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Chapter Two: “So who does Biden pick for VP?” - Sunday Political Brunch - May 10. 2020

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Wow, my column last week really touched a nerve. I had a lot of response to, “So who does Biden pick for VP?” We profiled nine possible picks, Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, Elizabeth Warren, Gretchen Whitmer, Amy Klobuchar, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Lujan Grisham and Catherine Cortez Masto. Several readers took issue with my list and were outraged by who I left out. Biden has a buffet to choose from, so let’s “brunch” on more possible picks this week!

“Don’t Duck Duckworth” – Sen. Tammy Duckworth, (D) Illinois, was mentioned by a few of you. Duckworth is a decorated and disabled Iraq War Veteran, who lost both legs and partial use of her right arms when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down. She won two terms in the U.S. House before being elected to the Senate in 2018. Aside from six years in Congress, she served in senior Veterans Administration positions in both Illinois and Washington, DC. Her biggest drawback? She’s from Illinois, a state Democrats are likely to carry no matter what. So, where does she help Biden beyond the Land of Lincoln?

“Delegates for Demings” – Rep. Val Demings, (D) Florida, made a name for herself in the impeachment of President Donald Trump, as one of the seven House Impeachment Managers. A 27-year police officer, including as Chief of Police in Orlando, Demings built a reputation as a tough cop, but critics rated her weak on gun owner rights, with the NRA giving her a grade of F. Many are pushing Demings because they want Biden to pick an African American woman as a running mate, and he has lots of options in that regard. Demings is in just her second term in Congress, and critics view her legislative experience as thin.

“Georgia on my Mind: Round Two!” – Last week I wrote about Stacey Abrams, an African American woman who lost a close race for Governor of Georgia in 2018. Well another name being offered for the Peach State is Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta. Bottoms, an African American woman, served on the Atlanta City Council for eight years, before serving as mayor the past two years. She’s an interesting possibility, as Democrats continue to view Georgia as a red state – turning purple – that can turn blue on 2020. Abrams’s near-miss for governor in 2018, may hold some weight. But being a big city mayor has never been a launching pad for the White House, so I view Bottoms as a possible, but not a probable pick.

“The ‘Gates’ to the White House” – Among the best “chatter” picks is Melinda Gates (the wife of Microsoft Bill), and co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has donated billions to various causes around the world. Gates (like Trump) has no elective political experience, but in the world of big business, leaders get lots of experience dealing with governments and regulators, and those lessons are instructive and invaluable. Her husband has been mentioned as a potential running mate, too, but both eschew any interest. I rate her as a longshot, at best!

“Right Time for Rice?” – Susan Rice served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in President Barak Obama’s first term. She then served as National Security Advisor in the second Obama term. Rice was also a high-level State Department advisor in President Bill Clinton’s second term. But Rice’s roll in the controversial U.S. response to the 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi torpedoed her chance at being Secretary of State. Rice, an African American, was born in Washington, DC, raised by a mother and father who were highly accomplished in economic and education circles. As I mentioned with other candidates, the Democrats are likely to carry strongholds like DC, so where does Susan Rice help Biden beyond the Beltway?

“So, What’s My Educated Guess?” – Politics is as much about strategy as it is about policy. Biden promised to pick a female running mate and in my lists for the past two weeks there were six African Americans, two Latinas, and two Asian Americans. Biden is under great pressure to pick a woman who is also a minority. The problem for most of those choices is that they come from states that Democrats are likely to win anyway. My best guess is that this pick comes down to two people. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, (D) Minnesota, can carry her home state, plus neighboring Wisconsin. And Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, (D) Michigan, could bring her home state back to the Democrats. If that holds, Biden needs to win his Pennsylvania birthplace, and he’s president.

Who would you pick for Joe Biden’s VP running mate? Just click the comment button and let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five surrounding states and most of the Washington, DC media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for The White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2020, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: PBS

“So, who does Biden pick for VP?” – The Sunday Political Brunch – May 3, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – During one of the Democratic presidential debates, former Vice President Joe Biden promised to name a woman as his running mate. It’s one of those political promises you simply can’t break, so his VP choice will indeed be a female. But which one? There are plenty of options, but as with any choice there are upsides and downsides. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Kamala’s Calling?” – Sen. Kamala Harris, (D) California is a popular choice among rank and file Democrats. She’s biracial, she’s energetic, she’s smart, and has a long resume of elective offices, so she’s experienced. But she’s from California, a state Democrats are likely to win no matter whom Biden chooses. The big question on Harris is, where can she help Biden win outside of California? What swing states can she help win back from Republicans?

