Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden has made it clear that his running mate for 2020 will be a woman — most likely a woman of color — and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is reportedly among the handful of candidates who have made the former VP’s shortlist.
However, in light of the strong anti-police sentiment that has swept the left across the nation in the past two weeks, Harris’ record as a hard-nosed prosecutor could end up becoming a big liability for both her and Biden, Bloomberg‘s Jeffrey Taylor suggested in a report published Saturday.
“A lot of liabilities”
As Taylor noted, prior to being elected as a senator in California, Harris first served as the district attorney in San Francisco and later, as California’s attorney general. During that time, the now-senator fostered her own reputation as being “tough on crime,” and she exemplified that reputation by cracking down hard on relatively minor offenses like student truancy — she was known to threaten parents with prosecution for the actions of their children, according to Taylor — and marijuana possession.
She has also been accused by detractors of mishandling, downplaying, or even outright ignoring cases of young black men wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit.
That record as a tough prosecutor, which Harris herself has bragged about in the past, likely doesn’t sit particularly well with the modern progressives who have taken over the Democratic Party, many of whom are now calling for the abolition of police and other drastic changes to the criminal justice system, which they view as systemically racist.
Combine Harris’ prosecutorial record with Biden’s own history of being on the opposite side of black criminal justice activists, including by authoring a 1994 crime bill that has been blamed for the mass incarceration of black men, and Taylor’s sources say that appears to be a recipe for electoral disaster in November.
“What you want in a running mate is someone who will bring assets to the ticket without a lot of liabilities,” Garry South, a Democratic consultant in Los Angeles, told the Bloomberg journalist. “As a prosecutor having put people behind bars, she may sell well to the average white suburban voter, but in the African American community, there are a lot of concerns about that.
“In this environment, does he want to choose someone with a record in law enforcement that will be pored over and viewed with a magnifying glass?” South added.
“Kamala is a cop”
Those who paid attention during the Democratic primary race may also recall that Harris, who ended her mediocre run for the White House in December, had been besieged by a viral meme declaring, “Kamala is a cop.” While shared by many on the left and right for a variety of reasons, the joke originally stemmed from the black community over justifiable concerns about her record, according to a piece from far-left outlet Mother Jones.
Still, Biden has sworn to choose a woman, and the field of contenders is narrowing fast. A weekend report from the New York Post alleged that Biden may have dwindled his shortlist down to just two: Harris and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D). And one Democrat strategist has suggested that Uncle Joe ought to pick the former.
“Biden only won the nomination with overwhelming support from black voters,” Brad Bannon told the Post. “He needs to reward them.”
But while Harris may be a good campaigner who can parrot all of the correct progressive idioms right now, she will never escape her record as a state attorney. Could that spell political doom for Biden’s camp? Only time will tell.