pivoting to veterans, proposing to boost services through an annual “war tax” on non-military families. (Read more about O’Rourke’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Beto was arrested for drunk-driving at 26, which he’s called a “terrible mistake.”
RS Coverage: Beto O’Rourke Shares the Story of His Old Band, Foss — and a Single

10) Jay Inslee

Website: JayInslee.com
Inslee made sure the climate crisis got at least some discussion in the first round of Democratic debates, despite the moderators largely avoiding the subject. “We have to understand that this is a climate crisis, an emergency,” he said. “This is our last chance,” Inslee insisted of the next administration, “to do something about it.” The Washington state governor has built his campaign around the climate issue, leading the pack of 2020 contenders with ambitious, detailed climate policy proposals. In mid-May, Inslee unveiled his Evergreen Economy Plan, which calls for $3 trillion in federal spending to “defeat climate change” and create 8 million jobs. Inslee, 69, has also led the charge to pressure the DNC to host an official climate-specific debate — a demand the committee has so far refused.
Signature Policy: Fighting climate change. Inslee’s track record includes creating a $120 million clean-energy fund, directing his state government to set new caps on emissions (now being challenged in court) and launching the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan group of 22 governors implementing the Paris climate accord. (Read more about Inslee’s platform.)
RS Coverage: Jay Inslee Wants to Be the First Climate President. Is America Ready?

11) Tulsi Gabbard

Website: Tulsi2020.com
An Iraq war vet, Gabbard, 38, is the first Hindu to serve in the House of Representatives. She has introduced a bipartisan bill with Rep. Don Young (R-AK) to legalize marijuana, and made a strong impression in the June debates blasting Trump’s “chickenhawk” Cabinet and the administration’s saber-rattling at Iran. Gabbard has also ruffled feathers within her own party. After Attorney General William Barr released his controversial, four-page summary of the Mueller report, Gabbard said that it was time to “put aside partisan interests” and “move forward.”
Signature Policy: Appealing to dovish Democrats, Gabbard has staked her campaign in opposition to wars of regime change. But her foreign policy credentials are worrying: She visited Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in 2017 on a secret “fact-finding” mission and dismissed his opposition — across the board — as terrorists. Gabbard’s rollout also received an unsettling signal boost from Kremlin-backed English language media networks, RT and Sputnik. (Read more about Gabbard’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Into adulthood, Gabbard espoused virulently anti-LGBTQ views. She released an apology videosaying, “In my past, I said and believed things that were wrong.”
RS Coverage: We’ve Hit a New Low in Campaign Hit Pieces

12) Kirsten Gillibrand

Website: 2020.KirstenGillibrand.com
Gillibrand has framed 2020 as a contest between bravery and fear, and herself as the Democrats’ own Fearless Girl™ (complete with Wall Street funding). Gillibrand, 52, is distinguishing herself as the first candidate to speak up when it comes to the issues most important to women. She has called for codifying Roe and repealing the Hyde Amendment, and she has promised to appoint only pro-choice judges. Nonetheless, Gillibrand’s bid has struggled to gain traction, and she wasn’t able to help her cause during the first Democratic debates in June. According to a post-debate poll, more Democratic voters said their opinion of Gillibrand worsened, rather than improved, based on her performance.
Signature Policy: In addition to her commitment to protecting women’s rights, Gillibrand has unveiled a Family Bill of Rights, which would include universal pre-K, national paid family leave, and measures to ensure child care is accessible and affordable. (Read more about Gillibrand’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Gillibrand began her 2020 bid with frank apologies for her anti-immigrant past as a Blue Dog Democrat representing Upstate New York: “I was callous to the suffering of families who want to be with their loved ones,” she told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. “Looking back, I just really regretted that I didn’t look beyond my district.”
RS Coverage: Gillibrand: ‘Trump Has Started a War on America’s Women. And He’s Going to Lose’

13) Andrew Yang

Website: Yang2020.com
The most unlikely grassroots sensation of 2020, Yang is a businessman who founded Venture for America, working to revitalize struggling urban centers by training and fostering entrepreneurs in cities like Detroit and New Orleans. Yang’s campaign raised $2.8 million in the second quarter, as his campaign became cultivated meme-warrior members of the #YangGang. Expectations were high that Yang could make a stir in the first debates. Instead his performance fell flat, as he failed to make a clear pitch, even on his signature policy of free money from the government. Yang apologized to his fans on Twitter, vowing to “do better” in future debates.
Signature Policy: The 44-year-old is running on a platform of a universal basic income, to counteract the worst effects of automation in the workforce. Yang spoke at length to Rolling Stone about his “Freedom Dividend,” insisting: “You want to universalize it so it’s seen as a true right of citizenship.” (Read more about Yang’s platform.)
RS Coverage: ‘I Came From the Internet’: Inside Andrew Yang’s Wild Ride

