Very early on in the Democratic presidential sweepstakes, my good friend Jim McQueeny brought to my attention the possibility of former Vice-President Joe Biden naming Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer as his vice-presidential running mate. After studying the life and record of the Michigan governor, I came to agree with Jim.
So on September 5, 2019, almost a year ago, I authored an InsiderNJ column, “A Joe Biden- Gretchen Whitmer Ticket? It May Happen.”
The very next day, Michigan political columnist Susan J. Demas authored a column on the website, Michigan Advance, regarding my aforementioned column, “Told you so: Columnist floats Whitmer as Biden VP.” Demas also interviewed Jim McQueeny at length about the Biden-Whitmer ticket possibility:
While I am intrepid in making election forecasts, resulting in my often being very right or very wrong, I rarely predict whom somebody may appoint to a position, because I can’t be sure as to the thinking of the appointing party. I do not hesitate to advocate for somebody’s appointment, however, if I feel that individual is ideally suited for the position.
I have believed, and continue to believe that Gretchen Whitmer, both governmentally and politically, is ideally suited to be Joe Biden’s running mate. So I began to advocate for the selection of Gretchen Whitmer as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.
First, I authored on March 16, 2020 the column, “The Best Biden Lineup: VP Whitmer, AG Harris, Justice Abrams.”
Next, noting the fact that Gretchen Whitmer may well be the most popular white governor in the nation among one’s respective African-American constituents, I authored the following InsiderNJ column on May 5, 2020: “Memo to Joe Biden: ‘Big Gretch’ is Your IDEAL Veep Choice!”
In this column, I noted that Whitmer is lovingly referred to in the Michigan African-American community as “the Big Gretch.” A Detroit rap artist has even named a song after her. Gretchen Whitmer is one American white politician that you will hear her Black constituents refer to as “Woke!”
After the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, however, a consensus among Democratic national insiders began to emerge that Biden would select as his running mate an African-American woman. Accordingly, I felt that the issue had become moot, and that it was fruitless to advocate any further for Gretchen’s selection.
So it was quite a surprise to me, pleasant I may add, to learn that last weekend, Gretchen Whitman became the first prospective vice-presidential nominee to be invited by Joe Biden to Delaware to discuss the possibility of becoming his running mate:
This is the type of situation which makes political punditry a risky, yet nonhazardous activity! I will not hesitate, however, to offer three educated guesses as to the current status of Gretchen Whitmer in the Campaign 2020 Democratic vice-presidential sweepstakes:
- I firmly believe that Gretchen Whitmer is Joe Biden’s preferred choice for his vice-presidential running mate, due to all the governmental and political advantages she brings to the national ticket that I enumerated in my columns referenced above.
- I will not predict outright, however, that Biden will select Whitmer. There are two factors that give the former vice president pause in making this choice: 1) the prospect of an adverse reaction from the African-American community due to the fact that an African-American woman is not being selected; and 2) former President Barack Obama has been intensively lobbying Biden to select his former UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
- There is one person who can give Biden the “political cover” to select Whitmer and enable his choice to have the blessing of both the African-American community and Barack Obama. That person is House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina.
Known as “The Kingmaker,” Clyburn has more than lived up to his sobriquet in this presidential election year of 2020. First, his endorsement was vital to Joe Biden in his comeback victory in South Carolina on February 29. Next, in leading the mobilization of the African-American vote on behalf of the former vice-president three days later on Super Tuesday, Big Jim played THE key role in enabling Biden to sweep these primaries as well. The Biden South Carolina/Super Tuesday sweep gave him the nomination and Jim Clyburn the status of 2020 National Political Player of the year.
And now, if as I suspect, Joe Biden wants to select Gretchen Whitmer as his running mate, he should first call Jim Clyburn.
Since Biden announced that he would select a woman as his running mate, Clyburn has stated that the selection of an African-American woman for this role would be a “plus” for Joe. He has never, however made this a requirement.
In an interview with Judy Woodruff of PBS on July 31, Clyburn emphasized again that it is more important for Biden to select a Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court than as Vice President. Specifically, Clyburn answered as follows:
The V.P. is good on style, but, on substance, give me an African-American woman on the Supreme Court. That’s where we determine how our democracy will be preserved.
Biden has already pledged to appoint an African-American woman to the Supreme Court. Stacey Abrams, get ready to wear your US Supreme Court judicial robes and at your swearing-in ceremony stand next to “the Kingmaker,” Jim Clyburn!
And if Joe Biden does select Gretchen Whitmer as his running mate, expect to see on all the national news shows a veritable plethora of Jim Clyburn interviews in which he endorses Joe Biden’s choice of the “Big Gretch!”
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission