Dem 51
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GOP 49
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RFK Jr. Has a Running Mate

Apparently, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. really wanted NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers as his running mate, but the donors put the kibosh on it. And so, the son of Bobby went in a very different direction. His pick, which has been rumored for a week or so, and which he made official yesterday, is Nicole Shanahan.

"Who is that?" you may ask. Well, speaking in terms of demographics, she's a woman, she's half-Asian, she's a generation younger than RFK Jr. (38), she's a Californian and she calls herself a "progressive." She devotes much of her time to environmental causes, and even more of her time to reading about the links between autism and vaccines (she is mother to an autistic child). Shanahan says she isn't necessarily anti-vaxx, she's just "asking questions." We would say she's a soft anti-vaxxer, which means she "balances" the hard anti-vaxx stance of Kennedy.

All of this said, the primary reason that Shanahan was chosen is that she is the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin. This has two implications, both of them important to RFK Jr. First, it means she has money. It's not known how much she received in the divorce settlement, but it must have been a chunk of change, since Shanahan paid more than half of the cost of the $7 million Kennedy Super Bowl ad. Second, it means she has connections to the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley, home to many very rich anti-vaxxers.

In the end, the implication of this news is that RFK Jr. will have the means to get on the ballot in some larger number of states than would otherwise have been possible, since he was running low on funds. At the moment, the polls suggest that he's taking a few more votes out of Joe Biden's hide than out of Donald Trump's. Presumably, adding a liberal-in-some-ways minority woman to the ticket isn't going to reverse the trend. So, yesterday's announcement would appear to be bad news for Biden and the Democrats. Not BIG bad news, but small bad news, particularly since we also know that the more Democrats learn about RFK Jr.'s ideas, the less they like what they see.

It is not clear if Democrats want to attack Kennedy. There is the Streisand effect to worry about, after all. But an outside group could conceivably run ads "asking" what makes her qualified to be president of the United States if something unfortunate were to happen to another President Kennedy. This in turn could lead to the question of whether Kennedy has the judgement to pick the right people for cabinet and other positions. (Z)

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