Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to Challenge Trump in the Primary

Madison Feller
Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to Challenge Trump in the Primary
Photo credit: Getty

From ELLE

We're just a few months into the year, and already the 2020 presidential nominee pool is incredibly crowded with names both famous and not. Here, get to know a bit about every person who's thrown their hat into the race.

Joe Biden | Beto O'Rourke | Bernie Sanders | Amy Klobuchar | Cory Booker | Pete Buttigieg | Julián Castro | Kamala Harris | John Delaney | Tulsi Gabbard | Elizabeth Warren | Marianne Williamson | Andrew Yang | Wayne Messam | Tim Ryan | Seth Moulton | Michael Bennet | Steve Bullock | Bill de Blasio | Joe Sestak | Tom Steyer | Donald Trump | Bill Weld | Joe Walsh | Mark Sanford

Joe Biden (D)

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Joe Biden announced his run for president after months of speculation—and months of him leading the Democratic polls. The former senator from Delaware is arguably the 2020 Democratic candidate with the most name recognition after serving as vice president under President Barack Obama for two terms. In his announcement video, Biden said that Trump is a “threat to this nation” unlike any he had seen in his lifetime and said that history will look back on the Trump administration as an “abhorrent moment in time.”

Beto O'Rourke (D)

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The former congressman from El Paso, Texas, is officially in the running. O'Rourke gained a national platform after he went up against, and ultimately lost to, incumbent Ted Cruz for Texas' open senate seat in the 2018 midterm elections. As someone who used to represent a district on the border, O'Rourke has been outspoken about his views on immigration, saying that America does not need a border wall and that he supports DREAMers.

Learn where Beto O'Rourke stands on nine important issues, here.

Bernie Sanders (D)

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This will be the second time Sanders, who's currently a Vermont senator, has run for president, having lost to Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2016. Sanders is an independent (who caucuses with Democrats) and a self-described democratic socialist who has been credited for pushing the party further to the left, including championing policies like Medicare for all, a $15 federal minimum wage, and free college tuition.

Learn where Bernie Sanders stands on nine important issues, here.

Amy Klobuchar (D)

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Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has a track record of racking up votes in middle America and is known to boast bipartisanship, as opposed to a more radical left-leaning platform. As her campaign has unfolded, there have been numerous reports from former staffers that Klobuchar is a difficult boss, but she's already responded, saying, "I have high expectations for myself, I have high expectations for the people that work for me, but I have high expectations for this country."

Learn where Amy Klobuchar stands on nine important issues, here.

Cory Booker (D)

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The New Jersey Senator entered the race at the start of Black History Month, declaring, "I believe that we can build a country where no one is forgotten, no one is left behind." Booker is the former "super mayor" of Newark, where he once famously saved a woman from a burning building. A well-known Democrat, Booker is for a federal jobs guarantee, Medicare for all, combating the affordable housing crisis, and he's introduced a bill that would essentially create a federally-funded savings account for every American child.

Learn where Cory Booker stands on nine important issues, here.


Pete Buttigieg (D)

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If elected, Buttigieg would be the youngest president ever at just 37 years old. The current mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg is also an Afghanistan war veteran, and would become the first openly gay presidential nominee from a major party, if he won the Democratic nomination.

Learn where Pete Buttigieg stands on nine important issues, here.

Julián Castro (D)

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Castro has entered the race for president with a somewhat substantial political resume: He was the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, and he also served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama. (In 2016, he was also in the running to be Hillary Clinton's vice president.) Look out for his policies on immigration reform (he's the grandson of an immigrant himself), Medicare for all, and a plan for universal pre-kindergarten.

Kamala Harris (D)

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The former California Attorney General and current California senator is shaping up to be a front-runner in the race to become the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nominee. And if Harris were to secure the nomination, she would become the first African-American woman to be a major party’s nominee for president. Harris has supported Medicare for all, proposed giving a tax credit to the middle class, and has plans to combat the affordable housing crisis. However, she's also had to contend with—and will probably have to continuously answer for—her controversial record as a prosecutor.

Learn where Kamala Harris stands on nine important issues, here.

John Delaney (D)

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The former three-term Maryland congressman has already visited every county in Iowa and has been running for president since 2017. While he's endorsed popular liberal platforms like universal healthcare, he's mostly focused on bipartisanship.

