August 11, 2020

Biden Picks Harris

Biden-Harris 2020

It’s official – Joe Biden announced California’s junior Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate in the 2020 election. This makes her the first African American woman to appear on the presidential ticket for a major political party, and only the third female nominee for Vice President.

Since World War II, Democrats have nominated a senator for Vice President in 18 of the last 19 elections, so the selection of a Senator does not come as a surprise. The lone exception* was the 1984 election, when Walter Mondale selected New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate.

Why Harris?

For the last several months, Sen. Harris has been considered by many to be the front runner for the job. Having recently made a run for the Democratic Presidential nomination, Harris is relatively well-known, has run the media gauntlet on the campaign trail, and appealed to many Democratic voters. Despite some prickly debate moments that seemed to strain their relationship, Harris also has a personal connection with Biden – she was close friends with the former Vice President’s late son, Beau Biden. She also represents the largest state in the country, one that leans heavily left, and has ties to the influential Congressional Black Caucus and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn.

Early Career

Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California, in 1964 and raised in a multiracial family. Her mother, a breast cancer researcher, was the daughter of an Indian diplomat, and her father, a Jamaican immigrant, worked as a professor at Stanford University. Harris studied political science at Howard University in Washington, DC, before returning to California to study law at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco.

Harris began her legal career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, serving as Deputy District Attorney until 1998, when she moved to the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. In 2003, she was elected as San Francisco’s District Attorney. Harris ran for California Attorney General in 2010, winning her election by less than a single percentage point, and becoming both the first African American and the first woman to hold the office. She served as California’s Attorney General until her successful bid for U.S. Senate in 2016, running on a progressive platform that included increasing the minimum wage, criminal justice reform, and comprehensive immigration reform.

Senator Harris

In the Senate, Harris has served on the Select Committee on Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. She has been a vocal advocate for environmental protection legislation, including co-sponsoring legislation last year to enact a Green New Deal, a proposal led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and efforts to uphold clean car standards implemented under the Obama Administration. This year, Sen. Harris and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation to strengthen environmental justice provisions in the Civil Rights and National Environmental Policy Acts. ­­­­

Harris was one of just three Senate Democrats who refused to vote for a proposal in 2018 that would allocate funds for President Trump’s proposed border wall in exchange for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. “I’m not going to vote for a wall under any circumstances,” she said in January 2019.

Kamala Harris for the People

Almost immediately upon her arrival to the Senate, Harris’s name was floated for higher office, culminating in a run for the Democratic nomination for President. Following an early powerful start, her campaign ultimately ran of steam and she dropped out late last year prior to primary voting.

During her brief Presidential campaign, Harris crafted a platform that leaned mostly to the left of Biden. She advocated for progressive polices such as Medicare-for-All, a version of the Green New Deal which would spend $10 trillion of public and private funds to combat climate change, reforming the cash bail system and eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, and increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. ­

Like most Congessional Democrats, Sen. Harris was a staunch critic of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. However, she broke from the party repeatedly promising to replace the Republican-passed tax law with an expanded earned income tax credit for the middle class and a tax credit program aimed at helping working class Americans afford rent.

Contributions

The majority of Harris’s Senate and Presidential campaign contributions came from individual contributors working in law, the entertainment industry, at investment firms, and in the real estate industry. She did not accept money from PACs in her race for the Democratic nomination for President in 2019.

In the Senate, Harris has served on the Select Committee on Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. She has been a vocal advocate for environmental protection legislation, including co-sponsoring legislation last year to enact a Green New Deal, a proposal led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and efforts to uphold clean car standards implemented under the Obama Administration. This year, Sen. Harris and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation to strengthen environmental justice provisions in the Civil Rights and National Environmental Policy Acts.

­­­­* Democrats initially nominated Sen. Thomas Eagleton in 1972, but he later resigned from the Democratic ticket and he was replaced by Sargent Shriver, the former U.S. Ambassador to France.