The 2020 presidential Democratic candidate Joe Biden has promised to pick a woman as his running mate. Black leaders want him to select a Black woman. And who? Some are pushing for former presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California. Community activist Al Sharpton wants the former vice president to select Stacey Abrams, the party’s 2018 nominee for governor of Georgia.
And since Sharpton seems to have Biden’s ear — he speaks to Biden regularly, according to The New York Times — Abrams has a shot.
According to Sharpton, who is also a talk show host, while Biden “will get the overwhelming majority of the Black vote, the question is turnout.”
Sharpton has reason to be concerned about Black voter turnout. There was a dip in Black voter turnout four years ago.
“In 2016, the Black voter turnout rate in a presidential election declined for the first time in 20 years, it was seven percentage points lower than the record highs of Obama’s 2012 re-election,” The New York Times reported.
The Black share of the electorate also dropped from 13 percent in 2012 to 12 percent in 2016, a difference of 1.5 million Black voters, according to Ted Johnson, a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice who studies how race affects voting behavior.
“Now I’ve told him my preference is for a Black woman, but you’ve got to also choose the right Black woman,” Sharpton told The New York Times. “In the middle of this pandemic, you have to choose someone that people, and particularly Black people, believe can govern from day one.”
Abrams herself has been pushing for the slot. As of late, she’s been making sure Biden — and the Democratic Party — hasn’t forgotten she’s available.
“I’ve been asked this question since last year. I was brought into the national conversation and I’ve been very honest about my willingness to serve,” Abrams said to Newsweek. “As a young Black woman growing up in Mississippi, I learned that if you don’t raise your hand, people won’t see you and they won’t give you attention,” she explained.
She added that she was “making sure that my qualifications aren’t in question.”
“They’re not just speaking to me. They’re speaking to young Black women, young women of color, young people of color who wonder if they too can be seen,” Abrams said.
Like many others, Abrams feels a Black female running mate would be of great advantage to Biden. And that a Black vice president will make sure issues of the Black community will be heard, such as reparations. Abrams is pro-reparations.
“Women of color, particularly Black women are the strongest part of the Democratic Party, the most loyal,” she said on ABC’s “The View.” “We need a ticket that reflects the diversity of America.”
The Black women voter bloc is a powerful one.
“Black female voters have been showing up consistently for some time. In 2008 and 2012, African-American women turned out in historic numbers for Barack Obama, voting at a higher rate than any other demographic bloc in both years. In 2016, more than 90 percent of African-American women voted for Hillary Clinton, according to CNN exit poll data, even though they were voting at a much lower rate than the two previous presidential elections,” The Guardian reported.
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So who is Biden considering?
During an interview with local television in Pittsburgh, Biden said he would choose Michelle Obama as his running mate “in a heartbeat,” but thought she did not want to return to the White House. Other than that, he has not tipped his hat.
“I’ll commit to being a woman because it is very important that my administration look like the public, look like the nation,” Biden said. “There will be a woman of color on the Supreme Court. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a vice president, as well.”
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