Democrats submit 18 would-be presidents for March 17 primary

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during a commercial break in a Democratic presidential primary debate, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, in Atlanta.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Democrats in Florida have submitted 18 candidates for the March 17 presidential primary.

The crowded field submitted to state elections officials ahead of Saturday’s deadline includes the most recent entries — former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

At least three Republicans have announced campaigns to challenge President Donald Trump, but it wasn’t immediately clear Friday whether their names were submitted by Republican Party officials to the Florida secretary of state’s office.

Florida’s primary could prove crucial with the state’s 219 delegates at stake, but half the country will have already voted by the time Floridians go to the polls. March 17 falls two weeks after the pivotal Super Tuesday bonanza, when 14 states and two other jurisdictions hold Democratic primaries.

Most polls have former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren leading the pack. But with the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries still two months away, it remains to be seen how the late entries will shuffle the field.

The other candidates in Florida include Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii also remains in the field, as do former Reps. John Delaney of Maryland and Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania.

Also slated to appear on Florida’s ballot are Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, wealthy businessman Tom Steyer, author Marianne Williamson and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

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