SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s promise to pick a woman as his running mate has sparked weeks of speculation about who might land the coveted second spot on the ticket with the former vice-president.
“He’s going to be challenged to find someone to fire up the base, speak to the reality that both presidential candidates are in their 70s, and most importantly, someone who can help him work through the moment — the pandemic as well as racism in America,” says San Jose State University journalism professor Bob Rucker.
Professor Rucker says those challenges may outweigh traditional political calculation like selecting a vice-presidential candidate based on their ability to help deliver a potential swing state in the election.
A short list of potential vice presidential candidates being vetted by the Biden team notably include several women of color like Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Karen Bass, Rep. Val Demings, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams and former National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Also under consideration is Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
“There are a lot of qualified women. There are a lot of qualified women of color — not the least of whom is Kamala Harris,” says San Jose Councilwoman Dev Davis.
Councilwoman Davis says having a woman as part of a successful Democratic ticket to retake the White House would soften her disappointment over Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss.
Biden has not committed to selecting a woman of color although several prominent female African-American leaders are under consideration.
Sen. Harris clashed with Biden during the debates, challenging his record on issues of race and desegregation. However, she enthusiastically endorsed him after dropping out of the race herself.
Political analysts say Rep. Bass’ late emergence in the field should not be overlooked. She is a five-term member of Congress from Southern California and was appointed Speaker of the California State Assembly in 2008, and is currently the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“I think it would be a mistake to discount the strengths that Karen Bass could potentially bring to the ticket — particularly within the black community, but she has reach even outside of the black community,” says SJSU public relations Professor Shaun Fletcher. “She is a very well-rounded, solid VP pick.”