Politics

The Runners and Riders for Biden’s VP Pick

With under 100 days until the U.S presidential election, we are inching ever so closer to discovering who will be Joe Biden’s running mate.

By Marshall Tisdale
 
With just under 100 days until the U.S presidential election on November 3, we are inching ever so closer to discovering who will be Joe Biden’s running mate. We can expect to learn which woman will join the presidential ticket in early August. The Biden campaign are unlikely to not play into the fact that on the centenary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment (the amendment that gave women the right to vote), they will be nominating a person who could potentially be the first woman to ever be elected on a presidential ticket.

But it still begs the question, who will Biden pick? Here is a comprehensive list of the seven likeliest women to be the Democratic nominee for Vice President.

The Outsider

Karen Bass, California 37th District

To kick things off we have U.S Congresswoman Karen Bass, representative of California’s 37th district. Bass currently leads the Congressional Black Caucus in the House of Representatives, providing superficial benefit as a potential running mate, as the Democrats have a growing interest in adding diversity to the ticket. It is noted by commentators that Biden owes much of his recent electoral success to the black community, and that picking a black woman as his running mate will do much to recognise this often forgotten community.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, issues such as police brutality have come to the forefront of U.S politics. This greatly aids Bass’ chances, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “Rep. Karen Bass has been working to stop police abuse and harassment since 1973, the year George Floyd was born.”

Reading this, it may seem like Bass is a no brainer for Biden’s number two. But it still remains that Biden is likely to pick his running mate based on his personal relationship with a potential VP.

Biden famously only agreed to join Barack Obama’s ticket in 2008 as long as Obama agreed to meet for lunch once a week to discuss everything from the political to the personal. Going forward, it would be wise to keep in the back of our minds, would Biden want to eat lunch with this person every week for four years? A strange measurement for a potential Vice President to be sure, but that is American politics for you. As for Bass, it’s unknown as to what their relationship is like; compared to others on this list who, as we will see, are more clear.


The Outsider
 

 
To kick things off we have U.S Congresswoman Karen Bass, representative of California’s 37th district. Bass currently leads the Congressional Black Caucus in the House of Representatives, providing superficial benefit as a potential running mate, as the Democrats have a growing interest in adding diversity to the ticket. It is noted by commentators that Biden owes much of his recent electoral success to the black community, and that picking a black woman as his running mate will do much to recognise this often forgotten community.

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, issues such as police brutality have come to the forefront of U.S politics. This greatly aids Bass’ chances, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “Rep. Karen Bass has been working to stop police abuse and harassment since 1973, the year George Floyd was born.”

Reading this, it may seem like Bass is a no brainer for Biden’s number two. But it still remains that Biden is likely to pick his running mate based on his personal relationship with a potential VP.

Biden famously only agreed to join Barack Obama’s ticket in 2008 as long as Obama agreed to meet for lunch once a week to discuss everything from the political to the personal. Going forward, it would be wise to keep in the back of our minds, would Biden want to eat lunch with this person every week for four years? A strange measurement for a potential Vice President to be sure, but that is American politics for you. As for Bass, it’s unknown as to what their relationship is like; compared to others on this list who, as we will see, are more clear.

The Washington Insider

Susan Rice, former US Ambassador to the UN

Up next we have Susan Rice, Obama’s former Ambassador to the UN, one of the least talked about candidates on this list. Rice is possibly both the most prepared for the role as well as the candidate who has possibly the best established relationship with Biden.

Having worked together for eight years, there is an understanding between the two of how they get on and how they work best, something not afforded to other candidates. Rice is by far the most comfortable choice for a man who has stated he is looking for a simpatico running mate. Having this preexisting relationship with Biden does wonders for Rice’s odds.

However, there are considerable issues that hold Rice back. While she has an extensive resume working in Washington and various administrations, she has never been elected to public office. She is an untested electoral candidate, and someone who isn’t viewed to fire up the electoral base of the Democrats. In fact, she has the potential to fire up the Republican base. She has been accused of misleading the public over the 2012 Benghazi attack, something that was weaponized against Hillary Clinton in 2016. On top of this, her 2017 inaugural day email has been used as evidence that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign.

