The Iowa caucus is still more than six months away and the Democratic Party has yet to hold its first primary debate, but Wall Street is already zeroing in on its favorites for 2020. To the surprise of nobody, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are conspicuously absent from its list of preferred candidates.

According to The New York Times, the financial industry is throwing its support behind South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, as well as Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former Vice President Joe Biden. The article notes that the same New York donors have also given to the campaigns of local politicians Sen. Kirtsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Interviews with two dozen top contributors, fund-raisers and political advisers on Wall Street and beyond revealed that while many are still hedging their bets, those who care most about picking a winner are gravitating toward Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, while donors are swooning over Mr. Buttigieg enough to open their wallets and bundling networks for him,” writes the Times’ Shane Goldmacher. “These dynamics raise the prospect of growing financial advantages for some candidates and closed doors for others.”

Goldmacher’s findings follow a separate Times report from April that revealed “long-time party financier” Bernard Schwartz had hosted a series of Democratic dinners in New York and Washington in which members of the party’s corporate wing actively discussed how to slow Sanders’ momentum. (At the time, the Vermont senator had raised more than $18 million from individual donors, and there was a “growing realization” among strategists that he could “end up winning this thing.”) Those gatherings included such prominent names as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden and Buttigieg himself.

In Mayor Pete, Harris and Biden, Wall Street executives do not appear to see a viable threat. Goldmacher continues: “They are attracted to Mr. Biden’s ideological moderation and his seeming chances of victory over President Trump in 2020; they are inspired by Mr. Buttigieg’s charisma and intellect; and they are drawn to Ms. Harris’s potential as a possible primary victor even as she now trails in the polls, in addition to her potential to reassemble the kind of winning multiethnic electoral coalition that elected Mr. Obama twice.”

By contrast, the industry has expressed varying degrees of hostility toward Warren and Sanders. Both have made punishing corporate greed centerpieces of their campaign, with the former introducing the Accountable Capitalism Act and the latter calling to break up banks that are too big to fail, to name but two of their more prominent proposals. In a recent speech at George Washington University titled “How Democratic Socialism Is the Only Way to Defeat Oligarchy and Authoritarianism,” Sanders quoted directly from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1936 campaign address challenging the nation’s monied interests:

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.”

Biden currently leads the Democratic field with 32.2% of the vote, per Real Clear Politics, followed by Sanders (15.2%) and Warren (11.6%). Buttigieg and Harris round out the top five at 7% and 6.8%, respectively.

Read the New York Times report here and a transcript of Sanders’ speech here.


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