Biden Winding Down Search For Running Mate
By Claudia Smajlaj | DCI
"Some progressives have argued that the backgrounds of Harris, a former prosecutor, and Demings, a former police chief, would make them poor VP choices at a moment when Americans are protesting for police reforms."
Former Vice President Joe Biden committed to choosing a female running mate during a March 2020 debate with Bernie Sanders. Since then, many have speculated that he would most likely choose between the following women: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, and Senator Kamala Harris of California.
However, with the recent protests sparked by the unjust death of George Floyd, Biden is now being pressured to choose a Black female as his running mate and has narrowed down his list to Senator Kamala Harris of California, former national security adviser Susan Rice, Florida Representative Val Demmings, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. All four women are African American.
Some progressives have argued that the backgrounds of Harris, a former prosecutor, and Demings, a former police chief, would make them poor VP choices at a moment when Americans are protesting for police reforms. As Jennifer Epps-Addison, president of the Center for Popular Democracy, said “It really is disrespectful and it’s tone deaf in this era in this moment to be suggesting prosecutors and police officers as the potential VP pick.” Epps-Addison also added that if Harris were to embrace more progressive planks of reform, she could alleviate concerns about a record that critics complain leaned on jail sentences and allowed prosecutors to evade consequences for misconduct. Demings’ vice-presidential cache has increased in recent weeks, but progressives have raised red flags about her 27-year career as part of the Orlando Police Department, where she served as chief her final four years.
Still, there are Democrats who largely agree that Kamala Harris would be a widely acceptable choice, given her race and political résumé.
But there are also two other serious contenders - Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is white, and Michelle Lujan Grisham, governor of New Mexico, who is Latina.
Black leaders and recent polls say that Elizabeth Warren can energize African American voters and that she holds a strong hand. A Morning Consult poll showed Warren driving more Black votes to Biden than Harris or Stacey Abrams. Steve Phillips, founder of Democracy in Color said “Warren is certainly the most acceptable white candidate that could be chosen” after noting that Warren received a higher percentage of the Black vote in her first Senate run in Massachusetts than Harris did in her first Senate election in California.
Currently, Biden leads President Donald Trump in national polls. This could be due to Trump’s poor response to both the coronavirus crisis as well as the police brutality protests. Biden has expressed sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement and pledged a series of police reform if he were to win the presidency. His choice of running mate is a key to uniting the Democratic party, split between the centrists and and progressives.
Claudia Smajlaj is a rising sophomore at American University who is studying Finance in the Kogod School of Business. Claudia currently works at the Center for Business Communications (CBC) and is an on-staff writer for the DC Intervention.