Monday, July 14, 2008

A Case for a Running Mate: Jeff Bingaman

In a day and age where health care is able to save most from a heart attack or an assassin's bullet, the role of a vice president in an election has changed since it was envisioned in the 18th century. Yes, the vice president will succeed a president should the president die in office, be removed, or otherwise become incapacitated. However the goal in an election now is to balance a ticket. A Northerner takes a Southerner, a centrist takes an ideologue, an old one takes a younger running mate, an insider runs with an outsider. And vice versa. Also, it helps if the VP can secure victory in a decent sized state.

With this principle in mind, I would like to make a case for Jeff Bingaman as a potential running mate for Obama. He has not seemed to get as much consideration as other potential candidates. Especially Richardson. Even though I believe Richardson would be his ideal choice, Bingaman could be a boost to Obama's campaign.

A little background, Jeff Bingaman is the 64-year old senator from New Mexico. even though he is the junior senator from New Mexico, he has held the job since 1983. He has been re-elected with wide margins since then, and so his presence on a ticket with Obama would probably ensure New Mexico swinging into the Democratic column. Because he has been in the senate for so long, he gives an air of authority to the campaign.

Bingaman is the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which will be an important asset in terms of developing a comprehensive energy policy and being able to make oil prices and dependence on imported fuels a major campaign issue for once. He also has experience with immigration and has called for tougher enforcement on the borders, which probably will help with appeal to independents out West.

There are three drawbacks to him. First he is relatively unknown, second, he is also a senator, third, he is not a foreign policy and national security expert. This is where Bill Richardson beats Bingaman as a candidate. However being senator may not be as much of a liability in this election since Obama is a recent addition to the senate and choosing a non-senator is usually done to create the perception of a presidential candidate not being too much of a Beltway insider. Obama doe snot have this image problem and in fact has to convince voters he can attract experienced leadership to his campaign. Bingaman therefore can be seriously considered as a candidate for Vice-President.