New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, the fifth-highest ranking House Democrat, on Wednesday recommended two of his colleagues for the role of former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate: California Rep. Karen Bass and Florida Rep. Val Demings.
Pressed on who he would like to see the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee select for the No. 2 spot on the party’s ticket, Jeffries told MSNBC it is “Joe Biden’s choice to make.”
The House Democratic Caucus chair went on to praise the “extraordinary group of women who Joe Biden can choose from” to become “effective partners with him” in government.
But “all things being equal,” Jeffries added, “Karen Bass or Val Demings would be great choices.”
Jeffries’ endorsement of his fellow House lawmakers is not necessarily surprising, given his close working relationships with the two congresswomen.
Jeffries and Demings both served as House impeachment managers in President Donald Trump’s Senate trial, and Bass is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, of which all three lawmakers are members.
But as the Biden campaign has continued its search process for a running mate, Democratic officials and prominent party figures have been largely reluctant to elevate any particular candidate, instead declining to weigh in and deferring to Biden’s judgment.
Jeffries’ remarks Wednesday come as Bass’ standing on Biden’s shortlist is reported to have risen. The Los Angeles congresswoman has faced new scrutiny in recent days, however, with Republicans attacking her past comments about the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and the Church of Scientology.
Demings, a former Orlando, Fla., police chief, emerged as a potential running mate for Biden earlier this summer. But she too has been criticized for her law enforcement record amid a national reckoning on racial injustices in policing.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, one of the four co-chairs of Biden’s vice presidential selection committee, told MSNBC on Tuesday that the campaign had a group of “amazing women that have been a part of this process.”
“We’re keeping them all,” he said. “We vetted them heavily. All of them have passed a vet. And now — in this next week, week and a half — Mr. Biden can spend some time with them.”
Jill Biden, the former vice president’s wife, told Fox News on Tuesday her husband was nearing a final decision. “We’re close. He’s close,” she said.
Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate sometime early this month ahead of the Democratic National Convention, set to take place in Milwaukee from Aug. 17-20.