1 of these 7 women will likely be Joe Biden's running mate
Ranking the serious contenders from least to most likely
If you're like me, you sometimes wake up and remember to your horror that we are in fact going to have a presidential election in November. The Democratic National Convention, in whatever form it is eventually held, is still months away. But sooner or later, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden is going to have to announce his running mate. Barring an extraordinary about-face, we can assume that Biden is going to select a woman. Given the concerns about Biden's age and health, I think it's fair to say that she will be someone a plurality of Democrats would be happy to see at the top of the ticket as well.
Here are seven candidates whose names are currently being discussed, with varying degrees of seriousness.
7. Stacey Abrams
As far as I can tell, the name of the woman who lost the governor’s race in Georgia in 2018 is being floated mostly because she really wants the job. This is not a good reason for considering her a serious candidate. Never mind her bizarre long-standing refusal to acknowledge that her former opponent, Brian Kemp, is in fact Georgia’s duly elected governor: her relatively thin résumé (she has never held national or statewide office) makes Abrams a long shot at best. I would not, however, be surprised to see her nominated for a cabinet position in a Biden administration.
6. Susan Rice
Biden selecting Barack Obama's former national security adviser would mean (my fingers are shaking with an admixture of hilarity and fear as I type this) making Benghazi a live issue again. If this is not itself enough of an argument against her selection, consider the fact that Rice is otherwise best known for her involvement in Obama's ill-fated intervention in Libya, arguably the proximate cause of the worst refugee crisis in modern history and has virtually no experience of running for office. Instead, she strikes me as someone else likely to find a cabinet position, perhaps as secretary of state, if Biden wins in November.
5. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan's Democratic governor has become a media darling in spite or perhaps because of her limited interest in solving the problems of her home state. The best argument in favor of nominating her is that it could help tip the scales in a state Democrats very much need to retake this fall. But the logistics (to say nothing of the optics) of governing while serving as one half of a presidential ticket during and after a pandemic are pretty shaky. Besides, Whitmer's policies (including a pointless and swiftly retracted ban on the sale of paint and garden gnomes) have made her a divisive figure in Michigan. The potential for reward with Whitmer is high, but so are the risks.
4. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
For all the animosity Warren showed toward Bernie Sanders during the later stages of the primary campaign, the two are still ideological allies who have far more in common with one another than either has with Biden and the party's centrist establishment. A sitting senator endorsing her party's presidential nominee is one thing. Walking back an entire platform, including unambiguous support for single-payer health care, is probably a bridge too far. Selecting Warren as Biden's number two would not placate hardcore Sanders supporters, but it would give Trump a chance to remind the world of Warren's embarrassing DNA test fiasco at a time when many Democrats would like to see a racially balanced presidential ticket. Probably the only reason to consider her is that it is easy to imagine her tearing Vice President Pence a new one in a debate.
3. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto
This brings us to the junior senator from Nevada. Here is a chance to nominate a woman of color and a prominent Democrat who did not take part in this year's contentious primaries. It remains unclear, however, whether Cortez Masto is actually interested in the position. It is also not obvious that the party would be willing to risk losing Cortez Masto’s Senate seat to a Republican in 2022. Nor is it easy to imagine that the average DNC bigwig sees her as someone capable of filling Biden’s shoes if he were forced to step aside for health or other reasons.
2. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar is a nearly perfect match for Biden ideologically. Their talking points during the primary campaign were nearly identical — indeed Klobuchar was a far more eloquent defender of Biden’s positions than the man himself. She is also a senator from the Midwest and an ideal person to have on the (perhaps this year entirely metaphorical) campaign trail in states like Wisconsin and Michigan. The fact that her home state has fared better than many of its neighbors in the pandemic, while having virtually nothing to do with Klobuchar, would make an excellent talking point. The only thing I can imagine standing in the way here is a desire to give Biden a non-white running mate.
1. Sen Kamala Harris
Strange as it might seem less than a year after their bitter exchanges about Biden's past opposition to busing, Harris is easily the favorite to be his running mate. Unlike Warren, Harris has no real ideological conflict with the nominee; she balances the ticket racially in addition to fulfilling Biden's promise to select a woman; her leaving the Senate would not endanger Democratic control of her seat; she is well liked by the party establishment. Also her fierce debate performances suggest that she would make an ideal candidate for facing off against Pence. There is a reason Vegas is backing her.
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