“Amy Maybe” – Sen. Amy Klobuchar, (D) Minnesota went from being a political trivia question to a, “Wow, where did she come from?” as the debates went on. Except for her flub on naming the president of Mexico, she was a confident, rock-solid debater, who showed knowledge and experience. As a Midwest moderate, she can balance Biden’s more East Coast liberalism. So, she helps with geographic and ideological balance. It’s a good bet she can help recapture neighboring Wisconsin, but Democrats must win Pennsylvania and Michigan, too, if they are to win the White House. (Trump won all three in 2016).

“Abrams of Georgia on My Mind” – The suggested pick that has puzzled me most is Stacey Abrams, who served ten years in the Georgia House of Representatives. She was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia in 2018, but lost a close race. Because of an influx of people from the Midwest and Northeast (much like Florida), many people believe Georgia will soon become a “purple state,” where Democrats may be more viable in the Deep South (much like North Carolina). With 16 Electoral College votes, Georgia could become a key battleground state. But we’re not there yet, and I don’t think Abrams would be a viable pick if she hasn’t been able to win statewide.

“Warren’s Waiting” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D) Massachusetts is a possibility, but not a probability. The far more liberal Warren had too many sharp differences with Biden in the debates. She does not have a lot of appeal to people at the center of the political spectrum. Remember, neither Democrats nor Republicans have enough registered voters to win this race outright. Unless you can appeal to that large block of unaffiliated or independent voters in the middle, you can’t win the White House. A Biden-Warren ticket doesn’t offer the geographic and ideological balance you usually need to win.

“Wildcard Whitmer” – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is in her first term as the chief executive in Michigan, after serving 14 years in the Michigan Legislature, and as a county prosecutor before that. Prior to being elected Governor of Michigan, she was Minority Leader in the State Senate. I mention that because it tells you she can carry her state, one that is essential to win for Democrats to retake the White House. But like Klobuchar, the big question is where can Whitmer help Democrats win beyond the borders of her home. She is in one of the states hardest hit by Covid-19, and has been highly critical of President Trump’s handling of the crisis. In a toss-up state, that criticism can cut both ways among partisan voters. Again, because Democrats need to carry Michigan so badly, I am keeping Whitmer on my short list of VP finalists.

“Biden-Obama?” – In a flip of the 2008 and 2012 bumper sticker, the families swap spots on the ballot. A lot of Democrats had hoped the former first lady would jump in the race, but she never did. Obviously, she lacks any elected experience, but one thing we’ve learned from politically savvy first ladies such as Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton, is they can be sponges and learn a ton just by being there during the major discussions and decisions. Seeing how the job gets done, day-in, and day-out from a front row seat is a heck of an education. Still, I consider Michelle Obama a long shot. Joe Biden is already tremendously popular with African Americans, so Obama, like Abrams and Harris, really wouldn’t add to that.

“Latina Luck” – Two names that are not well-known, but are certainly viable are Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, (D) New Mexico and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, (D) Nevada. Both are Latina and seen as rising stars in their party. And both come from well-known political families in their states. But Nevada and New Mexico are states that used to be red, but have been solidly blue in the past several presidential election cycles. In short, Biden is likely to carry both states, so the question becomes where can these two ladies help beyond the borders of their home states? Obviously, the Hispanic voting block has become key as the largest minority group in the nation. But, Republicans also do very well in this demographic, especially in Florida and Texas. These two possible choices would have to help Biden carry some swing states.

“Clinton Comeback” – I often get asked about whether Hillary Clinton would accept the number two spot on the ticket, having been the nominee last time around. It would seem an odd bet, but I think she’s itching for a rematch. It would certainly be the most experienced ticket Democrats could offer, and with concerns about Biden’s health, she’d make many comfortable with her ability to take the big job, if need be. I know it may sound crazy, but I wouldn’t rule her out!

Who would you pick to be Joe Biden’s running mate? Just click the comment button to let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and its five neighboring states, including most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for the White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2020, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: AP

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