(This is the 15th edition of our weekly power rankings of politicians most likely to be chosen as Joe Biden’s Democratic running mate in 2020.)
In an interview with MSNBC’s Joy Reid earlier this week, Joe Biden shed some light on his thinking about the biggest decision he will make in the 2020 campaign: Who will be his vice presidential nominee?
He told Reid that he has gone through a “two-hour vetting report” on “about four candidates,” adding:
“Then, when I get all the vetting done of all the candidates, then I’m going to narrow the list, and then we’ll see. And then I’m going to have personal discussions with each of the candidates who are left and make a decision.”
Which, OK! What that suggests to me is that Biden isn’t going to be making any sort of decision – public or private – by the August 1 time frame he had floated earlier this spring. Given that he has not even reviewed all of the vetting reports, it seems to me that the window for Biden to actually make a decision and then announce it will be much closer to the start of the Democratic National Convention on August 17.
That timing is in keeping with the recent trend of naming the VP nominee in the days leading up to the convention. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump announced their veep picks three days before their respective national conventions, for example.
So, we are going to have to wait a little longer to find out who Biden picks. Below is my latest list of the likeliest choices! (Necessary Michelle Obama caveat: The former first lady is not on this list because she has never indicated an interest in being a politician. If she did so, she would immediately jump to the top of these rankings. And here are last week’s ratings for reference!)
10. Tammy Baldwin: A Washington Post columnist described the Wisconsin senator this week as “progressive but reasonable.” My guess is that’s how Biden sees himself. And Baldwin also happens to be from a key Midwestern swing state. I am still very doubtful that Biden picks a white woman as his VP – more on that below – but if he does, Baldwin is very much in the mix. (Previous ranking: 10)
9. Gina Raimondo: The Rhode Island governor has emerged as the sort of anti-Trump when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus. While Trump has benched scientists in favor of “yes” men and women, Raimondo put science and data at the center of the state’s much-praised response to the virus. She also looks like the most likely moderate pick for Biden. (Previous ranking: 7)
8. Karen Bass: In Biden’s MSNBC interview, he revealed that he is considering four black women for the VP job. The first three seem obvious – and hold down the Top 3 spots in my rankings. (Scroll down for more!) But who is the fourth? One potential is Bass, the California congresswoman and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. One thing to consider in terms of Bass’ unique appeal: She would fulfill Biden’s interest in naming a woman of color while also making liberals, who love Bass, happy. (Previous ranking: 9)
7. Val Demings: It’s been a rough few weeks of media coverage for the Florida House member, with national publications digging into her time as the chief of police in Orlando. And on Thursday, the Miami Herald published a piece that argued that picking Demings as VP wouldn’t guarantee Biden a win in Florida. Still, we know Biden is considering four black women to be his VP, and that fourth slot is presumably either Demings or Bass. (Previous ranking: 6)
6. Michelle Lujan Grisham: The emergence of Arizona and Texas as swing states in 2020 make the Latino vote, which was already critical to Biden’s chances, that much more essential. And Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico, is one of the highest ranking Latina officials in the country – and the only Latina really considered to be in consideration for the VP job. (Previous ranking: 5)
5. Elizabeth Warren: The news that Biden and Warren speak frequently and that she has emerged as a key voice in his policy operation made me think twice about having Warren ranked as low (No. 8) as I did last week. I am still skeptical that Biden picks a white woman as his running mate, but if he does go that route, the Massachusetts senator is probably first in line. (Previous ranking: 8)
4. Tammy Duckworth: The Illinois senator continues to get massive amounts of national media attention following the attacks against her by Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson. She appeared on a New York Times podcast last Thursday to discuss Carlson and her VP prospects and has jumped into the debate over Trump’s threats to send federal forces to Chicago. (“Don’t even think about it,” Duckworth warned Trump on CNN.) Everything is trending in the right direction for Duckworth at exactly the right time. (Previous ranking: 4)
3. Susan Rice: Other than Lujan Grisham, no person on this list has done less stoking of the VP flames than the former US Ambassador to the United Nations. I tend to think that is a very smart strategy for actually winding up as the pick, since Biden is very old school and not a fan of open campaigning for the job. Rice isn’t totally silent, however; she publishing an op-ed in The New York Times earlier in the week laying out how to make systemic changes to address the ongoing issue of racial injustice. (Previous ranking: 3)
2. Keisha Lance Bottoms: With Georgia emerging as a swing state this fall – not to mention one of the epicenters of the fights over whether masks should be mandated to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus – the Atlanta mayor makes a lot of sense as Biden’s choice. She now finds herself in a legal back-and-forth with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who sued her and her administration over its mask mandate – a lawsuit that has drawn national attention that is nothing but good for her VP prospects. (Previous ranking: 2)
1. Kamala Harris: The California senator has been playing it safe for the last few weeks, believing – I think rightly – that she is in the pole position to be the pick. One evolution that’s worth noting: Harris has worked to soften her image – and record – as California’s “top cop” to fit the current moment – both nationally and within the Democratic Party. (Previous ranking: 1)
CNN’s Allison Gordon contributed to this report.