The Advance’s best 2020 election coverage (before it was even 2020)

Michael Bennet, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro, Cory Booker, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee and Bill de Blasio at the second Democratic debate | Andrew Roth

Quotable of the Year:

“I support the Great Lakes. They’re beautiful; they’re big, very deep.”

— President Donald Trump at his 2020 campaign kickoff in Grand Rapids in March

Susan J. Demas graphic

In the last days of 2019, the Advance is running a series of our best stories from a few of the many issues we cover, from the environment to the 2020 election. With more than 2,000 stories to choose from, it was hard to pare the list down.

Here’s our roundup of our top 2020 election stories:

The Advance covered every presidential candidate who stumped in Michigan in 2019 (and yes, we’re tired). Here’s a handy interactive guide to all the campaign stops of GOP and Democratic hopefuls, including those who have left the race.

Your interactive guide to every presidential campaign stop in Michigan in 2019

President Trump kicked off his 2020 reelection campaign in Grand Rapids in March, where he announced he wouldn’t cut $300 million from the Great Lakes after all.

Trump promises $300M for Great Lakes, otherwise mostly rambles

As 2019 wound down, Advance Editor Susan J. Demas argues that the last year of Democratic presidential campaigning has been less than inspiring, fueled by conventional wisdom about “electability.” And next year will be worse, as “any Dem nominee will be subjected to Hillary Clinton-style “But her emails” analysis, because that’s how both-sides journalism works.”

Susan J. Demas: Pundits keep telling Dems 2020 is the ‘No You Can’t’ election

Last year was a banner year for progressive ballot proposals in Michigan, with measures legalizing marijuana, going after gerrymandering and expanding voting rights all passing easily. But the financial picture for 20020 initiatives isn’t looking as rosy.

Susan J. Demas: Infighting, money woes could hurt 2020 progressive change at the ballot box

The first Democratic presidential debate in Detroit in July featured moderators quizzing the candidates on a series of topics, including health care, immigration, climate change and more, frequently using moderate candidates as foils for progressives Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Moderators try to pit Warren, Sanders against moderates in 1st Detroit Dem debate

Frontrunner Joe Biden was at the center of the second Detroit debate. Moderators also asked several Michigan-centric questions, including what they would do to prevent future public health problems like the Flint water crisis.

With Biden at center of 2nd Detroit Dem debate, the conflict wasn’t right vs. left, but past vs. future

Why do Trump and his allies brazenly accuse their enemies of what they’re doing? “It’s all about making liberal heads go “splodey,” as Sarah Palin, the former poet laureate of modern conservatism, once giggled,” Advance Editor Susan J. Demas argues.

Susan J. Demas: When it comes to Trump, the brazenness is the point

At the NAACP national convention in Detroit, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former U.S. Senate candidate Stacey Abrams said that Democrats can’t forget about women and people of color in 2020.

Pelosi, Abrams say women, people of color are key in 2020 election

Early on in the 2020 race, Attorney General Dana Nessel argued that women running for president aren’t getting the coverage of their male counterparts. Since then, two high-profile hopefuls, U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris, have dropped out.

Nessel: 2020 female presidential contenders are getting short shrift

Gretchen Whitmer was underestimated in 2018 by pundits and progressives. But she’ll be a force in 2020, as Michigan remains a must-win state.

Susan J. Demas: Gretchen Whitmer will be a national star, whether you like it or not

Did you know there was a GOP presidential debate in Detroit? There was — minus Trump. Impeachment, the debt and environmental policy were all debated this fall.

GOP presidential candidates debate climate change, impeachment in Detroit

You probably heard about Vice President Mike Pence’s eight-car motorcade disturbing Mackinac Island during a GOP conference this fall, but the rhetoric was far worse. Former Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders intoned, “The chaos that will ensue — the destructive chaos that will take place if we allow the Democrats to win in 2020 — will be real.”

Susan J. Demas: What the mean-girl, media-bashing GOP Mackinac confab tells us about 2020

The Advance broke down a study from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies that looked at diversity in the staffs of senators running for president, and Sanders fared the worst.

Study: Sanders has least diverse staff of senators running for president

Trump, himself, has only been to Michigan twice this year, but his campaign is hoping that red-meat visits from “celebrities” like Diamond & Silk, Charlie Kirk and Steve Bannon will keep Republicans stoked.

Susan J. Demas: From Steve Bannon to Diamond & Silk, Trump ‘celeb’ surrogates traipse around Michigan

Although Michigan has been a hotbed of 2020 activity, most Democratic hopefuls have skipped the west side of the state. Team Trump has been all in trying to shore up his base, however.

West Michigan will likely be key in 2020, but presidential campaign activity still quiet

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Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.