The 2020 veepstakes is a yuge deal. For the first time ever, many – not just one – Black woman are in the running for the Democratic vice presidential nominee.
This group is impressive. Most have racked up big accomplishments long before the Biden for President campaign considered them as running mates. However, some only became household names as part of this selection process.
The big names are California Senator Kamala Harris, US Representative Val Demings (D-FL), Atlanta and Chicago Mayors Keisha Lance Bottoms and Lori Lightfoot, among others. In a gutsy unprecedented move, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has made public appeals on ABC’s “The View” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” TV Shows.
In one interview in Pittsburgh in a battleground state, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden says he would pick former First Lady Michelle Obama to be his vice president “in a heartbeat.” While nobody should get excited about Obama returning to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – she is not interested in the job, there are plenty of other reasons to cheer.
Senator Harris tops many lists of potential running mates. Biden expressed a desire for a number two who has campaigned as a presidential candidate; knows how the Senate work; and shared his values. Harris checks all three boxes. Months after an impressive July debate performance, the Senator dropped out of the presidential race last year.
Another frequently mentioned pick is Rep. Val Demings. The Floridian routinely breaks barriers, serving as the first impeachment manager and first Orlando police commissioner who is a Black woman.
With so many good choices, it is no surprise that the sisterhood is energized. Last month, hundreds of Black women leaders signed an open letter to Biden, urging him to select a black woman as his vice president.
During the last debate, Biden promised to pick a woman as his running mate. This commitment brings the selection more than halfway there.
Why does this pledge of a woman as vice president elevate Black women so much?
Picking the number two occupant in the White House is really the first step in building an administration. Campaigns dip into the pool of candidates on the short list to fill important roles in the federal government.
In past administrations, many of the names floated for this role became members of a president’s cabinet, ambassadors and judges. For example, Hillary Clinton and Kathleen Sebelius in 2008 started in the veepstakes and later joined President Barack Obama’s cabinet, appointed Secretary of State and Secretary of Health and Human Services, respectively. After all, the pool for vice president has had thoroughly background checks and expressed an interest in serving the new president.
Recently, the Biden campaign announced the members of a four-person search committee which will complete the vetting process for the Democratic vice-presidential nominee by July. The good news is that Delaware at-large Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester, a sistar, is part of the team. Let’s give her a shout out on social media!
There are plenty of reasons for supporting a history making choice. To win the status as presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party, Biden needs the energized votes of at least 89 percent of black women voters. Some may argue that Black voters have been there for Biden, comprising his winning majorities in key primary states, such as South Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia and Michigan. Keeping Biden’s voter base happy is another argument for a sister. Lastly, Black women are the most reliable voters.
It will take a village to support the first Black female vice president of the United States. Over 800 woman who lead their communities in business and politics petitioned Biden for a sistar. The people behind the signatures send a strong message: Black woman stand on a strong foundation from which to lead the nation. The sisterhood has spoken.