Former WNY Congressman John LaFalce, local Dems confident Biden/Harris can win

Aug 12, 2020

Western New York Democratic leaders are responding to news of Kamala Harris being selected as Joe Biden’s running mate in the upcoming presidential election.

Credit C-SPAN, Jonathan Ernst/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Former Western New York Congressman John LaFalce said while Harris isn’t his first choice, he’ll support anyone in the phone book over Donald Trump.

“I can't imagine a more clear and present danger to the United States and to the world than the incumbent president,” LaFalce said. “He must be ousted. And I'm hopeful that the ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can do that.”

The past few weeks, there have been several names floated around regarding who could be Joe Biden’s VP pick. Outside of Harris, those discussed included Senator Elizabeth Warren, House Representative Karen Bass, and former National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama, Susan Rice.  

Rice was LaFalce’s personal first choice to join Biden.

“I think Susan Rice would have been the black female with the most gravitas, with the most experience,” LaFalce said. “Clearly the most intelligent and most articulate. She would have been able to go and meet the heads of states across the globe and they would know exactly who she was.”

But LaFalce said Harris has her own unique set of strengths. He’s said he’s particularly excited about her ability to campaign.

“As a campaigner, she can't be beat. And first things first, he's got to win the election in order to become president,” he said.

LaFalce envisions Rice being utilized elsewhere by Biden if he wins the election.

“I suspect that Joe Biden will want her in a very high ranking position, and most especially Secretary of State, so you know she will be utilized,” he said.

Erie County Democratic Committee Chair Jeremy Zellner was a Harris supporter during the Democratic primaries. He said her experience as a U.S. Senator and California Attorney General stands out.

“What should excite the folks in western New York is that she's extremely competent and can get the job done,” Zellner said. “I just think she's ready to hit the ground campaigning. And she's somebody that could take the reins as president and be prepared on day one as well.”

When looking at the differences this year compared to the 2016 election, Zellner notes the Biden campaign has been more thorough in their decisions throughout the election process—including choosing Harris.

“I think the Biden campaign is doing things a little differently where it’s not leaving any stone unturned and they're calling into every state and we're not taking anything for granted,” Zellner said. “You know (Hillary) Clinton had more votes than anyone who's ever run for president before. But I think that some people in that campaign took for granted some areas that were traditionally Democratic.”

Zellner said typically they help campaign for presidential candidates in places like Erie, Pennsylvania. Black Democrats in Pennsylvania said Tuesday they believe an African-American woman would bring voters to the polls in November. This comes from a state that President Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016.

Harris is the first Black woman and Asian American to be nominated by a major party for vice president.