Iowa Republicans will kick off the national presidential nominating process Jan. 15.
Seven candidates, including former President Donald Trump, are seeking the GOP nomination to run against Democratic President Joe Biden this fall. The field has narrowed significantly since last summer, when 14 candidates were in the running.
Iowa Democrats also will gather in person Jan. 15 to conduct party business, but will not express their presidential preference. Instead, Democrats will use a new mail-in process and won’t announce results until March 5.
The Libertarian Party of Iowa achieved major party status in Iowa after the 2022 election, and also will caucus Jan. 15 for who should become their party’s nominee.
Here’s a look at the candidates, listed in alphabetical order, competing for the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian nominations.
A Texas pastor and chief executive officer, Ryan Binkley is running on a platform that emphasizes his faith and economic experience.
Binkley, 56, is the lead pastor at Create Church in Richardson, Texas. He runs Generational Group, a business consulting firm.
Despite an aggressive campaign strategy, with dozens of events held in Iowa, Binkley has failed to garner much support among Iowa Republicans. In recent polls that included him, he received 0 percent support from respondents.
Binkley has said he is running on a message of creating an economic and spiritual revival in the United States.
He has said he wants to increase Republicans’ focus on the interests of cities and poorer Americans, who he says are often overlooked by the party.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has skipped Iowa altogether, opting instead to campaign heavily in New Hampshire where voters will cast ballots just a few days after the Iowa caucuses.
Christie, 61, has not campaigned or run ads in Iowa, making no attempt to draw support from the state’s Republicans. Still, Christie’s national presence and attacks on Trump have won him some fans in the Hawkeye State: He’s pulled in 3 to 4 percent in recent polls of likely Iowa caucusgoers.
Christie ran for president in 2012 and 2016, losing the Republican nomination both times. He served as the governor of New Jersey from 2010 to 2018.
The central pitch of Christie’s campaign rests on his criticism of Trump’s conduct as president and his personality, calling the former president a “self-consumed, self-serving mirror hog” in his campaign launch in June.
In recent campaign appearances and ads, Christie has accused his opponents of attacking each other rather than focusing criticism on Trump, who outpaces the field by a wide margin.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, 45, is running to be a “change agent,” pledging to reverse what he sees as harmful spending, immigration, clean energy and climate policies enacted by the Biden administration and to follow through on promises made by Trump to “drain the swamp” and secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
“That’s going to take a leader that has backbone, that’s going to be willing to fight for you, and has a record of actually delivering big victories,” DeSantis said during a CNN town hall last month in Des Moines, where he called for a series of populist measures, including term limits for members of Congress, a balanced-budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution and spreading federal agencies across the country.
The presidential candidate promises to take his “Florida blueprint” of conservative policymaking to the federal government.
As governor of Florida, DeSantis signed into law legislation that restricts discussions of sexuality and gender identity in Florida schools; restricts transgender children from accessing gender affirming care; bans most abortions after about six weeks; bans public colleges in the state from using funds for diversity, equity and inclusion programs; and made it legal for people to carry guns without a permit from the state.
DeSantis previously served three terms in the U.S. House, retiring in 2018 to run for governor of Florida. He graduated from Harvard Law School, where he earned a commission in the U.S. Navy as judge advocate general. He was stationed at Joint Task Force Guantanamo in 2006, and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 where he served as a legal adviser to an elite special ops task force. After active-duty service, DeSantis served as a federal prosecutor.
He sits at 18.6 percent support among likely Iowa GOP caucusgoers, according to a RealClearPolitics polling average.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Nikki Haley became the first woman and person of color elected governor of South Carolina in 2010. She became the nation’s second governor of Indian descent, after Republican Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and became the first minority female governor elected in the country along with Susana Martinez of New Mexico.
She served as governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017 and was nominated by Trump to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Haley served in that role from January 2017 through December 2018. Before becoming governor, Haley served in the South Carolina House from 2005 to 2010.
Haley, 51, touts that, as governor, she faced double-digit unemployment percentages but turned the state into the “beast of the Southeast,” attracting billions in new investment and new jobs from companies like Boeing, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo.
As the U.N. ambassador, Haley played a role the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and Paris climate agreement, which she says were deeply flawed. She also helped secure Chinese backing to pass tougher international sanctions on North Korea aimed at pressuring the regime to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.
Haley says Trump, the leading GOP front-runner in polls, causes too much chaos to be successful in a second White House term. She said she believes Trump was “the right president at the right time” in 2016, but that the time is now right for a “new generational leader that leaves behind the negativity and the baggage of the past and looks forward to the solutions of the future.”
Haley was polling at 16.1 percent, according to a RealClearPolitics polling average.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson entered the race as a harsh critic of Trump looking to return the Republican Party to a more temperate conservative style.
He focuses in public appearances on securing the border and U.S. national security, stressing the importance of the country’s dominance on the world stage.
Hutchinson, 73, served as the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration under President George W. Bush starting in 2001. He was selected to lead the border security division of the Department of Homeland Security after the agency was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
He was elected governor of Arkansas in 2014 and led the state through the COVID-19 pandemic. Limited to only two terms, Hutchinson left office in 2023, succeeded by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
He has polled at about 1 percent support of likely Iowa caucusgoers.
