The eventual Democratic nominee will be battered from the hard-fought, divisive and racially-charged primaries. Clinton or Obama will most likely search for a low key figure as a running mate to unite the party. Scanning the list of current democratic governors, the most attractive candidate is Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) for several reasons.
1. Executive Experience: Richardson's solid resume, with over two decades of government experience (legislator, cabinet secretary and governor), provides the necessary gravitas for both candidates, especially Obama. No presidential candidates have successfully won the White House without first occupying the governor's mansion since JFK. More importantly, for Clinton, Richardson presents a softer side of the Democratic ticket, diverting attention away from her bare-knuckled primary campaign tactics.
2. Demography: Richardson, the popular governor of New Mexico, will strongly position the Democrats to sweep the four southwest states' 25 electoral votes - New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada combined. With the southwest wins, the Democrats can afford to lose Ohio or Florida and still win the White House. Also, Richardson will motivate Hispanics to vote in droves for Democratic candidates across the country and potentially solidify their alliance with Democratic party.
3. Uniting the Base: Clinton and Obama's primary campaigns created serious tensions in the party's base, primarily along the lines of race and gender. For Clinton, Richardson will increase her share of men and African American votes. For Obama, Richardson will deliver the crucial Hispanic votes. These are core constituencies the party must hold on to win in November.
Finally, Richardson, facing term limits this year, will not jeopardize the party's position if picked to be on the Democratic ticket. The majority of democratic governors will not be up for reelection until 2011, and those who are do not face term limits. On that basis and the reasons mentioned above, I believe Richardson is the best VP candidate for the Democratic party.