Whilst the obvious fears of repeating 2016-type attacks and a fired up Trump base may be enough to sink Rice’s chances, Biden’s persistence on wanting a VP he is compatible with may see him run Rice at electoral risk.


The Washington Insider
 

 
Up next we have Susan Rice, Obama’s former Ambassador to the UN, one of the least talked about candidates on this list. Rice is possibly both the most prepared for the role as well as the candidate who has possibly the best established relationship with Biden.

Having worked together for eight years, there is an understanding between the two of how they get on and how they work best, something not afforded to other candidates. Rice is by far the most comfortable choice for a man who has stated he is looking for a simpatico running mate. Having this preexisting relationship with Biden does wonders for Rice’s odds.

However, there are considerable issues that hold Rice back. While she has an extensive resume working in Washington and various administrations, she has never been elected to public office. She is an untested electoral candidate, and someone who isn’t viewed to fire up the electoral base of the Democrats. In fact, she has the potential to fire up the Republican base. She has been accused of misleading the public over the 2012 Benghazi attack, something that was weaponized against Hillary Clinton in 2016. On top of this, her 2017 inaugural day email has been used as evidence that the Obama administration spied on the Trump campaign.

Whilst the obvious fears of repeating 2016-type attacks and a fired up Trump base may be enough to sink Rice’s chances, Biden’s persistence on wanting a VP he is compatible with may see him run Rice at electoral risk.

The Newcomer

Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia

Keisha Lance Bottoms is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party. Currently the Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, she has risen to prominence in the BLM era, both in her home state and around the rest of the country. She has also caught attention due to her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, robustly rebuking Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s decision to open up the state for business, which has led to the Republican Governor launching a lawsuit against her.

Bottoms has also been a loyal surrogate for the former Vice President. Being an early supporter of Biden, she has been appearing consistently on news outlets as well as at campaign fundraisers.

Bottoms has the support of another key Biden surrogate, Representative Jim Clyburn, the man who famously brought Biden’s primary campaign back to life, and arguably won him that crucial South Carolina victory. Clyburn is noted as saying “There is a young lady right there in Georgia who I think would make a tremendous VP candidate, and that’s the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms.”

The Mayor of Atlanta could also have the potential of putting the traditionally Republican state of Georgia into contention, as it shifts ever more closely to becoming a swing state. Yet it still remains that Bottoms is just a Mayor. Experience is a major issue that will be at the forefront of voters minds as they are cautiously aware of Biden’s advanced age. They will be looking to be calmed by a candidate that appears ready to step into the Presidency at any given moment. Unfortunately for Bottoms, she is unlikely to give any assurances.


The Newcomer
 

 
Keisha Lance Bottoms is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party. Currently the Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, she has risen to prominence in the BLM era, both in her home state and around the rest of the country. She has also caught attention due to her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, robustly rebuking Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s decision to open up the state for business, which has led to the Republican Governor launching a lawsuit against her.

Bottoms has also been a loyal surrogate for the former Vice President. Being an early supporter of Biden, she has been appearing consistently on news outlets as well as at campaign fundraisers.

Bottoms has the support of another key Biden surrogate, Representative Jim Clyburn, the man who famously brought Biden’s primary campaign back to life, and arguably won him that crucial South Carolina victory. Clyburn is noted as saying “There is a young lady right there in Georgia who I think would make a tremendous VP candidate, and that’s the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms.”

The Mayor of Atlanta could also have the potential of putting the traditionally Republican state of Georgia into contention, as it shifts ever more closely to becoming a swing state. Yet it still remains that Bottoms is just a Mayor. Experience is a major issue that will be at the forefront of voters minds as they are cautiously aware of Biden’s advanced age. They will be looking to be calmed by a candidate that appears ready to step into the Presidency at any given moment. Unfortunately for Bottoms, she is unlikely to give any assurances.

