Wall Street bankers are already stressing about the possibility of a Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren presidency in 2020.

Bankers offered their thoughts on the current field of candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 to Politico in a Monday morning article. While there was consensus among Wall Street executives that a possible candidacy from Vice President Joe Biden would be preferable, bankers also said they liked Senators Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), and Kamala Harris (D-California). Booker has not yet declared, but all three have already met with Wall Street executives to gauge their level of support for their campaigns.

However, one thing was clear from all the bankers Politico interviewed: They didn’t want Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) or Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) in the White House.

“It can’t be Warren and it can’t be Sanders,” the CEO of a “giant bank” told Politico anonymously. “It has to be someone centrist and someone who can win.”

One thing bankers liked most about Biden was that he had a “moderate approach” on issues that affect bankers and their money, like taxing the rich and regulations on the financial industry. Coincidentally, Sen. Gillbrand’s position of supporting a tax on speculative Wall Street transactions is one thing giving bankers pause in supporting her bid for the White House.

The former vice president does not have deep relationships across Wall Street, but he’s viewed favorably as a candidate who could win and would take a somewhat more moderate approach on taxes and regulation. But there are concerns about his age and his penchant for gaffes.

“Everybody likes him. I don’t know if you want him to be president at 78 in 2020, but it looks like he’s in great shape,” said one hedge fund manager and top Democratic donor. “If it’s Biden and Beto or Biden and Harris, that might make a difference. The good news for Biden is everyone likes him. The bad news is there is not a lot of passion.”

It isn’t hard to see why bankers don’t like Sens. Sanders or Warren. In addition to a platform that calls for tackling corruption and ushering in more transparency in Washington, Massachusetts’ senior senator has proposed something she calls the “#UltraMillionaireTax” in which all net worths above $50 million would be taxed in order to generate approximately $230 billion in revenue each year.

For his part, Sen. Sanders has not yet declared his campaign, though sources close to the Vermont senator say that he’s on the verge of making an announcement. In his 2016 run for the Democratic nomination, Sanders filled stadiums and raised record-breaking amounts of money from small-dollar donors calling for everything from single-payer healthcare to tuition-free public college, as well as a trillion-dollar investment in the public sector to generate millions of new jobs.

It’s unknown what Sanders will propose should he declare a 2020 campaign, though it’s safe to say he has his work cut out for him in running to the left of Warren. His policy director, Warren Gunnels, hinted at what Sanders might run on in a December 2018 tweet.


Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.

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