Everything You Need to Know About The Women Running For President In 2020
By Monica Mutale Bwalya
Between a 35-day government shutdown, Roger Stone’s indictment, and the general apathy of having Donald Trump serve as president, it’s no surprise that the 2020 presidential candidates have hit the ground running.
Similar to the 2018 midterms, the women of this presidential election are fierce and polarizing. As of Saturday, 5 women have announced their candidacy, they are Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and author Marianne Williamson.
We know their names but who are they?
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Warren is probably the most familiar face of the 2020 election as she has been seen as a contender since 2014, many putting her up against Hilary Clinton. She informally announced her candidacy through a 2020 presidential Exploratory Committee Dec. 31.
Before serving as a Massachusetts senator in 2012, Warren was a law professor who specialized in bankruptcy and taught at universities such as Harvard. She’s co-authored books such as “The Fragile Middle Class: Americans in Debt” and “The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke.”
Warren is a supporter of abortion rights and in August 2018 voted against an amendment to H.R. 6157 which would deny federal funds to entities that promote or perform abortion. She also has a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Among her divisive stances is her call for the abolishment of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At an immigration protest in June 2018, Warren said that ICE needed to be replaced with “something that reflects our morality and that works.”
In September 2017 she voted in favor for upward of $700 billion to be allocated to the defense budget but changed her stance in August 2018 by voting nay to the $716 billion defense budget for the 2019 fiscal year.
Amid controversy over DNA results attempting to link her to Indigenous ancestry, Warren reportedly issued a private apology to the leader of the Cherokee Nation Feb. 1.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Gillibrand started her political career by serving as U.S. representative for New York’s 20th Congressional District in 2006. She went on to replace Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate as Clinton became Secretary of State in 2009.
Jan. 15 she announced that she was forming an exploratory committee while on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
Once a centrist, Gillibrand maintained conservative views on immigration, had a 93% rating from the NRA (2008), and co-sponsored legislation that criminalizes those who boycott the Israeli government.
She now supports the abolishment of ICE, wants increased gun regulation, and withdrew her sponsorship of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act in August 2017. Despite this, Gillibrand still disapproves of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Gillibrand’s concept of health care reaches as far as family leave. In February 2017 she introduced the FAMILY Act, a bill that offered national paid family leave through taxes. It was not enacted, but she revisited the bill again in July 2018 at a Senate hearing.
This month she introduced the MOMS Act, a call to arms to hospitals and the CDC. It tackles the rise of maternal mortality rates in the U.S. and specifically amongst black women. Gillibrand's site states that it will "help hospitals implement best practices to prevent women from dying before, during and after childbirth.”
The MOMS Act is also co-sponsored by 2020 presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.
Senator Kamala Harris
Harris comes from prosecutor background, having served as district attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California for 13 years. She assumed the role of California senator in 2017 and is now on her way to the White House.
The senator announced her presidential run on Martin Luther King Day on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” If elected, she would be the first Black woman and first Asian-American to be president.
In July 2018, Harris introduced the Rent Relief Act of 2018. It would give people who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities a tax credit and would only apply to those who earn less than $125,000 a year.
She, in addition to presidential nominees Warren and Gillibrand pledged their support to increase the minimum wage by co-sponsoring Sanders' Raise the Wage Act in January.
On her stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Harris believes in a two-state solution. At the 2017 annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), she said she stands with Israel because of “shared values.”
Given her background as a prosecutor, Harris’ background as a prosecutor has provided her a unique, and sometimes controversial view of criminal justice policy.
For example, she personally disagrees with the death penalty and blocked its use in a 2004 court case but promised to enforce it when campaigning for attorney general in 2010, and then in 2014 declared it unconstitutional.
Recently, old footage of the ex-prosecutor discussing a truancy initiative has resulted in a backlash. The initiative called for the criminalization of parents with truant children.
Law professor Lara Bazelon wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times outlining other instances that contradict Harris’ assertion that she was a progressive prosecutor.
Representative Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard started her career as a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives in 2002, and at the time was the youngest woman ever elected to a U.S. state legislature.
She became a member of the Honolulu City Council in 2012 and assumed her current role as representative of Hawaii’s 2nd District. Gabbard also served in the Hawaii Army National Guard and is a Major.
In 2001 Gabbard and her father Mike Gabbard created the Healthy Hawaii Coalition (HHC), a nonprofit organization committed to protecting the environment and educating on its importance.
She also voted against H.R. 3053, a bill that allows the Department of Energy to resume building the Yucca Mountain facility to store the nation's radioactive nuclear waste.
The Yucca Mountain facility is of great contention as some are questioning the legality of its acquisition from the Western Shoshone tribe and the potential damage it could cause to the communities surrounding it.
Gabbard supported legislation that would help human tracking survivors to petition courts to have their records cleared.
She also co-sponsored the FIRST STEP Act, a law that allocated for $50 million to Bureau of Prisons for recidivism-reducing programs such as vocational training, academic classes, and times credits for early release.
Even though Gabbard has supported progressive legislation, critics label her as faux progressivism due to her past as being anti-abortion rights, anti-same-sex-marriage and Islamophobic remarks.
In the early 2000s, she worked for her father Mike’s organization, Stop Promoting Homosexuality and vowed to declare same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Gabbard has since apologized for anti-gay remarks.
Author Marianne Williamson
Williamson is best known for her book, “A Return to Love,” which spawned the famous quote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
She gained immense popularity after Oprah featured her book on the Oprah Winfrey show.
The author announced her candidacy for the presidency Jan. 28 in Los Angeles.
In a CNN interview, she said that her qualification to the presidency was her "35-year career in naming and transforming those dynamics.” Even with little experience in politics, nothing is impossible in a post-Trump era.
She is also an HIV/AIDS advocate, having founded the Center for Living and Project Angel Food. Williamson held weekly support groups, offered counseling to HIV+ folx, and delivered meals to HIV/AIDS patients.
In 2014 she wrote “An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton,” an article critiquing Clinton ties to banks, chemical companies and the military industrial complex. Although this was an informal statement, it gives a glimpse of her stance on banking, the environment and defense.
Concerning foreign policy, she is a believer of peace and said the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more complicated than settlements or checkpoints.
Check back for updates on the current women candidates and newly announced ones.