Former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee. After early issues with young voters, poor early performances, and even the debates seemed to be costing him the nomination, things seemed grim for his campaign. A major victory in South Carolina changed that, and he dominated the remaining contested primaries. Now the question becomes who his Vice President should be. Biden has committed to selecting a woman for the position. Many different names have been thrown around since the beginning of the month, and I have my own opinions on who Biden himself should pick.
The Big Names
The senator from Massachusetts with big time progressive bonafides has been mentioned more and more in the past week as a very viable choice for Biden. Warren has the progressive chops to bring those voters in that Biden has struggled with. She is also seen very favorably within the regular Democratic base as well.
Warren’s age could matter (Warren is 70) when considering Biden is 77. However, she would certainly fit the idea of balancing a ticket. Warren is also a very good campaigner and could really give some firepower in that area. She would bring that edge to the Biden campaign. However, she could also end up overshadowing Biden if he continues to underwhelm in debates. Warren would certainly bring out the progressive vote and be an energizer to the campaign. One should question if she is too well known and if she can help with moderate southwest and rust belt voters that will be crucial in this election.
Harris is another big and popular name brought up for Vice President. Kamala would seemingly hit all the checkboxes for Joe. She’s a well known Senator from California, she’s a woman, and she’s a minority. Kamala’s issues come from her presidential campaign. She was hit hard on her prosecutorial record when she was the Attorney General of California. Additionally, she already has a set image of herself in the media. This could be problematic for the Biden campaign, and Harris isn’t particularly well liked by more progressive voters either.
Like Warren, Harris could bring a more dynamic edge to his campaign. But she also doesn’t bring much else to the table past that. California isn’t a swing state and Biden has the establishment base locked up. Moreover, he is already very strong among black voters. Kamala may be more suited for the office of Attorney General rather than the Vice Presidency.
Klobuchar has skyrocketed up the lists in past weeks. Earlier this week it was reported by some that she was the favorite among the Biden camp. Klobuchar was not the most highlighted of all the Presidential candidates. There isn’t much known about her to the general public. Usually that would be a positive, but running for President brings all skeletons out of the closet. They may not have been covered closely, but Klobuchar also has a prosecutorial record that could damage her among progressives. There are also serious and credible accusations of staff abuse during her tenure as an elected official.
Something that Klobuchar might have a leg up on compared to anyone else on the list is her midwestern chops. Klobuchar would know better than most how to communicate with rust belt voters. While picking her might make the Biden campaign seem worried about Minnesota to some, she could very easily be the key to campaigning in states like Wisconsin and Michigan to swing those states to the Democrats.
The Michigan governor has also had a big rise in fame. The coronavirus epidemic has seen approval and name recognition rise for her. She has combated Trump on the issue since the epidemic began.
Like Klobuchar, she can bring rust belt chops to the Biden campaign. Her sky-high approvals and lack of legitimate scandal behind her also help Whitmer in my eyes. She probably wouldn’t be a favorite of progressives due to her opposition to single-payer healthcare. However, she has also never done anything to make progressives dislike her either. Of all the “big names” the Biden campaign may be considering, Whitmer might be the one I like most.
The Democratic nominee for Governor in Georgia in 2018 has become a popular figure in some sects of the party. Her narrow loss to current Governor Brian Kemp propelled her into the national spotlight, and her campaign for voters’ rights has kept her there. Abrams does have her strengths. She could connect easily with black voters and increase turnout more than it is already likely to be. She could help Biden win Georgia and possibly swing another growing, southern state to the Democrats. Finally, she could make voter rights a key part of the campaign which would bring out progressives.
Look a little deeper though and some issues become highlighted. The Biden campaign is already strong among black voters and don’t need too much help in that area. When it comes to Georgia as well, her favorables have declined since the gubernatorial race. Some voters clearly want her to move on from the 2018 race and to look towards the future. Her youth, while a positive to contrast with Biden, also means she has the least experience of anyone I’ll mention. With Biden’s age likely being an issue in 2020, her lack of federal or executive political experience would likely be a negative.
As with all possible Vice President picks, there are always some outsiders who could end up being picked. I have three who I think could be selected who most people probably don’t know about.
Demings is a popular choice among some Democrats. In many ways, this relatively unknown house member could be a huge help to the Biden campaign. Elected in Florida’s 10th district in Orlando, Demings has an array of things that could go well for her.
She has an excellent background as the daughter to an orange picker and housekeeper who rose to become a lawyer and congresswoman. Demings lives in Florida and could become crucial to making it swing slightly more to the Biden campaign. She also has no discernible issues in her background and has supported numerous progressive issues on healthcare and gun control. Demings was also one of the seven impeachment managers in the house, so she could make a very compelling argument to the American people why Trump should’ve been impeached.
Baldwin is maybe the most obvious of the outsiders. From the all-important swing state of Wisconsin, Baldwin is a two term Senator. She also served as Congresswoman for WI-02 for twelve years. Baldwin became the first openly gay person to be elected to the United States Senate when she was elected in 2012. Her success in areas in Wisconsin where President Trump was also successful could also bring a big boost to the ticket. Baldwin was also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She’s supported major gun control legislation and is a well known supporter of Medicare for all. Baldwin is possibly the most liberal of all the people on this list and has definite progressive chops. She might struggle to bring the energy on the campaign trail though, something the Biden campaign needs desperately.
