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This morning I wanted to take a few minutes to weigh in on the 2020 presidential elections. Now I know it’s January of 2019, and the elections are not until November of 2020, so it seems like we are a long way away, but the Democratic debates begin in just 6 months. That’s nothing.

I wrote nearly 75 articles about the 2016 elections, and I think I could give you at least 20 hardcore reasons why the Democrats lost, but I think the single most underrated reason was because they had a very abnormal, unhealthy primary. In fact, it was probably the single strangest Democratic primary in at least 80 years.

Because people in power had determined that it was just supposed to be Hillary Clinton’s year, all serious challengers, including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren, were actively discouraged from running against her. I know for a fact that both of them wanted to run. And in the end, the only person who really challenged her was Bernie Sanders, and the only reason he was willing to do so was because he’s not actually a Democrat, and wasn’t beholden to the people who controlled the party.

A healthy, competitive, even crowded primary is ultimately good for the winner – because they have to fight for it. It’s what happened when Barack Obama won in 2008. It’s what happened when Bill Clinton won in 1992. It happened for Republicans when George W. Bush won in 2000. On some levels it even happened for Donald Trump – as he beat 17 different Republicans to win the Republican nomination.

And right now, nearly 30 different Democrats are considering jumping into the race. I’ve talked about this process on air before, but I want to circle back this morning because a few really good candidates, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, and the former Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro, who was also the head of Housing & Urban Development under President Obama, have already announced.

I respect both of them a great deal. Julian made his announcement in San Antonio this past weekend and it was not only one of the best announcement speeches I’ve ever heard, but it was one of the most compassionate and inspirational political speeches I’ve seen in a very long time.

But I wanted to tell you two things that Senator Warren and Secretary Castro have done that has meant a great deal to me, and should mean a great deal to each of us. First off, Senator Elizabeth Warren became just the second Democrat in the entire United States Senate to make a Black woman her Chief of Staff. It’s the single most powerful position on the staff of each US Senator – and her new Chief of Staff – Anne Reid – is just amazing. I’ve said this on the show many times, if Democrats want us to take them seriously, and want us to campaign and vote for them, but keep us out of their inner circle, then we should question their sincerity.

By doing this, Elizabeth Warren, I believe, set the tone, or set the bar for other Democrats to follow – and that’s exactly what Julian Castro did this weekend. After his brilliant announcement that he was running, we learned that his campaign manager is going to be Maya Rupert, another brilliant Black woman, and one of the best organizers and political strategists in the nation. I know Maya and respect her so much – and couldn’t be happier to see her helping to lead Julian Castro’s campaign.

This is sad, but it’s the first time in nearly 20 years that a Democrat has had an African American lead their campaign – which is wild, because Black voters are the backbone of the party, but the leaders take our votes for granted – and that’s a huge mistake.

I said all of that this morning to say this.

Over the next 2 weeks, I suspect we will see as many as 10 more people announce that they are going to run – including some other great candidates – but I am going to continue checking to see who they hire to run their campaigns – and if their staffs do not look like all of the country – I’m skeptical. What I mean is that I want to see women in leadership. I want to see all people of color in leadership – and not just leading ethnic outreach either – but running your actual campaign – and frankly – if I don’t see that on a serious level – I’m not supporting that candidate – because it’s a signal to me that they just don’t get it. And if you don’t get by now that have a whole leadership team of white men is a problem, if you don’t get that in 2019, then I don’t trust you. Period.

I’ve gotta run, but I’ll continue to hold each of these candidates publicly accountable as we move forward and will be sure to let you all know how each campaign does with their hiring.


Shaun King: The 2020 Presidential Election Is Closer Than You Think  was originally published on