Explainer: Who is VP nominee Kamala Harris?

12 August 2020

Written by: Miah Shannon

Californian senator Kamala Harris has been chosen as Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden's running mate for upcoming election.

On Tuesday evening (Wednesday AEST) presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced Kamala Harris as his hotly debated running mate for the November election.

Biden’s decision ended months of speculation after announcing in March that he would choose a female candidate for Vice-President.

Why is this choice considered significant?

Harris is only the third woman in US history to be named on the ballot as Vice-President, and as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, the first black woman.

Harris entered the race for the Democratic Party nomination in 2019 but was forced to drop out before the Iowa caucuses.

Harris failed to win over voters after being unable to clearly articulate her policy initiatives as well as clashing with Biden over his record on race at the first Democratic debate in June last year.

This live spat was thought to have ended her chances for the Vice-Presidency.

If Biden is to win the election he will surpass Donald Trump as the oldest elected president at 77 years of age.

Given his age, it is highly likely that Biden will only be a one term President, opening the door for Harris to be his successor in 2024.

Additionally, if something were to happen to Biden while in office and he could no longer run the country Harris would become the first female president.

What is her political background?

Harris started her law career as a prosecutor in Northern California and quickly transitioned into politics.

She was elected as District Attorney in San Francisco in 2003 and served two terms before being the first African-American and woman to serve as the Californian Attorney General.

During her career Harris promoted herself as someone who fought hard for everyday Americans.

As District Attorney she started a program that gave first time drug offenders a chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment and fought hard as Attorney General to hold corporations accountable and protect the state’s most vulnerable people.

In 2017, Harris was sworn in as a United States Senator for California, and currently serves on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on the Budget.

Who were her competitors for the job?

Harris won out over a long list of competitors including former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth as well as Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential nominee Elizabeth Warren.

Biden contacted every woman individually before announcing Harris as his nominee.

What have been the reactions from both sides? 

Harris’ nomination was met with a mixed reaction from all involved in US politics.

Well-known Democratic Party figures such as Barack Obama have welcomed the nomination on Twitter

Former Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders tweeted his belief that Harris has what it takes to stand up for the working people of America.

However, the Republican party has taken the opportunity to slam Biden and Harris.

President Trump tweeted a video with the slogan “phony Kamala” and highlighted all her “radical left” ideas.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel echoed President Trump’s thought about the “left-wing mob” now controlling the Democratic Party.


Photo: Kamala Harris (48221235642) by Lorie Shaull available here and used under a Creative Commons Attribution. The image has not been modified.