Joe Biden’s Top 10 Possible VP Picks

Now that Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee, here's a look at the potential running mates who could join the 2020 Democratic ticket.
From top left: Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Stacey Abrams, Gretchen Whitmer, Amy Klobuchar, Val Demings, Tammy Baldwin, Tammy Duckworth, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Michelle Lujan Grisham. (Official Government Photos)

From top left: Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Stacey Abrams, Gretchen Whitmer, Amy Klobuchar, Val Demings, Tammy Baldwin, Tammy Duckworth, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Michelle Lujan Grisham. (Official Government Photos)

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Since Joe Biden became the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee, the political world has been buzzing about who he’ll pick as his running mate. The vetting process for vice presidential running mates can be prolonged, although much of the action happens behind the scenes. Political insiders frame the VP pick as a careful balancing act of party priorities, shoring up candidate vulnerabilities, and selecting a running mate that can inspire a lukewarm electorate to get into the voting booth.

Joe Biden’s characteristics and qualifications may weigh heavily on candidate selection, but so does this unique moment in history when the United States faces unprecedented challenges. Finding a candidate who is prepared for this historic crisis while at the same time capable of inspiring public trust and voter enthusiasm is a tall order to fill.

The Top 10 Possible Biden VP Picks

  1. Kamala Harris
  2. Elizabeth Warren
  3. Stacey Abrams
  4. Gretchen Whitmer
  5. Amy Klobuchar
  6. Val Demings
  7. Tammy Baldwin
  8. Tammy Duckworth
  9. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Who will Biden pick as his VP?

Unlike previous Democratic nominees, Joe Biden has been very vocal about one specific litmus test for a running mate: men need not apply. In his announcement about a potential VP pick in March, Biden explicitly stated that he would commit to choosing a woman to head the ticket. “There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow. I would pick a woman to be my vice president.”

At age 77, Biden is also one of the oldest nominees to ever head the Democratic ticket and he’s been candid that age is a factor in the race. Biden will be looking to balance not only his gender but also to reassure the public that should the need arise, his VP will be capable and qualified to take the helm.

When Biden declared his intention to choose a woman, he also made clear that he wanted the Democratic ticket to look more like the America it represents. Many political experts believe he’ll choose a woman of color to solidify minority voters that are the backbone of the Democratic base. But there are also other factions to consider, such as candidates who can bridge the divide between progressive and establishment Democrats or those who can bring independents and heartland voters, who tend to be more conservative, into the fold.

When it comes to a VP pick, it’s clear Joe Biden will have his choice of the cream of the crop from a wide field of qualified, capable women who have already won over the heart of a nation hungry for change.

Here are the women many political experts consider to be the top ten contenders to become Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick.

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Kamala Harris, Junior United States Senator from California

While Kamala Harris may have landed a few blows against Biden at several debates, his former sparring partner receives plenty of praise from the presumed Democratic nominee. At a fundraiser recently, Biden cited Harris as a partner and made what many thought was a spoiler about his intended VP pick. “Working together, we can make a great deal of progress. … I’m coming for you, kid.”

Harris has executive experience in the form of her tenure as both district attorney of San Francisco and later California Attorney General. Elected to the Senate in 2017, Kamala’s formidable presence during Senate hearings and on the debate stage won her praise and national attention that paved the way for her bid to secure the Democratic nomination.

Pros: As a woman of color, Kamala Harris ticks quite a few of the boxes Biden is looking for. Her heritage as African-American and Indian-American is a bonus at the ballot box for the Democratic base. She also has plenty of support from her home state of California, a place where it’s relatively easy to scare up a few wealthy donors to fill the campaign coffers.

Cons: What Kamala Harris doesn’t bring to the table are swing-state voters. While she has some national recognition, her state is solidly blue and won’t necessarily contribute to numbers that make electoral college math easier on Joe Biden.

Elizabeth Warren, Senior United States Senator from Massachusetts

Policy guru and progressive Elizabeth Warren has also gleaned kudos from the Biden camp recently. Biden adopted some of Warren’s policy stances, specifically her proposed bankruptcy legislation, as part of his platform and as an olive branch to progressive-leaning Democrats. Warren’s detailed policy proposals and fiery debate performances, while ultimately unsuccessful in securing her the Democratic nomination, made her one of the most recognized faces of the 2020 primary season.

