If Barack Obama is smart–and I think he’s damned smart–and if he wins the Democratic nomination, which, barring an explosive scandal, I think he will, he should choose a woman as his running mate.
I don’t think it’ll be Hillary Clinton. There’s just too much bad blood between the two at this point, and I think Clinton’s frankly too proud to accept second place. (As well she should be.) But Clinton’s candidacy has genuinely thrilled women with the chance of breaking the highest of glass ceilings, and I think Barack would be squandering that good will and all those motivated voters by, say, going with The Southern White Guy. Raises some interesting questions about who he might turn to–Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein come readily to mind, but they both have high negatives outside of California, and he’s probably not going to need them to win that state. Same with Washington state’s governor or senators. There are a couple female Senators in the Midwest, but they’re relatively new, and defending someone new is the last thing Obama needs. Barbara Mikulski’s great, but she’s getting too old for the job.
However, two sitting governors might make good running mates. One is Janet Napolitano of Arizona, who has a stellar record and would challenge McCain on his home turf, and the other is Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who’s extremely strong on economics, having turned her state’s economy around after some dismal early numbers. She’s also from a traditonally conservative state where Obama ran poorly, and which might prop him up with independents.
If I had to put money on it (and I never put money on politics), I’d go with Napolitano. She’d also help bring in Latinos and put the West/Mountain States in play. It’d be a hell of race, especially if they forced McCain to spend money in his own back yard. He would, in a word, look lame.