Who: Michael Bennet
Current position: U.S. Senator for Colorado
Campaign Website: https://michaelbennet.com/
Background: On January 3, 2009, then-Colorado Governor Bill Ritter sent out a press release stating that he would be appointing then-Superintendent of Denver Public Schools Michael Bennet to replace then-Colorado Senator Ken Salazar, who had just been tapped by former President Obama to become the next Secretary of the Interior. In 2010, Michael Bennet ran for the U.S. Senate for the first time, where he defeated Republican Ken Buck. Bennet was re-elected in 2016.
Before becoming a U.S. Senator, Bennet attended Wesleyan University, where he studied history and graduated with honors. From 1988 to 1990, before leaving for Yale Law School, Bennet was the personal assistant to former Ohio Gov. Dick Celeste. While attending law school, Bennet served as the editor-in-chief of The Yale Law Journal. After receiving his Juris Doctorate in 1993, Bennet worked as a law clerk in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and served as Counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General from 1995 to 1997. After a stint as a Special Assistant to a U.S. Attorney in Connecticut, Bennet entered the business world where he became the Managing Director of Anschutz Investment Co. in Denver, Colorado. From 2003 to 2005, Bennet served as the Chief of Staff to then-Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, who is also running for president in 2020. In 2005, Bennet became Superintendent for Denver Public Schools where he remained until being appointed to the U.S. Senate. In April 2019, Bennet had a successful surgery to treat prostate cancer.
2020 Campaign & Endorsements
Date Announced: May 2, 2019
Campaign Leadership: Shannon Beckham
- Healthcare: Bennet is a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. Rather than repeal and replace, Bennet is a proponent of "fight to fix." While running for election in 2010, Bennet said he would be willing to lose his Senate seat over his support for the legislation. According to the Denver Post, Bennet's idea for healthcare "stops short of Medicare-for-all." Bennet and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) reintroduced "Medicare X" in April 2019. Three other Democratic senators running for president are co-sponsors of "Medicare X."
- Immigration: Bennet acknowledges that the current immigration system is broken. He has called for bipartisan legislation that increases border security and protects the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
- Environment: According to his campaign website, Bennet "was central in crafting and passing the bipartisan Farm Bills in 2014 and 2018," has worked to "conserve iconic public lands," and promotes clean energy. Bennet also treats climate change as "a top priority." On Twitter, Bennet has stated that climate change is a "national emergency," and that it is "one of the most critical challenges that we face." Bennet was not a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal.
- Economy: Bennet strongly opposed, and voted against, the GOP tax bill.
- Criminal Justice: Bennet was a co-sponsor of the First Step Act, which he called "a principled compromise many years overdue" and "the first step in a longer effort to reduce mass incarceration and restore faith in our criminal justice system."
- Gun Control: Bennet is a supporter of gun control and has repeatedly called for the strengthening of the background check system. In October 2017, Bennet introduced the Background Check Expansion Act, which "would require background checks for the sale or transfer of all firearms, similar to Colorado law." Following the Parkland mass shooting in 2018, during an interview with MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, Bennet also endorsed the idea of banning high-capacity magazines.
- Abortion: Bennet is a pro-choice Democrat. In January 2018, he opposed a Senate proposal for a 20-week abortion ban, stating that the legislation is "jeopardizing a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions."
- Name Recognition: Many people may not recognize Michael Bennet's name. In his announcement that he is running for president, Bennet stated, "You probably don't know me because I don't go on cable news every night."
This piece is part of our Election 2020 series. See below for more information on the most talked about Democrats challenging President Trump.