These Names Are Ready to Run If Biden Doesn’t

( It’s widely expected that President Joe Biden will run for re-election in 2024, but if he doesn’t, two prominent California Democrats are ready and waiting to try to take over as the leader of the party.

Vice President Kamala Harris, a former senator and attorney general from California, and current Governor Gavin Newsom are both being mentioned as likely candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination should Biden decide not to run again in two years.

According to a new poll released late last week by NewsNation-Decision Desk HQ, 16% of all voters said they’d prefer Harris should Biden not run for re-election. Newsom found himself in third place on the list, with support from 9% of voters.

Sandwiched in between the two California Democrats is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who was supported by 11% of voters despite finishing as runner-up in the Democratic primary in each of the last two presidential campaigns.

While being in first and third place in this poll might sound like positive news to Harris and Newsom, respectively, the bad news is that a plurality of all voters (44%) said they’d actually prefer that a candidate who wasn’t on the list in the poll be the candidate for the Democrats in 2024.

Biden, who would be 82 years old in 2024, has said repeatedly that he will be seeking a second term in the White House, as long as he is healthy enough to do so. That hasn’t stopped voters from wanting to see a change at the top, though.

A poll conducted recently by the New York Times/Siena College, for instance, found only 26% of all Democratic voters wanted to see Biden try to win re-election as president in 2024.

It should be no surprise that Harris found herself in first place in this latest poll. It’s often natural that a vice president would be the next person in line to seek the White House after the president either doesn’t run for re-election or is termed-out.

Newsom, who finished in third place, might find more comfort in his position in the poll, though, especially because he doesn’t currently sit in a national political position. That being said, he’s been front and center in national politics for a few years now — sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong reasons.

On multiple occasions, he has faced criticism for being photographed close to other people while not wearing a mask, at times when the state has mandated mask wearing in public. He also faced a recall election in his home state, though he did make it out of that challenged unscathed.

For his part, Newsom has said he isn’t interested at all in running for president at this point, even if Biden were to step aside. But, people shouldn’t read too much into those comments. As a sitting governor, Newsom needs to walk a tightrope between serving his current constituents and building a case for higher political aspirations.