Warren’s credentials extend far beyond her recent debate appearances, however. As a former Harvard law school professor, Elizabeth Warren has been muscling her way into public policy and trying to bring justice to boardrooms across American for the better part of two decades. Senator Warren also proposed and established the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and served as its special advisor under Barack Obama.

Pros: Elizabeth Warren may have gotten into her share of dustups with fellow progressive Bernie Sanders, but she’s still widely revered by left-leaning Democrats. Warren’s ability to bring factions within the Democratic party together makes her a strong VP pick, coupled with the successful fundraising and savvy social media machine she’d bring to the table.

Cons: Warren certainly isn’t a woman of color and at 70 years old, she’d become the oldest vice president in history. She also has policy stances, specifically on healthcare, that conflict with Biden’s platform. And when it comes to appealing to minority voters or turning swing states blue, Warren’s progressive policy chops might be more of a bust than a boon.

Stacey Abrams, Former Georgia House Minority Leader

The former Georgia house minority leader became a political powerhouse when she nearly won the race to become Georgia’s governor in 2018. Stacey Abrams’ efforts to expand voting rights in the South in the wake of her loss have kept her in the national spotlight ever since. Biden mentioned Abrams last fall as one of the qualified women he might consider partnering with if he won the nomination.

While other candidates play coy about becoming Biden’s vice president, Abrams has been forthright and vocal that she’d be honored to be chosen and considers herself qualified for the position. Her comments have been branded by some as being too aggressive, but Abrams has brushed that criticism confidently aside. In an interview for CNN, Abrams said, “As a young black woman growing up in Mississippi, I learned that if you don’t raise your hand, people won’t see you and they won’t give you attention.”

Pros: Abrams brings plenty to the table in the form of progressive support and minority voters. And she’s done the work on the ground in Georgia, leading efforts to combat voter suppression. That gives her a bit of extra firepower in the South, where Democrats tend to struggle.

Cons: One of the biggest criticisms of Abrams is her lack of national and executive experience. While she’s certainly a competent candidate for any position she’d like to pursue, having allies in Congress is critical for a VP who will need to champion the president’s legislative agenda.

Gretchen Whitmer, Current Governor of Michigan

If you’ve suddenly been hearing a lot about Gretchen Whitmer, “that woman from Michigan,” you’re not alone. As she steps forward to shepherd her state safely through the coronavirus crisis, she’s challenged Trump’s lack of leadership and gained national notoriety. Biden has certainly taken notice, inviting the Michigan governor to his new podcast and praising her as “one of the most talented people in the country.”

Whitmer commented last month that while she would help vet any prospective nominees, she didn’t think she would be Biden’s choice for vice president. As Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer’s instincts to avoid the campaign trail may serve her home state well as they weather the pandemic.

Pros: Gretchen Whitmer’s resounding victory by double digits in the Michigan gubernatorial race puts her in an excellent position to deliver key swing state votes. She’s also something of a rising star since crossing swords with Trump and her ability to challenge the incumbent President is an asset in the general election.

Cons: While Whitmer may help the Biden ticket gain the upper hand in Michigan and across the Rust Belt, she’s doesn’t bring diversity to the table. Also, given her position leading Michigan during a pandemic, the timing of leaving the state in the lurch to be Biden’s running mate is problematic.

Amy Klobuchar, Senior United States Senator from Minnesota

When Amy Klobuchar won 3rd place in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, many voters sat up and took notice of the senator from Minnesota. She’s a moderate Democrat who’s experienced in both state and national politics and fairly popular across the Midwest. She’s also been in the news recently for a reason that hits a little closer to home as her husband was hospitalized and then recovered from coronavirus.

While the Biden camp hasn’t commented publicly on Klobuchar as a potential running mate, her decision to suspend her campaign for the Democratic nomination was crucial in cementing Biden’s Super Tuesday wins. Her solid debate performances and tenacious campaign also raised Klobuchar’s national profile in ways that could be helpful to the ticket across the Midwest and the Heartland.

Pros: Like Whitmer, Amy Klobuchar brings critical swing state votes to the table and could potentially draw independents and undecided conservatives across the MidWest. As a sitting senator and a former candidate for the presidential nomination, she has national experience and visibility that would be an asset.

Cons: While Amy might have the heart of the MidWest, she’s not someone who stirs enthusiasm in minority or progressive voters. Her moderate stances on many issues are appealing to independents but may risk alienating left-leaning Democrats.

