WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Joe Biden has chosen Sen. Kamala Harris of California to join him on the Democratic ticket, fulfilling his pledge to select a female running mate and making Harris the first Black person ever tapped as the vice presidential nominee of a major party.
His campaign announced the pick Monday afternoon.
Even a prominent Republican senator has called her “tough.”
Biden’s selection of Harris, 55, lends racial diversity, gender parity and generational breadth to his campaign. It also represents a strategic decision by the 77-year-old former vice president to keep his ticket firmly within the more moderate wing of the Democratic Party.
The selection came despite a monthslong pressure campaign from leftist factions that wanted Biden to pick a progressive star like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Harris’ selection also complicates efforts by incumbent President Donald Trump and his campaign apparatus to portray Biden as a tool of the “radical left.”
Harris has a uniquely American biography: Her mother was a widely respected breast cancer researcher who immigrated to the United States from India in the 1960s. Her father, Donald Harris, is an eminent economist who spent much of his career at Stanford University. Also an immigrant, Harris moved to the United States from Jamaica around the time his future wife came from India.
A first-term senator who served as California’s attorney general from 2010-16, Harris has drawn on her personal and professional experience to emerge as a leader in the Senate on racial justice issues.
A member of the Judiciary Committee, Harris in 2018 co-sponsored the first-ever bill to make lynching a federal crime. The bill passed the Senate and the House overwhelmingly, but a final version was blocked by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Harris was also a co-author this spring of Democrats’ broader police reform legislation, drafted in response to the national uprising that followed the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by Minneapolis police in May, and the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a Black EMT, at her home in Louisville, Kentucky, in March.
Yet Harris, like Biden himself, is considered by many in Washington to be a moderate, pragmatic lawmaker rather than an ideologue. Harris has also repeatedly teamed with Republican colleagues to draft legislation during her first three years in the Senate.
This includes working on an election security bill with Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., the anti-lynching bill with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., and a workplace harassment prevention bill with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
Harris has even won plaudits from Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a staunch Trump ally – albeit one whose personal friendship with Biden goes back some 30 years.
Speaking to radio host Hugh Hewitt about Harris in May, Graham said, “I think she’s the leading candidate [for Biden’s running mate]. I know her. I didn’t like what she did in the Kavanaugh [Supreme Court confirmation] hearings by any stretch of the imagination. But she’s hard-nosed. She’s smart. She’s tough.”