The less obvious running mate Joe Biden should pick (opinion)

And although she is not the most obvious choice, there is one competitor we should all be looking for: New Mexico government Michelle Lujan Grisham.

When Biden committed To select a female running mate in mid-March, the coronavirus pandemic had not yet reached its peak in the United States. In light of both the ongoing public health crisis and the economic free fall, the stakes in his choice for the number two spot are even higher. And people of all political stripes demand strong leadership.
Governors, like Lujan Grisham, bend the leadership muscle in response to the coronavirus crisis, and the American people respond positively. America's governors today have much higher approval ratings than President Donald Trump and slightly higher than federal health agencies for their pandemic responses, according to a poll from Monmouth University, as well several state investigations.
Lujan Grisham's response to the pandemic has been exemplary. She took off quickly in the first days of the crisis, which according to state authorities was the key to New Mexico's success in leveling the curve. New Mexico was among the first dozen states to announces school closures and stay-home orders – March 16 and 23, respectively. That too set up the first test run for coronavirus in the country on March 16 and opened over 50 test sites around the state, prioritizing risk populations.
Even before the pandemic began to devastate, a February tracking poll The Kaiser Family Foundation found that health care and the economy were the two most pressing issues among likely voters in the country, with 26% and 23% respectively. And for fluctuating voters, the health care system ranked even higher: 28%, according to the survey. For all the focus the Democrats put on the health care system to win the 2018 election and define the primary debates this cycle, here's a new idea: What about a Vice President-elect with actual health experience?
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Of six Democratic female governors in the country, only Lujan Grisham has previously headed a state health department. During her time, New Mexico doubled the number of health stations from 34 to 68, extended home nursing for the elderly, built a new state laboratory, all with the improvement of preventable infectious diseases.
But perhaps more important than her leadership or health record is her election record – and Lujan Grisham has a record to win big. In 2018, she returned to the governor's mansion after two conditions of Republican control, and won more than 14 points. She also passed combined polls before elections with another 6 points. As the United States representative, her victories were even more compelling: she won her last term by a 30-point margin.

Lujan Grisham also has a quality that is the key to winning this year: She is willing to fight for what she believes in and with all the power she can muster. She literally overthrew a meeting at the White House on immigration in 2018 to talk to Trump. As then-leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, she cycled with then-Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer to the meeting, rolled in unsolicited and told reporters that Congress and the administration were taking a deferred action for the childhood compromise compromise "harder than it should be."


Generally speaking, I am not in favor of identity politics, and find ethnically-based candidates unnecessarily divisive, I fully support diversifying our national leadership to reflect our people. Lujan Grisham is not only a Latinx state leader, but also part of another underrepresented, rapidly growing part of our population: the West.

The Democratic Party have never had a Vice President or President of the West. States like Nevada, Arizona and Utah are among the fastest growing in the country, even as population growth slows nationally. Western states may not be electoral giants, but this region is where people continue to move. It's always been a place where progress strives, but that's it also been mixed with strokes of libertarianism, with wide open spaces like harkening back to an attitude of living and letting live. Lujan Grisham wanted to bring the Western pig and perspective back to Washington, as she did when serving in Congress.
Giving a nod to the Latinx population should draw candidates to the southwest. New Mexico is still far the most Latinx state in percentage terms. Having a former leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who has helped Democrats nationwide formulate politics for the rest of the Latinx community, would be a bold step for the party, and the right move for our country, whose global image as compassionate and accommodating has have been deeply stunned in recent years.

New Mexico has a governor who is able to lead in difficulties. Her record shows that she can do the same for America. Joe Biden should choose as his running mate: Michelle Lujan Grisham.

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