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By Tom Cushing

VEEPstakes 2: Democratic Boogaloo

Uploaded: Jul 19, 2016

So, now that the GOP, meaning its candidate, has settled on/for Governor Pence after a thorough deliberation of several minutes (no wait!), we may turn our attention to the Dem side. In seeking to complement Hillary’s candidacy, the bidding will be quite different. Experience is not as crucial a criterion, but there’s an obvious need to counteract her strong perceived negatives (some of which are real), as well as throwing a bone to the Progressive wing (read: the Berners), millennial voters in general, and moderate Independents plus the twelve of them who remain in the GOP.

The choice should also not damage the down-ticket chance to re-take control of the Senate. Swing state appeal is a plus. It’s not clear to me that an ‘identity’ candidate from the ranks of women, Hispanics, LGBTQs, African-Americans or anyone with an obvious disability adds much political weight – those groups have been hand-delivered to the Clinton campaign with a bright blue bow.

With those goals in mind, here are the current favorites:

Tim Kaine (age 58): the Senator and former VA governor is the Safe Choice. He’s untouched by scandal, literally sings in his Richmond church choir and has demonstrated cross-the-aisle appeal for voters. The Dems also need Virginia in the Electoral College stakes, and he remains popular there. While not a dynamic campaigner (“I am boring”), he’d be up against the stolid Mr. Pence in the VP head-to-heads, and he’s reliably consistent. He’s not up for re-election in 2016, and incumbent Governor McAuliffe is a Dem. So, no hearts aflutter, but a solid prospect.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro (41): he IS the heartthrob choice. Boyishly handsome and self-made, he’s the former mayor of San Antonio. His identical twin brother is a Congressman (as he quipped on NPR’s ‘Wait-wait’: “we both live in Washington, but only I work there.”) He is passably glib (he has done well on the Talkies, and overcame a mild case of nerves on Wait-wait), liberal but possibly not progressive, and a strong generational pick. There’s no chance he’d deliver a home state so red that it’s burnt orange. He’s also had a recent dust-up with Hatch Act politicking, and can you recall anything noteworthy that’s come out of HUD, recently?

Labor Secretary Tom Perez (54): he’s a long-time Clinton ally (uh-oh, but as we all know, trust means a Lot to Mrs. Clinton), exceptionally popular with unions and an excellent, if obscure campaigner. He’s of Dominican heritage. Perez would be a strong, substantial voice on the subject of wage stagnation/income inequity and its various ties-into the 2016 campaign. More than any other prospect, he’d address those rigged-system themes that appeal to young voters and disaffected workers. He’s made the Bill Maher, Daily Show and Wait-wait circuits, and was sharp in those friendly confines. Intriguing possibility.

Former MA Gov. Deval Patrick (59): he has a good Dem record as two-termer in Mass., and has since served as General Counsel (= head lawyer) for Texaco and Coke. His home state is in the bag, however, and it’s not clear whether his executive suite business experience is a plus – or a source of suspicion for many traditional Democrat voters. He’d need to develop his themes quickly to have a positive impact for the campaign.

Senators Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, and Sherrod Brown. Each adds something different – Warren as Progressive flame-thrower, Booker as young/gifted/black conciliator and Brown as popular in Ohio, the uberest-swing-state of them all. Each would be replaced by a Republican governor, however, thus possibly sacrificing what might be a very slim 2017 majority in the Senate. It’s not clear that they are not personally and professionally better-off where they are.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack (65), for reasons I do not comprehend, and former NATO chief General James Stavridis (61). The latter overlaps Clinton’s foreign policy chops but is a national security/tech warfare maven. Neither seems likely from here.

What about a Californian? LA-area Congressman Xavier Becerra has been mentioned, and would be a solid campaigner, as well as a reliably liberal, Hispanic-heritage choice. Gavin Newsom is an excellent campaigner, but still a … shall we say … cultural lightning rod (“like it or not”), and a guy whose past personal peccadilloes seem more tolerated here than they would be elsewhere. Better he bide his time locally before the expected governorship run. CA is not in-doubt electorally, so our status as campaign S&L will likely continue.

Who’ve I missed? And, since nobody won on the GOP side, I can now offer TWO subscriptions to the weeklies for the first winning entry.