PHILADELPHIA—It’s still early. There will be 16 more months of speech making and glad-handing and glitzy ballroom fundraisers before Election Day. Not committing to a presidential candidate just yet would make sense. But here at Netroots Nation, the premier annual convention for progressive activists, many attendees already seem fairly certain about their choice: They want Elizabeth Warren, the progressive senator from Massachusetts, to be their next president. And if they have to pick a second choice? It’s Senator Kamala Harris of California.
It’s not necessarily intuitive that the same person would support both women: Warren is a folksy public-school teacher turned anti-corruption advocate, while the blazer-wearing Harris is more of an establishment type, with a long career climbing the ranks of power in California. Warren has pledged not to hold high-dollar fundraising events in favor of grassroots-style meet and greets, while Hollywood heavyweights have been some of Harris’s biggest campaign boosters.
But in interviews with two dozen progressive activists at Netroots, most people told me that, while they prefer Warren, they’d choose Harris if things were to go south for the Massachusetts lawmaker. They view both senators as passionate and capable. Some even suggested that the two women should run on the same ticket. “They bring different things to the table, but one thing is clear when you talk to each of them: their competency,” Rod Sullivan, a 53-year-old attendee from Iowa City told me. They would operate differently as presidents, he added. But each of them “could do this.”