Who should presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden choose as his running mate? (1)

Assuming that Joe Biden survives the allegations of sexual harassment – which is not certain – he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party in the election for the next President of the United States. His first big decision is to choose a running mate.

Traditionally this decision – somewhat particular to US politics – has involved ‘balancing the ticket’. Balancing it ideologically means that, if the candidate is moderate, he might want to elect more a radical running mate. Balancing it geographically would mean choosing a partner from a different part of the country.

In the Democratic Party, recent times have favoured balancing the ticket in gender and ethnic terms. In the particular case of Biden – who would be the oldest ever person to assume the office for the first time – balancing would strongly suggest a significantly younger vice-presidential candidate and someone with sufficient talent and experience to become president in a heart beat.

So there is a lot to consider. Biden has already declared that he will choose a female running mate so that is one factor settled.

Black Democrats have joined in a concerted effort to urge him to pick a black woman as his vice-presidential nominee. Also some liberal groups and activists, who have long had an antagonistic relationship with the presumptive nominee, are pressing Biden to select a liberal woman.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has been extraordinarily blunt in saying she would accept the job. By contrast, Kamala Harris of California has taken the opposite tack, remaining low-key while others advocate for her.

Some liberals are backing Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who ranks far above others on the left as a potential running mate. But rancour from the primaries has led to schisms on the left: Senator Bernie Sanders, the final competitor to cede to Biden and the liberal figure best positioned to push for concessions, has declined to support Warren despite their ideological alliance. Also many regard Warren as too old as well as coming from the same region of the country as Biden.

Other names in the frame are Amy Klobuchar, a senator from Minnesota, who performed creditably in the primaries plus Tammy Baldwin, a senator for Wisconsin, and Tammy Duckworth, a senator for Illinois.

There is even speculation about former First Lady Michelle Obama, but she has made it very clear that she would never want political office.

My personal preference would be Kamala Harris. She is aged 55 with six years experience as Attorney-General of California and three years membership of the Senate. She is a woman of colour: her father is from Jamaica and her mother is a Tamil Indian. She is progressive, fluent and confident.

By the way, it is by no means certain that Donald Trump will keep Mike Pence as his running mate. Trump likes to shake things up and could well pick a new partner.


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