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  • Justin Dynia

Senator Kamala Harris Named as Biden’s Running Mate

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

On July 11, former Vice President and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden formally announced Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as his running mate in the 2020 Presidential Election. Biden and Harris staged their first official joint campaign event the next day in Wilmington, Delaware.

"I have no doubt that I picked the right person to join me as the next vice president of the United States of America and that's senator Kamala Harris," Biden said at the event. "Kamala knows how to govern, she knows how to make the hard calls. She's ready to do this job on day one."

Harris has broken barriers her whole life and now has the potential to break the glass ceiling as the first woman to reach the White House. The historic pick will make Harris the third woman and first Black and first South Asian American candidate to be nominated for vice president by a major political party.

“Her record of accomplishment -- fighting tooth and nail for what’s right -- is why I’m choosing her,” said Biden in an email to supporters.

Biden and Harris both used the event as a chance to outline their vision for America and stepped up their attacks on President Donald Trump for the federal government’s handling of the coronavirus.

“America is crying out for leadership,” Harris said. “We have the chance to choose a better future for our country.

Born in Oakland, California in 1964 to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, Harris is a graduate of Howard University and University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She has an extensive career in law and won her first election as San Francisco District Attorney in 2003, a position she held until she acceded to the California Attorney General’s Office in 2011. She won election to the United States Senate in 2016 and has served on Senate Committees on Intelligence, the Judiciary, the Budget, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Her prosecutorial skills boosted her to national stardom in 2017 as she put up impressive performances in several high profile Senate hearings, including one with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions regarding his role in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Senator Harris announced her own candidacy for the 2020 presidential election on January 21, 2019. She entered the foray as one of the frontrunners and quickly rose in the polls. Harris tied a record set by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2016 for the most donations raised in the first 24 hours of her campaign. Her policy platform centered on race and social justice policies, but she vacillated between catering to the progressive and moderate factions of her party. This indecision became particularly clear when she backtracked on her previous steadfast support of Medicare For All, causing a tumble in the polls that slowed the brakes on her meteoric rise. Harris garnered significant media attention for her strong debate performances as she sparred with Biden over his opposition of mandatory school busing in the 1970s and with Senator Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) over Harris’ record on punishing nonviolent drug offenders as Attorney General. She withdrew her candidacy on December 3 and endorsed Joe Biden on March 8, 2020.

In the first few hours following her announcement as vice president, the Biden campaign raised $10.8 million. Biden and Harris also held a virtual fundraiser for supporters immediately following the campaign announcement. Her track record of fundraising success as a Senator and campaigning for others in the Democratic Party can help Joe Biden close the narrow fundraising advantage that currently belongs to President Trump. At the end of July, Trump and the RNC touted that they have $300 million cash on hand while Biden and the DNC boasted $294 million cash on hand.

She is noted to be an energetic and exciting public speaker who can engage large crowds and draw national media attention, all traits that Biden has struggled to display. Harris’ prosecutorial experience will bring value to the Biden campaign as it turns up the heat and mudslinging in a contentious election year. Harris also has the potential to translate her skills well in the diplomatic field to protect American interests abroad by strengthening bonds with its allies and dealing firmly with its enemies.

However, her name on the ticket brings some drawbacks as well. It’s precisely the toughness she possesses that is one of her biggest weaknesses. As San Francisco District Attorney and California Attorney General, she developed a record for criminal justice measures that included an increased incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders and stricter sentencing laws. Critics point to her actions having a detrimental effect on minority communities while her supporters maintain her record on racial justice being overall very positive.

A general feeling exists among many voters and pundits that Harris can have a big impact on the election as Biden’s running mate. Harris now holds the keys to the future of the Democratic Party, as 77-year-old Biden himself has admitted he only plans to be a “transitional” president. This now means her words and actions will have far greater implications beyond just the 2020 election in shaping the face of the party.

President Trump and his campaign have already released a flurry of ads against the Biden-Harris ticket focusing on Biden’s statements on racial issues and Harris’ prosecutorial record. In a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing on August 11, Trump called Harris his “number one draft pick” to be Biden’s running mate, which might mean he believes his campaign can easily target her vulnerabilities as a candidate.

Biden and Harris will virtually accept the nomination as the Democratic Party’s president and vice president between August 17-August 20 at the mostly remote Democratic National Convention held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

With 81 days left until election day as of the writing of this article, there is much to play for in the 2020 election as we continue to drive forward through the long strange trip this year has been.

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