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Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate

Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden Florida heat sends a dozen Trump rally attendees to hospital Harris more often the target of online misinformation than Pence: report MORE's pledge to pick a woman as his running mate has sparked hope he could make history by picking a Latina as Hispanics are expected to play an important role in the November election. 

At least two heavily Hispanic states, Arizona and Florida, will be in play in November, and Hispanic minorities are in a position to swing several states that will be decided by small margins.

Picking a Latina vice presidential candidate could also balance out a ticket for a white candidate in his 70s who would also have to choose between shoring up his moderate credentials or reaching out to progressives in the party.

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If Biden does choose a Latina running mate, here are five who could fit the bill:

Sen. Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoCortez Masto's public lands giveaway greenwash Democratic Senate campaign arm outraises GOP counterpart in September Hillicon Valley: DOJ proposes tech liability shield reform to Congress | Treasury sanctions individuals, groups tied to Russian malign influence activities | House Republican introduces bill to set standards for self-driving cars MORE (D-Nev.)

Cortez Masto became the first Latina senator in U.S. Senate history when she beat then-Rep. Joe HeckJoseph (Joe) John HeckAmericans want to serve — it's up to us to give them the chance GOP anxiety grows over Trump political roller coaster Creating a more secure nation means public service hiring practices need an overhaul MORE (R-Nev.) to keep retiring Minority Leader Sen. Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell and Schumer's relationship shredded after court brawl The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Justice Barrett joins court; one week until Election Day GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg MORE's (D) seat in 2016.

As Nevada attorney general, Cortez Masto focused on human trafficking and mortgage fraud following the 2008 financial crisis.

That could play to Cortez Masto's benefit over another woman of color who's expected to be on Biden's short list, Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden Harris more often the target of online misinformation than Pence: report Maya Rudolph says she loves playing Kamala Harris on SNL: 'Feels like being on the side of the good guys' MORE (D-Calif.), whose record on criminal justice as attorney general came under fire during her 2020 presidential campaign.

But Cortez Masto is not a nationally known political entity, despite overseeing the Democratic Party's biggest 2016 electoral victory in Nevada.

Cortez Masto, the great-granddaughter of Italian immigrants and granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant, also does not speak Spanish, which she attributes to growing up in a time when the children of immigrants were encouraged not to learn foreign languages as part of the assimilation process.

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The wife of a retired Secret Service agent, Cortez Masto is a no-nonsense politician with a strong background on health care and the environment and an impeccable public image.

Her selection could ensure a repeat of 2016 in Nevada — the only state where Democrats would seek a repeat performance — and her regional influence could spill over into contested states such as Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.

Former Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), a supporter of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states Oct. 29: Where Trump and Biden will be campaigning MORE (I-Vt.), wrote an op-ed in The Hill on Monday suggesting Biden, as the "presumptive Democratic nominee," should choose as his running mate either Cortez Masto or New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamTravel industry calls on Trump administration to prevent the need for quarantines by creating a testing plan Utah increases coronavirus restrictions amid rising cases New Mexico to renew coronavirus restrictions, warning of more if cases continue to rise MORE.

"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," wrote Gutiérrez.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

Lujan Grisham became the first Latina Democratic governor of a state in 2018, when she beat then-Rep. Steve PearceStevan (Steve) Edward PearceNew Mexico Democrat releases final Spanish-language ad in toss-up race Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate New Mexico Dems brace for crowded race to succeed Udall MORE (R-N.M.).

Lujan Grisham is known for being energetic and impassioned in her delivery, whether it's a stump speech or a hallway interview.

The New Mexico governor started her political career working as a Bernalillo County health commissioner, and then moved up to state secretary of health.

After three years in that position under then-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) — himself the first Latino to launch a major presidential bid in 2008 — Lujan Grisham served six years in Congress, focusing on health care, particularly for the elderly and disabled.

Starting her third term, Lujan Grisham was elected to lead the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) at a critical time, as President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked by platform's pre-election blackout Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' Harris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden MORE came into office.

A senior Democratic staffer praised her tenure as CHC chief as "a model for effectiveness and discipline."

"Lujan Grisham’s leadership and sheer work ethic helped to elevate the CHC’s priorities to the top of the House Democratic Caucus’ legislative platform,” added the staffer.

With her pivot from sparring with the president as head of the CHC to leading a southwestern state, Lujan Grisham could also be an asset for a presidential ticket looking at Colorado and Arizona.

Democrats feel confident they have a lead for Colorado's nine electoral votes, but will need to make substantial investments to capture Arizona's 11 votes.

Rep. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoMark Kelly releases Spanish ad featuring Rep. Gallego Legal marijuana backers tout potential money for states Leadership matters: President's words and actions show he is unfit to lead our nation MORE (D-Ariz.) — Arizona's top contender for a VP nod before Biden's Sunday announcement — said a Latina with regional credentials could help Democrats capture the state.

"I'm concerned that we're a swing state and Latina women not only vote in higher proportion than the men, but they tend to lead the family also to vote. I think Michelle Lujan Grisham or Cortez Masto would be extremely helpful in terms of maybe juicing the turnout a little more," said Gallego.

Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis

An early Biden endorser, the former Obama Cabinet member has a long executive and legislative record to bring to the table, including having been the first Latina in the California state Senate.

Solis, a former four-term congresswoman, is currently a Los Angeles County supervisor, where she focuses on homelessness and the environment.