The final person on my underdogs list and rounding out the list in general is the Senator from Nevada. Cortez-Masto is someone who may be unknown, but could bring an array of positives to the Biden campaign. Cortez-Masto could turn the tinted blue state of Nevada to a more solid color for 2020, allowing for Democrats to focus their resources elsewhere.
Cotrez-Masto also has the distinction of being the first Latina to serve in the United States Senate. Her connection to that community would be a big boost to the Biden campaign, as they struggled with those voters in the primary, as shown by losses in California and Nevada. Cortez-Masto might have the least amount of name recognition of anyone on this list, but she might also have the most to offer to the Biden campaign. She’s young, she’s fresh, and she could help bring in a coalition that was soft on Biden in the primary season.
Why it shouldn’t be any of the big names
It’s very easy to get swung by the limelight when looking at who a candidate should pick to be Vice President. After any contentious primary, people always look to those who ran in said primary as a possible choice. There were the Obama/Clinton dreamers in ’08 and the idea of a Trump/Cruz or Clinton/Sanders tickets in 2016.
The fact is that choosing these names might do more to damage than help the ticket. The issue with being a big name or someone who already ran in the primary is that a good chunk of the populace probably has already heard of them – and that they didn’t end up picking them for the nomination. It allows for the opposition to already have attacks and statements ready for this person to join the campaign. That allows them to step in front instead of you, and that’s something the Biden campaign can’t afford.
To me, that eliminates Warren, Harris and Klobuchar immediately. They all went too far in the primary to be considered good choices. With Whitmer and Abrams, the GOP has loads of oppo likely all set up for those two in case one of them are selected. While in my opinion Whitmer is probably the best out of these five considering her current sky-high approvals, I don’t think she would be the best choice for the Biden campaign.
Why Demings and Baldwin don’t cut it
Out of the three remaining choices for Vice President, I don’t think Demings and Baldwin necessarily cut it either. Demings has a fantastic backstory and the political chops and would be key for black turnout in Florida and across the country. The problems the come with that are obvious, however. The Biden campaign doesn’t necessarily need much help among black voters and the results of the Governors and Senate race in Florida in 2018 show that Latino turnout may be more crucial for Democrats in that state rather than black turnout. Demings is my second choice though and I do think she would be a solid pick for the Biden campaign.
Baldwin has different issues. While she would bring progressive bonafides and has the ability to communicate Democrat policies to Trump voters, Baldwin isn’t what this campaign needs. While being the first openly gay Senator is a good backstory, Baldwin would not bring the energy to the campaign that Biden needs. She’s not a very energizing campaigner and compared to Trump, and wouldn’t fit the bill with some of Biden’s weaknesses. While I think she could be a good pick for someone like a Warren or Harris in another timeline, I don’t think she’s the right one for Biden.
Why it should be Catherine Cortez Masto
Cortez Masto would be in my eyes the best choice for the Biden campaign. First let’s look at recent Vice President choices. They haven’t been more towards geographical areas, they’ve been more towards solidifying the base. Obama picked Biden in 2008 to qualm fears among some Democrats that he was too inexperienced to lead the nation. McCain picked Palin because he needed some shoring up among more conservative voters (you couldn’t have picked someone else man?). Romney picked Paul Ryan in 2012 to fit himself more with the Tea Party movement. Trump picked Mike Pence in 2016 to shore up concerns from the religious right. Clinton picked Tim Kaine for – well, I really don’t know why Clinton picked Kaine. But in most of these selections the point was to shore up a part of the base.
Cortez Masto would be perfect for Joe Biden in this situation. She has good skills on the campaign trail as shown by her solid victory in a hotly contested Senate race. She’s young and would counteract issues with age that could pop up in the campaign. Perhaps most importantly though, she can connect with Latinos. Latinos were Biden’s weakest group in the primary in every state except Florida, where separate issues from the Sanders campaign sunk him there. States like Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia and even Nevada and Colorado too certain extents are key states in 2020. Cortez Masto would be a huge boost for the Biden campaign in these states as Vice President and she can introduce herself to the nation without the GOP doing it for her. In my opinion, Cortez Masto would be the strongest possible VP selection for Joe Biden.
Will this actually happen?
Honestly no, I don’t think so. I think Biden and his campaign are going to be blinded by the bigger lights from the bigger names, particularly Warren, Klobuchar, and Whitmer. I believe this is what’s more likely to occur, and while I don’t think its smart, I’ll happily accept it as a member of the GOP myself. The Republican Party can already effectively attack all three of those candidates and make distinctions for themselves. This allows the GOP to create their own message and place it to a name that people might already know or hav heard. Cortez Masto on the other hand wouldn’t have these issues. But in the end I think she’ll be overlooked by bigger stars, a move that in the end will hurt the Biden campaign.