Political observers and North Texas Democratic leaders forecast benefits to other Democratic candidates from Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his Vice-Presidential running mate.
Aside from gender and race issues that already set Democratic California Senator Harris apart as a trailblazer in public office, features in her background add to the political selling points according to these observers.
Another trailblazer, Ron Kirk was the first Black person elected Dallas Mayor. He also served as U-S Trade Representative under former President Barack Obama.
Kirk has a Dallas Trinity River hike and bike bridge named after him. But his 2002 campaign for US Senator in Texas as a Democrat was a losing battle, losing to Senator John Cornyn.
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“Ever since my run for Senate in 2002, we've been predicting that Texas would turn blue,” Kirk said.
Kirk refuses to make that promise again now, but he said Harris can help. Kirk said he first met Harris while raising money in California for that 2002 campaign and has remained friends with her ever since.
“She is as kind, as thoughtful, as warm, as funny, as compassionate as anybody you would want to have in public service,” Kirk said.
The former mayor and trade representative said there is no time for training in dealing with the problems America faces now.
“I’m thrilled because the Vice President picked someone who he knew could step in and help him deal with these very difficult issues,” Kirk said.
Fort Worth Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey said he believes the selection of Senator Harris will help motivate voters to go to cast ballots despite the coronavirus pandemic.
“Because of her track record, she is really going to excite the base,” Veasey said.
Veasey serves a district that straddles the Tarrant Dallas County line, devised to help get a person of color elected to Congress. He said more of that could occur after the 2020 census if more Democrats are elected to the Texas Legislature.
“Largely it centers around Tarrant County because there is no place else in the state that has as many pick up opportunities,” Vesey said. “There are a lot of Republicans in the State Legislature who are going to be extremely vulnerable going into November with her.”
It’s not just Democratic partisans who are saying that Harris was a wise choice for Biden.
“The bottom line is yes, this was the most strategic choice given the circumstances and the experiences of the persons who were qualified to be chosen for the Democratic Vice-Presidential nomination,” said University of North Texas Political Science Professor Kimi King.
King said Democrats can expect several benefits from the selection.
“I think we are likely to see an absolute bump in the polls, at least over the next month,” King said. “Where the real test is going to be is to look at the finances that come in in the next four weeks.”
King predicts down-ballot Democrats will see a boost from contributors wagering on success that eluded Ron Kirk.
“Driving people of color and voter turn out to the polls will be very important for the Democrats if they think that Texas is going to somehow turn blue,” King said.
Republicans have labeled Harris as too liberal. Some Democrats have said the former prosecutor and former California Attorney General is not liberal enough.
King said it is a fine line that Democrats can use to their advantage.
“They can play her as being more liberal when they need to, and they can use any of the criticisms by liberals about her and shove back at Republicans and say, ‘She’s not that liberal, look at how the wing of our party perceives her,” King said.
Ron Kirk said the same charges were leveled at him from both sides of the spectrum when he ran for public office. He said Harris is a pragmatist who can compromise.
“That’s the right kind of person you’d want in office,” Kirk said.
Texas Republican leaders have said Harris will help President Trump and other Republicans win reelection.