Breaking down the personal finances of the 2020 Democrats



Former Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) is by far the richest Democratic presidential contender, with an estimated net worth ranging from $56 million to $280 million, according to personal financial disclosure data. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Check out the net worth and financial disclosures of the 2020 Democrats. For a detailed analysis of President Donald Trump’s finances, click here.

With less than a month until the first Democratic presidential debate, the public is getting a rough look at the personal finances of the 23 candidates hoping to secure the party’s nomination in 2020.

Recently filed financial documents reveal a primary field of multi-millionaires and debtors alike, shining a light on the vastly different amounts of candidates’ fortunes. The twelve personal financial disclosures thus far filed with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) reveal the median average net worth of Democratic candidates is around $1.4 million, with a remarkable median range of -$55,496 at the lowest to over $168 million at the highest. These disclosures don’t give a full picture of candidates’ finances, as they present income amounts in wide ranges and don’t include the value of some residential properties.

The pack is led by four multimillionaires: former Reps. John Delaney and Beto O’Rourke and Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California.

Delaney, a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of commercial lender CapitalSource, is by far the wealthiest candidate seeking the Democratic nomination, with a median net worth $168 million. Even the lowest estimate of his net worth (about $56 million) is significantly greater than the sum of the other candidates’ most generous estimates combined (about $43 million). Delaney was the sixth-richest member of the 115th Congress before becoming the first candidate to declare for the Democratic nomination in a July 2017 Washington Post op-ed. Delaney has used his wealth to pay for his campaign, self-funding more than $16 million of his $18 million haul.

Joining him in the upper echelon of wealth is O’Rourke, whose estimated fortune of nearly $10 million comes mainly from his shares in Peppertree Square, an El Paso shopping center, which was gifted to him by his mother in 2012. His wife, Amy Sanders O’Rourke, also has at least $1 million in an investment trust created by her father, the uber-wealthy El Paso real estate developer William Sanders. O’Rourke’s connection to Sanders has been a frequent political headache, as some saw a conflict of interest in then-city council member O’Rourke’s support of Sanders’ redevelopment plan that threatened to evict hundreds of residents from historic Mexican-American neighborhoods throughout El Paso.

Warren, a former Harvard bankruptcy law professor, has based her campaign around reviving the middle class and placing greater tax burdens on the rich. Her net worth stands at nearly $8 million. She has built this fortune through her teaching career at the University of Michigan and Harvard University and large investments in financial services from TIAA-CREF. She also earns royalties from eleven written works on bankruptcy, economic regulation and politics, most notably her 2017 book, “This Fight is Our Fight,” which traces the rise and fall of the American middle class and lays out her proposals to restore it to prominence.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) finances have been discussed frequently as the self-described democratic socialist criticizes against “millionaires and billionaires” while on the campaign trail. Between he and his wife Jane, the two reported assets ranging from $729,030 to $1.8 million, excluding residential properties. Sanders’ bestselling 2016 book “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In” was his biggest moneymaker, netting him $880,091 in royalties in 2017 and $392,810 last year.

At the other extreme, several candidates have relatively meager holdings in the low-six figures, boasting little assets and, in some cases, significant debt. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has an average net worth in the negatives due to massive student loan debt. A Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar, Buttigieg’s book deals and financial holdings are significantly outweighed by student debt totaling between $140,000 and $360,000, the sum of his own and husband Chasten’s liabilities.

Multiple candidates have filed requests for extensions beyond the required deadline of thirty days following entrance into the race. They include Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton, author Marianne Williamson, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former vice president and current frontrunner Joe Biden, who officially began his campaign on April 25. A letter from Biden’s attorneys requested that OGE grant the campaign another 45 days to ensure the form is completed accurately.

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), along with former Sen. Mike Gravel, have not filed their disclosures as of May 29. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former New York City mayor Bill de Blasio face filing deadlines in June.

Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics.
For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact the Center: [email protected]

Leave a Reply