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Joe Biden must pick a progressive black woman as VP if he wants to win

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) officially suspended his campaign and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden (D). With the Kumbaya and seemingly collegial moment between Sanders and Biden, it’s now time to move forward. The movement that Sanders started continues. With the early gift of Sanders’ endorsement, Joe Biden may swiftly move to select a vice presidential nominee. Biden should select a running mate who will bridge the Sanders’ progressive movement with the Biden campaign. Biden must pick a progressive black woman as his running mate — if he is to have any chance of winning the election.

During the final debate between Biden and Sanders, Joe Biden promised to select a woman as his running mate. Sanders upped him by saying he would select a progressive. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-Ga.) infused energy into Biden’s lackluster and perhaps losing primary campaign with his endorsement.

That endorsement fueled Joe Biden’s South Carolina win and the other wins throughout the South, Midwest and West. Clyburn’s endorsement set Biden up to take a statistical insurmountable lead against Sanders. Clyburn’s endorsement will do nothing to bring aboard Bernie Sanders’s progressives. Biden will need to show by action that he is committed to a progressive movement to win over some of Sanders’ support.

While Biden may consider Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) he would be ill-advised to do so. Klobuchar, a white woman, midwesterner and centrist will do little, if anything, to capture some of the Sanders’ support. She may likely cause Sanders supporters to stay home. 

Staying home is not an option if Democrats want to take back the White House. Klobuchar states she has “the receipts” to win over white moderate Republican Midwesterners who may have left the Democratic party to vote for Trump. She has no appeal to attract progressives and African American women.

In order to win in November, Biden must appeal to the Democratic base. Many white voters will still vote for Donald Trump in November. The passion of the Democratic party is with progressives and blacks. 

There were early rumors before Biden’s announcement of his run for president that he considered Stacy Abrams for his running mate. Later Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), after suspending her campaign, endorsed Joe Biden. And the photo op and on-stage appearance of Harris and Biden brought hope for some that she might be Biden’s running mate. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) endorsed Biden and suggested he should pick a woman of color for his vice-presidential running mate.

If Joe Biden expects to win the presidential election, he must import some extreme vigor into what I perceive as an unexciting campaign and candidate. The Democratic primary was one race. The general election against Donald Trump is a completely different race. It will take all Democratic hands-on deck. Endorsements from Reps. Clyburn and John Lewis will not likely win over Sanders supporters and younger African Americans. 

A winning formula would likely be the selection of Sen. Kamala Harris or Stacy Abrams as Biden’s running mate. Those two have name recognition and the much-needed magnetism and charisma to carry the day for Joe Biden. 

African American women are the demographic group with “one of the largest voter turnouts.” In 2018’s midterm elections, black women’s turnout was 6 points above the national turnout. The heart of the Democratic party is people of color. For Joe Biden to win in November, he must select a well-known progressive African American woman as his running mate.

Deborah Hines, J.D., is a former Baltimore prosecutor, and a former assistant attorney general for Maryland. She currently runs a private practice out of Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Tags Amy Klobuchar Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Joe Biden Joe Biden 2020 presidential campaign John Lewis United States Senators

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