14) Bill de Blasio

Website: BilldeBlasio.com
The mayor of New York since 2014, de Blasio made a forceful appeal on the debate stage for Democrats to be the party of working people, embracing a mix of policy proposals from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders. Though de Blasio, 58, has his sights set on Washington, he has plenty of problems to address closer to home. His approval rating in New York is hovering in the low-40s. And his national disapproval numbers top the field. A recent poll found that 42 percent of Democrats and independents think he should drop out.
Signature Policy: Implemented universal pre-K in New York City. (Read more about de Blasio’s platform.)
Signature Apology: After the first Democratic debate in Miami in late June, de Blasio attended a strike by airport workers, declaring, “Hasta la victoria, siempre.” This, unfortunately for hizzoner, was the battle cry of one Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the revolutionary and Fidel Castro lieutenant who is despised in much of South Florida. “I did not know the phrase I used in Miami today was associated with Che Guevara & I did not mean to offend anyone who heard it that way,” de Blasio tweeted. “I only meant it as a literal message to the striking airport workers that I believed they would be victorious in their strike.”
RS Coverage: Why Are Marijuana Policies So Behind in 4/20-Heavy Places Like New York?

15) Marianne Williamson

Website: Marianne2020.com
One of Oprah’s favorite self-help gurus is campaigning to give the United States a “moral and spiritual awakening.” Williamson, 66, has limited political experience: She once finished fourth in a congressional primary in California. But she says she’s pursuing the presidency on a track record of helping transform “moral dysfunction.” Her debate performance was otherworldly, and not it a good way. But she Williamson’s brand of woo has earned her millions of fans. Nobody knows where this is going.
Signature Policy: Called for $100 billion in reparations for black people, distributed over 10 years. Scholars have estimated a fair value for reparations at between $6 and $14 trillion. (Read more about Williamson’s platform.)
Signature Apology: In her Prayer of Apology to African Americans, the bestselling author apologizes for slavery, lynchings, white supremacist laws, the denial of voting rights, the denial of civil rights, unequal treatment of Black Americans in the criminal justice system, police brutality, economic injustice and more, asking God for forgiveness. “May the screams that were not allowed, be allowed now / May the cries that were never heard be heard now / May the tears that were never heard be heard now./And may the healing begin / In this sacred container, may the healing begin / May the Light of love now heal us all / Amen.”
RS Coverage: Marianne Williamson Is the Cosmic Sorceress We Need Now

16) Tom Steyer

Website: TomSteyer.com
The progressive billionaire best known for leading an impeachment crusade against president Trump threw his hat into the crowded 2020 ring on July 9th, promising to betray his class and wrest political power from America’s moneyed interests. Steyer has plenty of cash to help overcome his late start. He’s vowed to spend $100 million on his campaign.
Signature Policy: Steyer’s Need to Impeach campaign has signed up more than 8 million Americans seeking Trump’s constitutional removal. (This list could provide Steyer with a formidable grassroots base.) “It’s important to stand up for the American democracy,” Steyer has told Rolling Stone about the fight for impeachment. “We believe fighting against a reckless and lawless president is not something that will turn off voters.”
RS Coverage: A Conversation With Tom Steyer, the Liberal Billionaire Bankrolling Trump’s Impeachment

17) Steve Bullock

Website: SteveBullock.com
The Montana governor with a Deadwood-worthy name could be a 2020 dark horse. He entered the race in May and was shut out of the Miami debates. But his polling has improved and he’ll be on the stage in Michigan. Even in a crowded field, Bullock’s experience stands out. He won statewide office in a state Trump carried by 20 points — and then got a GOP-majority legislature to agree to expand Medicaid. He raised $2 million in his debut fundraising quarter.
Signature Policy: The 53-year-old has focused on ending the influence of unlimited political contributions and dark money. “If we wanna address all the other big issues,” he said in a stump speech in Iowa, “you’re not gonna be able to do it unless you also address the way money is affecting our system.” (Read more about Bullock’s platform.)
Signature Apology: A former Bullock aide, fired for sexual harassment, went on to harass again in the office of the mayor of New York City. “I should have done more to ensure future employers would learn of his behavior,” Bullock wrote in February. “These realizations come too late for the two women in New York City. For that, I’m deeply sorry.”
RS Coverage: The Democrats’ Battle for Montana

