Biden should choose a Latina as his running mate
© Greg Nash

If the primary were held today in the Gutiérrez family, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Amazon wins union election — says 'our employees made the choice' On The Money: Biden .5T budget proposes major hike in social programs | GOP bashes border, policing provisions Overnight Defense: Biden proposes 3B defense budget | Criticism comes in from left and right | Pentagon moves toward new screening for extremists MORE (I-Vt.) would be the hands down winner. Like a lot of Latinos, we are impressed with the senator’s strategy of outreach to Latino voters and he has the most progressive approach to immigration. He correctly sees immigration as an urgent civil rights issue for Latinos and is prepared to act aggressively to stop the deportations that are breaking up our families and revamp the immigration system so that people have legal options to stay here or to reunite as families. His campaign demonstrated what I have been telling Democrats throughout my long career in Congress: that it will pay off if you invest in your relationship with Latino voters and talk to us in more than just token ways - not just about immigration or Puerto Rico or in a few words of Spanish, but about kitchen table issues like health care, opportunity and education that motivate our families, like all American families.

However, even with the Gutiérrez family’s votes in Illinois and Puerto Rico - and noting Sanders will overwhelmingly carry the 4th District of Illinois, which I used to represent and is now represented by a key Sanders lieutenant, Rep. Chuy GarciaJesus (Chuy) GarciaDemocrats, Republicans recommend more input, detail on Biden conservation goals Congress must provide resources needed to save America's public transit in COVID-19 bill House Democrats set to introduce proposed ban on chemical weapons MORE -- the support of Latino primary voters will not be enough to put “Tio Bernie” over the top and Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden taps California workplace safety leader to head up OSHA Romney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS US mulling cash payments to help curb migration MORE is for all intents and purposes the presumptive Democratic nominee. This sets up an opportunity for the vice president -- who was part of one of the most historically significant political moments in American history -- to make a significant and historic decision to strengthen his hand and win the White House.

Having announced that a woman will be his ticket, Biden should pick a Latina as his running mate and announce that very soon.

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Obviously, the best qualified and most popular Hispanic woman -- Associate Justice Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorProgressive group ramps up pressure on Justice Breyer to retire Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle Supreme Court rules Facebook text alerts not akin to robocalls MORE, my fellow Puerto Rican -- would be the best choice, but we cannot afford to take her away from the Supreme Court where she is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ruth Bader Ginsberg to defend what is left of our democracy. Another candidate I might put forward, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezNew York City's suicide mission should alarm the entire nation Marjorie Taylor Greene rakes in over .2M in first quarter The strategy Biden needs to pass his infrastructure plan MORE (D-N.Y.) -- the woman my wife, upon seeing her for the first time on YouTube said “She’ll be president someday” -- is out because she is not old enough to run. We’ll all have a chance to vote for her soon enough.

But there is no shortage of other qualified women from the Latino community who could strengthen the Biden ticket, bring both women and Latinos decisively to his side and chart a path to defeating Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRomney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS McConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS US raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks MORE.

Let’s start with the senior senator from Nevada, Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoTo encourage innovation, Congress should pass two bills protecting important R&D tax provision RNC rolls out ad campaign hitting Democrats over election reform Senators introduce bipartisan bill to expand electric vehicle charging tax credit MORE, who may not be a household name, but brings many strengths to the table. She comes from the West and is a former prosecutor and Nevada attorney general with impeccable credentials who during her short career in the Senate - the first Latina ever and first Hispanic from Nevada -- has emerged as a leader on environmental and health care issues from one of the fastest growing and most dynamic American states.

Then there is my friend Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamNew Mexico ends qualified immunity On The Trail: How marijuana went mainstream New Mexico lawmakers send recreational marijuana bills to governor MORE, the governor of another dynamic state, New Mexico. When she and I served in Congress and she was chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, I witnessed her abilities and leadership up close and personal. She is dogged and loveable at the same time and does not shy away from speaking truth to power, even to fellow Democrats. She has been a successful governor and has continued her laser-like focus on being a voice for Latinos and immigrants in her state and nationally.

While there are many qualified women to choose from, a Latina on the ticket adds an extra layer of heavyweight politics. Our population is young, mobilized and engaged. A million Latino citizens turn 18 every year and another 3.5 million immigrants -- many of them Latinos -- have become citizens just since Trump took office (833,000 last year), despite all of the obstacles he has erected to legal immigrants. Latinos are estimated to make up 13 percent of the electorate -- the largest bloc of minority voters -- and we are energized and ready to vote Donald Trump out of office.

But Mr. Vice President, recall that Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaUS raises concerns about Iran's seriousness in nuclear talks Matt Stoller calls on Biden administration to keep McKinsey away from infrastructure Obamas describe meeting Prince Philip in statement mourning his death MORE lost to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPelosi planned on retiring until Trump won election: report Pence autobiography coming from Simon & Schuster Amanda Gorman makes the cover of Vogue MORE when it came to Latino voters in every 2008 primary. You have an opportunity to come back and energize the Latino electorate and win the White House, but it will take a bold move for my community to come out in historic numbers. A Latina like Sen. Cortez Masto or Gov. Lujan Grisham on the ticket will strengthen your hand with the primary voters who went to Sanders and you can once again make a definitive, double-historic V.P. selection by choosing a Latina. Let’s show America that the glass ceiling for women in American politics is over. I have no doubt that when she takes office, she will have the very best mentor on how to be an effective and successful vice president as her running mate.

Luis V. Gutiérrez is a senior policy advisor to the National Partnership for New Americans and served 13 terms in Congress (1993-2019).