This past year’s Democratic primary process got way more heated than anyone could have anticipated, but for better or for worse, it’s pretty much over now and we can confidently declare Hillary Clinton as the Party’s presumptive nominee. Naturally, this means we can expect all sorts of official fanfare as the endorsements roll in and Bernie Sanders is folded into the Democratic Party along with his progressive platform. Then, of course, there’s all the VP buzz that will serve to hold over hungry cable-news addicts in a sort of beltway halftime show.
There’s already been plenty of speculation about who Clinton would tap for the number two slot, with criteria ranging from swing-state appeal to progressive bona fides, but yesterday the former Secretary of State’s official short list was conveniently “leaked” to the press by party insiders. In all, there are very few surprises among the nine semi-finalists, but there is certainly plenty of reason to rejoice about historic possibilities: namely because four of those named are prominent Latino politicians.
With three Mexican-Americans, a Dominican-American, and African-American New Jersey Senator Cory Booker entering into preliminary vetting, more than half of the list is made up of ethnic minorities, while the inclusion of progressive firebrand Elizabeth Warren spells a possible all-woman Democratic ticket. The three remaining choices are more or less what we had come to expect from Democratic running mates: graying white men from swing states who go over well with working-class white centrists. Though, after eight years of Obama such options seem particularly outdated given the party’s overwhelmingly diverse voter base.
There’s still a long way to go before the list is whittled down, but in the meantime we’ve put together short profiles of the Latino pols current under consideration so you’ll have no doubt about who’s who.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Most of us caught wind of Castro when he was still mayor of San Antonio. Or maybe you’ve seen his twin brother Joaquín holding down the congressional seat for Texas’ 20th district. Either way, Julián Castro is a charismatic and forward-thinking progressive politician who managed to catch national attention from San Antonio’s City Hall. After basking briefly in the spotlight, Castro earned himself a cabinet post in Obama’s administration that many suspect was an effort to prep him for national office. It may be a bit premature this time around, but the 41-year-old Mexican-American certainly has a bright future ahead of him.
Secretary of Labor
In his three years as Secretary of Labor, the former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights has championed some of Barack Obama’s legacy labor laws, earning him a reputation as a particularly effective Cabinet member. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, Perez is the grandson of a former Dominican ambassador to the United States and holds a handful of advanced degrees from Harvard University. While some have worried that Perez wouldn’t be a strong campaigner, fueled in part by the fact that he’s never held elected office, the 54-year-old’s credentials are untouchable.
Rep. Xavier Becerra
Of the four Latinos on this list, Becerra is without a doubt the most experienced veteran. With 24 years under his belt representing Downtown Los Angeles in the House of Representatives, Becerra has held a number of high-ranking, influential positions within the Party establishment and has nary wavered from his progressive beliefs over countless votes and policy debates. Born in Sacramento to parents from Jalisco, Mexico, Becerra boasts working-class immigrant roots that have earned him the respect and admiration of California’s Latino voter base.
Mayor of Los Angeles
Since taking the reigns of the US’ second-biggest city in 2013, 45-year-old Eric Garcetti has successfully turned Los Angeles into a laboratory of urban innovation, with his signature transportation initiative and $15 minimum wage inspiring cities across the country to follow suit. Boasting a patchwork ancestry that includes a Mexican-born grandfather of partial Italian descent, a Mexican-American grandmother of partial Irish descent, and a Jewish mother, Garcetti’s family tree reads like the history of the American Southwest. Plus his Spanish ain’t bad either.