Kamala Harris is Biden’s pick for running mate in November
Junior senator first Black woman on major presidential ticket
Former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden this week selected Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California, as his running mate in the November 2020 presidential election.
“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked [Harris] a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants as my running mate,” Biden announced on his Twitter page on Tuesday afternoon.
Biden vowed during a primary debate in March that he would pick a woman as his running mate. Harris is the first Black woman to run on the ticket of a major political party.
Harris early last year centered her unsuccessful bid for the White House on a promise to “prosecute the case” against President Donald Trump and was widely viewed as the front-runner to be the vice presidential pick. As the former California attorney general with four years in the U.S. Senate, Harris was reportedly among the most conventionally qualified among the half-dozen or so women under consideration in a diverse field of contenders.
“I need someone working alongside me who is smart, tough, and ready to lead. Kamala is that person,” Biden wrote in an email to supporters.
Harris, 55, is considered by political watchers as a “safe pick” who has broad support within the Democratic Party and is well acquainted with the rigors of a national campaign. Her selection also carries great symbolism at a national moment when race relations are at the top of the mind for African-American voters. Harris is of Jamaican descent and had a highly publicized confrontation with Biden over race relations during the primary season.
Harris’ selection is not without risk. Her White House bid was fraught with inconsistencies and her record as a prosecutor has at times elicited controversy, particularly as attitudes on mass incarceration, the “school-to-prison” pipeline and law enforcement have become front and center this summer. The murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minn. resulted in protests not only at home but around the world.
In recent months, Harris has more forcefully embraced criminal justice reform, but faces a level of political distrust among the Democratic Party’s more progressive flank, more specifically among younger voters of color.
Many believe that Harris’ swift rise in national Democratic politics has the potential to position her as a future leader of the party since Biden would be 78 when sworn in. Biden said his selection of a running mate would be a “simpatico” governing partner and someone ready to assume the Oval Office “on a moment’s notice.”
“It’s overdue and it’s tremendous,” said Angela Rye, a former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus. “Kamala is not a stranger to making history. It’s poetic justice that she would be making history here. Hopefully, [this] signifies a tremendous shift in the Democratic Party by finally recognizing how important Black people—and specifically Black women—are to the base. We don’t just mobilize the Black community...we mobilize the party overall.”
Harris, who also served as district attorney in San Francisco before becoming the state’s attorney general, was barely halfway into her first term in the U.S. Senate when she jumped into the presidential race. She had several high-profile prosecutorial interrogations of Trump administration officials in Senate hearings. This was highlighted by her brisk confrontation with then U.S.Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017 about his alleged interactions with Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.