18) John Delaney

Website: JohnKDelaney.com
The former Maryland Congressman, 56, has been running for president since July 2017. Delaney preaches a relentlessly bipartisan message of national unity. One thing that won’t slow him down is funding: Delaney is worth close to $100 million and is largely self-financing his campaign. (He raised only $284,000 in the second quarter.) An entrepreneur in high finance, he launched two companies that trade on the New York Stock Exchange. In June, he was booed at a Democratic event for describing Medicare-for-All as “not good policy.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) suggested he “sashay away” from the primary. He got little respect or airtime at the June debates, with even the moderators shutting him down.
Signature Policy: Delaney is promoting a national youth service program to bring the country together. (Read more about Delaney’s platform.)
RS Coverage: John Delaney Says He’s ‘Skating to Where the Puck Is Going’

19) Michael Bennet

WebsiteMichaelBennet.com
The 54-year-old senator is campaigning for a return to integrity in government and a revival of American economic mobility. A former chief of staff to then-Denver mayor Hickenlooper, Bennet positions himself as “pragmatic idealist” and has been calling for Democrats to temper ideas like packing the Supreme Court. He has been lauded by “Morning” Joe Scarborough for combining “an Ivy League pedigree” with “a common touch” and for his “commitment to key centrist fiscal policies.” (The alleged common touch was MIA in Miami, where Bennet spoke with a patrician accent and denounced Chinese “mercantilism.”) Bennett raised a respectable $2.8 million in the second quarter.
Signature Policy: Medicare X. With Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bennet is proposing legislation to create, and slowly roll out, a public option for the Obamacare state marketplaces, with the same doctor and hospital networks as Medicare, and similar reimbursement rates. Bennet has called Medicare-for-All, which would disrupt existing health care plans for millions, “bad opening offer.” (Read more about Bennet’s platform.)
RS Coverage: The 21st Democratic Presidential Candidate Has Entered the 2020 Race — Make It Stop

20) John Hickenlooper

Website: Hickenlooper.com
Colorado’s former governor, 67, markets himself as a centrist who can bring opposing interests to the table. “I am who I am,” Hickenlooper told Rolling Stone. “True to that north star.” But on the debate stage Hickenlooper’s top priority seemed to be defusing the GOP’s attack that Democrats are “socialists.” (Note to Hick: GOP will blast the 2020 nominee as a socialist, regardless.) Hickenlooper raised just $1.1 million in the second quarter and recently took responsibility for being the central “problem” of his own campaign.
Signature Policy: In the wake of the 2012 Aurora theater shooting that left 12 dead and dozens injured, Hickenlooper’s state government passed background checks and magazine capacity limits

. (Read more about Hickenlooper’s platform.)
Signature Apology: In 2014, Hickenlooper apologized to local sheriffs for not consulting them before pushing a gun-control measure, but didn’t take well to being pressed further on the issue by one officer at a public forum. “How many apologies do you want? What the fuck?,” the governor said. “I apologize!”
RS Coverage: John Hickenlooper Believes He Can Be the Bridge

21) Tim Ryan

Website: TimRyanForAmerica.com
A nine-term congressman, Ryan represents post-industrial Youngstown, Ohio, and wants Democrats to compete for the disaffected voters who turned to Trump in 2016. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ryan, 45, insisted: “I think we need an absolute, aggressive campaign in rural America, because I think we can win those voters back.” Ryan has begun to register in national polls, but he got pummeled on the debate stage in Miami by Gabbard after suggesting the U.S. needs to recommit to the endless war in Afghanistan. Ryan raised only $876,000 in the second quarter.
Signature Policy: The centerpiece of Ryan’s candidacy is a long-term industrial strategy to make the U.S. competitive with China in industries like automotive, solar, wind and clean manufacturing. (Read more about Ryan’s platform.)
RS Coverage: Tim Ryan: ‘We Need an Absolute, Aggressive Campaign in Rural America’

22) Seth Moulton

Website: SethMoulton.com
Moulton, 40, is a former Marine captain who served four tours in Iraq. He has made his experience in war a centerpiece of his campaign. Moulton has been frank about his struggles with PTSD, stemming from bearing witness to civilian casualties: “My story is one of success because I got help for it,” he’s said. “I decided to talk to someone, to see a therapist.” Moulton has also used his first-hand foreign policy experience to challenge his “mentor” Joe Biden, telling CNN: “I do think that it’s time for the generation that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan to step in for the generation that sent us there.” Moulton did not qualify for the first debate in Miami and has been shut out again in Michigan.
Signature Policy: “Democrats should be the party of national defense,” Moulton has told Rolling Stone. “We have a commander in chief who is reckless. We need a smart, strong national security strategy,” he said. “We do that by having credible voices in the party who can speak on matters of national security because they’ve been out there on the ground themselves.” (Read more about Moulton’s platform.)
Signature Apology: Moulton has not apologized for his role in attempting to deny Pelosi the Speaker’s gavel, but concedes that she’s done a “good job” since resuming the post.
RS Coverage: Seth Moulton Wants to Bring Mental Health into the 2020 Conversation

