Joe Biden’s Vice Presidential candidates. Who will he announce as his running mate this week?

Kamala Harris is Joe Biden's running mate. Photo via Flickr.

Photo by DAVEY D

Kamala Harris is Joe Biden's running mate. Photo via Flickr.

Speculation surrounding who Joe Biden will pick to be his running mate continues to swirl as his vice president announcement nears. The announcement is expected this week.

Each of the roughly dozen names that have been circulating belong to women. At the last Democratic Debate, Biden committed to choosing a woman as his running mate, stating “If, I’m elected president, my cabinet, my administration will look like the country and I commit that I will in fact appoint a – will pick a woman to be Vice President.”  There has since been mounting pressure for Biden to choose a woman of color. He has confirmed in an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid that four Black women are being vetted.

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Catherine Cortez Masto have already dropped out of the running for vice president, but 12 names seem to remain as the vetting process continues.

Karen Bass- U.S. Representative for California’s 37 Congressional District

Karen Bass has been gaining footing in the race for VP but was not an expected choice at the start. Before serving as a U.S. Representative, Bass was the first Black woman to be elected by the California Assembly as the speaker. Bass has been an U.S. Representative since 2013, and currently serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and is the chair of Subcommittee on Africa Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, and is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Bass focuses on issues of criminal justice reforms, the protection of intellectual property and foster care system reform.

The Biden Campaign has already begun vetting Bass, who was scheduled to make an appearance at a July 30 Biden Campaign event.

Tammy Duckworth- U.S. Senator for Illinois

U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth has risen as one of the top potential VP picks. An Iraq War Veteran and Purple Heart recipient, Duckworth has focused on issues facing veterans such as homelessness, which could bring more support from veterans to Biden, should he choose Duckworth. Prior to becoming a U.S. Senator, Duckworth served two terms as the U.S. Representative for the eighth congressional district of Illinois. As U.S. Senator in Illinois, Duckworth has been an advocate for women’s issues and has worked to rebuild infrastructure, support minorityowned businesses and make college education more affordable. She also co-founded the Environmental Justice Caucus.

The EJC is a caucus within the United States Senate that work to further the causes of low-income communities and communities of color who are affected disproportionately by environmental degradation.

Stacey Abrams- Former Georgia State Representative for the 89thHouse District

Stacy Abrams has voiced her support for a choosing a woman of color as VP, promoting herself in April. Abrams served as a State Representative until leaving office in 2017. In 2018 she lost the election for Governor of Georgia, an election which she felt was conducted unfairly. Abrams has since founded Fair Fight, an organization dedicated to fair voting and elections.

As the first woman to lead in the Georgia General Assembly and the first African American to lead in the House of Representatives, Abrams has emphasized that Black women have been the strongest part of the Democratic Party and has pointed out the importance of a diverse ticket.

Tammy Baldwin- U.S. Senator for Wisconsin

Tammy Baldwin has stated that if Biden should ask her, she would accept the role of VP. Baldwin has had a long political history in Wisconsin, having served on the Madison Common Council, the Dane County Board of Supervisors, the Wisconsin State Assembly, as a State Representative for Wisconsin’s 78th District and now as U.S. Senator for Wisconsin. Baldwin has dedicated her efforts to building the middle class and has focused on affordable education and student loan reforms. As the first woman to serve as Wisconsin’s U.S. Senator and the first openly gay member elected to Senate, Baldwin would help bring diversity to the campaign , should Biden select her.

Michelle Lujan Grisham- Governor of New Mexico

Though the vetting  process has begun for Michelle Lujan Grisham the Governor of New Mexico does not seem high on Biden’s list of potential VP choices. Lujan Grishman was the first Democratic Latina to be elected governor and has advocated for senior citizens, veterans and disability rights. In Congress her focus has been on rights for local tribes, equal pay, public schools and healthcare. Lujan Grisham has also served as the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. While on the whole Lujan Grisham has not been largely talked about for VP, she would offer the diversity that Biden is looking for to in running mate.  

Gretchen Whitmer- Governor of Michigan

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has not been as adamant as others about her interest in being the VP pick. Whitmer has held several elected positions as a State Representative, U.S. Senator for Michigan and currently as Michigan’s Governor. She has focused on issues of public education, drinking water, equal pay, small and disadvantaged businesses and has fought to end discrimination in state government based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Whitmer is still in the running, but early on she told several news outlets including Politico and NBC News that while she would consider the position, she would not be lobbying for it as she is focusing on Michigan.

