The Democratic Party is reeling from the disastrous 2016 elections. But, as the party scrambles to find new leadership, there are 10 bright rising stars to keep an eye on over the next couple years.
The Democrats took a real beating last year, losing both the House and Senate along with the White House. And with Obama’s presidency almost over, the Dems are scrambling to find new party leadership.
There should still be some solid Dems that we can rely on like Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Nancy Pelosi. (I include Pelosi because there simply is no one better at whipping the vote. We’re gonna need that.)
But the fact is, the Dems need some new blood. And it turns out that the new blood we have waiting on deck is pretty exciting.
Here are 10 rising stars that we need to keep our eye on:
- Julian Castro
- Cory Booker
- Kirsten Gillibrand
- Joe Kennedy III
- Tim Ryan
- Joe Crowley
- Linda Sanchez
- Cheri Bustos
- Eric Swalwell
- Ruben Gallego
Julian and Joaquin Castro are twin brothers who are coming into the national spotlight after shining in the state of Texas. Joaquin is a rising Congressman, but Julian is the one who will likely move into a leadership role in the party.
42-year-old Julian Castro is the former Mayer of San Antonio. But, thanks to President Obama, he is now on the national stage serving as the HUD Secretary.
He was also on the short list for Hillary’s VP pick.
Cory Booker is a 47-year-old Senator from New Jersey who has all of the charm and charisma of President Obama. He was also formerly the Mayor of Newark.
After Trump’s election Booker said,
“For the Democratic Party, this moment demands an epic gut check. We lost an election but we are not defeated. I pray we have the humility to reach out to those who differ with us, the empathy to listen to the legitimate concerns and demands of many Trump supporters, the courage to fight through cynicism and despair, and the grit to relentlessly fight for an America that advances opportunity and justice for all of our citizens.”
Kirsten Gillibrand is a 49-year-old Senator from New York. When Hillary took the office of Secretary of State in 2009, Gillibrand filled her vacant Senate seat.
Gillibrand has done a lot of work for women’s rights and has raised awareness for sexual assault on college campuses. She’s also done a lot of work in Congress. She has already cosponsored 280 bills and resolutions. And she is ranked as one of the most progressive Senators in D.C.
Joe Kennedy III
Joe Kennedy III is a 36-year-old Congressman from Massachusetts. He’s also the grandson of RFK. And he currently serves on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
He’s young and enthusiastic and he’s also a Kennedy. He’s making a name for himself in his own right. But his name recognition, which so many Americans associate with hope, will definitely benefit the Dems.
Tim Ryan is a 43-year-old Congressman from Ohio. And with the Dems winning mainly coastal states in 2016, it’s great to have a rising star in a swing state in the middle of the country.
Ryan has been pushing for change in the Democratic Party, and even challenged Nancy Pelosi in her bid to return as minority leader. Ryan also appeals to white working voters in the rust belt, where Dems desperately need help.
Joe Crowley is a 54-year-old Congressman from New York, and he is very popular among his colleagues. He’s also great at fundraising.
Crowley is a big man at 6’5″ and he has an even bigger personality. Serving as Democratic caucus chair will put him on the national stage. He will be in a great position to make a solid strategy to help Dems deal with a Republican Congress and a Trump administration.
Linda Sanchez is a 47-year-old Congresswoman from California. She will be one of the youngest Dems in a top position. And she’s also the first woman of color to serve in House leadership.
Sanchez led the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in the last session. In the new session, she will be the highest ranking Hispanic member of Congress. And she will also serve as Democratic caucus vice chair.
Cheri Bustos is a 55-year-old Congresswoman from Illinois. She’s another Democratic leader who can help the Dems in the Midwest.
Bustos previously served as vice chair of the House Democratic campaign arm’s recruitment committee. In the new Congress she will serve as co-chair of the caucus’ messaging arm, known as the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
Bustos just won her third term in a swing district that Donald Trump won. So she will be valuable in helping the Dems learn to reach out to Trump voters.
After the election she told NPR,
“We have been the party of working-class men and women for the entire history of our party. But we’ve got to go where people are. And we’ve got to listen.”
Eric Swalwell is a 36-year-old Congressman from California.
At Nancy Pelosi’s encouragement last year, Swalwell founded a group of young Dems focused on outreach to millennials called the Future Forum.
For the past two years Swalwell has been on the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which decides lawmakers’ committee assignments and policy agenda. In the new Congress, he has been promoted to co-chair of that committee.
“Swalwell is also a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Democratic leaders have been pushing his bill with Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), the top Oversight Committee Democrat, that would create a bipartisan commission to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.”
Ruben Gallego is a 37-year-old Congressman from Arizona. He’s an Iraq War vet who serves on the House Armed Services Committee. And he’s been one of the leading Democratic voices in debates over immigration reform.
Gallego is also taking a very strong stance against Trump.
In a House floor speech after the election he said about Trump,
“He is not reaching out. He is reaching his hand into America’s pockets, just as he has his whole career. And we must not let him do it.”