Biden Picks Kamala Harris, His Former 2020 Rival, to Be His Vice Presidential Running Mate

The 55-year-old former California attorney general will be the first Black woman to be nominated by either major party for vice president.

By Jake Lahut and Eliza Relman • Aug 11, 2020

Getty Images/Scott Olson

This story originally appeared on Business Insider

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Sen. Kamala Harris of California will be his vice presidential running mate, making her the first ever woman of color on a major party presidential ticket.

The selection makes Harris a leading figure in the Democratic Party, with the chance to be a heartbeat away from the presidency and a favorite for the next nomination in 2024 or 2028.

Harris, 55, was briefly a frontrunner in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, but dropped out last December amid lagging enthusiasm and campaign funds. The former prosecutor notably sparred with Biden over his opposition to federally mandated bussing to integrate racially segregated schools earlier in his political career.

Biden, 77, said he was "blindsided" by the attack, especially given Harris' friendship with his late-son Beau, but the two later reconciled and were seen being chummy at subsequent campaign events.

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This is not the first time Harris has made history in pursuing higher office.

Harris was born in Oakland, California, to parents of Jamaican and Indian descent, going on to become the first woman and African American to serve as San Francisco District Attorney and California Attorney General.

Harris joined the Senate in 2017 after winning the race to succeed longtime Sen. Barbara Boxer, becoming only the second Black woman to serve in the chamber and the first South Asian-American ever elected to the Senate.

Early on in her Senate tenure, Harris became known for her sharp questioning during committee hearings, particularly in the hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General William Barr.

During the primary campaign, Harris performed well early on, but struggled later as campaign funds dried up. She dropped out of the race in early December 2019, avoiding any potential disappointments in the early contests.

Harris endorsed Biden in March, sparking a new round of VP speculation.

From 'top cop' to leader of the anti-Trump 'Resistance'

In her home state, Harris developed a reputation as a shrewd but cautious "top cop."

She championed some progressive reforms in California, including instituting a program in San Francisco that offered first-time drug offenders education and work opportunities instead of jail time. But she also defended the state's death penalty and fought to more harshly punish the parents of chronically truant school children.

Over the last four years, Harris has emerged as an outspoken, media-savvy voice for the anti-Trump "Resistance." Clips of her grilling former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and CIA Director Gina Haspel on the floor of the Senate have gone viral.

And she's secured a place alongside some of the most progressive members of her caucus with a voting record that matches other former 2020 contenders, including fellow Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand. But as a presidential candidate, Harris positioned herself as a more moderate progressive, stopping short of endorsing Medicare for All and proposing more incremental policy reforms.

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