Just the Facts

Five Facts on a Potential Bipartisan Presidential Ticket

By No Labels
September 5, 2018 | Blog

As dysfunction and intense partisanship has increased in Washington more people are talking about the idea of a “unity ticket” in the 2020 presidential election, composed of a Democrat and a Republican. On September 2 the Chicago Tribune published an opinion piece by Newton Minow, a former chair of the Federal Communications Commission, entitled “A way out of these horrible political times.” In the article, Minow envisioned a bipartisan ticket composed of former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and the Republican Governor of Ohio, John Kasich.  Here are five facts on bipartisan running mates:

Some of America’s earliest presidential administrations were bipartisan

Article II Section 1 of the Constitution stated that, “The person having the greatest number of votes shall be the president…In every case, after the choice of the President, the Person having the greatest number of votes…shall be the Vice President.” This meant that the president and vice president were often adversaries in the general election and were likely to come from different parties.  For example, the election of 1796 led to a bipartisan administration, with Federalist John Adams as president and Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson as vice president.

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1804 and stipulated that electors would cast one vote for president and one vote for vice president

The need for a change in the presidential election process was put on full display during the election of 1800 when Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, both Democratic-Republicans, tied for first in the election. Consequently, the election was thrown to the House of Representatives where 36 ballots were needed before the deadlock was broken and Jefferson was elected president with Burr as his vice president.  As a result, Congress realized that it was necessary to implement separate ballots for the presidency and vice presidency to avoid similar situations in the future. While this change was not caused by issues surrounding a bipartisan administration, it allowed for different parties to put two candidates on a presidential ticket, thus ending any real chance for a president and vice president from different parties.

While there has not been a bipartisan presidential administration for centuries, many states are led by governors and lieutenant governors from opposite parties

Nineteen states elect their governor and lieutenant governor in separate elections, leaving open the potential for a bipartisan governor’s office. States such as Oregon, Minnesota, Louisiana, and North Carolina have Democratic governors and Republican lieutenant governors, while no states have a Republican governor and Democratic lieutenant governor. This form of government has led to some bitter political rivalries, such as when Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former Republican governor of California, used his line-item veto to cut Democratic Lt. Gov. John Garamendi’s budget by 62 percent.  However, it has also forged strong bipartisan alliances.  In 1998, Bob Bullock, the Democratic lieutenant governor of Texas bucked party lines and endorsed Republican Gov. George W. Bush for re-election.

It has been widely reported that in 2008 John McCain wanted to name his close friend Joe Lieberman, a Democrat turned Independent, as his running mate

This past weekend former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) described conversations about a bipartisan presidential ticket between he and his good friend, the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), while at McCain’s memorial service.  Lieberman described McCain’s support for the idea, stating McCain had pitched it by saying, “You’re a Democrat, I’m a Republican; we could give our country the bipartisanship leadership it needs for a change.” However, despite McCain’s wishes, once the idea was leaked, he faced serious blow back from his fellow Republicans, just as Lieberman received intense criticism from Democrats.  As a result, McCain picked former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, a change of heart he later admitted regretting.

Several prominent politicians have been mentioned as part of a bipartisan presidential ticket in recent months

Both Biden and Kasich are leaders who have gained reputations for working across the aisle throughout their decades of public service.  However, this is not the first time that Gov. Kasich has been mentioned as part of a bipartisan presidential ticket.  He has also been connected with Colorado’s Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, with whom he has worked closely on issues such as health care.  The two have developed a strong relationship that garnered heightened attention after Kasich tweeted “I see my friend @HickForCO is headed to Iowa. They say no one goes there by accident…”

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