Here's what 2020 presidential candidates looked like at the beginning of their careers and how they look today

Paul Sakuma/AP,Then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and District Attorney Kamala Harris in 2004
  • There are now 14 candidates competing for the Democratic nomination to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.
  • All the candidates took markedly different paths to their careers in public service. Some went straight into activism as young students, while others are just now making their first entrances in politics.
  • Here’s what the 2020 presidential candidates looked like at the beginning of their careers compared to now.

The 2020 Democratic primaries are almost a full year away, but the field already contains 14 twelve declared candidates and is expected to grow even larger.

For some candidates like long-time independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont who has held elected office since the 1980s, their 2020 presidential campaigns are the culmination of decades of work in activism and public service.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both 37-year-old military veterans, have already made history as the youngest person to serve in the Hawaii state legislature and the youngest mayor of South Bend, Indiana, respectively.

Now, they are both seeking to break records again to become the youngest Democratic presidential nominee and youngest US president.

And others, like spiritual guru Marianne Williamson and businessman Andrew Yang, are hoping to translate their success in the private sector into winning presidential campaigns, despite neither of them previously holding elected office.

Here’s what the declared 2020 presidential candidates looked like at the beginning of their careers compared to now.

Donald Trump endeavoured on a mission to build a “Television City” for NBC and other networks in the 1980s, but he didn’t get $US700 million in tax breaks he requested from New York. Now, he’s trying to secure funding for a wall on the southern border.

Crain’s New York Business

Back in 2004, Kamala Harris worked as district attorney for San Francisco, back when Gavin Newsom was mayor. Newsom is now California’s governor and Harris is a US senator and a presidential candidate.


Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York was once captain of the squash team at Dartmouth College — and now plays for the women’s congressional softball team.

Dartmouth Squash, Tom Williams/Roll CallGillibrand with the Dartmouth 1987-88 squash team, left, and playing softball in 2011

Source: Vanity Fair

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii first worked as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill between her first and second deployments in the US Army in 2006. She is now a member of Congress herself.

Source: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

In the early 1990s, Marianne Williamson first came onto the public scene as a motivational speaker. Now, she’s the preferred spiritual guru of the Hollywood elite and a New York Times best-selling author.

Source: Business Insider

Cory Booker lost his first run for mayor of Newark in 2002, but was elected to the position in 2006, then appointed to the US Senate in 2013. He announced his presidential campaign in the front yard of his Newark home.


As a congressman in the early 1990s, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee supported then-President Bill Clinton in passing NAFTA. Now, he’s running for president himself.

Business Insider

Elizabeth Warren’s decades of experience lecturing students as a law professor helped prepare her for life as a US senator from Massachusetts. She’s now a presidential candidate speaking to crowds around the country.

Warren for President

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper opened a brewery pub in Denver after being laid off from his job as a geologist in the 1980s. Now, he’s touring brew-pubs around the country for his presidential campaign.

Hickenlooper 2020, Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty ImagesJohn Hickenlooper in the 1980s, left, and at a campaign stop in Iowa in 2019, right.

Business Insider

While serving as the mayor of Burlington, Vermont in the mid-1980s, Bernie Sanders recorded a folk music album with songs about equality and social justice. Now, he’s making his second run for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Source: Rolling Stone

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota’s first foray into public service was helping pass a law in Minnesota allowing mothers to stay with their newborns in the hospital for 48 hours. Klobuchar’s daughter Abigail had to stay in the NICU after birth, but her insurance only covered a 24-hour stay.

Amy for America, AP Photo/Jim MoneAmy Klobuchar in the 1990s, left, and Klobuchar with her husband John and daughter Abigail at her presidential announcement, right

PBS Washington Week

Rep. John Delaney of Michigan was raised by a blue-collar family in New Jersey, and went onto to become a businessman and congressman.

Friends of John Delaney, AP Photo/Charlie NeibergallJohn Delaney with his mother, Elaine, left, and speaking at a campaign rally in Iowa, right

John Delaney

For Julian Castro and his twin brother Joaquin, politics is the family business. Their mother Rosie was a political activist in the 1970s and 80s, and saw both her sons become elected officials in Texas.

Dallas Morning News

Andrew Yang studied political science at Brown University and worked in business for most of his career. He’s now returning to his roots in politics with a long-shot presidential bid.

Andrew Yang

Pete Buttigieg has never been one to shy away from competition or a challenge. He rowed for Pembroke College while a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in 2005. He’s now South Bend, Indiana’s youngest mayor, and still serving in the Navy Reserves.

Source: The North American Pembrokian

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