The race to be America’s first female Vice President

By Cameron Spencer |

Calvin Coolidge, the 29th Vice President, once said ‘I have enjoyed my time as VP. It never interfered with my mandatory 11 hours of sleep a day’. While the position used to have little power or meaning, in the modern day the choice of who will serve alongside a potential president is a more tantalizing prospect. At 77, Joe Biden could become the oldest person to hold the presidency, making his vice-presidential pick very important with the possibility he could serve only one term, potentially handing the office to his VP. During the last presidential debate, Biden announced his running mate would be a woman, only the second ever female to be nominated to this position after Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. So, who are the favourites?

The Front Runner – Kamala Harris

Harris during her presidential run | Gage Skidmore

Harris is a former Attorney General of California and currently sits as a Senator. She has become notorious for her grillings of Republican nominees in the Senate Judiciary Committee, notably Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Her voting record marks her as one of the most progressive members of the Senate, but despite this, she is seen more in the moderate wing of the party, suggesting that her selection could bring an unsteady balance between the polarised flanks of the Democratic coalition. Perhaps her greatest strength comes in her leadership experience, allowing Biden to delegate responsibility in a similar mould to the role he played as vice president. As a Californian, she is unlikely to personally win any major swing states, but her broad national appeal places her as a popular choice to join Biden on the ticket.  

The Midwesterner – Amy Kloubachar

Kloubachar announces her presidential campaign in snowy Minnesota | Lorie Shaull

The Senator from Minnesota had a successful presidential run, ending her campaign by endorsing Biden before the Super Tuesday primary, handing him a victory in her home state. She ran on a message of winning swing voters and solving ‘dinner table’ issues and in the Senate, has a reputation for being a well-liked and pragmatic legislator. While Minnesota is a broadly Democrat supporting state, Hillary Clinton only narrowly won it. Her nomination would likely secure the state and help Biden in Midwest battleground states. Her folksy personality would support the Biden Campaign’s themes of ‘restoration’ and ‘decency’, however, she is vocally moderate and wouldn’t be a popular choice among younger progressives.

Her nomination would be a huge victory for the growing progressive movement

The Unifier – Elizabeth Warren

Warren speaking at the Iowa State Education Association | Wikimedia Commons

Warren similarly resides in the Senate and further popularized her progressive message in a robust presidential run. A former Harvard lecturer in bankruptcy law, she created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for the Obama Administration before running for a Massachusetts Senate seat, unseating a Republican incumbent. She is the most progressive candidate, perhaps setting back Biden’s attempts to capture disaffected Republicans but her nomination would be a huge victory for the growing progressive movement who have amassed power in the party since 2016. While an eminently qualified pick and a strong debater, she will be 71 years old in November, hardly injecting youth to the ticket.

The Newcomer – Stacey Abrams

Abrams as a Georgia State Senator | Wikimedia Commons

Abrams has been linked to the office since her narrow defeat in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race, in which she was the first African-American women to run as a governor for a major party and later in 2019, to deliver the response to the State of the Union. She founded Fair Fight Action, an organisation dedicated to ensuring fair electoral practices after her experience in 2018, in which she declared, ‘I have sufficient and I think legally sufficient doubt about the process to say that it was not a fair election’. Under her pen-name Selena Montgomery, she has written numerous mystery-romance novels, with her linguistic skills being clear in her powerful speaking. She is limited by her lack of experience, only having served as a Georgia State Senator, far from the 36 years Biden served in the US Senate before being chosen himself as VP.

The Governor – Gretchen Whitmer

Whitmer speaks during her first year as governor | Wikimedia Commons

Whitmer has become one of the most visible state leaders during the Coronavirus pandemic, the once little-known governor becoming a household name. The Michigan native served in both houses of the state government before becoming governor in 2018 in a landslide victory, unusual for a swing state. An extension to Michigan’s lockdown order generated controversial protests from right-wing activists, including conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, and armed protesters who surrounded the state capitol. Her condemnation of the protesters has made her more popular in state polling as the majority of Michiganders support her decision. Having a popular governor from an important mid-western state could help Biden to win the region and her relative youth could mark her as a ready-made successor if nominated.

The Long Shot – Michelle Obama

Obama on the campaign trail | Gage Skidmore

If Biden wants to return to the days of the Obama presidency, why not put an Obama on the ticket? The Former First Lady remains very popular among Democrats and the wider public, consecutively winning Gallup’s Most Admired Women poll, as well as staying in the public eye through a bestselling book. In that book, she stated ‘I have no intention of running for office, ever’, but no matter how much she may downplay the rumours, they will persist.

Before being nominated as Vice President, Joe Biden had unsuccessfully run for president twice. He is no longer as energetic as he once was, but the name recognition and respect he gained while working under Obama has propelled him to the nomination in 2020. If Biden and his running mate win in November, his VP will be marked as a potential successor to the Presidency and the future of the Democratic Party. Given that this VP will be female, this nomination becomes even more historic.