The selection of Sen. Kalama Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate helps significantly broaden the appeal of the Democratic ticket, according to Virginia Tech political scientist Brandy Faulkner.

“No one can deny the incredible talent Harris possesses,” said Faulkner. “Her reputation for being a solid liberal politician helps the more conservative Biden. With Harris, Biden keeps his following among Black women but could also bring in more of the socially left-leaning constituents that Biden himself alienates.”

“There is, however, a significant barrier between Harris and that same left-leaning group, and that's her record in criminal justice,” said Faulkner. “As a former prosecutor, Harris is seen as a key participant in sustaining mass incarceration, including seeking lengthy sentences for low-level offenders. It will be difficult for her to redeem her reputation among criminal justice advocates in much the same way as it has been difficult for Biden.”

Brandy Faulkner is Collegiate Assistant Professor of Political Science and the Gloria D. Smith Professor of Africana Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Her areas of specialization include constitutional and administrative law, race and public policy, and critical organization theory. She teaches courses in public administration, constitutional law, administrative law, research methods, and the politics of race, ethnicity, and gender. View her full bio here.

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