Hillary Clinton needs to think carefully about selecting a Senate Democrat as her running mate, given the balance of power on Capitol Hill.
MSNBC reports that the Democratic frontrunner is giving serious consideration to choosing a lawmaker from the upper chamber as her vice presidential pick. The potential candidates include some unconventional picks who could help the former secretary of state address her weaknesses as a candidate, like her lack of support among young voters, who have flocked to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
However, a Senate pick poses a serious political challenge for Clinton: Selecting someone from one of a few key states could tip the balance of power in the Senate and possibly keep it in Republican hands.
Republicans hold a 54-to-46 seat edge in the chamber, and Democrats are hoping to regain at least a slender majority in November by beating a handful of Republicans in blue-leaning states.
However, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Sherrod Brown (OH) and Cory Booker (NJ) -- all of whom observers and party leaders believe would bring welcome energy to the Clinton campaign -- hail from states that have GOP governors, who would be responsible for filling a vacant seat.
It’s not hard to image New Jersey governor Chris Christie or Ohio governor John Kasich, both of whom ran for the White House only to be bulldozed by Donald Trump, happily picking a fellow Republican who would likely oppose a Clinton agenda.
Christie has done so before, selecting his friend Jeffrey Chiesa to fill an open Senate seat following the death of Democrat Frank Lautenberg.
The prospect of winning the White House only to face a united Republican front on Capitol Hill could prompt the risk-averse Clinton to make a safer choice, such as Virginia Sens. Mark Warner or Tim Kaine. Virginia has a Democratic governor, Terry McAuliffe, who would likely appoint a fellow Democrat to any vacant Senate seat.
Selecting Kaine, a popular former governor, would almost assuredly put Virginia in the Democratic column on Election Day, following on President Obama’s electoral success there in 2008 and 2012. Kaine could help Clinton, who is viewed as more of a hawk on foreign policy, with the party’s liberal base, on the strength of his demands for a new war authorization for the fight against the Islamic State.
It also doesn’t hurt that Kaine, a former missionary, speaks fluent Spanish, during a campaign in which the presumptive GOP nominee has called Mexican immigrants “rapists.”
Clinton could also avoid the Senate problem by picking someone from Obama’s cabinet.
Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro are both reportedly under serious consideration for the VP slot.
As much of a quandary as Clinton faces, it’s nothing compared to the challenge Trump seems to be having finding someone to share the ticket with him.
"I think I'll probably go the political route," Trump said earlier this month during an interview with MSNBC. "Somebody that can help me with legislation and somebody that can help me get things passed and somebody that's been friends with the senators and the congressman and all."
On Monday, Kasich became the latest Republican office-holder to pass on the possibility. Other names reportedly in contention are Sens. Tom Cotton (AK), Jeff Sessions (AL), Bob Corker (TN) and Joni Ernst (IA) as well as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.