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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A running mate is a person running together with another person on a joint ticket during an election. The term is most often used in reference to the person in the subordinate position (such as the Vice President running with a presidential candidate) but can also properly be used when referring to both candidates, such as "Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen were running mates in 1988".

The term is usually used in the United States, in reference to a prospective Vice President. In some states, candidates for lieutenant governor run on a ticket with gubernatorial candidates, and are also known as running mates.

In United States politics

In the United States, a running mate is usually a reference to a candidate for the vice presidency, whom the candidate for president nominates, sometime in late August, and who is then formally endorsed (usually unopposed) by the party's convention. The term is also applied in U.S. states where the governor and lieutenant governor run together on the same ticket.

In American presidential elections, the vice-presidential candidate is chosen by the presidential candidate. In some states, the gubernatorial candidate chooses their running mate while in other states parties hold separate ballots for governor and lieutenant governor. The two then run together as running mates in the general election.

This practice is rooted in the original design of the Electoral College, in which each elector had two votes, thus encouraging parties to run two candidates for president, with the intent that these candidates would finish first (becoming president) and second (becoming vice-president) in the election. The 12th Amendment separated the elections for President and Vice-President, with Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr having finished in a tie in the Electoral College in 1800, but the fact that the same electors vote for both continues to preserve the running mate system.

In some states, separate elections are held for governor and lieutenant governor. In this case, the governor and lieutenant governor run separate campaigns and can be from two different political parties. This was the case when George W. Bush was Governor of Texas. His first lieutenant governor, Bob Bullock, was a Democrat. In cases like this, the governor and lieutenant governor are not considered running mates because they are not elected on the same ticket.

Running mates are often chosen to balance the ticket. That is to create more widespread appeal for a ticket by expanding its appeal across geographic or ideological lines. This was especially true in presidential elections before the American Civil War when northern candidates were often paired with southern candidates and vice versa. Electoral votes also play a part in modern presidential running mate selection. Vice-Presidential candidates are often from populous states with a large number of electoral votes that may be swayed by having a favorite son on the ticket.

In the United States the choice of the presidential running mate is strategic and depended mostly on the size of the running mate's state, by whether the running mate was a rival for the presidency, and by the age balance in comparison to the president.[1] It is preferred, but not legally required, that the running mate be from a different state from the presidential nominee, because each elector can vote for no more than one candidate from his or her home state.

In electing a subordinate officer the Electors will not require those qualifications requisite for supreme command. The office of the Vice President will be sinecure. It will be brought to market and exposed to sale to procure votes for the President.

William Cocke, December 2, 1803, Witcover 1992 cited by Sigelman and Wahlbeck 1997[1]

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