Susan E Rice- Former ambassador to the United Nations and national security advisor 

Unlike the other potential VP picks, Susan E Rice has not held an elected office. She does, however, have a lot of experience with the Executive Branch and international affairs. Rice served under President Bill Clinton’s Administration on the National Security Council and at the State Department. Additionally, Rice has already worked with Biden as she served as the ambassador to the United Nations and then the national security advisor under President Barack Obama’s administration. Under the Obama administration Rice and Biden worked closely, and while they often found themselves on opposing sides, they worked well together.

Keisha Lance Bottoms- Mayor of the City of Atlanta

Keisha Lance Bottoms has served in all three branches of government, making her a well-rounded candidate. Before becoming Mayor, Bottoms served as a Judge and City Council member. As the Chair of Community Development and Housing Committee and the Census Task Force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Bottoms has focused largely on issues of equity and affordable housing.

Bottoms has endorsed Biden for more than a year and is one of the four Black women being vetted by Biden’s campaign. As Black Lives Matter protests have continued throughout the country, Bottoms has shared her experiences as a Black woman, though her handling of the protests in Atlanta has been questioned.

Val Demings- U.S. Representative for Florida’s 10th Congressional District

Val Demings offers a unique perspective in wake of demands to defund the police, as Demings got her start through the Orlando Police Department where she served for 27 years. As a U.S. Representative, Demings played a large prosecution role in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. She is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Women’s Caucus and New Democratic Caucus.

While Demings’ police background could be divisive among voters, she voiced her support for protesters and the call for police reform. Demings co-sponsored the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, which would ban choke-holds and many no-knock warrants, among other police reform efforts.

Elizabeth Warren- U.S. Senator for Massachusetts

Elizabeth Warren has been talked about as one of the top candidates for VP. Warren ran in the Democratic Primaries, but dropped out after Super Tuesday. She established herself as a progressive candidate during the Democratic Primary Debates, supporting such efforts as the Green New Deal, Medicare for All and raising minimum wage. Warren previously served as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

While her policies are more progressive than Biden’s, Warren has excited many democratic voters, and could pull support from more liberal voters.    

Kamala Harris- U.S. Senator for California

Kamala Harris– who dropped her own presidential campaign early in the race – was one of the first women mentioned as a candidate for VP and seems to remain high on Biden’s list. However, there have been worries about her time as a prosecutor, concerning issues of criminal justice and incarceration.

Prior to serving as a U.S. Senator, Harris began in the Alameda Country District Attorney’s Office, served as the District Attorney of the City and County of San Francisco and then as the California Attorney General. Harris has supported the Affordable Care Act, climate law and criminal justice reform.

Gina Raimondo- Governor of Rhode Island

Gina Raimondo has emerged as a candidate for VP much more recently. As Governor, Raimondo serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Crossroads Rhode Island, through which she has launched a homeless shelter for women. Much of her focus has been on state economy and creating jobs. Raimondo has previously served as General Treasurer of Rhode Island and has served both as a trustee at Women and Infants Hospital and chair of its Quality Committee and a as board member of Family Service of Rhode Island and LaSalle Academy.

Role of a VP Pick

VPs haven’t historically had a large impact on a presidential candidate’s odds of winning an election, but this election might be different with concerns over Biden’s age and his push for diversity.

VP choices have often been used strategically to either balance the ticket – that is, balancing moderate candidates with a more conservative or liberal VP, or vice-versa – or to specifically pull supporters from a running mate’s hometown, according to a study in the September 2008 Presidential Studies Quarterly. Picking someone like Warren as VP could balance the ticket in offering a more progressive VP. Or picking someone like Baldwin could pull supporters from Wisconsin, a swing state.

However, polls conducted by Politico and USA Today show that Biden’s choice may not have a large impact after all. Politico found that 54% of people said Biden’s VP choice would have no impact on their vote, while 16% said it would have a major impact and 20% said it would have a minor impact. Meanwhile, USA Today’s survey revealed that for democratic voters, the importance of having a woman of color as VP is very important to 35%, somewhat important to 37%, not very or not at all important to 27% and 1% were undecided.

Though Biden’s VP choice may not play a large role in his odds of being elected, it could have an impact on the next election, if he is elected. Biden sees himself as a transitionary president and his VP pick could be a move towards a female Democratic Presidential Candidate in 2024, according a New York Times article.