The Next Vice President
By Jerome Grossman
Some Democrats believe their dream ticket for 2008 would be Hillary Clinton for President and Barack Obama for Vice President. It won't happen. Yes, Hillary is the likely nominee for president at this time but she is unlikely to select Barack as her running mate.
Personal like or dislike will have nothing to do with the decision. The Vice President is selected to win a state or increase constituency support for the ticket. In 1960, John F. Kennedy needed Lyndon B. Johnson to carry Texas. In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt needed John Nance Garner to carry Texas. In neither case, was there affection or affinity. It was strictly business, the political business of winning.
Obama, Senator from Illinois, is not necessary for the Democrats to win that solidly Democratic state. In 2004, John Kerry carried Illinois 55% to 44%; in 2000, Gore beat Bush there 55% to 43%. The Democrats hold the governorship, both Senate seats, both houses of the Legislature and a majority of U.S. House seats.
Would Obama increase the African-American vote nationally for the Democrats? Only marginally. They already vote about 90% Democratic and Hillary does not need validation with that constituency.
As the party nominee, Hillary will be looking for a Democrat who would bring a state or two to the Electoral College that do not usually vote Democratic. In New Mexico, Bush defeated Kerry narrowly 50% to 49%; Gore carried the state by a mere 365 votes. The Democratic governor, Bill Richardson, was elected in 2002 with a 55% of the vote. Democrats have also gained control of the state legislature, one senator and one of three U.S. House seats.
Forty two percent of the population of New Mexico is of Hispanic origin, Arizona 14%, Colorado 17%. Hispanic Americans now comprise 15% of all Americans and is the fastest growing minority. Richardson comes out of that community, father was an Anglo, mother Hispanic. They know him and his background. While they vote Democratic narrowly, this constituency offers an opportunity for significant Democratic expansion.
If not Richardson, the vice presidential nominee will be someone who can make a difference in the Electoral College. For the Democrats, politics in 2008 is desperately about winning, love and sentiment will have to wait for another time.