The Cop

Val Demings, Florida’s 10th District

The next candidate is Representative Val Demings of Florida’s 10th Congressional district. Prior to entering Congress, Demings served as the chief of the Orlando police, the first black woman in the role. During her brief stint in Congress, she has served as one of the impeachment managers who presented the case against Donald Trump. Her credentials both in and out of office as well as being a black woman from a key swing state makes her one of the leading candidates in the search for the VP.

Despite being a black woman however, Demings will likely do little to signal to those infused by the Black Lives Matter movement that Biden will do much to act on systemic issues within the police force.

Why? Because of Deming’s record as Chief of Orlando’s police. Her tenure is dogged with controversy, with extensive allegations of excessive force by officers, and that under Deming’s watch, officers used 20% more force than that of those in similar sized cities.

Again, the issue of experience lingers over the representative. Compared to others on this list, she doesn’t have the extensive political career that many would deem necessary to serve in the White House, having only been in Congress for just three years. Compare that to Joe Biden’s 36 year-long career when he was selected as Obama’s running mate.


The Cop
 

 
The next candidate is Representative Val Demings of Florida’s 10th Congressional district. Prior to entering Congress, Demings served as the chief of the Orlando police, the first black woman in the role. During her brief stint in Congress, she has served as one of the impeachment managers who presented the case against Donald Trump. Her credentials both in and out of office as well as being a black woman from a key swing state makes her one of the leading candidates in the search for the VP.

Despite being a black woman however, Demings will likely do little to signal to those infused by the Black Lives Matter movement that Biden will do much to act on systemic issues within the police force.

Why? Because of Deming’s record as Chief of Orlando’s police. Her tenure is dogged with controversy, with extensive allegations of excessive force by officers, and that under Deming’s watch, officers used 20% more force than that of those in similar sized cities.

Again, the issue of experience lingers over the representative. Compared to others on this list, she doesn’t have the extensive political career that many would deem necessary to serve in the White House, having only been in Congress for just three years. Compare that to Joe Biden’s 36 year-long career when he was selected as Obama’s running mate.

The Dark Horse

Tammy Duckworth, Senator for Illinois
Entering the top three we have Tammy Duckworth, who is considered to be the dark horse of the potential nominees. She has served in both branches of Congress, currently as the Junior Senator for Illinois. She has also served in the Obama administration as the Assistant Secretary for Veteran Affairs. There seems to be no doubt of her experience, as it is topped off with service in the U.S military.

Duckworth, while not African American, still fills the Democrats’ desire for a diverse ticket, being of Asian American descent, another often overlooked group in American politics. Another thing that Duckworth has over her competitors is a gripping personal story.

Coming from a family of military servicemen, she followed in their footsteps becoming a commissioned officer in the army reserves. She was deployed to Iraq in 2004, when later that year her helicopter was struck by a rocket propelled grenade, losing her entire right leg and left below the knee as a result. During her recovery, she would suffer another loss, that of her father. After her recovery she worked her way up through Washington, where she eventually became Senator for Illinois. On her way to the top she became the first Senator to ever give birth in office.

She has an inspirational story that the Democrats would not hesitate to push, especially given the perception that the Democrats are not a patriotic party. Her past also helps her quite favourably on a personal level with Joe Biden. Biden is a man who himself has suffered multiple great losses in his life, and who has a unique ability of connecting with anyone over deep personal loss.

Duckworth’s experiences serving in multiple branches of government, her war hero record, her superficial credentials of being a disabled person of colour and her likely buildable, solid relationship with Biden helps make her a candidate to watch come August.


The Dark Horse
 

 
Entering the top three we have Tammy Duckworth, who is considered to be the dark horse of the potential nominees. She has served in both branches of Congress, currently as the Junior Senator for Illinois. She has also served in the Obama administration as the Assistant Secretary for Veteran Affairs. There seems to be no doubt of her experience, as it is topped off with service in the U.S military.

