Washington – Former Vice President Joe Biden jumped into a crowded field of Democrats running for the White House Thursday, but whether his record and name recognition will win over Connecticut Democrats, who may not even have a chance to vote for him, is up for debate.
Biden has 19 other Democratic rivals for his party’s nomination to the top of the 2020 ticket and, even before he announced his candidacy Thursday, Biden led those competitors in public opinion polls.
But it’s not guaranteed that Connecticut voters will get to cast their votes for Biden in Connecticut’s presidential primary.
That’s because the state’s primary is now scheduled for April 28, 2020, after most of the nation has had a chance to select their favored Democratic presidential candidate.
Biden would have to survive all of those other challenges to still be a viable candidate when Connecticut’s primary rolls around.
Despite the long road to the nomination and the crowded field, University of Connecticut political science professor Ronald Schurin said there’s a chance Connecticut will still have a chance to weigh in on Biden’s candidacy on primary day.
“It is possible there are two or three Democratic candidates left at that point and one of them could be Biden,” Schurin said.
There’s also the chance the Connecticut General Assembly could vote to move Connecticut’s presidential primaries earlier in the 2020 political calendar.
The last time Connecticut played a role in the election of a Democratic presidential nominee was 1984, in the contest between Gary Hart and Walter Mondale. Connecticut voters heavily favored Hart, who became the front-runner until he dropped out of the race over allegations of an extramarital affair.
The Connecticut Democratic Party is staying out of the fray, at least for now.
Nancy DiNardo, former head of the Connecticut Democratic Party, said she followed party rules by not endorsing a candidate in the heated 2008 primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama until it was clear Clinton had no path to the nomination.
“To me, the most important thing is electing a great Democrat candidate. I think they are all great candidates, but they all can’t get elected. Joe Biden can get elected.”
Former chairman of CT Democratic Party
She is also “taking a wait-and-see” attitude now and said she is not ready to back any Democratic candidate. But, DiNardo said, she likes Biden’s “electability.”
“To me, the most important thing is electing a great Democrat candidate,” DiNardo said. “I think they are all great candidates, but they all can’t get elected. Joe Biden can get elected.”
Biden announced his candidacy Thursday in a video that took aim at President Donald Trump, saying “we are in the battle for the soul of this nation.”
In that video, Biden recounted the deadly 2017 clash between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Va., which prompted Trump to say there were “some very fine people on both sides” of that clash.
“In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had seen in our lifetime,” said Biden. “That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.”
Schurin said he does not think Biden would “do particularly well” in Connecticut.
“He is considered part of the old guard and many Connecticut Democrats are looking for someone new,” Schurin said.
Still, Schurin said, if Biden campaigns in Connecticut, “he will be received in a friendly and favorable way.”
Biden came to Connecticut last fall to help the campaigns of Gov. Ned Lamont and Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-5th District, an effort that would normally leave a political debt.
Several Democratic U.S. senators — all considered moderates –were quick to endorse Biden on Thursday – including the two representing Biden’s home state of Delaware, Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa. and Doug Jones, D-Ala.
But there were no endorsements Thursday from members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation or the state’s Democratic political establishment.
“I’m looking forward to a robust primary competition with a lot of good exchanges of ideas,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “But I’m nowhere near endorsing anyone right now.”
Here are the Democrats in the 2020 race for the White House:
- Joe Biden
- Cory Booker
- Pete Buttigieg
- Julián Castro
- John Delaney
- Tulsi Gabbard
- Kirsten Gillibrand
- Kamala Harris
- John Hickenlooper
- Jay Inslee
- Amy Klobuchar
- Wayne Messam
- Seth Moulton
- Beto O’Rourke
- Tim Ryan
- Bernie Sanders
- Eric Swalwell
- Elizabeth Warren
- Marianne Williamson
- Andrew Yang