By Jim Ellis
July 22, 2016 — In May, freshman Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea/Honolulu) announced his pancreatic cancer had spread, thus preventing him from seeking a second term. Sadly, Mr. Takai, 49, succumbed to the disease Tuesday morning. Hawaii’s 1st District will remain vacant most likely until the election unless Gov. David Ige (D) decides to schedule a special election before November. Former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) is the prohibitive favorite to succeed the late congressman.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has scheduled two major rallies in Tampa on Friday and Miami, Saturday, and reports indicate that she will name her vice presidential selection at the latter event. Her choice will largely tell us a how she views her own general election prospects.
If Ms. Clinton chooses either Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) or Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), it will be an indication that she feels weak on her left flank. Adopting a running mate from the ideological left will signify that she believes her support among the Bernie Sanders’ wing of the Democratic Party needs reinforcing. Such a move would be designed to help attract the 43% of the Democratic primary electorate who supported Sanders earlier this year.
A Warren, Brown, or some other person from the left flank within the party will suggest that Ms. Clinton feels less confident about her chances in November.
Similarly, she could pick a minority running mate, and reportedly Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker remain under consideration for the second slot. Should she go in this direction, it will tell us that she believes her minority community support needs an energy boost. She did very well with these voters in the primaries – in fact, they proved to be her political mainstay and are largely the reason she captured the nomination – but is there enough energy within the communities to ensure the strongest of general election turnouts? The selection of one of the aforementioned will suggest Ms. Clinton believes she needs further help.
The remaining individuals apparently still alive to become the VP nominee would be considered “safe” picks. Should Ms. Clinton go in this direction, it will indicate that she feels confident about her prospects and is going for a running mate who may help her in a particular swing state or issue sector and is not prone to make a major mistake. Since Ms. Clinton is now letting it be known that she wants a Vice Presidential candidate with national security experience suggests that she is leaning in this direction.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine or Navy Admiral James Stavridis, who served as NATO supreme commander, are likely the leading potential candidates who best represent this type of choice. Sen. Kaine is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Admiral Stavridis has obvious national security credentials.
Should the national security qualification not be a particular issue, then Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper would also be another individual considered a safe pick who still has potential.
The likely choice is someone from the safe category. It is probable that she chooses someone who could help her take a swing state, and that would point to Sen. Kaine or Gov. Hickenlooper. Both Virginia and Colorado fall into this category and carrying either or both would go a long way to securing her general election victory.
It appears we will have the answer on Saturday.