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Aug. 10, 2020, 8:50 a.m. EDT

Biden’s running-mate search is getting ‘outsized attention’ and could even shake the stock market — here’s how

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee’s decision on his vice president is expected to come this week

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By Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch

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“Warren would accent that policy agenda and its threat to Wall Street,” said the University of Minnesota expert, who also told MarketWatch that stocks “may well respond with good reason to the choice of Warren.”

But Miller, the Bowling Green professor, said she expects Biden will prioritize race over progressive politics in his choice for VP. That’s because “aiming to generate African-American turnout is the safer bet” — and because, at this point, an all-white Democratic ticket looks like “a nonstarter among a broad swath of voters,” according to Miller. When it comes to who is most likely to be picked, she said her top five consists of Rep. Val Demings of Florida, previously Orlando’s police chief, as well as Harris, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former national-security adviser Susan Rice.

“Institutional racism, criminal-justice reform and policing reform will remain key issues through November,” Miller said. “Appointing someone who can speak powerfully to those issues would send an important message to voters.”

Related: Abrams says it’s ‘critical’ to show Black Americans that coronavirus won’t hold up voting

And see: Harris blasts stalling of anti-lynching bill

Sarita McCoy Gregory, who chairs the department of political science and history at Hampton University in Virginia, said her top five is “a bit more aspirational and reflects my hope that the Biden team is paying attention to the current demands for nationwide police reform and the need to excite and unify the Democratic Party base.” Her list doesn’t include Demings and Harris because she views the former “top cops” as “nonstarters” amid widespread calls for reform and the Black Lives Matter movement, Gregory said.

“I don’t believe they will rally the energy and enthusiasm needed,” she said. Instead, Gregory said her top five includes Rice and Rep. Barbara Lee of California, who “has solid progressive politics that would excite the Sanders wing and the West Coast.” It also includes Abrams as well as former Flint, Mich., Mayor Karen Weaver, who “ushered her city through the worst water crisis in the nation’s history,” and Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia, whose story “resonates with this current political moment.” McBath ran for Congress after losing her 17-year-old son in a shooting.

Other twists in the ‘veepstakes’

However, Biden could be focused in large part on selecting a running mate who would work well with him in Washington, according to Jacobs, the University of Minnesota expert.

“Just about everyone is viewing the VP pick as geared to ‘winning’ votes and the election, whereas Biden is mostly viewing the choice as whether the person fits his style, policy and need for help governing,” Jacobs said. He said running mates are “nearly forgotten” by October, and starting with Walter Mondale, the Democratic challenger to Reagan in 1984, every presidential candidate since him has picked their VP “based on policy/governing fit.”

Past White House hopefuls have handled “the age or the health issue by putting somebody a heartbeat away who would be viewed as a plausible president,” said Joel Goldstein, a law professor emeritus at Saint Louis University in Missouri who has written two books on the vice presidency. He cited Reagan’s picking George H.W. Bush and the selection by Bob Dole, the GOP challenger to Bill Clinton in 1996, of Jack Kemp, who was a “presidential-caliber figure in the Republican Party.”

“Biden, of course, has said that’s his main criteria — that the person has to be ready to step in on Day One. So that would lead to the expectation that he’s accepting responsibility to pick somebody who would be perceived as being presidential, which would suggest more of a Bush or a Kemp analogy than a young up-and-comer,” Goldstein added, referring to older presidential candidates who picked more youthful running mates, such as John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin in 2008.

The Saint Louis professor also warned there are still probably more twists ahead in the “veepstakes.”

“At this point, I’d be pretty confident that Biden doesn’t know who he’s going to pick — and that the political context could change dramatically between now and the beginning of August,” he said.

This is an updated version of a report first published on June 10, 2020.

Victor Reklaitis is MarketWatch's Money & Politics reporter and is based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter @VicRek.

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