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Joe Biden campaigns in Montclair, New Jersey for congressional candidate Mikie Sherrill in 2018. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Sherrill wants Biden to consider Duckworth for VP

New Jersey congresswoman touts five House colleagues as potential Biden running mates

By David Wildstein, March 22 2020 6:00 am

Freshman Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) is ready for a woman vice president and says that U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is at the “top of her list” of candidates Joe Biden ought to consider as his running mate.

“She’s a veteran.  She’s thoughtful, experiences, tough,” Sherrill told the New Jersey Globe.  “I love her.”

A rising star in state and national Democratic circles, Sherrill applauded Biden’s announcement that he would put a woman on the ticket if he is the Democratic presidential nominee.

“I think it’s’great. I want to win.  I want the best pick possible,” said Sherrill, who represents a district Trump carried by one percentage point in 2016.  “I think the best pick is a woman.”

Sherrill mentioned two other senators, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, and two governors, Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, as candidates who could help Biden beat Donald Trump.

The New Jersey Democrat mentioned five of her House colleagues as women Biden ought to think about before deciding who he wants to run with: Val Demings (D-Florida), Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pennsylvania), Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia) and Terri Sewell (D-Alabama).

Spanberger and Sewell both have ties to New Jersey: Spanberger lived in Red Bank until she was a teenager, and Sewell attended Princeton University.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) also listed Demings and Sewell as potential vice presidential candidates, prior to Biden committing to run with a woman.

Sherrill said that winning the votes of suburban women will be critical in Biden’s general election campaign.

What about Sherrill as a possible Biden running mate?

“You can rule me out,” she said.

Sherill, an Annapolis graduate who flew Navy helicopters and then served as a federal prosecutor, views Duckworth as sort of a kindred spirit.

The 52-year-old freshman senator from Illinois was deployed to Iraq as an Army helicopter pilot in 2004.  A few months later, Iraqi insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at her Black Hawk helicopter, causing Duckworth to lose her fight leg near her hip and her left leg below her knee.  She was awarded the Purple Heart.

Duckworth served in the Obama administration as assistant U.S. Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs before winning a House seat in 2012.  She ousted a Republican U.S. Senator in 2016 by 15 percentage points.

Klobuchar and Harris are better known after their recent bids for the presidency, but the others on Sherrill’s short list are less recognizable.

Whitmer, 48, has been governor of Michigan for just fifteen months, but she comes from a state that could be pivotal to Biden’s winning the White House.  She made  national headlines in 2013 when as the State Senate minority leader, she revealed during a floor debate on proposed abortion restrictions that she had been sexually assaulted two decades earlier.

A Rhodes Scholar, the 48-year-old Raimondo worked in venture capital before running for Rhode Island State Treasurer.  She’s serving her second term as governor.  Raimondo chaired the Democratic Governors Association before New Jersey’s Phil Murphy took over.

The five House members touted by Sherrill lack a national profile, but they are all up-and-comers showing a deep bench among women in Congress.

Demings, 63, attended segregated schools in Florida and spent 27 years as a police officer.  She became the first woman to serve as Orlando Police Chief, and is now in her second term in Congress.  Demings got some attention as one of the House impeachment managers during Trump’s impeachment trial.

Sewell attended Princeton with Michelle Obama and then Harvard Law School with Barack Obama. The 55-year-old Selma, Alabama Democrat been in Congress for ten years.

Slotkin, Houlahan and Spanberger flipped Republican House seats in 2018 and are part of a group of freshman who like Sherrill have defense and national security backgrounds.

The 43-year-old Slotkin grew up on a Michigan farm and went to work for the Central Intelligence Agency, the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Council.  Under Obama, she worked at the State Department and as  deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.  Slotkin took out a two-term Republican congressman in Trump’s mid-term election,

Houlahan, 53, graduated from Stanford, spent three years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, and the received a post-graduate degree in technology from MIT.  She was the COO of two start-up companies and then taught 11th grade science at a Philadelphia high school listed on the persistently dangerous schools list.  The district Houlahan flipped had been under GOP control for sixteen years.

After moving from New Jersey to Virginia, Spanberger served as a U.S. Senate page for Chuck Robb.  She investigated money laundering and illegal drug cases as a U.S. Postal Inspector before joining the Central Intelligence Agency.  She unseated a two-term incumbent to end a 38-year GOP hold on her Richmond-based congressional district in 2018.

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