Biden commits to picking a female VP. Here are 9 possibilities of who it might be

Two are from New England

Vice President Maggie Hassan? The US Senator from New Hampshire is among those who could be on Joe Biden's shortlist for VP. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

In what might have been the last Democratic presidential primary debate of the 2020 election cycle, former vice president Joe Biden made the biggest news of the night when he pledged to pick a woman to be his running mate if, as expected, he becomes the party’s nominee.

“If I’m elected president, my cabinet, my administration will look like the country, and I commit that I will, in fact, appoint a, pick a woman to be vice president,” Biden said at the CNN-Univision debate Sunday night. “There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow. I would pick a woman to be my vice president.”

And, with that, Biden just narrowed down his options to one half of the country. He is getting closer to a decision.

But who might that woman be? Here are some quick options, including two from New England.

Senator Kamala Harris of California

The upside: Harris has a lot of things going for her beyond being a woman. She is Black. She meets his stated preference that a running mate be younger. She is something of a known quantity in politics. And, as a bonus, she was personally close to his late son Beau when they both served as attorneys general of their respective states.

The downside: California isn’t exactly a swing state and it remains unclear how excited the party’s progressive base would be if Harris, whose career is packed with law enforcement experience, is picked.

Former ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice

Upside: Like Harris, Rice is a Black woman of the right age with Washington credentials. Unlike Harris, Rice has never been elected so she doesn’t have a voting record to pick through. She also could affirm Biden’s general election argument that electing him is basically putting the Obama administration back into place.

The downside: While she has family roots in Maine, she lives in New York City, not exactly a political swing area. Putting her on the ticket also risks having an election where the word “Benghazi” comes up (Rice gave inaccurate information about the attacks in Libya on Sunday television shows in 2012) instead of a relentless focus on Trump’s actions in office.

Representative Val Demings of Florida

The upside: Demings has been getting a lot of VP buzz in the last week and for good reason. She has an American Dream life story. She grew up in a three-room shack without windows and, for a while, without a bathroom. She worked while going to college and became the first woman to serve as chief of the Orlando Police Department. And violent crime was significantly reduced during her tenure to boot. She was elected to Congress in 2016 and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi named Demings to be an impeachment manager. If Demings is picked, she has all the talking points on Trump, and is from Orlando, the very swing area of a very swing state.

The downside: She has no national profile and it is hard to see how a one-time top cop, who endorsed Biden, excites Bernie Sanders supporters.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

The upside: In the last few months of her presidential campaign, Warren argued she was something of a unity candidate, the bridge between the progressive and establishments wing of the party. And while some Sanders supporters will never forgive her for not endorsing him in 2016 or 2020, Warren would get a lot of progressives pumped up.

Another plus: if Biden is looking for a running mate to be an attack dog of sorts, Warren has proven that she can play that role effectively. Just ask Mike Bloomberg.

The downside: Warren is a known quantity and isn’t universally liked. Picking her runs counter to the idea that nominees should pick milquetoast people who don’t get in the way. She also doesn’t bring any new Electoral College votes. Oh, and Massachusetts has a Republican governor who can, at least temporarily, put a Republican in the Senate at the very moment Biden is trying to get his first 100-day agenda passed.

Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada

The upside: Former Senator majority leader Harry Reid’s handpicked successor could also end up on Biden’s radar for the same reasons: she is younger, Hispanic, from a swing state and with Democratic governor who can appoint a replacement. Along with young people, Biden has struggled some with Hispanics and this could shore up his base and encourage turnout.

The downside: While Nevada is a swing state, there are bigger swing states out there. She is also a first-term senator with basically no national profile.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

The upside: Elected in 2018, Whitmer hits all of the general election themes that Biden wants to make this fall. She is a moderate, who won over the suburbs in a swing state and focused on practical solutions, not ideological battles. Her campaign slogan: “Fix the damn roads.”

The downside: She beat a prominent Sanders supporter in her primary so the Bernie Bros will be deeply skeptical from day one. It’s also unclear how she will perform in a national political environment.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota

The upside: She won a lot of fans during her run for president as smart, practical Midwesterner. While Minnesota doesn’t exactly come to mind as a swing state, the 2016 election was close there and Trump’s campaign has said they want to make a play for it this time. Putting Klobuchar on the ticket may shore up the North Star State.

The downside: Other than securing Minnesota, it is not clear what she brings Biden that he doesn’t already have.

Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire

The upside: Probably the most important point here is that Hassan and Biden are unusually close. He has hosted a number of private fund-raisers for her and when she had just become governor, she was, uniquely, Biden’s guest to his private swearing-in for another term as vice president.

Hassan is only the second woman in US history to serve as both a governor and a US senator. The first is the state’s other senator, Jeanne Shaheen. But Biden might prefer to have Hassan because she is younger and they have a connection. As is happens, Shaheen was on Al Gore’s VP short list . . . 20 years ago.

The downside: While New Hampshire is a swing state, it is just four electoral votes. And is it really worth four electoral votes when New Hampshire’s Republican governor is likely to get reelected this fall and pick Hassan’s replacement?

Former candidate for governor Stacey Abrams of Georgia

The upside: There is probably no bigger rising star in the Democratic Party right now than Abrams. She is Black, highly educated, and from a “reach state” where Democrats are making in-roads. There is a reason why Pelosi picked her to give the State of the Union response this year, the first Black woman to do so. Her background and demeanor would probably go over better in swing counties in the industrial Midwest than Harris, who will be branded as a California liberal.

The downside: She has only won one contested election her entire life: state representative some 14 years ago. Yes, many believe she would have won her race for governor in 2018 if not for voter suppression, but the fact remains that what she is buzzed about she is also untested on the national stage. (We saw where this got a similarly talented Beto O’Rourke.)

Others to watch: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (a Latina who pushed for free college with fracking money), Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin (an openly gay woman that progressives respect), and Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois (a decorated veteran, Obama administration alum, and the first female double amputee in the Senate).

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