Berned out? Sanders out of the veepstakes

Berned out? Well, Bern’s out, anyway. Bernie Sanders won’t be Hillary Clinton’s running mate, the Wall Street Journal reported last night, but that doesn’t mean Team Hillary wants to alienate his half of the Democratic primary voters in 2016 either. Sanders didn’t make the cut for the short list, but another well-known progressive has made the cut — and it’s the one Donald Trump has been targeting for more than a week:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign isn’t considering primary rival Bernie Sanders as her running mate, but is actively looking at Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whose populist politics line up closely with Mr. Sanders, people familiar with the process said.

The vetting remains in its early stages. So far, potential candidates have been scrutinized using publicly available information. The Clinton team hasn’t asked anyone to submit tax returns or other personal information, one of the people said. Conversations with Mrs. Clinton herself about options are just now beginning.

Beyond the Massachusetts senator, other prospective candidates include Labor Secretary Tom Perez; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro; Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Cory Booker of New Jersey; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Reps. Xavier Becerra of California and Tim Ryan of Ohio, several Democrats said.

Would Hillary really pick a first-term Senator from a state that she’ll carry in a breeze? Especially one with a Republican governor to appoint her replacement? Hillary needs help in demographics such as working-class white voters, and men in particular. Adding Warren to the ticket doesn’t do much to help gain traction in either, and if Democrats are worried about losing progressives with Hillary, they’re in deeper trouble than we might think.

Five days ago, Politico heard from a source within the Democratic Party that the calculation against Warren went even deeper than political strategy:

PLAYBOOK FACTS OF LIFE on the possibility that Hillary picks Warren for V.P.: A Democratic insider tells us “no way in hell. She hates her, and she doesn’t want a competitor for power in her White House. The ‘V.P. candidate as attack dog’ thing is long over. Every single Democrat is and will be attacking Trump every day.”

Putting Warren out in front feels like a feint. She only climbed on board the Hillary bandwagon after she mathematically clinched the nomination, so it’s not as if Hillary owes her the VP slot. She’s there to take the focus off the process and pander to the Sanders crowd for the short time they have left to be a cohesive group.

Most of the above list is for show. Eric Garcetti? In what universe does a mayor end up as a running mate on a major-party ticket, especially from a state that’s already in the bag for that party? (Well, maybe in the universe of this cycle. Anything’s possible, I suppose.) Perez, Castro, and Becerra might have been needed to shore up the Hispanic vote until the GOP nominated Trump, but even then they don’t bring large constituencies that they’ve proven to win in the past, and Perez hasn’t ever run for anything at all.

On that point, one name surprises just a little by its omission. Why not John Hickenlooper? Do Democrats have no worries at all about competing in Colorado and the interior West? Throw him a frickin’ bone, man.

Look for the candidates who can actually deliver something for Hillary that she needs. Tim Kaine is the most likely of the bunch to wind up on the ticket, having gubernatorial and Senatorial experience in the key state of Virginia, as well as a stint running the DNC. Sherrod Brown might be an attractive candidate to help compete in Ohio, but Brown isn’t exactly a political star; Kaine does much better on the talking-head circuit and has more connections to the various factions within the Democratic Party. Cory Booker might be an interesting choice for his celebrity factor, but Hillary doesn’t need him to win New Jersey — and this will come down to What Can You Deliver for Hillary. Bet on it.