Joyce Beatty for vice president?


Joe Biden has a decision to make.

By mid-August if not sooner, the putative Democratic Party presidential nominee must select a running mate. He has said he will pick a woman.

The front-runners are Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, and Stacey Abrams of Georgia. One-time front-runner Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, recently dropped out.

The second tier includes Rep. Val Demming of Florida, former Secretary of State Susan Rice, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Warren and Whitmer are white, while the others are Black.

Nobody from Ohio is being considered.

This is significant because Biden’s vice president would likely, ultimately become his successor. After all, Ohio is the “Mother of Presidents.”

Ohio’s leading Democratic officeholder, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, is the wrong gender. He was among three finalists to be on the ticket with Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Ohio’s most popular female Democrat is Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio’s health director during the pandemic, who recently was moved to a lower profile position. She is probably neither available nor interested though she once campaigned vigorously for Barack Obama.

After watching U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, of Columbus, display exemplary leadership and bravery by joining the Black Lives Matter marchers protesting the murder of George Floyd and getting tear-gassed in the process along with Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce, I developed a new-found respect for the Black Congresswoman.

Having seen her speak several times in recent years, I admit that I was not a big fan. While her intelligence and ability to articulate were stellar, I was put off a bit by her overworked trademark closing line: “I approved this message.” I doubted that she could run successfully for higher office.

Her recent primary victory over Morgan Harper, where she was challenged from the left by a younger Black woman who was backed by U.S. Rep. Alexadria Ocasio-Cortez, impressed me. Rather than engage in tit for tat with her opponent, Beatty concluded her campaign with classy low-key ads that re-emphasized her support for the community and for providing the services her constituents need.

Beatty won by a landslide, proving that she is the people’s choice in Columbus and Franklin County.

At age 70, Beatty displays the vigor of somebody 20 years younger. Her eight years in Congress, her nearly 10 years as a state legislator, and her years as a senior administrator at Ohio State University are highlights of a life devoted to public service.

I am surprised that the Columbus Dispatch, which recently proclaimed a newly found sensitivity to the needs of the Black community, has not proposed Beatty for vice president.

Joe Biden needs to take notice.

Woman. Check.

Black. Check.

Battleground state. Check.

Hillary Clinton made a mistake by choosing Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia as her running mate because she was going to carry Virginia anyway. By contrast, picking Sherrod Brown might have helped her in Ohio, where she lost badly.

Clinton made a mistake by not choosing a Black running mate, because the turnout of Black voters for her was not sufficient in key Midwest states.

Current vice presidential front-runners Harris and Warren come from states bound to vote overwhelmingly for Biden. Abrams comes from Georgia, that is emerging as a battleground state, but her highest office held is as a state legislator. Whitmer does come from a contested state, but Biden is up by 10% in recent Michigan polls.

Biden needs to add Joyce Beatty to his vice presidential short list. She just might be the one he is looking for to help carry Ohio and seal the deal with the American people on Nov. 3. I wonder if she will approve this message.

By John K. Hartman

Guest columnist

A resident of Liberty Township, John K. Hartman is an emeritus professor of journalism at Central Michigan University and a member of the CMU Journalism Hall of Fame. In 2019, he was named a distinguished alumnus of the Ashland City Schools. He serves as an alternate on the township zoning board and is a Democratic Party precinct committeeman. He was a member of the Bowling Green Board of Education from 1978-1997. He writes a monthly column for the Columbus Free Press.

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