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The Clinton Veep Shuffle

Elizabeth Warren

Could she be the one?

It looks increasingly likely that Hillary Clinton will wrap up the nomination in about two weeks when New Jersey and California vote. I guess something crazy could still happen, and all the superdelegates could suddenly overturn the popular vote and back Sanders. It’s been that kind of a year. But barring that, Hillary Clinton and her team have a huge question looming, and that is who to pick as a running mate.

Clinton has two salient examples she’ll no doubt be referencing: Al Gore and Joe Biden. At the time, Al Gore was a bold pick for Bill Clinton: young, southern, and a rising star, just like Bill. Hillary encouraged this “double down” strategy over the more traditional balancing of the ticket. It worked – they won a decisive victory. However, Gore later created friction when his own ambitions set him at odds with his president. Joe Biden was the opposite in many ways. He complemented Obama’s strengths and weaknesses, and was someone that Obama knew he could work with.

I believe Hillary’s search for a VP will ultimately hinge on six major factors. To illustrate, I have made the beautiful Venn diagram below. By the way, if anyone from the Clinton campaign is reading this, you should probably pay me. I spent approximately forever on this:

Clinton Veep Venn












The names on here are almost all ones I’ve heard floated, plus a couple I found myself. Sadly for Hillary, nobody fits all six categories. Also, these are obviously my own subjective conclusions based on my own research. Others may disagree, for example, about whether Tim Kaine would be an effective attack dog, or whether I should count Wisconsin as a swing state. That being said, I think it reveals some interesting things!

For starters, Elizabeth Warren has probably gotten the most press as a potential VP pick, and you can see that is for good reason. She hits three major circles: Appeals to Liberals, Key Demographic, and Good Attack Dog. In fact, all of the most-speculated-about people are at the intersection of three or four categories. Although Sherrod Brown (Senator of Ohio), Tim Kaine (Senator of Virginia), and Tom Perez (former Labor Secretary) are not as well known nationally, they have received a lot of buzz recently. Cory Booker (Senator of New Jersey) is another strong pick occupying a similar space to Warren.

Tim Kaine

Citizen Kaine?

Sherrod Brown and Tim Kaine are the only names hitting four circles that I’ve also heard “sources” confirm are on the short list. So those are good bets! Interestingly, I’ve not read many articles suggesting Deval Patrick (former Massachusetts Governor), even though he is a well-known Clinton supporter and hits just as many categories. Could be a surprise pick?

But let us not be too hasty to assume all circles are equal. It’s very possible that Team Clinton may value the energy and symbolism the first all-female ticket would bring, or the first major ticket with a Latino. That would increase the weight of the yellow circle and tilt things away from all the white guys to the bottom right of the diagram.

Although… let’s talk about those white guys. If Hillary decides that she really just wants to nail down a big swing state, the choices are pretty much white guys: Tim Kaine (Virginia), Mark Warner (Virginia), Terry McAuliffe (Virginia), Bill Nelson (Florida), and Sherrod Brown (Ohio). Sherrod Brown stands out as the only swing-stater that would also excite progressives. Interestingly, I’ve not heard much about Ken Salazar (Labor Secretary before Tom Perez), even though he’s a prominent Latino politician and from a swing state (Colorado). Granted, Colorado is not as big as the other states mentioned, but… could be a surprise pick?

Thomas Perez

Perez: one letter away from Prez?

Well, that about covers who should be on the short list, but the diagram also reveals who is probably overrated! I’m going to say it, because it needs to be said: I don’t think we’re going to see a Clinton-Sanders ticket. That’s because Sanders doesn’t bring anything to the ticket that Elizabeth Warren wouldn’t also bring. This analysis has also got me wondering why Julián Castro (Secretary of HUD), Terry McAuliffe (Governor of Virginia), and John Hickenlooper (Governor of Colorado) keep getting mentioned in articles I find. I have nothing against them, but I don’t see what they bring over other options. Kirsten Gillibrand presents an additional issue. Gillibrand and HRC would probably get along well, but since you’re not allowed to have a running mate from the same state, and Gillibrand is currently Senator of New York, Clinton would probably have to change her state of residence fairly soon, which… well it just gets tricky.

Lastly, there’s one more consideration, and I could’ve tried to make a seventh circle in the Venn diagram for this, but I’m not a masochist. Harry Reid (and probably others) are pleading with the Clinton campaign to not choose a senator who would get replaced by a Republican. If a Senate seat goes vacant, the state’s governor gets to appoint a replacement. If Clinton wants to increase the chances of Dems regaining the majority, that’s bad news for certain prospective senators: Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin, Amy Klobuchar, and Bill Nelson. Ironically, some of the most exciting progressive choices come from states with Republican governors.

It might be a good year to be Tim Kaine or Tom Perez.

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