Below is my latest ranking of the 11 candidates who make the most sense for the ticket at this moment. (Here’s my last list.) All 11 are women, in keeping with Biden’s pledge to pick a female running mate.
11. Michelle Lujan Grisham: The New Mexico governor has reportedly told allies that she’s being vetted for the job. And here’s one columnist’s take on why she should be the pick: New Mexico was ahead of the game on the coronavirus, she’s got experience running a statewide health system, she’s proven an electoral winner, and she’s shown a willingness to provoke, having crashed a White House immigration meeting in 2018 when she was chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. (Previous ranking: 10)
10. Susan E. Rice: Rice’s name often won’t appear on these kinds of lists, but I think people underestimate her. For one, she has said she would accept it. For two, as the Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere writes, she might be the best complement to Biden from a governing experience standpoint. And three, she has been a very vocal critic of the Trump administration, which would set her up nicely to assume the traditional role of a running mate. (Previous ranking: 11)
9. Tammy Duckworth: Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D) said recently that his fellow senator from Illinois will be interviewed for the job. Duckworth also suggested she would be inclined to accept the offer, saying, "I personally have always answered the call when my country has asked me to serve.” (Previous ranking: 8)
8. Stacey Abrams: The former Georgia gubernatorial candidate has been the most forceful of all in campaigning for the job — something for which she makes no apologies. “Tradition does not serve those who have been marginalized or disadvantaged," she recently told The Washington Post. “And therefore my response has to meet the moment.” What impact that might have on Biden’s actual selection is an open question. But it does seem to have caused other contenders, including Rice and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), to be more open about their interest as well. (Previous ranking: 9)
7. Keisha Lance Bottoms: Another black woman from Georgia joins this list after expanding her national profile following the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in her own state. The 50-year-old Atlanta mayor has impressed Democrats far and wide with both her handling of the unrest in Atlanta and — importantly — her public appearances. She was also one of Biden’s earliest endorsers and has served as a surrogate for his campaign. Biden has effusively praised her performance. “You’ve been incredible," he said. "I’ve watched you like millions and millions of Americans have on television of late. Your passion, your composure, your balance has been really incredible.” But being a mayor of a big city doesn’t always translate well to running for higher office, given the many difficult local decisions for which you can be held accountable — and which may not have previously been unearthed. (Previous ranking: n/a)
6. Val Demings: The Florida congresswoman has also seen her stock rise in recent weeks, owing in large part to her past as police chief of the Orlando Police Department. She wrote a widely read Washington Post op-ed recently titled, “My fellow brothers and sisters in blue, what the hell are you doing?” (Previous ranking: 7)
5. Amy Klobuchar: If Bottoms’s and Demings’s stocks are rising, Klobuchar’s has been widely assumed to be falling. The reason: Klobuchar served as Hennepin County attorney (where Minneapolis is located) when the officer now charged with second-degree murder in the Floyd case, Derek Chauvin, was involved with five other officers in a deadly shooting in October 2006. But Klobuchar was elected to the Senate just days later, and the decision not to bring the case was made by a grand jury several months after Klobuchar had ascended to the upper chamber. Klobuchar would bring plenty to the ticket, and it’s too early to suggest she’s disqualified. But you can bet Klobuchar’s work as a prosecutor would be something they’d want to vet and think through. (Previous ranking: 2)
4. Tammy Baldwin: If Klobuchar is in fact less likely now, the senator from her neighboring Wisconsin would be a very logical alternative — especially given that state’s status as a vital one in the presidential race. Baldwin has been less forthright about her interest in the job, but has said that she’s been in “regular contact” with the Biden campaign. Here’s Post data analyst and columnist David Byler making a pretty compelling case for her. (Previous ranking: 5)
3. Gretchen Whitmer: Unlike others, the Michigan governor doesn’t have the luxury of spending a bunch of time lobbying for the job, given the number of crises her state has faced in recent weeks. But she has said she’s been in contact about it. And she has earned President Trump’s ire, with Trump at one point saying he urged Vice President Pence not to call her about the coronavirus outbreak and at another point threatening to withhold funding from Michigan over its move toward expanded vote-by-mail. Having someone who provokes Trump in this manner could be a benefit. However, experience leading through the crises has left her more vulnerable to attacks: Republicans have made her a symbol of overreach in coronavirus restrictions. She ran into a significant problem in recent days: Her husband cited his spouse while trying to get a boat put in the water for Memorial Day weekend. Whitmer called it a “failed attempt at humor.” (Previous ranking: 3)
2. Elizabeth Warren: Warren seems to be trying to make herself a more appealing pick for the job. After quarreling with Biden during the primary over her support for Medicare for all vs. his support for improving Obamacare, she seems to have conveniently warmed to the latter approach. She has also offered a blunt “yes” when asked whether she’d take the job, and well-respected Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg has reportedly laid out the case for Warren helping Biden unite the party after her ally Bernie Sanders’s withdrawal. (Previous ranking: 4)
1. Kamala D. Harris: The California senator has been and remains the favorite, both on this list and many others. Many Biden allies view her as the safest and best fit, given the scrutiny she’s already faced as a 2020 candidate. And if it’s true that the recent unrest increases the odds that Biden would pick a black woman, she’s the one with the most stature. One thing to keep in mind, though: She’s also served as a prosecutor, and that record has been at-issue. (Previous ranking: 1)
A previous version of this story identified Rep. Val Demings as former sheriff of the Orlando Police Dept. She was police chief.