Progressives Are Rallying Behind Karen Bass for VP


More than 300 progressive Democratic National Convention delegates from more than three dozen states are signaling to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that they want him to choose congressional Black Caucus (CBC) chair Karen Bass as his running mate. “We, delegates to the DNC for Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and others, believe Congresswoman Karen Bass is the best choice among Vice Presidential candidates under consideration to help unify our party and move our nation forward,” reads the statement that was circulated Friday. “We urge Vice President Biden to choose her to join the ticket.”

Bass, a veteran activist and former speaker of the California State Assembly who has represented that state in the House of Representatives since 2011, has emerged in the late stages of the vetting process as a serious contender for a place on Biden’s ticket. Since then, the Californian has been the target of whisper campaigns, opposition research dumps, and media hits that seek to portray her as too radical or controversial for a place on the ticket. But the delegates say Bass is precisely the right candidate for a party that needs to build out its base of support.

“Karen Bass is a builder—of multiethnic and multigenerational coalitions which stand the test of time,” says Dolores Huerta, the cofounder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. “In these chaotic times, Joe Biden needs a tested and proven partner who can help him unite the country and bridge the divides others have sought to deepen.”

Huerta backed California Senator Kamala Harris, another VP prospect, for the party’s presidential nomination. But the veteran civil rights and economic justice activist has been talking up Bass in recent weeks, noting that the CBC chair has a long record of working on the domestic health care, jobs, and justice issues where Biden will need a strong partner. “Karen has never been a self-promoter, so probably a lot of people don’t know who she is,” she explained in a recent interview with Payday Report, “but people in my world, the activist world, we know who Karen Bass is.”

As the convention approaches and Biden closes in on a choice, there have been reports that Harris, a former prosecutor, and another candidate favored by centrists and foreign policy insiders, former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice, have emerged as frontrunners. But Bass, who recently led the successful House push for the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” remains in contention—at least in part because of a sense that adding her to the ticket would excite supporters of Sanders and economic and social and racial justice activists.


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