It’s hunting season in Washington, and the prey wins the prize: second place on the Democratic Party ticket. The excitement of the chase belongs to the Democrats in 2004, since President Bush has said he will keep Vice President Dick Cheney on his ticket.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, has played his cards close to his chest, reportedly because he learned from a leak to the press in 2000 that he had been dropped from presidential candidate Al Gore’s short list of running mates, and he wants to spare others the same humiliation.

Not everything can be kept secret, however, and repeat meetings with Kerry, along with the appearance of Kerry’s background checkers at small-town libraries across the country, have suggested three front-runners: Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

A number of other dark-horse candidates remain in the pool; each has had interactions with the Jewish communities in their states.

Following are profiles of Kerry’s potential running mates, in alphabetical order…


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