DemDaily: The Veepstakes! and Contenders

April 14, 2020

Now that the Democratic Party has a presumptive nominee, the Veepstakes may formally begin!

Klobuchar is in everyone's top three (Newsweek)

With the suspension of Bernie Sanders' campaign last Wednesday (and Sanders' formal endorsement yesterday), former Vice President Joe Biden is free to openly launch his quest for a running mate -- normally an eight-week vetting process.

The unprecedented chain of events that propelled Biden to an unobstructed path to the nomination, gives him and the Party the advantage of picking a Vice Presidential nominee months ahead of the Democratic Convention -- now postponed to August 17th due to the coronavirus pandemic.

At age 77, Biden, should he be successful, will also be the oldest president entering the oval office, shifting the priorities of the many considerations given to choosing a running mate.

In the March 15th Debate between Biden and then-rival Bernie Sanders, Biden committed to picking a woman as his #2, narrowing his choices to a field of less than a dozen, and a likely short list of 3-4.

Most of the names are familiar, including the three former presidential candidates, Senator Kamala Harris (CA), Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA). For our followers, a rundown on the considerations, and the basic background of the contenders is below.

Betting Odds are on Harris (Jeff Kowalsky/AFP)

Basics and Background
1) GeographyHistorically the primary factor; the internet and ability to reach voters daily online has changed the equation. In 2020, however, when the election may come down to a handful of midwest or rustbelt states, geography is again front and center.
Advantage: Baldwin, Klobuchar, Whitmer. All in battleground states.

2) Experience: The role of the VP has expanded substantively, with foreign and domestic policy experience, and Hill relationships, a plus. Biden reported wants someone who can take over on "Day One, ready to serve."
Advantage: Warren. Harris and Klobuchar get points as Senators and former prosecutors, and Whitmer, who has the administrative experience of a Governor.

Masto (NV) and Grisham (NM) are the leading Latina VP candidates

3) Age: Although not always synonymous with experience, it makes a difference in balancing a gender gap at the top of the ticket, and in this case, a prime factor in that Biden is unlikely to run for a second term. Advantage: All but Warren, who is 70.

4) Compatibility: Together or apart on the campaign trail, the Presidential and VP nominees must be able to work together as a genuine team, including the practical assimilation of staff, consultants and operations.
Advantage: Harris and Klobuchar, both who provided critically-timed endorsements for Biden, and who have been raising funds and campaigning online for Biden.

5) Ethnicity and Gender: A critical consideration to the opposing ticket and platform that could swing a tight presidential. Some feel picking a minority woman is essential for Biden, and more specifically, one from the African American community, which is credited with delivering him the nomination.

A Warren pick could unite party (David Phillip/AP)

Advantage: Harris, Abrams, Demings, Rice. Masto or Grisham could also shore up Biden with Hispanic voters, which favored Sanders in larger numbers in the primary.

6) Ideology: A more conservative or liberal VP can expand the ticket's appeal to a broader voting constituency, but the team should not be ideological or publicly opposed on major issues.
Advantage: Warren, who is in the best position to unite the progressive wing of the party and Sanders supporters, 10%+ of which defected to Trump in 2016. Klobuchar is the most attractive in appealing to the center of the party.


Potential Vice Presidential Contenders
Candidate Home State Background
Stacey Abrams Georgia Attorney, author, former State House Minority Speaker and 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate. Abrams narrow loss to Republican Brian Kemp in 2018 drew national attention and turned out more voters than any Democrat in Georgia history. Abrams, 46, has since been focused on leading voter protection efforts in key states across the country.
Tammy Baldwin Wisconsin Attorney and second-term Senator, reelected by 11% in 2018 in a midwest battleground state Trump narrowly won in 2016. Baldwin, 58, is the first openly gay person elected to the US Senate. A member of Senate leadership as Senate Democratic Conference Secretary. She previously represented Wisconsin's 2nd CD for seven terms, after serving three terms in the Wisconsin Assembly.
Val Demings Florida Second-term Congresswoman, the only House member on the list, and new to the national spotlight as one of the House impeachment managers. Demings, 63, is African American and previously served as Chief of the Orlando Police Department, the first woman to hold the position.
Tammy Duckworth Illinois
First-term Senator, represented Illinois' 8th CD for two terms before unseating Senator Mark Kirk (R) in 2016. Duckworth, 52, is the first Thai-American woman elected to Congress and the first woman with a disability to be elected to Congress. A former US Army Lt. Colonel and Purple Heart recipient who lost both of her legs in Iraq. In 2018, she also became the first senator to give birth while in office.
Michelle Lujan Grisham New Mexico Attorney, first-term Governor and among the few Latinas nationwide in higher office. Previously represented New Mexico's 1st CD for three terms, including a stint as Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Grisham, 60, previously served as the state's Secretary of Health and hails from a well-known political family in the southwest state.
Kamala Harris California Elected in 2016, Harris, 55, is the first minority woman elected to the Senate from California, the state with the largest number of presidential electoral votes. Of Jamaican and Indian descent, she is currently the only African American serving as either a Governor or Senator. Previously served as the state's Attorney General, as San Francisco District Attorney. Harris officially launched her presidential bid on January 21, 2019, and suspended her campaign December 3, 2019. She endorsed Biden March 9th, has been raising money for him online, and has launched a joint fundraising operation with the Democratic National Committee.
Betting Odds on PredictIt favor Harris, followed by Klobuchar, Whitmer, Warren and Abrams.
Las Vegas Oddschecker places Harris first, then Klobuchar, Whitmer, Abrams and Warren.
Candidate Home State Background
Amy Klobuchar Minnesota
Elected Minnesota's first female US Senator in 2006 and re-elected to a third term In 2018 by 24 points in a midwestern battleground state that Clinton narrowly won in 2016. Previously served as Hennepin County Attorney. Klobuchar, 59, is part of Senate leadership as Chair of the Steering Committee. She officially launched her presidential bid on February 10, 2019 and suspended her campaign March 2, 2020, providing a strategically-timed endorsement to Biden prior to Super Tuesday. She has been helping Biden raise money through telephone calls and virtual fundraising events.
Catherine Cortez Masto Nevada Masto, 56, is the first Latina elected to the US Senate and the first female Senator from Nevada, elected in 2016 after the retirement of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Previously served as Nevada's Attorney General for two terms and as a criminal prosecutor for the US Attorney's office in DC. Biden reportedly told Reid, a Masto advocate, that she was in his top three picks.
Susan Rice Maine
Rice, 55, served as US National Security Advisor and as US Ambassador to the United Nations in the Obama administration, and as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during President Clinton's second term. She is African American and considered a run against Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) in 2020.
Elizabeth Warren Massachusetts
Warren, 70, unseated Republican Scott Brown in 2012 to become Massachusetts' first female US Senator. Re-elected in 2018 with 60% of the vote, serves in Senate leadership as Conference Vice Chair. A former Harvard law professor, author, and national expert in bankruptcy and commercial law, she is credited with the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Warren formally announced her presidential bid on February 9, 2019 and suspended her campaign on March 5, 2020. She has yet to endorse Biden.
Gretchen Whitmer Michigan First-term Governor elected in 2018 by a 10% margin from a key battleground state that Trump won by less than 1%, Whitmer, 48, has drawn national attention for leading her state's response to the coronavirus. Previously served as Ingham County Prosecutor, in the State Senate for three terms, where she was Senate Democratic Leader, and for three terms in the Michigan House.

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