A Solis pick would likely strengthen Biden's ties to the labor movement, but could alienate business allies, who butted heads with Solis in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Solis oversaw the Labor Department during Obama's first term in office, as the president's attentions were focused on recovery from the global financial crisis.

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She clashed with Republicans, both at the local level and in Congress, where former Rep. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaChamber-backed Democrats embrace endorsements in final stretch Ex-RNC, Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy charged in covert lobbying scheme DCCC reserves new ad buys in competitive districts, adds new members to 'Red to Blue' program MORE (R-Calif.) accused her of improperly supporting Obama's reelection efforts amid her first Board of Supervisors race.

The accusations eventually dissipated and Solis was reelected unopposed in 2018.

Solis would bring a Californian into the race, potentially exciting Hispanic voters in a state where a handful of House races are expected to be competitive, but California is certain to land in Biden's win column regardless.

While a Florida Latina running mate could prove irresistible to Biden, one of the state's most prominent Latina Democrats — Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellDemocrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade House Democrats target Hispanic voters in battlegrounds with new barrage of ads Disinformation, QAnon efforts targeting Latino voters ramp up ahead of presidential election MORE — is constitutionally ineligible for the position because she is a naturalized American citizens.

Another, state Sen. Annette Taddeo, would be eligible since she was born in Colombia to a father who was a U.S. citizen, but has yet to develop a national profile.

“In the largest battleground state in the country, the fact that there is not a Latina in Florida that Vice President Biden can choose as his running mate further highlights that there is still much work to be done," said Alex Howard, a Democratic political consultant who previously worked for the Florida Democratic Party.

But some Democrats — led by Hispanics — have their eye on engaging the broad Latino voter base in Texas to turn the Longhorn State into the biggest battleground.

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Rep. Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarProgressive lawmakers call for United Nations probe into DHS 'human rights abuses' Pocan won't seek another term as Progressive Caucus co-chair Trump's illness sparks new urgency for COVID-19 deal MORE (D-Texas)

Escobar is a rising superstar in the Democratic Party who's already made a mark during her first term in Congress.

Escobar delivered the Spanish-language response to Trump's State of the Union address in February, and was elected in November to fill the freshman class leadership representative position vacated by former Rep. Katie HillKatherine (Katie) Lauren HillKatie Hill to launch 'Naked Politics' podcast Katie Hill claims hackers used government account to accuse her of 'workplace abuse' Civil rights activist Dolores Huerta endorses California Democratic House challenger MORE (D-Calif.).

The Texas Democrat became nationally prominent after leading the response to the August mass shooting in her hometown of El Paso, where a gunman killed 22 people and injured 24 others at a Walmart.

Escobar has become a visible figure in gun control, immigration reform and as an advocate for border communities.

A former El Paso County judge — an executive position akin to county executive — Escobar is part of a generation of West Texas politicians that renewed the region's aging leadership circle in the past decade.

Escobar had originally endorsed former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeHarris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden Cruz wants donors to repay K he loaned to his 2018 campaign Texas Republicans sound post-2020 alarm bells MORE (D-Texas), her predecessor and friend, for the Democratic nomination, but endorsed Biden in March, ahead of the Texas primary on Super Tuesday.

Escobar could also get some help from inside the campaign, as Biden's top Latino advisor, Cristobal Alex, also calls El Paso his hometown.

Rep. Sylvia GarciaSylvia GarciaTexas social workers drop nondiscrimination rules for LGBTQ, disabilities Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities MORE (D-Texas)

Along with Escobar, Garcia in 2018 became one of the first two Latinas elected to Congress from Texas.

Garcia is a former municipal trial judge, Houston city controller and member of the Harris County Commissioners Court, as well as a former state senator.

Garcia has long been well-known among Hispanic political circles, having once served as the president of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO). In 2019, she received the Edward R. Roybal Award for Outstanding Public Service, the highest award bestowed by NALEO.

Like Escobar, Garcia is a fluent Spanish speaker who could stump for the nominee in bilingual communities, and eventually take the helm in hemispheric diplomacy.

"Our hemisphere is important. Relationships with Venezuela, with Mexico, with the [Northern] Triangle countries, with all the Americas [are] important, and what better person than a Latina who cares, who's compassionate," said Garcia.

"And it's not going to be about the beating up and the intolerable behavior toward Latinos that the current administration has exhibited," she added.

Garcia's most prominent role in Congress so far was to be selected as one of the House impeachment managers for Trump's trial in the Senate.

But Garcia downplayed that role as a factor in running mate selection, saying she's "not sure that is one that would be considered."

"I think anytime you look at the potential for any particular job, you don't look at only the most recent experience. You look at the totality of the experience and I would hope that that the vice president at the appropriate time if he's the [nominee] and he puts his team together, that they look at every potential vice presidential candidate in terms of their total experience in their life experiences, their backgrounds — geography," said Garcia.

With 38 electoral votes in play, a purple Texas could change presidential election dynamics indefinitely.

Hispanic Democrats in Texas are eager to take on Republicans, particularly after O'Rourke's close-call Senate bid where he narrowly lost to incumbent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHarris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden Cruz wants donors to repay K he loaned to his 2018 campaign Why Biden could actually win Texas MORE (R) in 2018.

"Texas is definitely in play," said Garcia, who endorsed Biden in February.

"We certainly won [the primaries] here in Texas for the vice president, and I know that he has a chance of beating Donald Trump here," she said.

-- Updated on March 18 at 12:36 p.m. ET