The front runners seem to be Susan Rice, Stacey Abrams, Val Demings, Kamala Harris, and Tammy Duckworth. Below is a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of them as I see it. Feel free to share your own thoughts! One universal pro that all of them have is age. Given that Joe Biden is getting long in the tooth, he’ll want to have a running mate who is much younger than he is.
Pros: Susan Rice has plenty of experience as a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and later U.S. National Security Advisor during the Obama administration. She has a great rapport with Joe Biden, has a strong background in foreign policy (a weakness of the Trump administration), and has the potential to be a great debater. If you are talking best resume, out of all the contenders, she’s at the top.
Cons: Being linked to the Obama administration might be a bad thing in that it could make Joe Biden’s ticket look a little too mainstream. She’s almost too obvious of a pick and Biden might want to go with a more creative route. This is not as big an issue, but Rice hails from Washington D.C., a Democrat stronghold that only counts for three electoral votes. So, she’s not really in a position to help Biden win a swing state.
Pros: Among Democrats, Stacey Abrams is a pretty well recognized figure. She is the first African-American woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union address (February 2019) and has generated a good amount of traction. Perhaps even more after narrowly losing her House of Representative seat in a close and controversial election. She is big on voting rights and could help counter arguments from Trump and his campaign about mail in voting being a problem should that become a major issue during the election. Coming from Georgia, Abrams in theory could help Biden win a state that has usually voted Republican.
Cons: Abrams is still pretty new and fresh on the scene and while she’s a big name among Democrats, I’m not sure how much independents and moderates will recognize her. Also, while she does have the potential to help Biden win Georgia, even with her on his ticket, Trump still probably wins Georgia anyway.
Pros: Val Demings’ current position is U.S. House of Representative for Florida’s 10th district. Her big plus is that Florida is a swing state. As Biden’s running mate, she could legitimately make the difference in who wins Florida, which is a state that has decided many elections. Most famously Bush vs. Gore (2000). Before being a member of the House of Representatives, Demings served as Chief of the Orlando Police Department. With Black Lives Matter and police brutality being a hot button issue, she’s someone who would carry a lot of weight in that arena.
Cons: The only real con for Demings is national recognition. I’m not even sure all Democrats know who she is and outside of Florida, she’s even more of an unknown. That’s not a huge hurdle, but while she could really affect how things go in Florida, the same cannot be said for the other swing states.
Pros: Kamala Harris brings a lot of experience as a U.S. Senator from California. She gained a big following as a Democratic presidential candidate and has a lot of national recognition. She’s a fierce debater and could prove to be a terrific attack dog for Joe Biden. Also, choosing Harris would be a great way for Biden to show that he can build bridges with people after the spat they had during the debates earlier in the cycle.
Cons: Harris might be a bit too fierce for some people or at least that perception is a double-edged sword. Biden may want to go with someone less aggressive and polarizing. Also, Biden may legitimately still feel offended by how Harris treated him and not feel comfortable running with someone who he had a feud with. Harris also can’t help Biden win any swing states. Regardless of who he picks as his running mate, Biden has California in the bag.
Pros: Born in Bangkok, Thailand and part Thai, Tammy Duckworth is a United States Army veteran who served from 1992-2014. She lost both her legs and lost some mobility in her right arm in 2004 during the Iraq War and received a Purple Heart as a result. If you are looking at the ideal candidate to run with in terms of being hard for the Trump team to go after, Duckworth is as good as it gets: She’s a female of color who lost both her legs in combat. You can’t get more patriotic than that. I mean, on those grounds alone, she seems like a no-brainer for Biden to pick. Duckworth is currently the Senator from Illinois, so she could also help Biden secure Illinois and possibly some Midwest swing states.
Cons: The only real con for Duckworth is national recognition. I didn’t know who she was until a little while ago and if I didn’t know who she was until recently, I’m sure many other Americans are in the same boat. But, given the amazing story she has, I’m sure she’s a candidate that would resonate with a lot of Americans, especially those in the Midwest.
I’ve said previously that I think Rice would be the best choice for Biden, but upon doing more digging, I think Duckworth is better just from a pure human interest angle. Rice is incredibly qualified and would do a fantastic job, but Duckworth has the military, double amputee things going for her. You can’t beat that. After those two, I think Demings make some sense because she’s from Florida. That alone is a pretty compelling reason to pick her.
As for Harris and Abrams, I think they would be solid choices as well, but I feel Rice, Duckworth, and Demings have more going for them. I think if Georgia was more in play, I think Abrams would have much better odds. As for Harris, I think coming from California hurts her a bit since that’s a lock for Biden and I also think she’s a bit too polarizing.
1 A. Tammy Duckworth.
1B. Susan Rice.
3. Val Demings
4. Kamala Harris.
5. Stacey Abrams.
That’s how I stack it all up.