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After Replacing Biden, Kamala Harris Would Need a VP – But Who?

All eyes are on the unfolding collapse of Joe Biden – but what does a Kamala Harris ticket look like?

Joe Biden’s exceedingly poor debate performance against Donald Trump on June 27 has sent the Democratic Party into a tailspin. Party insiders are calling for Biden to step down, and POTUS is emphasizing on social media that he has no plans to do so. The possibility remains very real, though, especially with recent news that Biden’s personal physician met with Parkinson’s Disease specialist Dr. Kevin Cannard earlier this year.

If Biden can’t run, the Democratic Party war chest and victory plan will likely go to Vice President Kamala Harris who, for all her faults, would have the best strategic and funding positioning to pull off a successful run. In the event of a Harris bid for the Oval Office, however, the question becomes who she would choose as her running mate.

Who Would Kamala Harris Pick as VP?

As Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) recently warned, who Kamala Harris picks as VP could legitimately “change the game” in the upcoming election, especially if she picks a stalwart Midwesterner who can shore up the Democrat’s “blue wall” that crumbled so dramatically in 2016.

There are five choices that stand out when it comes to a VP for a possible Harris ticket. These potential candidates stand out for their electability and strategic position to nab key electoral votes.

The first is Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who could help shore up support in key swing states in the Midwest. Whitmer is more popular than Biden in Michigan, according to a recent poll by Emerson, and has shown her ability to flip the statehouse to the left.

The second likely option is Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro, who has remarkably high approval ratings, including a January Quinnipiac poll putting him at 59%. This is far higher than Biden’s lackluster 40% approval in Pennsylvania, and it would give Harris a handy edge in seizing the Keystone state’s 19 electoral votes in the general election.

Thirdly, we come to former Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio, who recently openly called for Kamala Harris to be the nominee, saying she is somebody about whom voters can be “excited.” Ryan would bring in important votes in the Buckeye State and stand as a counterpoint to potential Trump VP pick JD Vance, who beat out Ryan in a 2022 race for the US Senate. As Georgia Tech Associate Professor of Public Policy Richard Barke noted:

“Another potential contender could be Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), who ran for president in 2020 where he emphasized the significance of focusing on working-class voters. [Ryan] is generally seen as a centrist who could appeal to the Midwestern blue-collar electorate.”

The fourth option is Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who has beaten Republicans in two previous highly publicized races and who could shore up the religious black Southern vote with which Harris struggles. With Georgia potentially up for grabs, Warnock could be a solid choice for Harris and fit the Democratic narrative of prioritizing the prominence of people of color – though the July 9 deadline for getting new presidential and vice-presidential nominees on the Georgia ballot is a potential obstacle.

The fifth is former first lady Michelle Obama. As a national celebrity with a popular podcast and a husband who’s still beloved by many Democrats, Obama could step in as part of a dynamic duo, rescuing Harris and buoying her campaign from when the VP gets lost in word salad. The chance of running Obama as VP beside Harris as a way to win the upcoming election shouldn’t be fully discounted.

The Clock Is Ticking for Democrats

The clock is ticking rapidly for Democrats, with drop-out dates fast approaching. Although the laws are unclear in some states, the Democrats will lose a number of states if they end up replacing Biden further down the line.

It’s clear that, at the latest, Harris would have to choose a running mate before very far into August if she does end up replacing Biden. The Democratic convention is coming up on August 19 in Chicago, and more than half a dozen states will have passed their ballot deadlines by that point. There’s also an earlier roll call planned by the Democrats to conform to Ohio state law about nominee officialization.

Overall, while Biden still insists he’s in it for the long haul, pollsters and pundits are already calculating what would happen in the event of a Harris run. As G. Elliott Morris of the website FiveThirtyEight explained recently, swapping in Harris doesn’t appear to improve Democrat prospects:

“For the most part, national polls have shown Harris doing about the same as Biden in head-to-head polls against Trump.

“Harris has a slightly higher chance of winning the Electoral College than Biden, but it’s not a significant difference: 38-in-100 versus 35-in-100. On a state-by-state level, Biden looks stronger than Harris in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, while Harris’s odds are higher than Biden’s in Nevada.”

Guest Author Paul R. Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer focused on geopolitics, culture, religion, and world news. He has reported from around the globe, including the Middle East, South America, Europe and Eurasia, as well as covering the 2016 presidential election.

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