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Here’s How Likely These 6 Philly-Area Politicians Are to Run in 2020

Put the Pennsylvania back in Pennsylvania Avenue!


pennsylvania presidential candidates

Take a look at who could be 2020 Pennsylvania presidential candidates. White House illustration courtesy iStockphoto

As the 2020 presidential campaign intensifies, an unprecedented number of politicians (literally scores) are thought to be considering runs at President Donald Trump. And a seemingly unprecedented number of Pennsylvania (or, in the case of Cory Booker, Pennsylvania-adjacent) candidates could be in the mix.

We chatted up a couple insiders to survey the field and analyze their chances, then ranked them below, from most likely to least likely to run.

1. Cory Booker

pennsylvania presidential candidates

Cory Booker could be a presidential candidate in 2020. Photograph by Associated Press

CV: Newark, NJ, mayor turned firebrand U.S. senator made it official last month.
Pros: Inspiring speaker, great personal story — and in a party that prioritizes diversity, his race is a plus.
Cons: Big Wall Street backing and connections to Mark Zuckerberg (who donated $100 million toward Newark schools) are liabilities.
Prospects: In the same political lane as Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, who may have an edge in the Women’s March era.

2. John Hickenlooper

pennsylvania presidential candidates

John Hickenlooper could be among the 2020 Pennsylvania presidential candidates. Photograph by Associated Press

CV: Narberth-born Haverford School grad; geologist turned brewery owner turned Denver mayor turned two-term Colorado governor.
Pros: Implemented his state’s legalization amendment for marijuana — though he personally didn’t approve.
Cons: He’s relatively unknown and has a goofy name.
Prospects: A quirky outsider combining executive and business experience; also, an older white guy in a party that hasn’t nominated one in three cycles.

3. Joe Biden

pennsylvania presidential candidates

Joe Biden could be among the 2020 Pennsylvania presidential candidates. Photograph by David Lienemann/White House Photo Office

CV: Scranton-born former veep; repped Delaware in Senate for 36 years.
Pros: He’s Diamond Joe! He’s Obama’s bro!
Cons: Last four non-incumbent Dems to win (JFK, Carter, Clinton, Obama) were young, D.C. outsiders, or both. Biden is 76, a D.C. vet, and, relative to his party’s progressive surge, a bona fide centrist.
Prospects: Name recognition makes him formidable, but insiders believe that advantage could be fleeting.

4. Richard Vague

pennsylvania presidential candidates

Richard Vague could be among the 2020 Pennsylvania presidential candidates.

CV: Texas-born Philly venture capitalist; made fortunes in energy and credit cards; invests in tech start-ups.
Pros: Has done focus groups with middle-class voters in six battleground states; “Vote Vague” would be both poetic and an aphorism.
Cons: “Vote Vague” could also be an omen.
Prospects: A huge question mark; in a crowded field — and an era in which literally anyone can become president — you can’t write off a deep- pocketed dark horse.

5. Tom Wolf

pennsylvania presidential candidates

Tom Wolf could be among the 2020 Pennsylvania presidential candidates. Photograph by Office of the Governor

CV: York County businessman turned governor. Pros: The mild-mannered former cabinetry scion trounced Trump-like trash magnate Scott Wagner in 2018 reelection bid.
Cons: Replays of Wolf’s 2016 DNC speech have been shown to cure even the most stubborn cases of insomnia.
Prospects: He’s believed to be committed to a successful second gubernatorial term.

6. Bob Casey Jr.

pennsylvania presidential candidates

Bob Casey Jr. could be among the 2020 Pennsylvania presidential candidates. Photograph by Associated Press

CV: Scranton-born senior senator from Pennsylvania; son and namesake of a popular governor.
Pros: Has become uncharacteristically animated in the face of Trumpism; handily won reelection in a state that tipped slightly for Mr. MAGA in 2016.
Cons: History of being pro-life, anti-gun control and very, very dull.
Prospects: Has announced he’ll remain in the Senate rather than run; He’s ultimately viewed as a potential running mate.

Published as “Putting the Pennsylvania Back In Pennsylvania Avenue” in the March 2019 issue of Philadelphia magazine.