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8 Democrats Who Might Replace Biden If He Exits 2024 Race

By Jake Beardslee · June 10, 2024

President Joe Biden, 80, is pushing forward with his reelection campaign despite concerns over his age and recent scrutiny regarding classified documents.

If reelected, he would be 82 at his second inauguration, making him the oldest president in U.S. history.

Biden has defended his bid, arguing his experience is a strength. He aims to frame the race as a rematch against Donald Trump, touting accomplishments like the infrastructure bill and low unemployment.

While Biden is unlikely to withdraw after securing the Democratic nomination, speculation persists about potential successors should he step aside. Replacing him would require a messy convention process as virtually all prominent Democrats have backed his reelection.

If Biden does not run in 2024, who are the potential Democratic candidates that could replace him as the party's nominee?  The White House / Wikimedia

Kamala Harris

Vice President Kamala Harris stands out as a natural successor should President Biden choose not to run. Harris made history as the first female, first Black, and first South Asian Vice President of the United States. Her background as a U.S. Senator from California and as the Attorney General of California provides her with a robust portfolio of experience. Harris has been at the forefront of critical national issues, from voting rights to immigration reform.

Despite her qualifications and high profile, Harris faces significant challenges. Her tenure as Vice President has been marred by reports of internal dysfunction within her team, resulting in notable staff departures. Additionally, Harris's approval ratings have been tepid, partly due to the intense scrutiny and criticism she faces from political opponents and some media outlets.

However, Harris remains a formidable candidate with strong support among the Democratic base. Her ability to mobilize voters, especially women and minorities, could be crucial in a general election. A Morning Consult poll showed her leading a hypothetical Democratic primary field without Biden, capturing 31% support among potential primary voters.​  Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg, the current U.S. Secretary of Transportation, made a significant impression during the 2020 Democratic primaries. As the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg brought a fresh perspective to the national stage, emphasizing generational change and innovative policy solutions. His historic candidacy as the first openly gay major presidential candidate further cemented his place in the annals of American politics.

Buttigieg's tenure as Transportation Secretary has seen him tackle significant infrastructure projects and address supply chain issues, enhancing his visibility and executive experience. His performance in the 2020 primaries, where he won the most delegates in the Iowa caucuses and performed well in other early states, demonstrated his ability to build a national campaign.

Despite his relatively young age and limited experience compared to some of his potential rivals, Buttigieg's articulate communication style and policy acumen have won him a devoted following. A Morning Consult poll placed him second to Harris in a hypothetical primary, with 11% support.  Jack Gruber-USA TODAY / Wikimedia

Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, has emerged as a prominent national figure, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Newsom's aggressive approach to public health measures and his policies on climate change, gun control, and social justice have made him a favorite among progressive voters. His successful handling of the recall effort against him in 2021 further solidified his political standing.

Newsom's ability to leverage California's status as the largest and one of the most progressive states in the union gives him a significant advantage. He has not shied away from national issues, frequently positioning himself as a counterpoint to Republican governors and former President Donald Trump. Newsom's willingness to confront the GOP directly has endeared him to many Democrats seeking a combative and unapologetically progressive leader.

However, Newsom faces the challenge of expanding his appeal beyond the West Coast. Critics argue that his policies may not resonate as well in more moderate or conservative regions. Nonetheless, his leadership during the pandemic and his high-profile battles with Republicans have kept him in the national conversation​.  Kelley L Cox / USA TODAY Sports

Gretchen Whitmer

Gretchen Whitmer, the Governor of Michigan, rose to national prominence during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her decisive actions to combat the virus, despite facing significant opposition and even threats, showcased her leadership skills. Whitmer's background as a state legislator and her successful 2018 gubernatorial campaign in a crucial swing state add to her political credibility.

Whitmer's tenure has been marked by efforts to improve infrastructure, expand healthcare access, and address systemic issues such as education and public safety. Her ability to win and govern effectively in a battleground state like Michigan makes her a compelling candidate for a national campaign. Whitmer's potential candidacy would likely focus on her pragmatic approach to governance and her success in navigating complex political landscapes.

Her appeal to both progressive and moderate voters, combined with her proven electoral success in a key swing state, positions her as a formidable contender. Whitmer's ability to bridge divides within the Democratic Party and connect with a broad spectrum of voters could be crucial in a general election.  Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams is widely recognized for her relentless advocacy for voting rights and her pivotal role in turning Georgia blue in the 2020 presidential election and the 2021 Senate runoffs. Abrams's efforts to combat voter suppression and mobilize voters of color have earned her national acclaim and a substantial following.

Abrams's background includes serving as Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives and founding Fair Fight Action, an organization dedicated to promoting fair elections. Her grassroots organizing skills and ability to inspire and mobilize voters are key strengths that could translate well to a national campaign.

Despite her influence, Abrams faces challenges, including the need to build broader appeal beyond her base and address concerns about her limited executive experience. However, her proven track record of electoral success and her unwavering commitment to democracy make her a powerful figure within the Democratic Party​.  Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts, remains a leading figure in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Known for her detailed policy proposals and fierce advocacy for economic reform, Warren's 2020 presidential campaign highlighted her commitment to addressing income inequality, corporate accountability, and healthcare reform.

Warren's background as a law professor and her role in establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau underscore her expertise in economic issues. Her ability to articulate complex policies in a relatable manner has endeared her to many progressive voters. Despite not securing the Democratic nomination in 2020, Warren's influence on the party's platform and her dedicated grassroots network remain significant assets.

Warren's candidacy would likely emphasize her vision for systemic change and her detailed plans to address pressing issues. Her ability to inspire progressive activists and her extensive policy knowledge make her a formidable contender for the presidency​.  Peter Blandino / USA TODAY NETWORK

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar, the Senator from Minnesota, is known for her pragmatic approach and her ability to work across the aisle. Klobuchar's 2020 presidential campaign showcased her Midwestern sensibility and her focus on practical solutions to national problems. Her extensive experience in the Senate, where she has championed issues such as antitrust enforcement and election security, bolsters her credentials.

Klobuchar's appeal lies in her ability to connect with both progressive and moderate voters. Her strong debate performances during the 2020 primaries and her consistent advocacy for bipartisan cooperation highlight her strengths as a unifying candidate. Klobuchar's potential candidacy would likely focus on her track record of legislative achievements and her commitment to pragmatic governance.

Despite not advancing far in the 2020 primaries, Klobuchar's ability to connect with voters in key states could position her as a strong contender in a future presidential race​.  Antranik Tavitian/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

J.B. Pritzker

J.B. Pritzker, the Governor of Illinois, brings a unique combination of political and business experience to the table. As a billionaire philanthropist and entrepreneur, Pritzker has used his resources to support Democratic causes and candidates, bolstering his influence within the party. His tenure as governor has been marked by progressive policies on healthcare, education, and criminal justice reform.

Pritzker's leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, where he implemented aggressive measures to protect public health, has earned him praise. His ability to leverage his wealth for political and social causes, coupled with his policy achievements in Illinois, make him a potential candidate for national office. Pritzker's independent wealth could also help him build a robust campaign infrastructure quickly.

However, Pritzker would need to address concerns about his political experience and appeal beyond Illinois. His progressive record and financial resources could make him a significant player in a crowded Democratic field.  Raymond Cunningham from Homer Illinois, USA / Wikimedia