Duckworth a Democratic convention co-chair, but what does that say about vice presidential odds?

Until presidential candidate Joe Biden makes the call, it's not certain what position U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth will play at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this August, but she does have one assigned role.

The Hoffman Estates Democrat was named as one of six permanent co-chairs of the DNC that runs Aug. 17-20. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be an unconventional convention with the vast majority of activities occurring virtually. Biden is scheduled to accept his party's nomination Aug. 20, and his vice presidential choice is expected to speak Aug. 19.

Duckworth, a Thai American wounded in the Iraq War and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, is thought to be on Biden's shortlist of women for vice president. However, other prominent names also keep rising, including U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, of California, as a lead contender.

Duckworth's military experience and the fact she is a wounded combat veteran are qualifications that set her aside from other candidates, noted political scientist Kent Redfield, emeritus professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

As to when Biden, himself a former vice president, will drop the name of his pick, "historically the choice for a non-incumbent is a few days before the convention starts," Redfield said.

Does the fact Duckworth now occupies a position as a convention co-chair signal she's not the one? That's unknown, and so is whether the senator will be making a prime-time speech at the event, a staffer said.

Duckworth has emerged as a prominent critic of President Donald Trump over issues ranging from Russia's bounties on U.S. troops to racial intolerance, and she has made numerous television news appearances this summer.

Meanwhile, plans for the virtual convention are ongoing, and it's likely the Illinois delegation will be participating from home.

"Ballots will be emailed to delegates on Aug. 3 to be returned by Aug. 15, before the convention," said state Rep. Fred Crespo, a delegate.

Organizers are "strongly discouraging delegates to travel to Milwaukee. There will be local events for delegates. There will also be virtual caucus and committee meetings. There will be programming during the convention which will be streamed and televised," the Hoffman Estates Democrat added.

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