Thursday | June 13, 2002
Veep choices in 2004
I know I'm really jumping the gun, but I think the Dems vice presidential nominee might be key to the party's electoral chances in 2004. Simply put, I think it's high time the Democrats chose a non-white minority or woman to the ticket.
If Ed Rendell captures the governor's office in PA, he'll be hot property given PA's electoral importance. Southern governors Jim Hodges (SC) and Roy Barnes (GA) will merit consideration (especially if a non-Southerner captures the presidential nomination). Also for geographic reasons, a couple of midwesterners will make the short list -- Iowa's Vilsack? Daschle? Feingold? Vilsack might be the most viable of the lot, assuming he is reelected. Some might consider CA's Gray Davis, but he's damaged goods and if we don't like him here in California, his national chances are moot.
But, while regional considerations might make some sense, it's time for the party to acknowledge one simple fact -- the Democrats would be history without the support of women and minorities. It is definitely time for the national ticket to look like the voters supporting it. With that in mind, here are some possibilities (in no particular order):
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: She is currently facing strong primary opposition in her bid to be Maryland's next governor. However, if she wins, she would be a strong veep candidate. She is a brilliant campaigner and sports that legendary name. On the negative side, she hails from a small, solidly Democratic state. And, she is still relatively green as a politician.
Sens. Mary Landrieu (LA) and Blanche Lincoln (AR): They are both women. They are Southerners. Conservative as Democrats can be. Either one would provide great balance for any of the non-Southern candiates (Daschle, Kerry, Dean, Gephardt, Lieberman, etc.).
Gary Locke: The two-term Asian governor of WA would do wonders to break the color barrier on a presidential ticket. Unfortunately, WA is fairly Democratic, and Asians are not a sufficiently large voting bloc outside the West Coast to inspire much attention.
Bill Richardson: I have always said Richardson would be the perfect candidate -- a genuine Latino, but light-skinned with a non-threatening name. He would be a stronger candidate with a couple of gubernational campaigns under his belt (he'll win his first guv campaign in NM this Fall), and he did suffer some fallout from the Wen Ho Lee fiasco while running the Department of Energy. He is also fairly liberal, so he wouldn't provide ideological balance under any ticket except perhaps Lieberman or Edwards.
Ron Kirk: First he needs to win a tough campaign for Senate in TX. But if he did, he would instantly become a national star. There are currently no African-Americans serving in the Senate, which would make him the highest-ranking black elected official in the nation. He is also a true Southern Democrat, to the right of the national party. And he is from Texas, which would provide delicious drama to the campaign. Then again, would the Democrats want to threaten their hold on the Senate by surrendering that seat (especially if a Republican sits in the governor's mansion)? Lots of "ifs" with Kirk, but an intriguing possibility.
As for Hillary Clinton, it's still too early for her. I would love to see her run either for president or as a veep candidate, but not after she has served two terms in the Senate. Diane Feinstein might also be a strong candidate, but brings no regional benefits to the table since California is safely Democratic.Posted June 13, 2002 10:21 AM | Comments (2)