Guide to Biden’s running mate options as VP stakes Heats Up

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iden's list of vice president contenders includes (from left) Sen. Kamala Harris, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Val Demings, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. IMAGE/COURTESY

The Democratic National Convention is exactly one week away and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has yet to select his running mate — leaving supporters, detractors and the contenders themselves anxiously waiting for his announcement.

The presumptive nominee has played his cards close to the vest in recent months, holding a number of fundraising events with a host of potential contenders but seldom addressing the decision in public. Biden told reporters during a rare news conference at the beginning of July that he had prepared a list of “women of color” for consideration – but he wouldn’t announce a decision until August.

“There are a number of women of color. There are Latino women. There are Asian. There are — across the board. And we’re just underway now in the hard vet of going into the deep background checks that take anywhere from six to eight weeks to be done,” Biden said.

And in recent days speculation has heated up even more, leading Biden himself to quip to about the media’s enthusiasm to cover a vice-presidential selection. A reporter asked Biden if he’d made his choice, according to the Washington Post, and Biden responded: “Are you ready?” He also quipped to Fox News on Saturday that he’s decided, only to claim his pick was a Fox News reporter — with his campaign later saying Biden was clearly joking.

Here’s a handy guide to Joe Biden’s potential running mate options.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.: Harris has long been considered a front runner in the VP race, but her record as a prosecutor and contentious debate exchanges with Biden during the primary are seen as liabilities.

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.: Demings was the first female police chief in Orlando, Fla., and her husband was the city’s first Black police chief. She saw her national profile increase as one of the House’s impeachment managers earlier this year, but her past as a cop could hurt her at a time when law enforcement is not popular with some in the Democratic Party. 

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms: Bottoms, like other big-city mayors, became more of a national name as she captained her city through the coronavirus pandemic and recent racial unrest. She is also the chair of the DNC’s Platform Drafting Committee.

Former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams: Abrams gained popularity within the Democratic Party after her unsuccessful campaign for Georgia governor, and has made clear she would be happy to be Biden’s running mate. She also said earlier this year that she plans to be president by 2040. 

Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice: Rice is a controversial figure from her time in the Obama administration, specifically over her handling of Benghazi. But she would be an experienced pick, and someone Biden already has a working relationship with to boot.

Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif.: Bass has been a latecomer to the VP conversation but brings to the table her experience as the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and a background in medicine. She has had to fight off controversy, though, about past comments praising Scientology and former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.: Warren is one of the few White women reportedly in consideration for Biden’s VP slot after Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., took herself out of contention. But Warren would bring progressive street cred and a plan for just about everything on the ticket.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.: Baldwin comes from a state that was key to President Trump’s 2016 victory and has a progressive record that could excite the base. Additionally, she would be the first openly gay vice president, bringing a potential air of history-making to the Democratic ticket. 

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.: Another Democratic senator in contention, Duckworth is a veteran who lost her legs in a helicopter crash in the Iraq war. She has also been one of the most successful members of Congress.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: Whitmer, with her tough stance on the coronavirus pandemic, has been one of Trump’s chief antagonists in recent months. She is also the governor of a key swing state.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham: New Mexico’s chief executive has fresh experience governing a state through a crisis and has experience on a federal level, too, as a former member of the House of Representatives.

Former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates: Yates was one of the first political martyrs of the Trump administration after she was fired for refusing to enact the initial version of Trump’s Muslim ban. She also has a long history as a prosecutor — she played a role in putting away Eric Rudolph, the man who bombed Olympic Centennial Park during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.: Hassan, a senator from New Hampshire, is the daughter of  Robert Wood, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Lyndon Johnson. She is also a former governor, giving her executive experience to use as a vice president.