By this time next year, dozens of Democrats will have declared their candidacy for president; by this time next year, it’s possible that a dozen or more will already have dropped out. Party leaders are expecting “30+ candidates” in what Axios reports will be “the biggest strategic free-for-all in modern political history,” outpacing even the GOP’s 2016 clown car primary. Rumored candidates include lefty senior citizens Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, billionaire neophytes Tom Steyer and Howard Schultz, and rising stars (and recent campaign losers) Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Gillum.
But two Democrats who were considered potential frontrunners will not be among them. Over the last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick both announced that they will not seek the nomination. Their announcements came as something of a surprise, given that they’ve long been thought to have presidential aspirations and are experienced governors at a time when the Democratic field is thin on executive experience. Cuomo easily defeated a progressive challenger on his way to a third-term victory, and Patrick had a powerful ally in a potential candidacy: Barack Obama.
But Cuomo and Patrick likely realized that with the party’s shift to the left over the past few years, their path to the nomination was narrow. They’re both corporate-friendly Democrats without immediately apparent constituencies (outside of the donor class). Their absence, however, tells us a great deal about how the Democratic field is shaping up—specifically what the party establishment is looking for in a candidate.
A Cuomo presidential campaign, were it to materialize, would look a lot like his recent run for a third term as governor of New York. He cast himself as a Lyndon