Tulsi Gabbard (D)

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Gabbard, who's 37, currently serves as a congresswoman from Hawaii and is an Iraq war veteran and a former Bernie Sanders supporter. She's outspoken about combating climate change, avoiding American military intervention, and has positioned herself as a controversial figure in the Democratic Party. She's also already had to answer some questions about her past, including work she once did for an anti-LGBT group, which she has since apologized for.

Elizabeth Warren (D)

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Warren was the first major candidate to enter the running to become the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nominee. The Massachusetts senator made a name for herself during the 2008 financial crisis when she oversaw the bank bailouts and went onto to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Now, she's running on a platform of universal child care, affordable healthcare, and a tax on the ultra-wealthy.

Learn where Elizabeth Warren stands on nine important issues, here.

Marianne Williamson (D)

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Williamson is not a career politician, but rather an author, self-help guru, former Kardashian-approved congressional candidate, AIDS activist, and Oprah's spiritual friend. She's long encouraged other women to run for office, and now seems to be taking her own advice. In her campaign announcement video, she said, "We have to fall in love again with what this country can mean."

Learn more about Williamson, here.

Andrew Yang (D)

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Yang is a seasoned businessman who founded the Venture for America nonprofit, which aims to assist young entrepreneurs. While he doesn't come with any political experience, Yang has been touting his proposal for a universal basic income of $1,000 for all Americans over the age of 18.

Wayne Messam (D)


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Wayne Messam entered the race in March, becoming one of several mayors to vie for the 2020 Democratic spot. He's been mayor of Miramar, Florida since 2015 and was the first African American mayor of his city. You might also know him from his time playing football for Florida State University, where he helped the team win a National Championship.

Tim Ryan (D)


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Tim Ryan is the current congressman from Ohio's 13th district, and you might know him from his unsuccessful attempt to challenge Nancy Pelosi as the House Democratic leader in 2016. According to Rolling Stone, the Ohio native is a proponent of fair trade policies, clean-tech manufacturing, and investment in Midwest companies. The magazine reports that Ryan said "he plans to be the candidate focused squarely on a national strategy for revitalizing the Rust Belt and other depressed parts of the country."

Seth Moulton (D)

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Seth Moulton, the 40-year-old Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, joined the 2020 presidential race with a platform focused on national security. Moulton is an Iraq War veteran who, upon his return to the U.S., decided to run for Congress. He won in 2014, beating out a long-time incumbent in the primary, according to NBC. In his announcement video, Moulton said, "I'm running because we have to beat Donald Trump, and I want us to beat Donald Trump because I love this country. We've never been a country that gets everything right. But we're a country that, at our best, thinks that we might."

Michael Bennet (D)

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In early May, Colorado Senator Michael Bennet announced his run for the 2020 presidency during an interview on CBS This Morning. The announcement was delayed due to the senator being diagnosed with prostate cancer in April, though Bennet has now had successful surgery and requires no further treatment.

Bennet has been in the U.S. Senate since 2009. Before then, he spent time as the director of an investment company, the chief of staff to then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (who, as you read above, is also running for the Democratic nomination), and as the superintendent of the Denver Public School system. CBS labeled him a "relatively moderate Democrat," and during his announcement video, he made it clear that he doesn't believe Medicare for all or free college are the solutions to our nation's problems.

Steve Bullock (D)

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Montana governor Steve Bullcok announced his presidential campaign in May, posting a video to YouTube titled "Fair Shot." Bullock, who was born and raised in Montana, worked for Montana's secretary of state and then the state's Department of Justice, according to CNN. He successfully ran for attorney general in 2008 and then ran for governor in 2012. He won re-election in 2016, becoming a Democratic governor in a Trump-won state. In his campaign video, he says, "As a Democrat governor of a state Donald Trump won by 20 points, I don't have the luxury of just talking to people who agree with me," giving some insight into how he might angle his 2020 run.

Bill de Blasio (D)

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After some speculation about when he’d announce, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has joined the 2020 race for the presidency. He released his own campaign video titled “Working People First,” where he touted his accomplishments as NYC's mayor, including a $15 minimum wage, guaranteed paid sick leave, and free pre-K. While he's held his position as mayor since 2014, not all New Yorkers are thrilled about de Blasio's run. But he seems to be moving full steam ahead, saying in his announcement video, "I will not rest until this government serves working people… Donald Trump must be stopped. I’ve beaten him before, and I will do it again."