Duckworth, while not African American, still fills the Democrats’ desire for a diverse ticket, being of Asian American descent, another often overlooked group in American politics. Another thing that Duckworth has over her competitors is a gripping personal story.

Coming from a family of military servicemen, she followed in their footsteps becoming a commissioned officer in the army reserves. She was deployed to Iraq in 2004, when later that year her helicopter was struck by a rocket propelled grenade, losing her entire right leg and left below the knee as a result. During her recovery, she would suffer another loss, that of her father. After her recovery she worked her way up through Washington, where she eventually became Senator for Illinois. On her way to the top she became the first Senator to ever give birth in office.

She has an inspirational story that the Democrats would not hesitate to push, especially given the perception that the Democrats are not a patriotic party. Her past also helps her quite favourably on a personal level with Joe Biden. Biden is a man who himself has suffered multiple great losses in his life, and who has a unique ability of connecting with anyone over deep personal loss.

Duckworth’s experiences serving in multiple branches of government, her war hero record, her superficial credentials of being a disabled person of colour and her likely buildable, solid relationship with Biden helps make her a candidate to watch come August.

The Progressive

Elizabeth Warren, Senator for Massachusetts and former presidential candidate
The penultimate person on this list, and notably the only non-woman of colour is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. She is the most progressive of all the candidates on this list, and is probably best known and lauded for her spearheading of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has returned near $12bn to defrauded Americans. She was a frontrunner in the Democratic primary earlier this year, before she dropped out of the race. She is now the front-runner among Democrats to be Biden’s running mate.

Critical to Warren’s potential as Biden’s choice is her decision to not endorse her longtime friend, and Joe Biden’s main opposition, Bernie Sanders in the primary. It is this move that firms her up as a serious contender for the VP slot.

Staying above the fray meant that Bernie wasn’t able to gain as much momentum as he possibly could if she had endorsed him, helping Biden’s path to the nomination become clearer. Again, Warren, despite being more politically aligned with Senator Sanders, spent the last few months of her campaign targeting him rather than that of Biden, who she has far less in common ideologically.

Warren’s favours for Biden in the primary didn’t stop there. Warren was the most forceful critic of Michael Bloomberg, who served as a potential challenger for the support of more moderate voters. Warren successfully tarnished any chance of Bloomberg gaining momentum, forcing him later to drop out the race.

Many on Biden’s campaign have also noted how Warren can be used as an olive branch to extend to the left of the Democratic Party, given her previous progressive credentials and presidential policy platform. For many on the left though, she remains an imperfect choice, as over the course of the Democratic primaries, their trust in Warren was eroded. Reasons as to why stems from her treatment of Senator Sanders, her backpedaling on policies like ‘Medicare for All’ and a perceived move in the direction of an identity driven campaign as opposed to a policy driven one.

Indeed, Sanders himself has not come out in support for Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, the former presumed front-runner for the Democrat VP nod, withdrew from consideration and has endorsed the idea of a woman of colour being Biden’s running mate. This has been seen as a way to damage Warren’s potential to be nominated, being one of the few white women under consideration.

Finally, there is the issue of Warren being too big a name to be on the ticket. Many in the Biden campaign will fear that Warren with all her energy and gusto will upstage an otherwise mundane Biden. It will also be harder for Biden’s team to shape her public image, because it has already been so defined by herself and the media. This potential clash of egos doesn’t aid the fact Biden and Warren don’t share the same personal and working relationship like others on this list, coming to blows on multiple occasions in the past.


The Progressive
 

 
The penultimate person on this list, and notably the only non-woman of colour is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. She is the most progressive of all the candidates on this list, and is probably best known and lauded for her spearheading of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has returned near $12bn to defrauded Americans. She was a frontrunner in the Democratic primary earlier this year, before she dropped out of the race. She is now the front-runner among Democrats to be Biden’s running mate.

Critical to Warren’s potential as Biden’s choice is her decision to not endorse her longtime friend, and Joe Biden’s main opposition, Bernie Sanders in the primary. It is this move that firms her up as a serious contender for the VP slot.

