Democrats Evaluate Potential Successors Amid Speculation Over Biden’s Future in 2024 Race

Feature and Cover Democrats Evaluate Potential Successors Amid Speculation Over Biden's Future in 2024 Race

President Biden’s campaign is actively working to dispel rumors suggesting he might withdraw from the 2024 race after his underwhelming performance in last week’s debate.

“Most top Democrats have voiced support for Biden continuing in the race,” while “members of his family, including first lady Jill Biden, have declared they also want him to remain a candidate,” which calls into question the possibility of replacing Biden.

“If Biden were to step aside, several prominent Democrats could be waiting in the wings as possible successors,” including Vice President Kamala Harris.

“If Biden were to decide against seeking reelection, Vice President Harris would be the most obvious choice to replace him,” Harris has recently defended Biden’s ability to serve another term, which most other top Democrats who could be considered have also done.

“Serving in the country’s second-highest office has given her some amount of executive governing experience, and Biden choosing her as his running mate already made her one of the top possible candidates for the 2028 nomination.”

“With the presidential primaries concluded, Harris is also the only possible contender who could claim some past electoral mandate for the nomination, with the country having indirectly elected her as first-in-line to the presidency four years ago and Democratic voters backing Biden this year with the knowledge that she is the running mate.”

“But Harris has some vulnerabilities,” her favorability rating has often been even lower than Biden’s, though she has improved somewhat in the past couple of months and has a higher net approval rating than Biden, according to FiveThirtyEight.

“She also could be dogged with criticisms of the Biden administration’s policies like immigration, on which she was spearheading an initiative.”

“Still, Democrats could take a hit by passing over the first female Black vice president as its nominee when having the chance because Black voters will be a key constituency,” a poll last month showed Harris would perform better with Black voters than Biden.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is another prominent Democrat who could step into the spotlight if Harris is passed over.

“If Harris were to be passed over, the California Gov. Gavin Newsom would almost certainly be at or near the top of many Democratic delegates’ list to be the nominee.”

Newsom has gained prominence in recent years, partly due to his defense of Biden and his clashes with prominent Republicans, notably Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

“Despite ongoing speculation of Newsom having presidential ambitions, he has repeatedly denied interest in running for president in 2024,” following Biden’s debate. He appeared in the spin room to argue against ditching Biden just because of one performance and called talk of Biden being replaced “unhelpful and unnecessary” in a fundraising pitch for the president on Friday.

“But if Biden were to step aside, Newsom would very likely receive significant calls to throw his hat in the ring.”

“He would be able to run on a record as a two-term governor of one of the largest economies in the world and tout many accomplishments during his tenure for the left in the solidly blue state. He also has overcome an attempt to recall him and is seen as a top possibility to run in 2028.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, known for her slogan “Fix the Damn Roads,” has also emerged as a rising star in the Democratic Party.

“Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer first came to office in 2018, boosted by the slogan ‘Fix the Damn Roads,’ which put a pragmatic focus on repairing the state’s infrastructure. Since then, she has become a rising liberal star in the Democratic Party.”

“Her easy reelection victory in 2022 brought with it Democratic majorities in the state House and Senate, marking the first time in decades that Democrats had a trifecta of power in Michigan. She was also reelected alongside the passage of a ballot measure enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution, an initiative she championed.”

“Whitmer has been able to notch key victories, including the repeal of the state’s decades-old abortion ban and a ‘right-to-work’ law to prop up unions.”

“Still, Whitmer has been among the clearest of the rumored choices that she is not angling to replace Biden and is fully behind him.”

“Politico reported the Whitmer called Biden campaign chair Jen O’Malley Dillon on Friday to make clear she was not responsible for her name being floated as a possible replacement and is willing to help Biden with the campaign. She appeared in an ad supporting the Biden-Harris ticket that she posted Sunday on her account on the social platform X.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, known as “Mayor Pete,” has also been discussed as a potential successor.

“Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was relatively unknown when he first began his run for president in 2020 but gained traction and popularity as ‘Mayor Pete,’ having served as the mayor of South Bend, Ind.”

“Buttigieg became a close advocate for Biden throughout 2020, culminating in his selection as Transportation secretary, making him the first openly gay Cabinet secretary. His success has raised speculation that he may try for another presidential run down the line.”

“In particular, he had a high-profile moment in 2021 as Congress passed and Biden signed the bipartisan infrastructure law into effect.”

“Buttigieg’s youth would also be a sharp contrast to Biden despite having less experience than some other rumored possibilities. But he struggled in 2020 with rallying minority, and especially Black support, and could face controversy over the administration’s handling of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, known for his moderate stance within the Democratic Party, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

“Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro gradually rose to higher office in his home state before being elected state attorney general and eventually governor in 2022. He has developed a reputation over his career as a more moderate Democrat but was elected after running on key liberal issues, like protecting abortion rights and raising the minimum wage.”

“His ability to comfortably win the governorship in the battleground by almost 15 points, as well as his youthful energy, has sparked rumors he could be a future face of the party, possibly running for the Oval Office in four years.”

“But he would also likely get some attention this year if Biden were to end his presidential bid. He has been one of Biden’s top surrogates and called on his fellow Democrats to put in the work necessary to get Biden elected, saying ‘hand-wringing’ and ‘fretting’ are not the answer.”

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, who will host the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, has also been highlighted.

“As the governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker is already set to receive some attention next month as the host governor of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. This, along with his rising national profile, could yield some support for his name to be placed in contention for the nomination.”

“Pritzker is in his second term as the head of the strongly Democratic-leaning state and has been an ardent defender of Biden throughout the 2024 campaign. Also one of Biden’s top surrogates, he defended the incumbent following special counsel Robert Hur’s report on Biden’s handling of classified documents and pushed back against Democrats planning to vote for anyone other than Biden in November.”

“Andy Beshear, the Democratic governor of Kentucky, has also been noted for his impressive reelection victory in a traditionally Republican state.”

“Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) pulled off an impressive reelection victory in his ruby-red state last year, improving his margin by a few points over his first election in 2019.”

“That thrust his name into the national conversation as someone who may have a future in the party, even though he will be term-limited in the next election. The governor is widely popular, only in his mid-40s and managed to win statewide as a Democrat twice in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since the 1990s.”

“Beshear addressed the possibility of Biden being replaced Monday, telling reporters he will support Biden as long as the president remains the Democratic nominee.”

“‘The debate performance was rough. It was a very bad night for the president, but he is still the candidate. Only he can make decisions about his future candidacy. So as long as he continues to be in the race, I support him,’ he said.”

“When pressed on whether he could replace Biden, Beshear said talk of serving is ‘flattering’ but is a ‘reflection of all the good things going on in Kentucky.’”

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