‘They are all good people’: Who Suburban Republicans would like Trump to pick for vice president

With the Republican National Convention looming, thoughts are turning to former President Donald Trump’s choice of a running mate.

It’s an important decision, say suburban convention delegates and party leaders who are thinking not just of the 2024 election, but beyond to 2028.

For them, the good news is there is a deep bench of prospects. But that is also the challenge.

“I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make the decision,” said Joe Folisi, a delegate from Schaumburg. “They are all good people.”

Folisi is the chair of the Northwest Suburban Republican Lincoln Day Dinner, which is Monday at the Cotillion Banquets in Palatine. A straw poll is expected to be taken on the vice president possibilities at the event.

“I believe there is only one box that needs to be checked in everything, and that is, ‘Is this the best person for the job,’” Folisi said.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum AP file photo/2020

But Folisi and other Republicans believe the pick is important for the future, “because you really have to look ahead.”

“I believe he will pick someone who is ready to become president,” said Richard Porter, a Northfield resident who serves on the Republican National Committee. “I think he expects to serve out his full four-year term, so he will choose someone who supports and is a value add to the team, someone who will help get the job done.”

Constitutional residency requirements for the president and vice president essentially rule out anyone from Florida, though several delegates believe there are a number good candidates from that state.

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., on, June 15, 2024, in Detroit. AP

Palatine RNC at-large delegate Aaron Del Mar, who ran for lieutenant governor in 2022, said he likes U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida.

Donalds, he said, “is an African-American that represents a 90% white area of high net worth individuals. So he can cross over.”

Unless he moves, he won’t get the nod. Same for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Porter said he is pleased with the remaining talent pool though.

“I suspect we don’t know the full set of people he is looking at,” Porter added.

One who might emerge, he said, is Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, who is close to Trump and has experience as ambassador to Japan.

“Trump is a showman,” he said. “So, I’m not going to try to guess who the magician will pull out of the hat.”

A strategic move might be picking someone who appeals to suburban women, such as New York U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, Del Mar suggested.

Connie Shanahan, an alternate delegate from Mundelein, said it would have to be someone “younger, or in tune with what’s going on.”

“We don’t want a figurehead VP, which we have had in past presidencies,” said Shanahan, a Fremont Township trustee.

Sen. Tim Scott AP, 2023

Shanahan said one of the names he likes is U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina.

“He is younger, he speaks well and also shows that the party is not a bunch of old white men,” Shanahan said. “There is that perception that this is the party of a bunch of old white guys, and it is not.”

“My focus would be on who is the next president in ‘28,” delegate and former Aurora Alderman Rick Lawrence said. “I think that part of the entire vote this November is not just for Donald Trump, but it’s for the future of where we’re going in this country.”

Sen. J.D. Vance AP

Lawrence said he favors Scott, U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. He also likes former Democratic U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

“I know that she’s an independent and came from the Democrat Party, but I think she has come to realize that the Democrat Party left her,” he said.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem AP

Another delegate, Homer Township Supervisor and Will County Board Republican Leader Steve Balich, said he would like to see someone who would carry on the policy legacy of Trump.

He said South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem “runs a good state.”

He also said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz would make a good running mate.

Jay Bergman, a political donor from Joliet who is an at-large delegate, said the VP pick needs to be president-ready and can help Trump get elected.

“I think actually the best person for vice president, but he's not going to get it, would be Mike Pence,” he said. “He was in the House of Representatives for several years. He was governor of Indiana. He was vice president. As far as ready to take over if something happened, it would be him.”

Another good candidate, he said, would be former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, “but I don’t think Trump is going to pick her either.”

Bergman said Trump probably needs a more moderate voice.

“It’s people in the middle that are going to decide who wins,” he said.

· Daily Herald staff writer Marni Pyke contributed to this report.

Tulsi Gabbard AP
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