Reid throws wrench into Clinton vice presidential picks

Reid throws wrench into Clinton vice presidential picks
© Cameron Lancaster

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP embraces big stimulus after years of decrying it Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate Winners and losers from Super Tuesday MORE (D-Nev.) is throwing a wrench into Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFormer Obama adviser Plouffe predicts 'historical level' of turnout by Trump supporters Poll: More Republican voters think party is more united than Democratic voters Whoopi Goldberg presses Sanders: 'Why are you still in the race?' MORE’s plans for picking a vice presidential candidate, warning any senator from a state with a Republican governor is off limits.

Reid, who wants Democrats to take back the Senate in his final year as leader, said his answer to whether Clinton should pick a running mate who could be replaced in the Senate by a Republican was “hell no.”

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“If we have a Republican governor in any of those states, the answer is not only no, but hell no. I would do whatever I can, and I think most of my Democratic colleagues here would say the same thing," Reid told MSNBC's "AM Joy.” “[I would] yell and scream to stop that.”

The comments mean Reid would be in opposition to Clinton picking Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMaryland Legislative Black Caucus pushes for state to release racial breakdown of coronavirus impact Hillicon Valley: T-Mobile, Sprint complete merger | Warren pushes food delivery apps to classify workers as full employees | Lawsuit accuses Zoom of improperly sharing user data Warren calls on food delivery apps to classify workers as full employees MORE (Mass.) or Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownLawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Democrats press Mnuchin to defend T coronavirus stimulus IG Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy MORE (Ohio), two senators with big progressive fan bases who are on most short lists. It would also be a reason against picking New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

Reid offered no hints about who he’d like to see Clinton pick. Virginia Democratic Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineBiden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Students with disabilities could lose with COVID-19 stimulus package Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner MORE and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHackers target health care AI amid coronavirus pandemic Hillicon Valley: Coronavirus deal includes funds for mail-in voting | Twitter pulled into fight over virus disinformation | State AGs target price gouging | Apple to donate 10M masks Senator sounds alarm on cyber threats to internet connectivity during coronavirus crisis MORE, however, have also been seen as under consideration and represent a state with a Democratic governor.

Other names that have been floated include Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

A Democratic leadership aide said Reid was responding to a specific question and was not offering indication that he would increasingly weigh in on Clinton’s vice presidential pick. Instead, the comments were “purely based” on his wanting to keep GOP governors from being able to make political appointments.

“I wouldn't look too deep into his comments,” the aide told The Hill. “He didn't want Republican governors to be in line to appoint [GOP senators]."

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton insider, has been pushing his state’s senators for months. But many have speculated that Brown or Warren would be stronger picks for Clinton, who may need to find a running mate that excites the liberal base after her bruising primary battle with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Warren and Brown are beloved by the left, partly for their willingness to oppose trade deals and battle with Wall Street.

Democrats are fighting to regain control of the Senate majority this election cycle. They'll need a net gain of four seats to win back the chamber if they retain the White House and a net gain of five seats to win the Senate back outright.

The 2016 map is titled in favor of Senate Democrats: They are defending 10 Senate seats, compared to 24 for Republicans. While Reid is optimistic that Democrats will win back the upper chamber, a net gain of five seats is an uphill climb.

Warren, Brown and Booker all hail from states with Republican governors. If one of them were picked for vice president and Clinton won the White House, they would need to step down.

That could pave the way for a GOP governor to temporarily appoint a Republican to fill a Senate seat, forcing Democrats to win an extra seat to reclaim the majority.

Brown, who has declined having any interest in joining Clinton on the Democratic ticket, has said that he's worried about allowing John Kasich, Ohio's Republican governor, to fill his seat.

“If I were on the ticket and Hillary were to win, that John Kasich would nominate and would appoint my successor, and that bothers me so,” he told MSNBC's “Hardball” earlier this month.

Reid’s comments aren’t the first time the battle for the Senate has bled over into the presidential election.

In 2008, then-Sen. Joe BidenJoe BidenOvernight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims The Memo: Scale of economic crisis sends shudders through nation The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention MORE, from Delaware, and Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Stimulus bill has .5B for Pentagon | Money would be blocked from border wall | Esper orders 60-day freeze for overseas troop movements Senate panel switches to 'paper hearings' amid coronavirus pandemic Rand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis sends shockwaves through Senate MORE (D-R.I.) were speculated as potential running mates for then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention Biden associates reach out to Holder about VP search Poll: More Republican voters think party is more united than Democratic voters MORE.

But Reed faced a major roadblock: who would succeed him. Heading into the 2008 election, Democrats controlled the Senate by a slim 51-49 majority. If Reed had been selected, then-Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri, a Republican, likely would have appointed a Republican to fill his seat.

Instead, Obama picked Biden. The move allowed Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, a Democrat, to appoint Ted Kaufman, a Democrat and former Biden aide, to fill the seat until a special election in 2010.

Reid also pointed out that then-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) was appointed as Treasury Secretary under Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonClintons send pizza to NY hospital staff treating coronavirus Budowsky: President Trump, meet with all former living presidents Why Klobuchar should be Biden's vice presidential pick MORE’s administration. Though Bob Krueger, a Democratic appointee, temporarily succeeded Bentsen, he was beat in a special election by Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican.

“We have never recovered from that,” Reid said. “Had we not gone along with that we could still have a Democratic senator from Texas.”