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Wall Street hears from Democratic governors considering 2020 runs


Several Democratic politicians – known collectively as “the governors” among elite donors – have been in contact with Wall Street’s top political financiers as they each consider running for president in 2020, has learned.

The group includes former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, according to business leaders with knowledge of the discussions who declined to be named.

The four men are among a large group of Democrats considering whether they should take a shot at trying to unseat President Donald Trump next year. The first primary contests of the presidential election season are a year away, and several possible Democratic candidates are expected to announce their plans in the coming weeks and months.

A person close to Hickenlooper, who handed the Colorado governor’s office to fellow Democrat Jared Polis earlier this week, said he has been meeting with donors in New York.

“I can confirm he has met with top New York donors,” this person said. “We meet with a wide range of donors with shared values across sectors.”

A spokesman for Hickenlooper declined to comment.

Crystal Carson, a spokeswoman for McAuliffe, did not deny that the former Virginia governor was in touch with Wall Street and leading Democratic Party donors in New York.

“As the governor has said, he is making a hundreds of calls to active donors as he weighs his decision,” Carson said in an email.

While courting New York’s elite donors, Bullock’s team has also been reaching out to potential staff in Iowa, a Democratic staffer in the state told on the condition of anonymity.

The Montana governor was elected chairman of the National Governors Association last year and made “Good Jobs for All Americans” his signature initiative. He has denied that he took on the new role to increase his national profile — though the possible 2020 contender made at least three trips to Iowa last year.

Representatives for Inslee and Bullock did not return repeated requests for comment.

While no commitments have been made, the early moves by these governors demonstrate the steep hill some of them need to climb to connect with donors outside of their individual states.

The developments also come at a time when many other potential 2020 contenders are reaching out to potential Wall Street backers, including Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris. Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a longtime critic of the Street, has tried to distance herself from any association with big money as a way to appeal to the progressive wing of the party. She has gone as far as shuttering her joint fundraising committee.

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