The less obvious running mate Joe Biden should pick

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New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham addresses rumors about her being on Joe Biden's potential VP shortlist

Posted: May 5, 2020 2:31 AM
Updated: May 5, 2020 2:31 AM

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is right to narrow his vice presidential selection to a woman. After decades of other countries electing women to lead on the global stage, it is time for the United States to get on the right side of history.

And though she is not the most obvious choice, there is one contender who we should all be pulling for: New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

When Biden committed to choosing a female running mate in mid-March, the coronavirus pandemic had not yet reached its peak in the US. However, in light of both the ongoing public health crisis and the economic free fall, the stakes of his selection for the number two spot are even higher. And people of all political stripes are craving strong leadership.

Governors, like Lujan Grisham, are flexing their leadership muscles in response to the coronavirus crisis, and the American people are responding positively. America's governors currently have much higher approval ratings than President Donald Trump and slightly higher than federal health agencies for their pandemic response, according to a poll from Monmouth University, as well as several state surveys.

Lujan Grisham's response to the pandemic has been exemplary. She took swift action in the early days of the crisis that, according to state officials, was key to New Mexico's success in flattening the curve. New Mexico was among the first dozen states to announce school closures and stay-at-home orders -- on March 16 and March 23, respectively. It also set up the first drive-through testing for coronavirus in the country March 16 and opened over 50 testing sites around the state, prioritizing at-risk populations.

Even before the pandemic began wreaking havoc, a February tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found health care and the economy to be the two most pressing issues among likely voters in the country, scoring 26% and 23% respectively. And, for swing voters, health care rated even higher: 28%, according to the survey. For all the focus that Democrats placed on health care to win in the 2018 midterm elections and define the primary debates this cycle, here's a novel idea: How about a vice presidential nominee with actual health care experience?

Of the six Democratic women governors in the country, only Lujan Grisham has previously led a statewide health department. During her tenure, New Mexico doubled the number of health centers from 34 to 68, expanded in-home care for seniors, built a new state lab, all while improving infectious disease prevention programs.

But perhaps more important than her leadership or health record is her electoral record -- and Lujan Grisham has a record of winning big. In 2018, she took the governor's mansion back after two terms of Republican control, winning by more than 14 points. She also outperformed combined pre-election polls by an extra 6 points. As a US Representative, her victories were even more convincing: she won her final term by a 30-point margin.

Lujan Grisham also has one quality that is key to winning this year: She is willing to fight for whatever she believes in and with all the force she can muster. She literally crashed a White House meeting on immigration in 2018 to speak to Trump. As the then-chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, she rode with then-House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer to the meeting, waltzed in uninvited and told reporters that Congress and the administration were making a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival compromise "harder than it ought to be."

Generally, I'm not a proponent of identity politics, finding ethnic-based candidacies unnecessarily divisive, I fully support diversifying our national leadership to reflect our people. Lujan Grisham is not just a Latinx statewide leader, but also part of another underrepresented, fast growing part of our population: the West.

The Democratic Party has never had a vice president or president from the West. States like Nevada, Arizona, and Utah are among the fastest-growing in the country, even as population growth slows nationally. Western states may not be not electoral giants, but this region is where people continue to move. It has always been a place where progress roams free, but it's also been mixed with streaks of libertarianism, with wide open spaces harkening back to an attitude of live and let live. Lujan Grisham would bring that Western grit and perspective back to Washington, as she did when she served in Congress.

Giving a nod to the Latinx population should pull candidates toward the southwest. New Mexico is still by far the most Latinx state percentage-wise. Having a former chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who has helped Democrats nationwide formulate policy for the Latinx community at large, would be a bold step for the party, and the right move for our country, whose global image as compassionate and welcoming has been deeply stained in recent years.

New Mexico has a governor capable of leading in times of hardship. Her record shows she can do the same for America. Joe Biden should choose as his running mate: Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 126591

Reported Deaths: 2334
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin32743974
Ramsey13510352
Dakota9389136
Anoka8216150
Stearns548540
Washington534568
Scott323434
Olmsted312529
St. Louis273865
Wright231414
Nobles217416
Clay209343
Blue Earth19797
Carver17147
Kandiyohi16004
Rice15869
Sherburne158321
Mower149415
Winona120918
Lyon9336
Crow Wing92021
Waseca9189
Chisago8902
Benton8625
Beltrami8137
Otter Tail7836
Todd7415
Steele7332
Nicollet68917
Itasca68817
Freeborn6474
Morrison6438
Douglas6243
Martin59916
Le Sueur5915
McLeod5734
Watonwan5724
Goodhue52911
Polk5274
Pine5160
Becker5053
Isanti5044
Chippewa4043
Carlton3921
Dodge3700
Mille Lacs36411
Hubbard3352
Wabasha3320
Pipestone33016
Cass3285
Meeker3123
Brown3073
Rock3041
Yellow Medicine2685
Cottonwood2640
Murray2583
Redwood25111
Fillmore2410
Sibley2403
Renville23311
Faribault2140
Roseau2110
Jackson2011
Wadena2011
Unassigned19553
Swift1921
Kanabec19110
Houston1831
Lincoln1710
Pennington1701
Stevens1691
Koochiching1634
Aitkin1572
Pope1480
Big Stone1290
Lac qui Parle1263
Wilkin1264
Lake1080
Mahnomen1011
Norman1010
Grant904
Marshall901
Clearwater880
Red Lake612
Traverse540
Lake of the Woods431
Kittson330
Cook110

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 109660

Reported Deaths: 1580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18245283
Woodbury689694
Johnson568330
Black Hawk530098
Linn5173128
Dubuque479754
Scott413437
Story389818
Dallas333744
Pottawattamie303244
Sioux231714
Buena Vista221312
Marshall194736
Webster174014
Plymouth157126
Wapello148362
Clinton138226
Muscatine136958
Crawford132412
Des Moines12819
Cerro Gordo127823
Warren11716
Carroll105210
Jasper103634
Henry9995
Marion94810
Tama91137
Lee89810
Delaware7099
Dickinson7017
Wright6981
Boone6869
Mahaska64024
Bremer6299
Washington61811
Harrison5928
Jackson5463
Benton5291
Lyon5257
Clay5014
Louisa49815
Hamilton4543
Winneshiek4519
Winnebago44718
Hardin4445
Kossuth4430
Poweshiek43911
Floyd41911
Jones4173
Emmet41217
Cedar4115
Buchanan4054
Iowa3858
Cherokee3762
Franklin37518
Guthrie37415
Sac3724
Page3680
Clayton3583
Butler3502
Mills3501
Shelby3501
Fayette3483
Cass3452
Madison3442
Allamakee3358
Chickasaw3301
Clarke3193
Humboldt3003
Palo Alto2932
Hancock2924
Grundy2855
Calhoun2784
Howard2589
Osceola2540
Monroe24911
Mitchell2360
Monona2331
Taylor2252
Union2174
Pocahontas2142
Jefferson2101
Appanoose2093
Lucas1916
Fremont1861
Ida1812
Greene1800
Van Buren1642
Davis1624
Montgomery1595
Adair1471
Keokuk1451
Decatur1400
Audubon1371
Worth1330
Wayne1133
Ringgold822
Adams700
Unassigned90
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