Williamson, a self-help author who dropped out of the 2020 presidential campaign before the first caucuses, said “I think the president will definitely face a challenger in 2024 … The yearning to make government actually work for the people again is so intense now, and yes, absolutely, someone will emerge to make a stand for it.”
She did not respond to a question about whether she would consider running against Biden.
Turner told POLITICO shortly after Manchin’s announcement that there would be a left-wing challenge against Biden “without a doubt.” Like Williamson, she did not reply when asked whether she might be the one to do it.
A spokesperson for Sanberg said “there’s no truth” to the idea that he would consider primarying Biden.
During a run for Congress in a 2021 special election, Turner was a prolific small-dollar fundraiser and won the support of big-name progressives. She lost by more than 5 percentage points, however, and is believed to be eyeing a potential rematch with now-Rep. Shontel Brown.
There is anxiety among some progressives that a challenge from a long-shot candidate would diminish the left’s brand — and perhaps create the impression that it is in a weaker state than it truly is. After Sanders launched two credible bids for president, liberals do not want to return to the days when former Rep. Dennis Kucinich was their standard-bearer in the race for the White House.
“I think it’s pretty unlikely that a serious progressive challenger would emerge if Biden stays in the race,” said Max Berger, former director of progressive outreach for Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign. “It would so go against the sensibilities of rank-and-file Democrats that I don’t think it would necessarily be a great service to the progressive cause to have our ideas seem so marginal.”
He added that, while it would look bad for Biden if a left-wing challenger received 20 percent of the vote in a Democratic primary, “the flip side of the 80-20 thing is I don’t want us getting 20 percent.”
Left-wing operatives and activists agree that if Biden declines to run for reelection, a more fulsome list of progressive candidates will consider a campaign, possibly including “Squad” members Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). California Reps. Khanna and Katie Porter, Warren, former presidential candidate Julián Castro and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) also draw mention. If liberals fare well in next year’s midterms, that could also have an impact in shaping the 2024 field, particularly if the election goes as badly as expected for the party as a whole.
With the exception of Porter, who has ties to Vice President Kamala Harris, progressives do not expect prospective candidates on the left to stand down if Biden decides not to run again and passes the baton to his veep.
Some liberals even believe that elected officials who are currently not well-known or closely tied to the left, such as Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, could make a play for the progressive lane in an open primary in 2024.
Few of them, however, have the cache of some of Biden’s top-tier rivals for the nomination in 2020. Sanders, who is 80 years old, has said it is “very, very unlikely” he will run again. Warren, at 72, is younger, but significantly underperformed expectations in 2020. While many liberals would be overjoyed if she ran, Ocasio-Cortez would, at 35, be just old enough to qualify, and many are unsure if she will take the plunge.
A progressive operative said that because of the lack of an ideal bench, talk on the left about a plan B if Biden doesn’t run for reelection is not taking place “as much as I wish was happening, to be honest about it.”