The son of Indian immigrants from Cincinnati, Vivek Ramaswamy received an undergraduate degree in biology from Harvard University and went to Yale Law School.
Ramaswamy amassed a fortune of about $1 billion after founding Roivant Sciences, a biotech firm focused on bringing drugs to market. He says his background in business and outsider mentality makes him prepared to take on challenges facing the country.
Ramaswamy, 38, has branded his campaign as a “1776 moment” and speaks about unifying voters around “America First” ideas and 10 “truths” that guide his presidential campaign. Among them: God is real; there are two genders; parents determine the education of their children; reverse racism is racism; an open border is no border; and human flourishing requires fossil fuels.
He has pledged to dismantle a range of federal agencies — from the FBI to the FDA to the IRS and Department of Education — accusing them of functioning as a de facto fourth branch of government. He has proposed cutting the federal workforce by up to 75 percent, using executive power. Legal experts are skeptical the president has that authority.
The youngest among the Republicans vying for the White House, Ramaswamy has focused on pulling support from those don’t normally participate in Iowa’s Republican caucuses — independents, Libertarians and first-time voters.
He was polling between 5 to 7 percent in Iowa Republican presidential caucus polls.
Donald Trump, 77, is the first former president in American history to be charged with either state or federal crimes.
Trump faces a total of 91 felony charges spanning four separate criminal cases that include conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election that he lost to Biden, falsifying business records in connection to hush money paid to an adult-film star and alleged mishandling of classified documents.
The former president has called the indictments a political witch hunt intended to torpedo his pursuit of a second term, an assertion the Justice Department has denied.
Trump has continued his relentless, unproven claims that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” and stolen. He said voters should instead see Biden as the bigger threat to American democracy, repeating his long-standing contention that the four criminal indictments against him show the Democratic incumbent president is misusing the federal justice system against his rival.
Trump has been indicted by state and federal grand juries composed of average citizens following investigations that included hundreds of hours of grand jury testimony given by Republican witnesses, many of them former members of Trump’s administration.
Trump and his campaign have leveraged the criminal cases and legal challenges seeking to remove him from the ballot in several states for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol to boost his popularity among Republicans and raise funds.
Trump is the current Republican front-runner, with more than 60 percent support among GOP primary voters according to RealClear Politics’ rolling average of national polling. His support in Iowa tops 50 percent, where the former president has strengthened his already overwhelming lead over Haley and DeSantis — neither of whom has fully broken away as the clear second choice.
Trump has said “the American dream is dead” and that the United States is “a nation in decline,” which he blamed on the policies of Democrats and the Biden administration. He says if sent back to the White House, the U.S. economy would come roaring back, energy prices would plummet and the “hordes” of migrants crossing the border “will have ended.”
President Joe Biden, 81, formally announced his re-election campaign April 25 in a video, asking voters for time to “finish this job.”
Biden, the oldest president in America history, would be 86 at the end of a second term, and his age has prompted some of his critics to question whether he can serve effectively. A notable swath of Democratic voters has indicated they would prefer he not run, though he is expected to easily win the Democratic nomination.
Biden, who has vowed to “restore the soul of America,” plans to run on his record. He spent his first two years as president combating the coronavirus pandemic and pushing through major bills such as the bipartisan infrastructure package and legislation to promote high-tech manufacturing and climate measures.
The Minnesota congressman is the first elected Democrat to challenge Biden for the nomination. After months of calling for a primary challenger, Dean Phillips entered the race himself Oct. 27 with a speech outside New Hampshire’s statehouse.
While Phillips has been effusive in his praise for Biden, the 54-year-old also says Democrats need younger voices to avoid a nightmare scenario where Trump wins election this fall.
Phillips is one of the wealthiest members of Congress and heir to his stepfather’s Phillips Distilling Company empire, which holds major vodka and schnapps brands. He once served as that company’s president but also ran the gelato maker Talenti. His grandmother was the late Pauline Phillips, the advice columnist known as “Dear Abby.”
Self-help author Marianne Williamson, 71, entered the Democratic primary March 4 in Washington, calling for “a vision of justice and love that is so powerful that it will override the forces of hatred and injustice and fear.”
During her unsuccessful 2020 presidential campaign, she proposed the creation of a Department of Peace and argued the federal government should pay financial reparations to Black Americans as atonement for centuries of slavery and discrimination.
Candidates running for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination include former Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Chase Oliver, Mike ter Maat of Virginia and Joshua Smith of Iowa. They are the only three Libertarian candidates who have actively campaigned in the state.
A full list of candidates running for the 2024 Libertarian presidential nomination is available at lpia.org/caucus.
Oliver, 38, spoke in August at the Iowa State Fair. The Libertarian activist sees a political landscape ripe for a third-party candidate to make waves — one in which many voters don’t want to see a rematch between Trump and Biden.
Oliver is running on a platform emphasizing immigration and criminal justice reforms as a “pro-gun, pro-police reform, pro-choice Libertarian” who is “armed and gay.”
The Associated Press and Caleb McCullough of The Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau contributed to this report.
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