With the naming of Sen. Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate on the Democratic ticket, the sweepstakes for the vice presidency are essentially complete. The Libertarian Party nominated its VP candidate, Jeremy “Spike” Cohen, by way of an online convention that concluded in May. Cohen is a 38-year-old native of Baltimore and self-described entrepreneur in entertainment, hosting his own podcast. He self-appointed the Spike moniker.
Ms. Jo Jorgensen, a 63-year-old native of South Carolina and lecturer at Clemson University, was nominated to be the Libertarian candidate for President. Cohen was not her choice but succeeded to the VP nomination following a couple of ballots. Not since Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign has the nation witnessed a woman candidate for President.
Victoria Woodhull, historians note, was the first woman to run for president in 1872 on the Liberty Party ticket. Her running mate was Marietta Stow, who became the first woman to run for vice president.
The first woman to receive votes at a national political convention for president or vice president was Quaker activist and orator Lucretia Coffin Mott, who received 6% of the vote on the first ballot for the vice presidential nomination at the 1848 convention of the Liberty Party.
The US vice presidency has largely been a male province despite a 150-year history of a number of talented women seeking to make inroads.
The US vice presidency has largely been a male province despite a 150-year history of a number of talented women seeking to make inroads. Even though dominated by men, the vice presidency was described by the nation’s first, John Adams, as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.” That characterization has likely been true in the main from Adams’ time to more recent inhabitants of the office, which affords the incumbent a bully pulpit and platform to succeed to the number one post.
Election to national office has, at times, carried family names such as Adams. Adlai Stevenson was vice president 1893-97 and grandfather to the Adlai Stevenson who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1953 and 1956. The Roosevelts – Teddy and Franklin – served the nation in the early 1900s to 1945. The number two spot has had a number of incumbents whose names are dimly, if at all, remembered, some not so fondly as the musical Hamilton portrays Aaron Burr. Elbridge Gerry, whose name has become more well known in recent times as the originator of the tactic of gerrymandering, was vice president under James Madison for a single short year, passing while in office in 1814.
Succession to the presidency has occurred on nine occasions, spotlighting the crucial importance of the electorate’s choice for the post…. With two septuagenarians as presidential candidates in 2020, the candidacy of vice president assumes a greater presence in electoral consideration, and may affect the outcome on November 3, 2020.
Succession to the presidency has occurred on nine occasions, spotlighting the crucial importance of the electorate’s choice for the post. Those nine successors are John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and Gerald Ford. With two septuagenarians as presidential candidates in 2020, the candidacy of vice president assumes a greater presence in electoral consideration, and may affect the outcome on November 3, 2020.
In the unlikely event that the Libertarian Party sweeps into office this fall, voters may have reservations, given the early lack of cordiality between the party’s top two candidates concerning voting for a fellow named Spike. In addition, there has appeared speculation that the current incumbent president has considered replacing his vice president with a woman to improve electoral response to faltering polling numbers, competency issues arising from the coronavirus handling, and rumored questions of loyalty at Blair House. Succession of vice presidents to the presidency by election is, of course, not an automatic process. Men have been the unbroken incumbents as vice president since John Adams served under George Washington. In contemporary times, Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin are two women nominated for the vice presidency by the major political parties, now to be joined by Kamala Harris. Following the Clinton candidacy in 2016, the progression of women seeking top national office puts some new pressure upon the glass ceiling.
Prior to the passage of the 12th Amendment (1804), presidents and vice presidents were separately elected to their offices. Determining the number of electoral votes cast for vice president is not, therefore, possible. Whatever the result of the 2020 presidential campaign, speculation about the victorious vice president will commence immediately on November 4. The stakes in the vice presidency are high and will have a long-term future effect upon party and national politics for the winner and the loser. We are likely to hear a great deal more about the vice presidential candidates and succession prior to Election Day. That is a good thing.