What about Cory Booker, former Newark mayor and current New Jersey senator? His political career has been lavishly financed by financial interests from the beginning, including $585,000 from Bain Capital and other financial industry sources for his 2002 mayoral run.
They got their money's worth. In 2012 Booker undercut Barack Obama, whose re-election campaign he was serving as a surrogate, by lambasting him for an ad criticizing Mitt Romney's association with Bain. Some excerpts: "... they've done a lot to support businesses ... this kind of stuff is nauseating to me ... stop attacking private equity."
So much for loyalty
Booker's feeble attempt at a retraction did little to impress progressives, but Wall Street seemed to appreciate it. Contributions from hedge funders and other investors helped Booker outraise his Republican senatorial opponent by a factor of nearly 10 to 1 in 2013, when he ran in a special election.
Booker received more money from the securities and investment industry than any other senator in his next election, raising nearly 50 percent more money from that industry than second-place finisher Mitch McConnell. He also received more money from real estate, tech, and accounting industry groups.
Voters won't like Booker's record on education. Disturbing questions were raised about the millions contributed in Newark when he was mayor for education "reform," which for Booker means privatization through charter schools. Wall Street interests, including those close to Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, also contributed heavily to his "reform" projects.
Booker's presence on the ticket would remind voters of Clinton's own Wall Street associations. It would highlight big money's outsized role in politics, and would help Trump paint Clinton as the bankers' candidate.
The Progressive Choices
Nor should Clinton look for "national security experience," as a recent trial balloon hinted she might. She brings that to the ticket herself, and her hawkish record will already be a mixed blessing in the current political mood. That makes a choice like retired Admiral James G. Stavridis, one of the names floated, superfluous and potentially risky.
Who are the progressive alternatives? There's Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, of course. She would bring the excitement of a two-woman ticket, she has good chemistry with Clinton, and she is a dynamic public speaker. Even more importantly, she represents the real political and economic change that voters crave -- and that Clinton could never offer on her own.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio is considered a strong progressive, and carries some of Bernie Sanders' rumpled "anti-politician" vibe. Al Franken would be an unorthodox choice and, while not conspicuously progressive, would bring excitement to the ticket. There are also many accomplished activists and organizers outside the world of electoral politics who could bring a fresh perspective and new energy.
Hillary Clinton needs to show voters that she can make bold choices. She must embrace the populist moment and the electorate's yearning for change if she is to fend off Trump's insurgent challenge. That's not just the smartest course. In the end, it's also the safest.