23) Wayne Messam

Website: WayneForAmerica.com
The mayor of fast-growing Miramar, Florida, Messam has a low national profile. But the 45-year-old was recently elected to a third term in the Miami suburb (with more residents than South Bend, Indiana) and the former football standout has set his sights on Washington. His cash-strapped campaign reportedly missed payroll in April and lost key staff. He did has been shut out of the debates.
Signature Policy: Messam has called for statehood for Puerto Rico, and was the first Democrat to call for cancelling all student debt. “It’s interesting to see other candidates now beginning to start to put out a proposal,” Messam said in West Des Moines, referencing Warren’s debt-relief plan. (Read more about Messam’s platform.)

24) Joe Sestak

Website: JoeSestak.com
The former three-star Navy admiral and two-term congressman threw his hat into the 2020 ring in mid-June, and has been spotted stumping before sparse crowds in Iowa. Sestak is a name political junkies will remember from his failed bids for a senate seat from Pennsylvania. In 2010 he unseated the party-switching Democratic incumbent Arlen Specter in the primary, before losing to Republican Pat Toomey in the general. (Sestak lost an expensive Democratic primary race in 2016.) He did not qualify for the debates in Detroit.
Signature Policy: Sestak is campaigning on his military and foreign policy credentials insisting he “has the depth of global experience to restore America’s leadership in the world.”

Chaos Agent: Mike Gravel

Website: MikeGravel.org
Political observers weren’t sure if former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel was serious, joking or hacked when his long-dormant Twitter account sputtered to life late one March night with a “#Gravel2020” tweet. It turned out to be a little bit of all three: A trio of teenagers from New York state had convinced the anti-war octogenarian, famous for making the Pentagon papers public, to mount a protest bid for the Democratic nomination. David Oks and Elijah Emery, high school seniors in Dobbs Ferry, New York, and Henry Williams, a freshman at Columbia University, initially just wanted to get Gravel on the debate stage to push the other candidates in a more progressive direction. They did not achieve that goal, but that hasn’t stopped the teens from mercilessly roasting the rest of the field on Twitter. For his part, Gravel approves of the shitposting, he’s just asked that the teens refrain from using curse words.
Signature Policy: According to the teens, the chief animating issue of Gravel 2020 is a bold promise to “end all wars.” According to Gravel himself, the reason he agreed to run was to advance awareness about his passion for direct democracy. Gravel is writing a book that lays out an argument for a “Legislature of the People” that would empower individual citizens to make and vote on laws. (Gravel believes such a system could be implemented via a Constitutional amendment.)
Signature Apology: In May, Gravel dismissed fellow 2020 candidate Buttigieg, saying he “really doesn’t say anything more than the fact that he’s gay, and that energizes the gay community.” In a statement posted to Twitter the next day, Gravel apologized, voicing support for “queer liberty,” while nonetheless ramping up his attacks on Mayor Pete, blasting Buttigieg’s decision to work for the consulting firm McKinsey, declaring: “A Buttigieg presidency unequivocally threatens the well-being of people the world over who are subject to America’s imperialist whims. He supports drone strikes, concealing war crimes, and growing our military-industrial complex. There is simply too much life at stake to entertain the deadly ambitions of this McKinsey cypher.”
RS Coverage: The Teens Have Officially Convinced Mike Gravel to Run for President

2020 Campaign Graveyard

Here lie the presidential ambitions of fallen Democratic contenders

Richard Ojeda
Dropped out: 
1/25/19, after 79 days
Parting Words: 
“When I was a kid in grade school, my teachers always said that anyone could grow up and become president. Unfortunately, what I’m starting to realize is that unless you have wealth, influence and power, it’s not gonna happen.”
Last Wish: 
“Whoever does win the presidency needs to be somebody who is willing to check Big Pharma.”

Eric Swalwell
Dropped Out: 
7/8/19, after 91 days
Parting Words: 
“Weaknesses will be flushed out and a leader will emerge.”
Last Wish: 
That the eventual nominee supports an assault weapons ban and buyback

Love our rankings? Disagree with a passion? Tell us what we got right — or wrong — on Twitter: @RSPolitics. This leaderboard is updated regularly.

 

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