With the latest Democratic presidential debate taking place tonight in Ohio, there is growing focus on the leaders, and with that some forward-thinking speculation. There are parlor games in politics right now on establishing the tickets, and one name frequently brought forward is former Tallahassee Mayor and CNN personality Andrew Gillum.
That Gillum is even a consideration is a sign of the unimpressive list of names being considered.
The expansive Democratic Party field of presidential candidates is winnowing down gradually. There are signs the national party has already placed its bets. Tonight's debate field is set at twelve, down from the first debate in Miami that sported nearly two dozen, and required two evenings of posturing. Tulsi Gabbard has made the cut, despite the DNC deciding to rely on hand-selected poll numbers to keep her out of the last meeting. (Gabbard has already been delisted from next month’s debate.)
Meanwhile, the interest lies at the top, where once-sure-thing Joe Biden has been sliding down, now trailing Elizabeth Warren. This is a significant sign of Biden’s consistent verbal gaffes and the potential problems in his past regarding Ukrainian and Chinese business involvements. His has been an overall unimpressive performance, given he was leading the Dem field in polls before he even announced as a candidate.
So Warren has moved forward in the lead, and she is clearly being backed by the media. Her latest snag has followed an attempt to underscore female challenges in this country. She has become embroiled in controversy after claiming that in the early 1970s she had been fired from a teaching position once she became pregnant. This however defies both the record, and her own comments on the job years ago.
Notes from the school records indicate that Warren had resigned, not been let go by the administration. This was supported by Warren herself in an interview in 2007. But now her claims of convenience are not looked at with too much curiosity by the press, which is content to describe this as “changes to her account”, and describe not the details but how conservatives have latched onto these inaccuracies -- as if THAT is the central aspect of the story.
So with the press having chosen its winner already it becomes interesting that reports have been surfacing of Warren seemingly courting Andrew Gillum. To many this makes perfect sense, given Florida’s swing state status in general elections, and the built-in favor she would receive from black voters. Yet a neutral look at things shows this may also be a sign of the weak pool to select from for the frontrunners.
Another name frequently brought up as a potential running mate for the eventual leaders is Stacey Abrams. This makes two prominent names that are candidates who have never held a national office, and both recently lost elections. This adds to the depleted status of others in contention, such as Pete Buttigieg, who is a mayor, and Andrew Yang, who is a businessman. The political heft is, shall we say, lacking. So maybe what we are seeing is not so much a ploy to build the most sound political leadership but to try appealing to the most demographic categories in order to curry votes.
Two sources said the talks between Warren and Gillum resemble the kind of courtship that happens when a leading presidential candidate is exploring potential vice presidential contenders. One source briefed on the communications said the two Democrats have been in contact over the course of the campaign and that there is a “strong impression” that Gillum is a possible vice presidential contender for Warren, who has risen in recent months to become a frontrunner in the 2020 primary.
But you have to question the pull a candidate may have in the general election when they could not win in a statewide race. Even Gillum’s cachet as a television presence is not too impressive. He is a part-time guest, on a network that consistently is beaten in the ratings by SpongeBob Squarepants and the Food Network, in a position he would have to relinquish due to election laws.
This does not even factor in the political dynamite that is Gillum still being investigated by the FBI in two separate cases. So for all of those strikes against his name to have Andrew’s name still occupying a spot near the top of candidate short-lists it seems to indicate a paucity of political choices within the party. Of course, Democrats do not need to look far to see an example of a lack of political heft leading to success.
They need only to look at the White House to see the opportunity that holds.
Brad Slager, a Fort Lauderdale freelance writer, wrote this story exclusively for Sunshine State News. He writes on politics and the industry and his stories appear in such publications as RedState and The Federalist.