Congresswoman Emerges in the VP Race

Biden campaign is vetting California Rep. Karen Bass, leader of Congressional Black Caucus
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2020 2:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – A new figure is rising among possible candidates to be Joe Biden's running mate. As chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, California Rep. Karen Bass has led the Democrats' response to nationwide protests and helped get a police reform bill through the House. The 66-year-old former speaker of the California Assembly, who became the first black woman in the US to lead a state legislative house in 2008, lobbied Republicans regarding the bill. Three of them ended up voting in favor of it. She also met with police reform critics, including the Fraternal Order of Police. "The issue was wrought with landmines" but she "walked them through the bill to make sure everyone who had a stake in it was touched," a Democratic leadership aide tells the Hill. And the fact that critics kept quiet "speaks to her ability to not only persuade but build coalitions and keep up the momentum."

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"She's the real deal with a level of civil rights movement bona fides that few vice presidential nominees have ever had," Antonio Villaraigosa, the former California Assembly speaker and Los Angeles mayor, tells the Los Angeles Times. Though she's being vetted for VP, per CBS News, Bass is seen as a long shot. Even so, the former community organizer who battled gang violence and the crack-cocaine epidemic in her native Los Angeles is "quickly establishing herself as a top candidate for House leadership after the election," per the Hill. She was already floated as a possible House speaker in 2018. One issue in the VP race is her honoring Fidel Castro upon his 2016 death, when she respectfully referred to him as “Comandante en Jefe," or commander in chief, per Politico. That likely wouldn't sit well with voters in the swing state of Florida. (Read more Democrats stories.)

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