“Jim Clyburn has saved the republic,” shouted my friend as I walked into Sutton’s, a favorite downtown breakfast gathering place in Chapel Hill, on Wednesday morning, the day after the March 3 Super Tuesday presidential primaries in North Carolina and other states.

My friend was giddy with excitement about Joe Biden’s series of primary victories. He had been up all night watching the election returns. He is a savvy liberal Democrat who held important positions in the Clinton administration. He firmly believes that nominating Bernie Sanders would assure President Donald Trump’s reelection and the end of American democracy as we know it.

I asked him to explain his praise for Clyburn, the South Carolinian who is the highest-ranking African American in Congress. When Clyburn endorsed Biden right before the South Carolina primary, Biden was barely ahead of Sanders.

Biden had been wiped out in the earlier contests in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. He was almost out of money, staffers and supporters. With Biden splitting voters with other moderate candidates Pete Buttigieg, Mike Bloomberg, and Amy Klobuchar, Sanders appeared to have a clear pathway to the nomination.

But, my friend continued, after Clyburn announced his support, Biden won a crushing victory over Sanders in the South Carolina primary.

It was only after Clyburn’s endorsement and the resulting South Carolina massive victory that Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Bloomberg withdrew and Biden was able to dominate the Super Tuesday primaries.

Thanks to Clyburn, Biden’s pathway to the nomination is suddenly and surprisingly open. His supporters are already lining up prospects for a vice-presidential candidate to run with him.

Because Biden is old, white and male, and the Democratic base is increasingly young, minority and female, insiders are evaluating candidates who can cover those bases.

Former candidate, California attorney general and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris will get consideration even though her own campaign fizzled out before the voting began.

Her tough performances as prosecutor and senator show that she can stand up to adversaries and be the smart debater and attack dog that Biden may need.

On the other hand, her blistering, even mean-spirited, attack on Biden’s record on race during the candidates’ debates may disqualify her for a place on the Biden team.

During the weekend, her endorsement of Biden came with these warm words, “He has served our country with dignity and we need him now more than ever. I will do everything in my power to help elect him the next president of the United States.”

Vice presidential nominees are sometimes picked primarily to help deliver voter majorities in their home states. Harris’s home state of California is solid Democratic so Biden will not need Harris’s help there.

However, another woman, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, should she be on the ticket, might help keep her home state, Minnesota, in the Democratic column. She has endorsed Biden and is campaigning vigorously for him, indicating that she would be receptive to an invitation to join the ticket.

If Elizabeth Warren were on Biden’s ticket, it would help the women and men who so strongly supported her to fall in line with some enthusiasm.

Sadly for the Democrats in North Carolina, there are no African American women in a statewide elective office who could help as a vice presidential candidate to put our state in the Democratic column. Ironically, either N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley or N.C. Rep. Yvonne Holley would make good running mates for Biden if they were not busy with their own campaigns. Beasley is running to keep her current position, and Holley is a candidate for lieutenant governor.

One more thing.

We may be getting ahead of ourselves. Sanders is a great competitor. He could turn things around this week the same way Biden did last week.

D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch.”

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