What the hell did Vice President Joe Biden ever do to anybody? Especially former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder?
Wilder is an interesting character. The first black man elected governor in modern America, he fancies himself a kingmaker in his Commonwealth, endorsing fellow Democrats and the occasional Republican. Earlier this week, the erratic Wilder penned an op-ed in Politicocalling on President Obama to drop Biden from the 2012 ticket and replace him with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Too many gaffes, Wilder claimed, comparing the Vice President to BP’s CEO Tony Hayward. He even insinuated that Obama’s selection of Biden was as disastrous as John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin.
Of course, Wilder ignores that Obama has had his share of gaffes (and big ones too: Cambridge police acting “stupidly”) or that the President was able to delegate the handling of Iraq to his VP, only requiring one meeting on it in all of 2009 and now seeing the operation wind down. Biden has done a good job and deserves to be renominated.
But even so: say that Biden is not on the ticket in 2012—does Obama have any options besides Hillary? Perhaps.
The Future Contenders – Those already running for 2016
Martin O’Malley – The Maryland governor is actually headed toward a tough re-election battle, but he has girded his loins to not be the Tom Suozzi of 2010 (google it, folks). He’s got a blue-collar Biden-esque touch and has had a successful stint in hard times. And he totally Bruces it up as the frontman/guitarist of an Irish rock band, often without sleeves.
Amy Klobuchar – Klobuchar is a relative newcomer to national politics, a Minnesotan elected to the Senate in 2006. But she shows a lot of pluck, visiting Tom Harkin’s Iowa Steak Fry and positioning herself to be taken seriously as a contender for first female Democratic nominee in 2016.
Brian Schweitzer – Another visitor to Iowa, Schweitzer is a liberal darling of a red state, though he has been less up on the national scene in recent years. This is perhaps due to his hard pushing for coal energy and the fact that he needs to keep himself alive politically in a place where appealing to the coasts is not all that popular.
The Swingers – Potential VPs from critical states
Charlie Crist – The soon-to-be ex-Florida governor was drummed out of the Republican Party for being a moderate. What better way to send the message that the Democratic Party is the party for moderates than picking Crist?
Ted Strickland – The Ohio guv was a huge Hillary supporter but has become a staunch ally of Obama. He knows how to woo his home state, which is like having the cheat-codes to the Mortal Kombat that is the Electoral College—know them, and you’ve already beat the game.
Mark Warner – Very popular as Virginia’s governor, he flirted with a 2008 bid (dubbed “The Anti-Hillary” by New York Times Magazine in 2005) but dropped out long before the primaries got going. He’s now in the Senate, but Obama may very well owe the presidency to this man—Clinton could’ve won the early nominating contests had he stayed in it.
The Class of 2008 – Biden’s co-shortlisters last time out
Tim Kaine – The former Virginia governor is now solely the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. That partisanship has dimmed the luster of his previous position of purple state Catholic progressive. His ship has sailed, methinks.
Evan Bayh – Speaking of sailed ships, Bayh has been on every Democratic VP shortlist since 2000. His time may be up, as he is leaving the Senate this year instead of fighting for his seat. Though he may run for governor again in Indiana and throw himself back into the national politics mix, it seems for now he is out.
Third Tier Senators – Interesting members elected in 2006
Claire McCaskill – Elected senator from Missouri, McCaskill was an early supporter of Obama in 2008. She lost another statewide race and only narrowly defeated the Abramoff-tied Jim Talent, so her political skills seem to leave a lot to be desired.
Jon Tester – This guy is a real sleeper, perhaps deserving to be in the ‘long shots’ category. He is the Montana’s junior senator, a farmer with a flattop who has only 7 fingers after a meat-grinder accident. He won largely on support from internet activists rallying to his cause. Heartlanders will love him.
Jim Webb – Grizzled and tough, Webb is so disenchanted with politics, he very well may quit in 2012 after one term as Virginia’s senator. A Vietnam War hero and Reagan appointee, he already knocked off one of the GOP’s rising stars by defeating George Allen.
Long Shots – Unlikely choices who could turn heads
Patrick Murphy – The 36-year-old Pennsylvanian was the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress, beating a Republican incumbent in 2006. He’s got a high profile as a young fresh face in the Democratic caucus. 2012 is only the second cycle in which he is constitutionally eligible for the presidency. Expect him to run in the 2020’s.
Lisa Jackson – The EPA administrator holds a cabinet-level position, and she was popular when she held the equivalent job here in New Jersey. Her stock has declined some with the Gulf Oil Spill, but she’d be a strong outside-the-box pick.
Doug Wilder – Hah! Just kidding. Despite his short bid in the 1992 cycle, Wilder’s been a has-been for nearly two decades. Sort of like Biden was, before 2008.
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