Staying above the fray meant that Bernie wasn’t able to gain as much momentum as he possibly could if she had endorsed him, helping Biden’s path to the nomination become clearer. Again, Warren, despite being more politically aligned with Senator Sanders, spent the last few months of her campaign targeting him rather than that of Biden, who she has far less in common ideologically.

Warren’s favours for Biden in the primary didn’t stop there. Warren was the most forceful critic of Michael Bloomberg, who served as a potential challenger for the support of more moderate voters. Warren successfully tarnished any chance of Bloomberg gaining momentum, forcing him later to drop out the race.

Many on Biden’s campaign have also noted how Warren can be used as an olive branch to extend to the left of the Democratic Party, given her previous progressive credentials and presidential policy platform. For many on the left though, she remains an imperfect choice, as over the course of the Democratic primaries, their trust in Warren was eroded. Reasons as to why stems from her treatment of Senator Sanders, her backpedaling on policies like ‘Medicare for All’ and a perceived move in the direction of an identity driven campaign as opposed to a policy driven one.

Indeed, Sanders himself has not come out in support for Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, the former presumed front-runner for the Democrat VP nod, withdrew from consideration and has endorsed the idea of a woman of colour being Biden’s running mate. This has been seen as a way to damage Warren’s potential to be nominated, being one of the few white women under consideration.

Finally, there is the issue of Warren being too big a name to be on the ticket. Many in the Biden campaign will fear that Warren with all her energy and gusto will upstage an otherwise mundane Biden. It will also be harder for Biden’s team to shape her public image, because it has already been so defined by herself and the media. This potential clash of egos doesn’t aid the fact Biden and Warren don’t share the same personal and working relationship like others on this list, coming to blows on multiple occasions in the past.

The Favourite

Kamala Harris, Senator for California
Last but certainly not least, we have Californian Senator Kamala Harris, one of, if not the biggest name on this list. The former Californian Attorney General has had a rising stock in the Democratic Party since her election to the Senate in 2017. Despite her failed 2020 presidential run, she still remains a star in the party, a star who is importantly more of a simpatico with Biden than others on this list.

She is widely perceived in the media to be a top, experienced contender for the job of Vice President, as well as the role of President itself should the occasion rise. Harris’ background coming from a mixed race, black and Indian family helps sure up those in the party looking for diversity on the ticket.

As one of the only black candidates in the presidential primary, Harris was the strongest voice in calling out Biden’s less than perfect track record on race, creating what was potentially the most memorable moments of the debates. Adding Harris to the ticket may be a way of symbolically absolving Biden of the previous criticisms of him in the minds of the voters.

Harris has also been steadily rising in the polls to become one of the favourites to be the VP nominee, especially within minority communities. However, despite her growing support among minorities, it has never surpassed that of Biden himself, or indeed that of Bernie Sanders, two old white men. This has largely come down to Harris’ previous record as a prosecutor. Representative Tulsi Gabbard laid out clearly in one presidential debate her many faults as a prosecutor and Attorney General. From arresting small-time users of marijuana and from holding back evidence that would have freed a death row prisoner, Harris’ record on criminal justice puts her in a similar position to that of Val Demings.

However, it is not her track record in California that is likely to hold her back, rather it is that aforementioned debate moment. It seems for Joe Biden, that the wounds have still not healed from that bitter blow Harris dealt him over his past support of segregationist Senators. So much so that former Senator Chris Dodd, who is helping in the VP search, urged Biden to pick Karen Bass as his number two after Harris showed a lack of remorse when questioned about the moment in vetting.

So while Harris and Biden may be more compatible in policy areas, when it comes to personal relationships, there is still a gaping trust issue. Harris’ chances may come down to that all important criteria we set at the beginning of this article, would Biden want to have lunch with her every week for four years? Right now, it seems she’ll be dining alone.

