The Buzz Around Val Demings

During his debate with Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden promised that, if nominated, he would choose a woman as his vice-presidential candidate. Since then, speculation has mostly revolved around the political pros and cons offered by such presidential candidates as Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar, as well as Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams. One recent name, however, has been receiving most of the buzz.

According to Wikepedia, U. S. Representative Val Demings (10th District, Florida) earned her bachelor’s degree from Florida State University, majoring in criminology. She began her career as a social worker, then gravitated to the Orlando Police Department. While employed there, she continued her education, earning a master’s degree in public administration from Webster University Orlando. In 2007, she became the first woman appointed to serve as Orlando Chief of Police.

After unsuccessful races for U.S. House of Representatives and Mayor of Orlando in 2012 and 2014, she was elected to her first term in Congress in 2016. She was reelected without opposition in 2018.

Spirited Reasoners may remember her name as one of seven managers selected by the House to present articles of impeachment to the United States Senate earlier this year.

Is she a viable vice-presidential candidate?

The answer is fairly straightforward: we don’t know yet. In fact, even Joe Biden might not know yet. He’s been around long enough to understand the dangers of choosing a candidate based solely on political expediency rather than capacity to serve as President of the United States in the event of presidential incapacity. For that reason, candidates like Harris, Warren, Klobuchar, and Abrams might be viewed as having more substantial governmental experience.

Sometimes, though, presidential candidates like to choose relative unknowns, because such people carry less in the way of political baggage. Names like Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin come to mind. The trouble with that strategy is that it always seems to backfire. Both Quayle and Palin, relative unknowns when they were nominated, generated initial excitement that later morphed into a drag on the ticket. (The fact that Bush managed to win despite having Quayle on the ticket in 1988 says something about the strength of the legacy of Ronald Reagan.) All it takes is one innocent remark, perhaps taken the wrong way, and the formerly unknown vice presidential candidate takes on the reputation of a political lightweight—a reputation which then tarnishes the image of the name at the top of the ticket—the one who made the selection.

We’ll see. If I had to gamble, I’d say Val Demings remains a long shot, though the buzz tells us something about the current thinking of candidate Biden.