Even though 10 wannabees have dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary, we still have 17 candidates vying for the nomination and quite a few anxious Democrats wishing someone else would enter the race.

Beto O’Rourke bowed out last week and it’s time at least 10 of the hopeless hopefuls did the same. Wayne Messam, Joe Sestak, John Delaney, Steve Bullock, Marianne Williamson, Michael Bennet, Tom Steyer, Julian Castro, Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang could do everyone a favor by getting out of the way.

The legitimate contenders in the overcrowded field, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC poll, are Joe Biden (28%), Elizabeth Warren (23%) and Bernie Sanders (17%) with Mayor Pete, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar all on single-digit life support. Of course, we shouldn’t put too much faith in polls. In December 2007, polls showed Hillary Clinton leading Barack Obama, 45 to 27. And polls also assured us that Hillary would easily win the presidency in 2016.

Now polls indicate that Biden, Warren, Sanders, Buttigieg and Harris would all beat the unpopular incumbent in a head-to-head race. But nervous Democrats aren’t so sure. There are whisperings on the sidelines that Biden and Sanders may be too elderly and infirm and Warren may lack broad popular appeal outside of eastern egghead circles.

So who else is there? Hillary to the rescue? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg? Former Secretary of State John Kerry? Former Attorney General Eric Holder? Heck, if being mayor of a small city like South Bend, Indiana, qualifies one to run for president, Ethan Strimling may throw his hat in the ring now that he has been unseated as Portland’s mayor.

I say none-of-the-above. Democrats have to ride Biden, Warren or Sanders – or some combination thereof – to victory.

As old, white and East Coast as they are, a ticket featuring two of the Democratic candidates – Biden-Warren, Warren-Sanders, Sanders-Biden – might make a stronger showing against the old, white East Coast incumbent. I’m thinking Biden needs to be in there somewhere to appeal to moderates. Either that or Warren and Sanders need to pivot away from Medicare for All. I’m all in favor of universal single-payer health insurance, but I don’t think you can get elected telling Americans you’re going to take away their guns or their health insurance. A public option plan would have a broader appeal.

The key to a Democratic victory in 2020 will be black voters. Carter, Clinton and Obama all won elections without winning the majority of white votes. Kamala Harris’ campaign got a little bump after the first debate when she attacked Biden for opposing forced busing in the 1970s, but Biden, by virtue of name recognition, a lifetime of public service and having served as vice president under the first black president has far more support among black voters than either Northeast liberal.

Black voters are overwhelmingly Democrats but not necessarily liberals. If Democrats want to appeal to moderate, independent and non-white voters, they will nominate Biden.

In Maine, Warren (31%) leads Biden (19%) and Sanders (9%) among Democratic voters. On Super Tuesday, March 3, 2020, Mainers will get to vote in a Democratic primary for the first time, the archaic caucus system having been scrapped in favor of a primary. Ranked-choice voting will not be in effect.

On Nov. 3, 2020, I will be voting for whoever the Democratic challenger turns out to be. But I have not yet made up my mind who I will vote for in the primary. Biden? Warren? Sanders?

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