Analysis: The Top 10 women Joe Biden might pick as vice president

(This is the third edition of our weekly power rankings of politicians most likely to be chosen as Joe Biden’s Democratic running mate in 2020.)

(CNN)The veepstakes went into a whole other gear over the past 24 hours.

First, former Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams told Elle magazine that not only would she accept the vice presidential nomination if it was offered but that she “would be an excellent running mate.” Then, in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said she would accept a VP offer from Biden. And then, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said this: “I think the world of Joe Biden. You know, I would do just about anything for Joe Biden and to be even mentioned among the phenomenal caliber of women leaders across the country — that in it of itself is an honor.”
That’s all in the last day alone!
Why all the activity all of a sudden? With Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders finally ending his campaign last week, it’s now seen as totally acceptable to openly express interest in being Biden’s second-in-command. And so, people are jockeying. A lot!
To that end, I am now going to be releasing my new and updated rankings of the Top 10 women — Biden has pledged to pick a female VP — who might be the Democratic vice presidential nominee, every Thursday until the choice is made.
My latest rankings are below. The number one ranked woman is the likeliest VP selection as of today.
(Nota bene: Many people asked why former First Lady Michelle Obama wasn’t on my last list — and she’s not on this one either. The reason is simple: I don’t think she would accept the job if it was offered to her. If that changed, then she would be the No. 1 pick immediately.)
10. Stacey Abrams: If past is prologue, actively campaigning to be the VP pick virtually ensures that Abrams won’t get it. (Historically, acting as though you are almost entirely unaware that there is even a vice president to be picked is a recipe for success.) That said, Abrams is a young (46), African American woman who came within a few thousand votes of winning the Georgia governorship in 2018. (Previous ranking: 9)
9. Keisha Lance Bottoms: I’ve had the mayor of Atlanta on and off this list several times already. But conversations with people in the know have convinced me that she deserves a spot. KLB is not only the mayor of a large southern city but she also was one of Biden’s earliest and most stalwart endorsers and surrogates. And at 50, she would represent a major generational shift for the 77-year-old Biden. (Previous ranking: Not ranked)
8. Tammy Baldwin: The upset victory of a liberal Democrat over a sitting conservative Wisconsin state Supreme Court justice this week has to make Democrats feel good about their chances of re-taking the Badger State from President Donald Trump in November.
But there’s no question how central Wisconsin will be to the electoral maps of both Biden and Trump. And Baldwin just got reelected to the Senate from the state with 55% in 2018. (Previous ranking: 7)
7. Tammy Duckworth: The Illinois senator continues to fly under the national radar when it comes to the VP selection process. She’s not on national cable TV much and not giving interviews where she floats herself as a possibility.
But there’s a lot to recommend her — including her military service that led to the loss of both her legs and the full use of her right arm, the fact she is the first US senator to give birth while in office and her moderate politics that line up nicely with Biden’s own. (Previous ranking: 6)
6. Susan Rice: I’d left Rice, who served as ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser in the Obama administration, off my first two sets of VP rankings. I’ve been convinced — by people in a position to know these things — that was a mistake. On paper, Rice makes a lot of sense: An African American woman who is close to the Obamas and has one of the deepest reservoirs of national security knowledge in the country. Plus, at 55, Rice would represent the sort of generational pick Biden is looking for. (Previous ranking: Not ranked)
5. Elizabeth Warren: A week ago, Warren hadn’t endorsed Biden or said she would be willing to serve as his VP. Now she’s done both of those things — and in one day! I’m still skeptical that Biden would pick someone whose views, generally speaking, are considerably to his ideological left — especially on health care. But if he’s going to pick any prominent liberal, it will be the Massachusetts senator. (Previous ranking: 5)
4. Gretchen Whitmer: The Michigan governor is in the midst of a controversy, which has drawn national attention, over whether her latest executive orders on how to combat the coronavirus strayed too close to violating individual freedoms. That negative attention likely takes some of the shine off of what has been a meteoric rise in national prominence for Whitmer. (Previous ranking: 2)
3. Catherine Cortez Masto: The Nevada senator just makes a lot of sense for Biden. She has the experience he is looking for (she was attorney general in the state before being elected to the Senate in 2016). But at 56 years old, she also makes sense as a generational bridge for him.
Plus, she is one of the highest-ranking Latina elected officials in the country, at a time when that population is booming and Biden hopes to capture those voters in key swing states like Colorado, Florida and, yes, Nevada, in November. (Previous ranking: 4)
2. Amy Klobuchar: If Biden was watching the presidential campaign the Minnesota senator ran in 2020 — and he was — then he knows that she has a long track record of electoral success in the Midwest, favors his pragmatic approach to politics and is a very good debater. She’s also far better known today than she was 18 months ago — and better liked. (Previous ranking: 3)
1. Kamala Harris: Like Cortez Masto, Harris is in the absolute sweet spot between age and experience. She’s 55 — a full two-plus decades younger than Biden — but also is old enough to have served as, among other things, the attorney general of California. She is also the most prominent African American elected official in the country right now, and given how central black voters were to Biden’s primary win, that’s a huge advantage for her. (Previous ranking: 1)

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