Updated: Jul 2
There we have it. Bernie Sanders is out of the race and Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee for president. Wow, looking back a little over a month ago, this just seems unbelievable. Sanders was way ahead going into Super Tuesday on March 3rd, the most important primary date of the year. Biden was out of money and slipping in the polls, at least until the moderate candidates coalesced behind him. Now, Joe Biden is the presumptive nominee following stunning victories in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday. To be straight forward, I do not like Joe Biden. After the sexual assault allegations made against him, I will have a lot of trouble enthusiastically campaigning for him. That sentiment is also felt among many people on the left in the Democratic Party.
A Biden victory in the general election though, means a lot more than who is holding the highest office on January 20th, 2021. Joe Biden would be 82 at the end of his first term. This would make him the oldest person ever serving in the office of the presidency. This does not mean that Biden could not possibly serve out his term, it just increases the possibility that he does not run for a second term as well as the risk for Biden to no longer be able to serve in a full capacity. Biden’s age, along with party hostility, necessitates a strong vice-presidential choice.
After all, this person will likely be the Democratic frontrunner in either 2024 or 2028. It is also important that the VP is a charismatic, politically inclined individual. As not many remember, Hillary Clinton’s running mate was Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.
Kaine is a wet blanket soaking in a vat of mayonnaise. Biden cannot afford a similarly boring pick. This candidate needs to energize voters who are not particularly excited about a Biden presidency. Biden announced his running mate will be a woman during the final Democratic debate. While he has yet to publicly make any further progress from there, the following are three of the candidates that the Biden campaign should consider.
Ask anyone that pays too much attention to Democratic politics and they will tell you one of the rising stars of the party is Stacey Abrams. Abrams is a Yale Law School graduate who served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2007 to 2017. She ran for Georgia’s governorship in 2016 losing to Brian Kemp. The election was fought in heavily gerrymandered districts. Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, was accused by Abrams of suppressing the vote and tossing out nearly 670,000 voter registrations the previous year. Following the election, Abrams started Fair Fight, an organization designed to protect voting rights and fight voter suppression all over the country in preparation for the 2020 election. Abrams did not endorse any of the candidates in the primary as she wanted to stay neutral and promote the organization. On Thursday, Abrams told Dan Pfeiffer of Pod Save America that she “would be honored to be on the campaign trail as a running mate”.
Abrams, a 46-year-old African American woman from the deep south represents a very different community than Biden. She is a talented politician and skilled speaker whose views, while moderate in Democratic strongholds such as New York or California, fit the right niche in southern states such as North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida that the Democrats want to win in 2020. One of the biggest concerns about Abrams is her lack of political experience on the national stage. She would be the first Vice President with no federal government experience or governorship since 1897 as well as America's first African American or female Vice President.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is having a moment. She started the year delivering the Democratic response to the State of the Union, a role given to a rising star in the Party. Abrams did the same in 2019. Whitmer served in the Michigan state legislature from 2001-2015. She ran for Governor on a platform of practicality and “Fixing the Damn Roads”. She won the 2018 election receiving 53% of the vote compared to her opponent’s 43%. This is in a state won by Trump by only 1 percentage point. Whitmer is very much a moderate candidate in the mold of Biden. The 48-year-old is a massive supporter of green energy and of a Women’s Right to Choose. The one place she may lose favor with the progressives in the party is her view on healthcare. Where she tends to favor a public option. It is important to note that Whitmer’s father was the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan, one the largest Health Insurance company in Michigan. To her credit, Whitmer distanced herself from BCBS stating “It’s extremely sexist to say that a woman is beholden to her father’s former employer”.
Like Abrams, Whitmer is incrementalistic when it comes to politics, hoping to enact progressive policy through small steps working it through the government. Whitmer is also overseeing the third largest COVID-19 outbreak in the country right now. She has been handling the limelight very well, brushing off his Twitter attacks. I would also encourage everyone to read this Politico story on Whitmer’s phone call with conservative Army Veteran John about what life is like on the ground in Michigan. At a rally in Detroit, Whitmer, along with Kamala Harris endorsed Joe Biden. Unlike Harris though (another favorite for the VP), Whitmer represents a geographic area that is key to a Democratic victory. Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania, all a part of the industrial Mid-West. The cultural familiarity Whitmer offers could be indispensable. Biden has confirmed multiple times that Whitmer is on his shortlist.
There is another Vice
Presidential option that Biden may consider: Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren was one of the last candidates to drop out of the race. While she is older than the other candidates, Warren, 70, looked to be on her way to the nomination in the fall until some fissures on the left took hold, including a very public feud between her and Bernie Sanders. While she is both older and from a safe Democratic state, Warren, or similarly progressive California rep Katie Porter represents an olive branch to the Progressive wing of the party. A presidential run by a 74-year-old warren in the future is also within the realm of possibility. I do hope she remains in the senate as one of the most progressive senators out there. Ideally taking a leadership role if the Democrats flip the senate.
For all its worth, Vegas has betting odds at +165 for California Senator and former Presidential candidate Kamala Harris. Harris is a very strong debater and has a loyal support base. I think I am speaking for most Democrats when I say I would love to watch her eviscerate Mike Pence in a debate. She is, however, from California and, at least geographically, does not gain much of anything for Biden. The way I look at it, Biden has three strategies:
Play it safe and choose Harris based off of name recognition and hope that is enough
Pick Elizabeth Warren or another Progressive to appeal to Sanders supporters
Try to win swing geographical areas with either Abrams or Whitmer
I believe option three is the best. While I would personally be more excited with a Progressive, the states that the Democrats need to win are more likely to vote moderate. I think Greta Whitmer is the best bet right now with her current national spotlight and appeal to the more crucial swing states. But who do you think should be the Vice Presidential nominee? Comment below!