Joe Sestak (D)

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Former Pennsylvania congressman Joe Sestak has joined the presidential race, albeit a little late, due to his daughter's fight with brain cancer. (She has since beaten the cancer.) Sestak is a former Navy admiral and served in the military from 1974 to 2005, according to the New York Times. He won his bids for Congress in 2006 and 2008 but then went on to lose the election for a U.S. Senate seat in 2010. Sestak also served on President Bill Clinton's National Security Council staff as well as the deputy chief of naval operations for warfare requirements. As of late June, when he announced, he was not able to qualify for the first debates.

Tom Steyer (D)

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Billionaire and former hedge fund investor Tom Steyer made an unexpected late entry into the race after spending months rallying for impeachment, often to the consternation of party leadership. Steyer is a major Democratic donor, having spent $90 million in the 2016 election. For his presidential run, Steyer has pledged to spend "at least $100 million" to reach voters with a populist message that takes aim at big corporations and Washingtonian corruption. Steyer has not served in public office before; until 2012 he was co-senior managing partner of Farallon Capital, which he also founded. He and Kat Taylor, his wife, signed the Giving Pledge and started the environmental advocacy group NextGen America, among many other philanthropic initiatives.

Donald Trump (R)

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You already know him, and you probably already have some strong feelings about him. Donald Trump is currently the president of the United States, and it's no secret that he'll be running for a second term. At the time of publication, Trump has already hired more than 30 full-time staffers for his 2020 campaign, according to Politico. So let's all start planning our drinking game where we take a shot every time Trump mentions the border wall on the campaign trail.

Bill Weld (R)

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Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld recently announced he'll be running for the Republican Party's 2020 presidential nomination. In 2016, Weld ran for vice president as a Libertarian, and according to FiveThirtyEight, he has supported gay rights and abortion in the past.

Joe Walsh (R)

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Shortly after penning an op-ed for the New York Times titled “Trump Needs a Primary Challenge,” former Illinois Tea Party congressman Joe Walsh has become the second Republican to launch a primary challenge against President Trump for 2020. Walsh served one term in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2013 before becoming a conservative talk radio host, and he's been known to make racist, sexist, incendiary remarks about politicians, including President Obama and Sen. Kamala Harris.

Walsh, who previously supported Trump, told ABC News, “I helped create Trump. There’s no doubt about that. The personal, ugly politics, I regret that. And I’m sorry for that.” He said, "I'm running because he's unfit. Somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative.”

Mark Sanford (R)

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Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford announced in early September he'd be joining the 2020 race, becoming another primary challenger for Trump. Sanford, who has served as both as congressman for the state's 1st congressional district and as the governor, told Fox News, "We need to have a conversation about what it means to be a Republican." He went on to say he believes the Republican Party has "lost our way" and emphasized the need to have a national conversation about debt.


Eric Swalwell (D)

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In April, California congressman Eric Swalwell announced on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert that he'd be running for president in 2020. However, in early July, he became the first Democratic candidate to officially drop out.

The Iowa native and former prosecutor has been in the House of Representatives since 2013 and is now part of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. In an interview with Esquire, Swalwell spoke out his priorities entering the race, saying, "I'm going to be an aspirational candidate who believes that in our lifetime we could have 100 percent renewables when it comes to energy; that in our lifetime we could have publicly financed campaigns; that in our lifetime we could buy back and ban every single assault weapon."

John Hickenlooper (D)

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John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, entered the race in March, saying in his campaign video that he's running for president "because we're facing a crisis that threatens everything we stand for." In the video, he lists some of his accomplishments as governor, including expanding Medicaid, strengthening the economy, passing gun control legislation, and creating tough methane emissions regulations. Before becoming governor, Hickenlooper was the mayor of Denver, as well as a geologist and the owner of a local brewpub. He then dropped out of the race in August.

Jay Inslee (D)

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Jay Inslee, the current governor of Washington, joined the race with a clear message: Climate change would be his top priority. The environment was the sole topic of his announcement video, where he declared, "Our country's next mission must be to rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time: defeating climate change." He was the first governor to enter the race and came with years of experience in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the Washington House of Representatives. He dropped out in late August.

Kirsten Gillibrand (D)

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The New York Senator announced her presidential run on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, saying, "As a young mom, I'm going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own." In recent years, Gillibrand has made a name for herself by being adamantly anti-Trump (she has voted against his Cabinet appointees more than any other senator) and for being an advocate for sexual assault survivors. She dropped out of the race on August 28, writing on Twitter, "To our supporters: Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Now, let's go beat Donald Trump and win back the Senate."

This post will continue to be updated.

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