(This is the 17th edition of our weekly power rankings of politicians most likely to be chosen as Joe Biden’s Democratic running mate in 2020.)
With Joe Biden expected to formally announce his vice presidential pick this week, I’m breaking format to bring you the five women most likely to be his choice. These picks are based on conversations with knowledgeable sources, reporting and just some educated guesswork. Enjoy!
5. Karen Bass: It’s uniquely possible that had Biden made the pick 10 days ago, this California congresswoman (and former speaker of the California Assembly) would have been the choice.
But the last 10 days have not been good to Bass. Her attempts to clean up her comments praising former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro were shaky. Ditto how she explained her attendance (and words of praise) at the opening of the a Scientology church a decade ago.
Those twin controversies appeared to have dimmed the glow around Bass. But according to a series of published reports, she has a powerful ally in former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, who is running Biden’s vetting committee.
4. Tammy Duckworth: The Illinois senator’s personal story is the sort of thing that would appeal across the political aisle if she is the pick.
A helicopter pilot in Iraq, she was shot down and lost both of her legs. She was awarded a Purple Heart for her service.
Duckworth’s second career is politics, having held a House and now Senate seat in Illinois. In addition to her incredible story and her Midwestern roots, she would also be a history-making pick as the first Asian-American woman on a national ticket.
The downside of picking Duckworth? She’s less tested under the very bright national lights than some of the other candidates on this final list.
3. Gretchen Whitmer: At the start of this whole process, the Michigan governor was at (or near) the top of everyone’s list – including mine. A series of struggles in dealing with coronavirus in her state (most self-inflicted) dropped her off the radar.
That was a mistake since, clearly, Biden and his vetting team have kept their eye closely on Whitmer. She traveled to Delaware last weekend to meet with Biden in person – and that’s not the sort of thing that happens, especially this late in the veepstakes, unless she is under very serious consideration.
Whitmer is obviously appealing for a few reasons: She’s a governor elected in a Midwestern state, she has a similar pragmatic approach to politics as Biden does and, at 48 years old, represents a next generation Democratic leader.
I have been loudly skeptical that, in this climate, Biden picks a white woman as his VP. I am still in that camp, but if he does, it appears Whitmer will be the choice.
2. Susan Rice: The more Biden looks like a winner, the higher the former UN ambassador in the Obama Administration rises.
There’s been ample reporting that Biden is looking for someone who he can have the sort of close relationship that he and President Barack Obama had. Rice is, without question, the one person on this list with whom Biden is personally close.
She also makes a ton of sense when you consider that, at the heart of Biden’s campaign message, is a promise to restore America’s standing in the country and world then Rice is a perfect fit.
Drawbacks? The Trump campaign will tag her as the root of the problem in the Benghazi attack and its aftermath and note her role in a January 20, 2017 meeting on Michael Flynn.
1. Kamala Harris: I’ve been doing these rankings every week for the last four months. And every single time the California senator has been the top of the charts.
Why? Simple. She has the best combination of skills: She’s a charismatic candidate and debater who has been vetted on the national stage and would be a historic pick as the first African American and Indian American candidate on a national ticket.
Does she have drawbacks? Yes. (Who doesn’t?) Her record as attorney general in California is ripe for the picking (as The New York Times noted Sunday morning). And her performance as a candidate in her own right – after an initial burst of promise – is worrisome.
But net it all out, and Harris still makes the most sense for Biden.