Who Will the DNC Choose for Biden’s Running Mate?

Leave it to political columnist Norman Solomon to sum up all the stories about president Joe Biden’s shortcomings and precarious re-election chances in 2024:

“This country is facing an ongoing cascade of crises, the Republican Party leaders are a clear and present danger to democracy, and Democrats will need the strongest possible ticket to defeat them. Joe Biden definitely should not be on it.”

I partly disagree if the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) leaders pick a capable vice presidential candidate who also is presidential timber, and becoming a household name in this country. I sense my national canvassing colleagues will agree to turn out by the millions to doorbell for such a winning ticket. So will voters, especially if former president Trump, who loves shock, chooses Georgia’s Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for his ticket to retrieve his lost base.

But it’s far more likely he’ll fill it with a favorite: South Carolina’s former Gov. Nikki Haley when she loses the Republican primaries for president as predicted , but gains national name-recognition—and adds her campaign millions to the ticket. Moreover, has far greater stature and abilities than Harris. He appointed her ambassador to the United Nations, has been a friend, and has yet to score her for entering the presidential race. Nor given her a derogatory nickname, for that matter.

I write as a veteran canvasser (2004 for Howard Dean; 2016, 2020 for Bernie), starting when I was 5 in Minneapolis and my dad had us kids doing doorstep handouts in -30º weather for Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor-Democrats. Even then, I could tell by people’s reactions whether the DFL’s candidate had popular or dismal appeal. Those of us carrying Bernie materials probably will never forget householder responses like raised fists and shouts of “I love Bernie!!!” on hundreds of porches. That’s why their enthusiasm quickly expanded our 10 two-person Shoeleather Brigade teams to 20 in southeast Multnomah county—and why we had a 60% retention rate in all three presidential primaries.

But what we could never count on always was the DNC’s selection of establishment loyalists and/or its dirty tricks to drive off able contenders unlikely always to follow the party line. The dropoff of Shoeleather Brigaders was significant by the time the three federal elections came around. They did not want to spend time and energy campaigning for the party nominees.

In truth, we canvassers usually sense more about winners and losers from field responses than the pollsters or party decision-makers ignoring the loud voice of the people. But this time, the DNC decision-makers have to be engaged in how to solve the delicate “Biden question” of what to do with him.

Last week at their national DNC convention, he bounced in, joined hands with Vice President Kamala Harris for a pair of speeches on their accomplishments. His shout “Are you with me?” —instead of “us”— did earn chants of “four-more-years.” Later, the two did a joint fundraiser. These two actions implied for the hundreds of party members that the Biden-Harris ticket was already endorsed by its handful of decision-makers.

Despite his “I’m-alive-and-kicking” showmanship, they still will have to weigh their mutual poor poll numbers , his age, her governing inexperience—and a December White House letter urging a tactic edging out progressives in the primaries. This despite their growing numbers, energy, and desperation about how to rouse the elitist party leadership, seemingly deaf to critical needs of ordinary Americans.

Undoubtedly, the DNC will endorse him for re-election as a reward for his years of being a constant and loyal party workhorse with name recognition, and obedience to the DNC agenda for Congress and the presidency. Thanks to his team of aides, he’s been able to push his right to a second term also recently bragging “Watch me ”in an interview.

That leaves them with finding a vice-presidential candidate who is a strong and experienced backup for the White House, someone who can help guide him to govern this country until 2028.

Now, VP Kamala Harris is being urged by her 2020 campaign crew to run again for president in the primaries in case Biden ultimately decides not to run. She’s getting ready with a crash program to build domestic and foreign credentials by traveling the national speaker circuit stumping for climate change, infrastructure, and abortion rights. She just represented the U.S. as a keynoter at the Munich Security Conference.

Another possible VP candidate is corporate/warrior Hillary Clinton (75). But it’s doubtful we progressive canvassers—or voters–will show much enthusiasm or participation if she’s tapped. True, she has national name recognition and has been a diehard party leader achieved by ambition and political smarts. Moreover, she bankrolled paying off part of its debt, allowing her to control and direct party action in the 2016 election. Always a canny newsmaker, Hillary earned media interest a few months ago by pronouncements about the party’s dim 2024 chances if it caved to activist demands. Unfortunately, too many voters under 40 remember her rigid track record—and age.

As for Massachusetts’ Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren (73), a front-runner in the 2020 presidential race, she insists she’s going to be running hard for a third term.

Even the Congressional barrel is empty of, say, the Establishment’s electrifying, handsome young John F. Kennedy (JFK) for the ticket as they did years ago. Someone who could generate vast voter numbers to trounce a Trump-Greene Republican ticket. Never the attractive, wildly popular, three-term House progressive like AOC (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), though she could probably guarantee a landslide victory from Democratic voters one day. A young nurse from Portland told me when I began naming potential candidates listed below, she was too busy to “follow politics” but she instantly lighted up at the mention of AOC (“oh, yes!!”)

DNC headhunters obviously have had to be checking out the pool of governors and other politicians. Executive experience is a plus, but Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson had been governors in their pre-Congressional careers and had little name-recognition. Candidates must have paid their dues to the party and be seasoned campaigners and fundraisers. Some are fairly young, have plenty of political funds, and—most important, would be capable of quickly assuming Biden’s duties if he were suddenly to become incapacitated. In short, someone attractive who generates strength, executive abilities, excitement—and above all, is a tireless campaigner and vote-getter.

The non-partisan election statistical group Ballotpedia is among the first to create a pool of VP candidates from “the names of politicians and public figures discussed as potential presidential contenders in 2924 by national media outlets.” I’ve added their ages, a key factor. That means they’re under consideration for the shortlist for vice president certainly discussed at the DNC Philadelphia convention.” They are:

Stacey Abrams, 49, former Georgia state representative and 2022 gubernatorial candidate[6]

Eric Adams, 62, mayor of New York City, New York[7]

Michael Bennet, 58, U.S. senator from Colorado[8]

Andy Beshear, 45, governor of Kentucky[6]

Cory Booker, 53, U.S. senator from New Jersey[8]

Sherrod Brown, 70, U.S. Senator from Ohio[9]

Pete Buttigieg, 41, U.S. Secretary of Transportation[8]

Hillary Clinton, 75, 2016 presidential candidate[10]

Roy Cooper, 65, governor of North Carolina[11]

Andrew Cuomo, 65, former governor of New York[6]

Kamala Harris, 58, vice president of the United States[8]

Jay Inslee, 72, governor of Washington[12]

Joe Kennedy, 42, former U.S. representative from Massachusetts[8]

Ro Khanna, 46, U.S. representative from California[9]

Amy Klobuchar, 62, U.S. senator from Minnesota[8]

Mitch Landrieu, 62, former mayor of New Orleans[11]

Michelle Lujan Grisham, 63, governor of New Mexico[12]

Joe Manchin, 75, U.S. senator from West Virginia[13]

Chris Murphy, 49, U.S. senator from Connecticut[14]

Phil Murphy, 65, governor of New Jersey[15]

Gavin Newsom, 55, governor of California[6]

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 33, U.S. representative from New York[6]

J.B. Pritzker, 58, governor of Illinois[12]

Gina Raimondo, 51,U.S. Secretary of Commerce[15]

Nina Turner, 55, former Ohio state representative and 2021 congressional candidate[16]

Elizabeth Warren, 73, U.S. senator from Massachusetts[11]

Gretchen Whitmer, 51, governor of Michigan[12]

Most canvassers around the nation are not likely to turn out for a losing ticket. So the DNC better consider a candidate with the electorate in mind. We’re the ones, after all, who contact them.