New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has officially removed his name from consideration for Vice-President. This seems to be a largely symbolic move at this point, since Richardson’s name, which was being thrown around a great deal six months ago, had gone more or less unmentioned for a while based (according to Washington types and some friends in New Mexico politics) in large part on a reputation for maritial infidelity. Richardson’s fall from the short list strikes me as an unfortunate development; while some of his politics (particularly fiscally) were somewhat more conservative than I’d like, he’s a tremendously popular Latino executive from the South with a reputation for a strident populist progressivism and a savvy and pragmatic political instinct. So given that John Lewis didn’t seem to be on the table this time around, I would likely have taken him over Gephardt or Edwards.
The latest chatter seems to be that a Vice-Presidential announcement (read: leak, followed by later announcement) will come in the middle of this coming week. If, as many have suggested, it comes down to Gephardt or Edwards, my vote’s for Edwards. While both men campaigned to the left of Kerry on trade and arguably on jobs, Edwards was immeasurably more effective in articulating and demanding a vision for working America. While both men, like Kerry, voted for Bush’s War, Gephardt as Minority Leader is personally responsible for orchestrating the party’s shameful surrender on the issue. It was perhaps the defining moment of Gephardt’s sad tenure of compromise to the Republican party as a Democratic leader; at risk of sounding trite, Gephardt gives off the impression of a fading star, Edwards a rising one.
In this race, as in the Presidential primary, everyone seems convinced that Gephardt is labor’s candidate except for those actually involved in the labor movement, perhaps in part because (near) everyone outside of the labor movement visualizes it as the Teamsters. But absent a real progressive, Edwards is my pick, is SEIU’s pick, and hopefully will be Kerry’s as well.