Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, endorsed for the Democratic vice presidential nod by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and veep-vetter cousin Patrick J. Kennedy, won’t say whether he has had talks with Barack Obama’s camp about the job.
“I wish I could say more,” he said after referring questions about the vice presidency to the Obama campaign in a manner similar to the demurral offered by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
Edwards holds a special, symbolic appeal to Democrats, as he represents George W. Bush’s Crawford ranch in Congress. He could complement Obama in a number of important ways and reinforce his appeal in others.
The last time a Democratic ticket won without a southerner was 1948. Obama, a Chicagoan who touts a 50-state strategy, may want to avoid picking a running mate who also hails from a big blue city.
Edwards is one of the few experienced southern Democrats remaining in Congress, and he has turned what was once a perennially competitive district into an almost sure thing for the Democrats. Texan John Nance Garner, then the House Speaker, gave geographical and ideological balance to Franklin Roosevelt’s ticket in 1932.
Edwards is chairman of the subcommittee that writes spending bills for veterans, and Obama has used veterans benefits as a campaign issue against John McCain. Edwards and Obama were both vocal advocates for expanded educational benefits for veterans.
Despite Edwards’ reputation as a moderate to conservative Democrat, some allies say he is progressive. Obama clearly has an affinity for red state Democrats who show a progressive streak, and Edwards has demonstrated support for Obama. The congressman endorsed the senator well in advance of the Texas Democratic primary, in which the 17th District favored Hillary Rodham Clinton.