Through a series of articles we call The State, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Advocacy and Political Affairs team is providing analysis related to "the state of" various aspects of the 2020 campaign season, including the race for the White House and key elections around the country.
On August 11, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden selected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) as his vice-presidential running mate. Harris, a former California attorney general, was elected to the Senate in 2016 to succeed fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer.
Biden’s choice is seen as both historic and safe; Harris would be the first woman to hold one of the nation’s two highest offices, the first Black woman to be vice president, and she is also the first Asian American on a major party’s national ticket. Sen. Harris has established herself as a rising Democratic star and an embodiment of the party’s diversity.
It’s no secret that Joe Biden places a high value on being in sync with someone on matters of policy, and Sen. Harris fits the bill. Both Mr. Biden and Sen. Harris appear to be further entrenching themselves on rising Democratic issues. Mr. Biden is seeking to bring together the Democratic Party and appeal to its progressive wing and Sen. Harris emerging as a strong voice on racism and police misconduct.
Sen. Harris’ four-year Senate tenure hasn't produced a long voting record on Farm Bureau’s key issues, but she supported the 2018 farm bill, has taken up the interest of farmworkers and took positions on key trade issues, including opposing new trade agreements. She was one of only 10 senators to vote against the USMCA implementing bill and she opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was negotiated by the Obama administration. President Trump ultimately withdrew the United States from the TPP shortly after his inauguration.
The Biden campaign must feel comfortable that many moderate and center-right voters will not balk at seeing Harris as the vice-presidential nominee. Furthermore, Joe Biden must believe that her experience, policy pragmatism and strong, energetic voice will match with his own political style.
Lastly, during a primary debate last year Sen. Harris’ sharp criticism of Joe Biden’s opposition to busing as a means of integrating public schools left some shocked. Picking Sen. Harris suggests a recognition that her campaign style and policy focus could prove an asset.
Next week, the country will get to see Sen. Harris take center stage and accept the vice-presidential nomination. It will be a historic night. With a confirmed Biden-Harris ticket, voters will get to hear the direction the candidates and the Democratic party they represent intends for the country, the depth of their support for farmers and ranchers, and how they can help rural communities.
Cody Lyon is managing director of advocacy and political affairs.