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The Democratic Primary Is About to Get a Center Lane. Here Are Routes It Could Take.

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14.02.2019

The early days of 2019—which is to say, the early days of the 2020 campaign—have been dominated by the Democratic Party’s left wing. Early big-name entrants Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand were all quick to plant their flags squarely on progressive soil. Most tellingly, all four support Bernie Sanders–style Medicare for all and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, two issues that have emerged as the biggest intraparty litmus tests for the primary season.

Don’t expect that early consensus to last, however, as other top-tier candidates begin to officially enter the fray, as was the case last weekend with Amy Klobuchar’s formal campaign launch. The Minnesota senator is banking on her relatively moderate politics and Midwestern roots to help her stand out in a field that is currently clustered on the progressive end of the spectrum. Sherrod Brown, who spent the weekend in New Hampshire testing out his potential campaign message, is plotting a similar path to the nomination. Joe Biden has long had the same kind of route in mind should he decide to run. Other could-be candidates, from Michael Bloomberg to Beto O’Rourke, are likely to veer toward the center in interesting ways as well.

In this way, the center lane is starting to take shape. If you watch long enough, though, you’ll spot these candidates weaving in and out of the left lane. Indeed, how and when they shift between the two will be as illuminating as which one they decided to start in.

Consider Klobuchar: She is now the most high-profile candidate in the race who has not signed on to Sanders’ Medicare for all effort, instead voicing her support for more incremental expansions in Medicare. And yet she is a Senate........

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