The mainstream media loves speculating about presidential tickets. Who would Hillary, Donald, or Ted Cruz pick as their running mates? But one figure the media never really speculates on — probably because they had written him off until very recently — is Bernie Sanders. So let’s do what nobody else seems eager to do: let’s speculate, shall we?

Bernie Sanders’ Top Pick: Elizabeth Warren

Who is Bernie Sanders most likely to ask first, right out of the gate, should he win the primary? That should be pretty obvious: Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is the smart-money bet, a fact that Sanders himself recently hinted at when saying “Elizabeth Schwarren” during a panel discussion on Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are closely aligned on practically every issue. They’ve worked together on Capitol Hill and have recently pushed legislation together. They both recognize the damage Wall Street, lobbying, and a lack of campaign finance reform have done to Washington and our nation as a whole. It doesn’t get much more perfectly synched ideologically than that.

Warren has a lot to offer Sanders politically as well. Not only does she score big with women, but Warren rides the fine line between appeasing the party establishment and rebelling against the system, meaning she can help Hillary Clinton’s supporters transition into the fold without upsetting the scores of non-Democrats who support Bernie Sanders.

Many of Bernie Sanders’ supporters argue that Warren should stay in the Senate, where she can help push his agenda, but I personally disagree with that assertion. Sanders could give Warren a hands-on role in the White House as a policy-shaper, and the Vice President’s constitutional tie-breaking duty will almost certainly come in handy, given the fact that it’s unlikely Democrats will take a filibuster-proof majority in the House or Senate, if they manage to pick up majorities in either.

Other Top Picks For Bernie Sanders’ Running Mate

Sanders-Warren 2016 is a dream ticket, but should that not happen, there are lots of other great options for Bernie Sanders’ running mate as well. He’d want to pick someone who can woo the party establishment, wouldn’t be too controversial for traditional republicans, and isn’t afraid to tell the far-right Republican base to shove off when needed… that only really leaves a few potential names.

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker would be an excellent choice. He’s beloved and trusted by progressives, respected by the party establishment, and not full-out hated by conservatives. It’s difficult to diss a politician who lives in poor neighborhoods by choice and runs into burning buildings to save his constituents… if Sanders-Warren doesn’t happen, Sanders-Booker really should.

Another top choice is a name we often hear associated with Bernie Sanders’ primary rival, Hillary Clinton: HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who would help Sanders win over the Hispanic vote while also making Texas competitive when it otherwise wouldn’t be. More importantly, Castro is beloved by the establishment, relatively unknown to conservatives looking to build attacks against him, and young enough to have not been corrupted by the system, meaning Bernie’s base can get behind him as well.

And let’s not forget Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, another figure loved by progressives all across the board. Davis, who unsuccessfully ran in Texas’ 2014 gubernatorial race, has a huge base of supporters in her home state, meaning she could help Bernie Sanders turn Texas into a purple battleground and force the GOP ticket to work overtime in a state that should be in the bag for them. She’s also done more for women’s rights than anyone else mentioned in this article, apart from Hillary Clinton herself… and even that’s debatable.

The Long-Shot Candidates

What if Sanders can’t get Warren, Booker, Castro, or Davis? There are some other potential candidates you might consider to be on the shortlist, but definitely down near the bottom of said list.

Martin O’Malley is definitely an establishment democrat, one who agrees with Sanders on a number of key issues. But his 2016 presidential campaign has felt like a bid for the Veep slot since day one, and it’s not like Sanders will need any help winning in Maryland.

Tim Kaine is another establishment democrat, one who might help bring Virginia to the table, turning a purple state blue, but he doesn’t offer much beyond that. You couldn’t really argue with a straight face that Tim Kaine has been much of a crusader for campaign finance reform, universal health care, or universal college education, either.

Congressman Keith Ellison would be a great choice ideologically and intellectually — he’s a rare brilliant mind on Capitol Hill and definitely one of my favorite congressmen to watch — but a self-confessed socialist running alongside a proud, devout Muslim? I hate to say it, but America is just too stupid to handle that combo yet, even in 2016. They’ve given President Obama all sorts of make-believe scandals just incorrectly assuming he’s a socialist and a Muslim.

Who Will Bernie Sanders Pick?

Bernie Sanders needs to win the primary before we can really start speculating on who might be his running mate. Despite his huge gains in recent weeks, he’s still fighting an uphill battle as we quickly approach the early primary contests. But personally, for my money, I’m guessing his VP pick is definitely on this list.

Who do you think he’ll go with? Could it be Warren? Booker? Castro? Davis? Someone else? Sound off in the comments below!

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