The race to be the Democratic nominee for president has for all intents and purposes been whittled down to a two-man contest (sorry, Tulsi), prompting supporters of both Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to speculate about vice-presidential running mates after just the first few weeks of primaries. And while a lot of the talk has centered on the eventual nominee needing a Black woman as a running mate, those conversations have increasingly included Val Demings.
Prior to this week, much of the chatter about Black women vice-presidential choices revolved around the usual suspects of Stacey Abrams and Kamala Harris. But Demings’ name has quickly crept into the collective consciousness of social media politicos who offered up the congresswoman from Florida as a viable alternative to for potential running mates.
The buzz seemingly started with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who the New York Times reported on Tuesday “is particularly focused on the idea of nominating an African-American woman for vice president.” Among those reportedly being courted by Schumer is Deming, who recently rose to national prominence as a key member of the House of Representatives that successfully worked to impeach President Donald Trump last year.
It may have actually been Demings’ strong performance as a House impeachment manager that compelled Schumer to informally nominate her to be second in command along with Abrams and Harris.
Demings, 62, also has the support for a potential vice-presidential bid from her fellow Democratic Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel, who told the Palm Beach Post in January that she already had her mind made up who she thinks should be the nominee’s running mate.
“They say Stacy [sic] Abrams, but I’m with Val Demings all the way,” Frankel said at the time.
The former chief of police in Orlando — the first woman to serve in that capacity — announced on Thursday that she was endorsing Biden’s presidential candidacy, stoking the flames of speculation over them teaming up to face off against Trump and Mike Pence in November. But when John Berman of CNN asked Demings if she would accept an offer from Biden to be his running mate, she hedged her answer.
The prevailing logic has been that Democrats must have an African American on the ballot in order to beat Trump. And with all the electoral success that Black women have been having in recent years, having one on the presidential ticket would seem to be a no-brainer.
Should Biden consider Demings as a running mate, she would obviously not be alone. To those who have been following this political season closely, Abrams has already long-been a name associated with a Biden presidential ticket. Abrams has made it no secret that she would be interested in being a vice-presidential candidate. In September, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate said she’d be “honored” to be considered to be the nominee’s running mate. And just about a year ago, Abrams reportedly met with Biden at his request, sparking speculation that he was grooming her to be his running mate.
Abrams was famously defeated by voter suppression when she narrowly lost her 2018 midterm election to be the nation’s first Black governor in Georgia before delivering the Democrats’ rebuttal to Trump’s 2019 State if the Union address. Schumer also recruited Abrams to run for the U.S. Senate in Georgia, but she declined that in favor of working to prevent voter suppression from happening in the 2020 election.
However, Biden said in January that he would “consider” Harris for “anything,” leading some to believe he was talking in the context of her possibly being his running mate.
“She’s qualified to be president, and I’d consider her for anything that she would be interested in,” Biden said during a taping of the Sacramento Bee’s California Nation podcast.
But those comments from Abrams and about Harris seem like they came eons ago compared to the reports about Demings, who recently introduced a resolution to have a welcome ceremony for an approved statue at the U.S. Capitol of Mary McLeod Bethune, an educator and civil rights activist who was the child of former slaves and overcame oppressive segregation and racism in the late 19th century and into the early 1900s.
Whatever the ultimate nominee decides, one thing will be sure — there will be no shortage of viable Black women to choose a running mate from.