Despite the drawbacks however, Kamala still leads the pack as favourite to be Biden’s number two, if not simply because of that growing pressure from Democrats for Biden not just to pick a woman of colour, but a black woman. The clear perception is that Biden owes the black community a huge debt, especially after his crucial primary victory earlier in the year in South Carolina. Therefore when it comes to Kamala Harris, arguably the most well known black woman in U.S politics, her name rises to the top of the pack among Washington insiders and the wider general public. Yet that lack of trust will hang over her, and the chances of candidates like Karen Bass, and more importantly, Susan Rice expand rapidly.


The Favourite
 

 
Last but certainly not least, we have Californian Senator Kamala Harris, one of, if not the biggest name on this list. The former Californian Attorney General has had a rising stock in the Democratic Party since her election to the Senate in 2017. Despite her failed 2020 presidential run, she still remains a star in the party, a star who is importantly more of a simpatico with Biden than others on this list.

She is widely perceived in the media to be a top, experienced contender for the job of Vice President, as well as the role of President itself should the occasion rise. Harris’ background coming from a mixed race, black and Indian family helps sure up those in the party looking for diversity on the ticket.

As one of the only black candidates in the presidential primary, Harris was the strongest voice in calling out Biden’s less than perfect track record on race, creating what was potentially the most memorable moments of the debates. Adding Harris to the ticket may be a way of symbolically absolving Biden of the previous criticisms of him in the minds of the voters.

Harris has also been steadily rising in the polls to become one of the favourites to be the VP nominee, especially within minority communities. However, despite her growing support among minorities, it has never surpassed that of Biden himself, or indeed that of Bernie Sanders, two old white men. This has largely come down to Harris’ previous record as a prosecutor. Representative Tulsi Gabbard laid out clearly in one presidential debate her many faults as a prosecutor and Attorney General. From arresting small-time users of marijuana and from holding back evidence that would have freed a death row prisoner, Harris’ record on criminal justice puts her in a similar position to that of Val Demings.

However, it is not her track record in California that is likely to hold her back, rather it is that aforementioned debate moment. It seems for Joe Biden, that the wounds have still not healed from that bitter blow Harris dealt him over his past support of segregationist Senators. So much so that former Senator Chris Dodd, who is helping in the VP search, urged Biden to pick Karen Bass as his number two after Harris showed a lack of remorse when questioned about the moment in vetting.

So while Harris and Biden may be more compatible in policy areas, when it comes to personal relationships, there is still a gaping trust issue. Harris’ chances may come down to that all important criteria we set at the beginning of this article, would Biden want to have lunch with her every week for four years? Right now, it seems she’ll be dining alone.

Despite the drawbacks however, Kamala still leads the pack as favourite to be Biden’s number two, if not simply because of that growing pressure from Democrats for Biden not just to pick a woman of colour, but a black woman. The clear perception is that Biden owes the black community a huge debt, especially after his crucial primary victory earlier in the year in South Carolina. Therefore when it comes to Kamala Harris, arguably the most well known black woman in U.S politics, her name rises to the top of the pack among Washington insiders and the wider general public. Yet that lack of trust will hang over her, and the chances of candidates like Karen Bass, and more importantly, Susan Rice expand rapidly.

Thus concludes our list for the likeliest woman to be the next Democratic nominee for Vice President. No matter the outcome of the selection, one thing is certain, and that is that this list and the eventual nominee will be among the most diverse so far in American history.

It seems almost certain that a woman of colour, more specifically a black woman, will be Biden’s running mate. When it’s announced on, or incredibly near, the centenary of women’s right to vote in America, it will surely be one of those moments that stays with people forever.

Photo Credits (all via Wikimedia Commons):
 
Karen Bass (Source: Online Guide to House Members and Senators)
Susan Rice (Source: Chuck Kennedy/White House)
Keisha Lance Bottoms (Source: Afdahe)
Val Demings (Source: Phi Nguyen, U.S. House Office of Photography)
Tammy Duckworth (Source: U.S. Senate Photographic Studio)
Elizabeth Warren (Source: United States Senate)
Kamala Harris (Source: Office of Senator Kamala Harris)

Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics

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