Val Demings, US Representative from Florida’s 10th Congression District

Val Demings may not make it on many shortlists to become Biden’s VP but she’s still a top contender for the position for several reasons. As a rising star among the Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives, Demings was chosen by Pelosi to be one of the managers during Trump’s Senate impeachment trial.

Val Demings also has plenty of clout in her home state of Florida, where she served as the first female police chief of Orlando. And she’s been getting attention as a frontrunner for the VP position from key members of the Democratic party, including Chuck Schumer.

Pros: As an African American woman, Val Demings does meet Biden’s criteria for a VP pick but she also brings something big to the ticket in the form of Florida’s electoral votes. It’s also helpful that she has the support of party insiders who are likely to be doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to fundraising.

Cons: While she does have some national experience, Val Demings is still a relative newcomer to Washington politics. And she doesn’t have the national visibility or progressive support some of the other potential candidates bring to the ticket.

Tammy Baldwin, Junior United States Senator from Wisconsin

While Tammy Baldwin may not get the national attention her colleagues have attracted, she’s still got the chops to be an excellent VP pick for Biden. Not only does she hail from a state critical to beating Trump in 2020, but Baldwin is also the first openly gay US senator in history.

Another surprising fact in Tammy Baldwin’s favor is that she’s never lost an election, dating back to her first entrance into state politics back in the 1990s. Political insiders cite her support behind the scenes as key to Biden’s resounding victory in Wisconsin in April.

Pros: Warren is the better known of the two, but Baldwin is also something of a progressive populist, which makes her a strong candidate to round out the ticket and bridge the distance between progressive and moderate factions in the Democratic party. Baldwin’s solid standing in a battleground state doubles her appeal as a running mate for Biden.

Cons: Baldwin’s popularity as an openly lesbian member of Congress throws the right signals to the Democratic base, but she doesn’t exactly deliver racial diversity. Baldwin is also a relative unknown to most of the nation, which puts a damper on the impact she’ll have on voter enthusiasm.

Tammy Duckworth, Junior United States Senator from Illinois

It’s hard to tick off more boxes than Tammy Duckworth and her personal story as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot turned hero is practically bulletproof. She’s a woman of color, disabled, a veteran with a Purple Heart, and an experienced member of Congress.

Duckworth recently made history as the first sitting US senator to give birth while in office. She focuses on championing the cause of working moms and has said she’s honored to be considered as a potential VP pick. Duckworth also served under Obama as the assistant secretary of the US Department of Veteran Affairs so she’s no stranger to executive responsibilities.

Pros: Tammy Duckworth does it all and she’s earned her place on any ticket. As a woman of color, a disabled and decorated vet, and a working mom, she’d be a rockstar asset for Biden on many levels.

Cons: Duckworth may tick all the right demographic boxes for progressives, but when it comes to policy, her stances are more moderate. She also hails from a solidly blue state and her presence on the ticket might not translate into much momentum where Biden truly needs it.

Michelle Lujan Grisham, Current Governor of New Mexico

You might be surprised to discover that Michelle Lujan Grisham served in Congress for several terms before becoming the only Latina governor in the country. While she’s relatively unknown on the national stage, Grisham is having her moment as she steers New Mexico through the coronavirus crisis.

New Mexico is considered a blue state, but the Trump campaign has focused on wooing Latino voters there in an effort to turn it red ahead of 2020. This strategy appears to have been largely unsuccessful since Biden currently leads polling in the state by double digits.

Pros: Grisham could bring much-needed diversity and help drive voter turnout among the Latinx community. She also has congressional experience that will serve her well in acting as a liaison to Congress on behalf of the President.

Cons: Michelle Lujan Grisham does have the credentials to bolster a Biden ticket, but her standing in New Mexico is on shaky ground. She’s currently polling underwater in the state and doesn’t have strong name recognition even in the Southwestern United States.

The Rantt Rundown

As one of the first nominees to commit to choosing a woman as vice president, Joe Biden is attempting to position himself as an ally to those seeking a more progressive ticket. Biden’s choice of vice president from a wide field of accomplished women will say volumes not only about the priorities his administration will embrace but also about this unique moment in history.

No matter who emerges victorious in November, the road to recovery that lies ahead will take resilience, innovation, and compassion to traverse successfully. Having a partner who is up to the task is critical to enable the president and his administration to steer this country safely back to the societal and political norms we all value.

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Rantt 101 // 2020 / Democratic Party / Elections / Joe Biden