We already know one thing about that pick: It will be a woman, as Biden pledged in a recent debate.
Below is a ranking of who makes the most sense to be that running mate.
11. Susan E. Rice: This may be the most outside-the-box name on this list, but she’s got the résumé: She served on the National Security Council and in a high-ranking State Department role in the Clinton administration, and she was United Nations ambassador and national security adviser in the Obama administration. She’s also an African American woman and has recently shown an interest in elective politics, considering a run against Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) this year. The one most obvious drawback here: She was in line to possibly become President Barack Obama’s secretary of state but withdrew after the Benghazi, Libya, attack threatened to make her confirmation “lengthy, disruptive and costly,” in her words. She had come under sharp criticism for being misleading about the nature of that attack. That may not be a dealbreaker, but her public pronouncements turned her into a lightning rod, and Republicans would be happy to make Benghazi an issue again.
10. Michelle Lujan Grisham: The New Mexico governor won’t be a familiar name to many who follow national politics, nor is her state a battleground. But she’s among the relatively few Hispanic women who currently serve in high office in the United States. A former House member and chairwoman of the congressional Hispanic caucus, she comes from a famous political family in New Mexico that includes a former Cabinet official on the George H.W. Bush administration and a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
9. Stacey Abrams: Abrams remains a popular pick on these kinds of lists, given she ran a strong campaign for Georgia governor in 2018. But she’s still someone who hasn’t served in any office beyond the state legislature. It also may be tempting for Biden to pick her in hopes of putting an increasingly purple state in-play — and some polls have suggested that’s not totally outside the realm of possibility — but you do wonder how much of a priority that will be, ahead of more-competitive states.
8. Tammy Duckworth: The senator from Illinois arguably checks more boxes when it comes to her profile than anyone on this list. She’s a senator and former member of the House. She’s a Purple Heart recipient who lost both of her legs in Iraq and was the first disabled woman elected to Congress. She also in 2018 became the first senator to give birth while in office. And she’s got a diverse background as the daughter of a Thai mother of Chinese descent. One thing I often think about, though, is her electoral history. She was one of the most hyped Democratic House candidates in the 2006 election but lost in a good Democratic year (albeit in a tough district). She was later elected to the House in 2012 and the Senate in 2016, defeating Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.).
7. Val Demings: The only House member on this list, she got her first taste of the national spotlight when she served as one of the House impeachment managers. She’s also an African American and former police chief of a major city, Orlando. Like Duckworth in 2006, though, she was a much-hyped House candidate in the 2012 election and lost. She went on to run for mayor of Orange County, Fla., but dropped out in 2015. She has also been in federal office for just more than three years.
6. Catherine Cortez Masto: She’s the Latina politician with the best shot at being Biden’s pick. Masto was elected to the Senate in 2016 and previously served as Nevada’s attorney general for two terms. Winning Nevada shouldn’t be an issue for Democrats, as it has trended to the left in recent years. But it wouldn’t hurt to have an insurance policy.
5. Tammy Baldwin: This is the first pick on this list that comes from one of the true battleground states. Baldwin has served as a senator from Wisconsin since 2012, when she became the first openly gay person ever elected to the Senate. Two years after Trump’s narrow win in her state, she won reelection by 11 points in 2018.
4. Elizabeth Warren: When it comes to trying to unite the party after the Democratic primary, she might be the best pick. She overlaps with Sanders on many policies and could help make sure those voters don’t stay home or cross over to support Trump, as some did in 2016. At the same time, she’s also a septuagenarian who will turn 71 in June, which isn’t ideal as a backup for Biden. As a liberal senator from Massachusetts and former Harvard University professor with demonstrated struggles over her past claims to Native American heritage, it’s not difficult to see how she might be attacked. Oh, and there is the issue of Massachusetts having a Republican governor who would be filling the vacancy temporarily, but the Democratic-dominated state legislature could change the rules.
3. Gretchen Whitmer: If Biden wants a running mate who hails from one of the three key states that Trump carried narrowly in 2016 — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the Michigan governor makes the most sense. She’s also notably been among Trump’s most vocal critics during the coronavirus outbreak. Trump at one point even said he told Vice President Pence not to call Whitmer because of her criticism. That’s not to say she’s doing this for any reason other than she’s concerned about the federal response in her state, but this could be a key argument for the Biden campaign in the general election, and she’s been out front on it.
2. Amy Klobuchar: The senator from Minnesota did Biden a major solid by dropping out of the race ahead of Super Tuesday and helping him win that state. She also earned strong reviews for her debate performances, and she has the kind of Midwestern appeal that could help in a state such as Michigan or Wisconsin. Her electoral history is pretty sterling. One drawback, though, is that she ran as a more pragmatic candidate in the primary and wouldn’t necessarily appeal to liberals who feel strongly about issues such as Medicare-for-all. That said, her Senate record is unmistakably liberal.
1. Kamala D. Harris: There’s a reason Harris tops many of these lists: She’s perhaps the most logical choice. She’s the only black woman serving as either a governor or senator right now. Her presidential campaign flamed out after an early surge, and given her background as a prosecutor, it is easy to see her playing the traditional VP role of attacking the opposition. At the same time, one person she attacked in rather personal terms during the primary was Biden, whose past position on busing she vehemently criticized, while comparing her own experience with the issue. The main criticism of her campaign was that it wasn’t really about anything, and even on busing, her position didn’t wind up being much different than what Biden’s had been. Perhaps having her own message will be less of an issue, though, when she’s running as part of a ticket.
Correction: This post for a period described Lujan Grisham as being related to Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.). The two are in fact not related.