Yesterday, Joe Biden promised to name a female running mate. This will be the fourth time in American history that a major party will have a woman on the presidential ticket. Fortunately for Biden, he has quite a few choices within the Democratic party, who can be split into several categories.
One place Biden can easily find qualified female running mates is looking at the women who ran against him for President. These women will come in with high name recognition, which is helpful for a presidential nominee pushing 80 who will have to do more than the usual candidate to demonstrate that his running mate would be ready on Day One. Amy Klobuchar may make the most sense, given the significance of the midwest as a region worth competing for in the electoral college and her impressive reelections. She’s qualified and has a proven appeal to centrist voters.
Kamala Harris would add diversity to the ticket, and is a leader in the criminal justice reform movement. Elizabeth Warren would provide unity between the progressive and centrist wings of the party. She would also be skilled at using the power of the federal government to accomplish key policy goals, and could advocate for liberal policies. Her negatives are that she doesn’t come from a politically useful region, she doesn’t exactly appeal to the center, and it would be a ticket with two people in their 70s. I don’t see any advantage to Kirsten Gillibrand over Klobuchar, but there may be some skeletons in the closet and she’s reasonably qualified to merit consideration. Biden is probably not going with Tulsi Gabbard or Marianne Williamson.
There are Senators who didn’t run for President who Biden can still choose among. The advantage of Senators is that they’ve won statewide elections, and should be familiar with national issues, in a way that helps people under a lot of scrutiny avoid serious gaffes. Tammy Duckworth is a midwesterner, a woman of color, and a purple heart recipient. She has an inspiring story about how she handled a double amputation, and got Senate rules changed on behalf of working mothers.
Biden has mentioned Catherine Cortez Masto, the sole latina senator as a potential running mate. This would provide ethnic and geographic diversity. Kyrsten Sinema has demonstrated immense political skill in essentially transforming Arizona into a swing state. She started out as a more radical state legislator, but has earned a moderate reputation. Biden had mentioned New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both of whom have a mix of executive and federal legislative experience in a swing state. Shaheen is in her 70s, and has turned down consideration before, so she seems quite unlikely. Hassan would be a safe choice, but it would likely cost Democrats her Senate seat.
Gretchen Whitmer was just elected Governor of the important swing state of Michigan, and provided a key endorsement for Biden in the primary. Stacey Abrams is a media favorite. It would be unprecedented for someone whose main job was being the minority leader of a state legislature to be on a national ticket, but she did some very close running for Governor of Georgia and has maintained a national profile with her voter rights organization. First-term Congresswoman Katie Porter is a protege of Elizabeth Warren, so she could help unite different wings of the party. She wrote a textbook on consumer law, and got media attention for fighting to make coronavirus testing free. Val Demings is an African-American woman who was one of the House Impeachment managers, and comes from the swing state of Florida. Before she was in Congress, she was the Orlando Chief of Police.
The Dream Ticket
There is one dream ticket, but it really depends on whether one woman has any interest in being back in the national spotlight. If Michelle Obama hinted that she was interested in being Vice President, we would probably have a Biden/ Obama ticket announced in the evening. This would connect Biden even more to the popular Obama administration, and add a woman with high approval ratings and 100% name recognition to the ticket.
Whoever Biden ends up choosing is probably going to be his second choice to Michelle.