By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on Aug. 11—making history by selecting the first Black and Asian woman to compete on a major party’s presidential ticket.
“Together, with you, we’re going to beat Trump,” Biden said.
Born to a Jamaican father and Tamil Indian mother, the 55-year-old first-term senator is one of the party’s most prominent figures. Harris quickly became a top contender for the No. 2 spot after her own White House campaign ended.
Former Gov. Gary Locke called Harris a “terrific choice.” Both Locke and Biden served under the Obama administration.
“Kamala Harris is a charismatic and energetic campaigner,” Locke told the Northwest Asian Weekly. “She will be a strong complement to Joe Biden’s strength in foreign policy with her strengths in domestic affairs. They will make an awesome and effective team in the White House and bring the needed leadership and healing our country desperately needs.”
“As a South Asian woman, I am uplifted by the historic choice of Sen. Kamala Harris as our next VP,” said state Rep. Vandana Slatter. “This is an important moment for the Black & AAPI communities, women of color, and for all Americans. I know she will be a strong and smart collaborator with Vice President Joe Biden in creating a more equitable nation for all.”
IntuitiveX CEO Jeffrey Roh echoed Slatter’s sentiments, saying, “We in the AAPI community should be absolutely thrilled…the selection of a progressive woman of color, nominated for a national office by a major party is an historic moment that all AAPIs and people of color in the Pacific Northwest, as well as throughout the U.S., should be proud of.” Roh and his wife, Grace, co-hosted a fundraiser in Seattle for Harris for her presidential campaign last year.
Harris joins Biden in the 2020 race at a moment of unprecedented national crisis. The coronavirus pandemic has claimed the lives of more than 160,000 people in the United States, far more than the toll experienced in other countries. Business closures and disruptions resulting from the pandemic have caused severe economic problems. Unrest, meanwhile, has emerged across the country as Americans protest racism and police brutality.
Rick Politan, a Filipino community leader, called Harris a “qualitative addition to the Biden team—a woman, person of color, and a well-qualified person to be a heartbeat away from being a president.”
“Now let’s all work together and make sure the Biden-Harris team is elected and establish another historical landmark in having our first POC woman vice president,” he said.
“The selection of Kamala Harris as the vice presidential candidate is a welcome sign of progress,” said State Sen. Manka Dhingra. “Her experience as a daughter of immigrants, as a prosecutor, senator, and a woman of color with a mixed racial background truly reflects America and the issues that we are dealing with as a country. Her intelligence, tenacity and ethics will help lead America out of our current crisis and into a brighter future.”
Attorney and former Shoreline City Council member Cheryl Lee said the announcement is a huge moment for Asian Americans and for women.
“As the first Black Indian American VP, Kamala Harris will complement President (soon-to-be) Joe Biden to help restore our country. I think she will bring a huge boost of energy and enthusiasm to Biden’s Presidential campaign. So exciting!”
A woman has never served as president or vice president in the United States. Two women have been nominated as running mates on major party tickets: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. Their parties lost in the general election.
The vice presidential pick carries increased significance this year. If elected, Biden would be 78 when he’s inaugurated in January, the oldest man to ever assume the presidency. He’s spoken of himself as a transitional figure and hasn’t fully committed to seeking a second term in 2024. If he declines to do so, his running mate would likely become a front-runner for the nomination that year.
Ruth can be reached at email@example.com.