Los Angeles Rep. Karen Bass, a five-term congresswoman has never run for statewide office, much less a national one, but she now finds herself on presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s short list of possible running mates.

Potential contenders: Sen. Kamala Harris, Congresswoman Karen Bass and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.

Until recently, Bass was scarcely known outside California. Her lack of national or statewide campaigns means that none of her political weaknesses has been tested in a tough contest.

At 66, Bass is the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Bass has earned the respect of progressives, moderate Democrats and even some Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield). McCarthy has called Bass his “favorite Democrat” and praised her ability to compromise.

Before winning a seat in the state Assembly in 2004, she worked as a physician assistant and was on the USC faculty; she co-founded the Community Coalition in 1990 to address the crack cocaine epidemic and later, the 1991 police beating of Rodney King.

A Bass nomination would also acknowledge Black women — the most Democratic demographic in the country — and the role Black voters played in reviving Biden’s flailing primary campaign in late February, according to the Washington Post. 

As a former physician’s assistant and clinical instructor, she has hands-on experience with health care. In 1990, she founded a nonprofit called Community Coalition, which aimed to find solutions to crime that didn’t involve the police. As speaker of the state assembly in California during the Great Recession, she had to build support for huge cuts and balance the budget.

Bass has viewed “fighting for social and economic justice” as her priority.

Bass has said that “defund the police” is “one of the worst slogans ever” while still arguing that the greater investments in social workers and public health which some de-funders say is their real priority would reduce the burden on police.

According to the Los Angeles Times, her long-standing interest in Cuba — including as many as 15 trips to the island beginning as a community activist in the 1970s and continuing after her election to the House — could prove politically toxic in Florida, which has a large, active population of anti-Castro refugees. Polls indicate that Biden is leading Trump in the state, and a victory there would all but clinch the election for Biden, making the state a prime concern for his campaign.

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