CA Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to replace Kamala Harris with a Latino man
As soon as we knew that the Biden-Harris ticket won, some of us were already thinking about who would be appointed to fill Kamala Harris’s Senate seat. Harris is the junior senator from the biggest state in America, California, and she’s the first Black-Indian woman to serve in the Senate. She’s such a groundbreaker, and I knew the pressure would be on California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint a woman, especially a woman of color, to Kamala’s seat. The way it works is that the governor appoints someone to fill the Senate seat for the length of time left (Kamala would have been up for re-election in 2022) and then there’s an open election. Anyone can challenge the appointee senator in the primary and general election. Well, Gov. Newsom has indicated that he wants to appoint Alex Padilla, a Latino man and CA’s Secretary of State. Now people are yelling about it and trying to force Gov. Newsom to appoint a woman (specifically a woman of color).
As speculation grows that Gov. Gavin Newsom is leaning toward California elections chief Alex Padilla to fill the U.S. Senate seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a crowd of top Democratic donors and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown are launching an aggressive campaign to argue that another woman of color should fill that seat instead.
Brown, the former longtime speaker of the California Assembly, said he’s launching a drive Monday to organize Black churches, pastors, civic leaders, fraternal organizations and prominent members of the Black press statewide to urge Newsom to consider leading Black women for the seat. Among the leading choices, he said, are Reps. Barbara Lee, Karen Bass and Maxine Waters; San Francisco Mayor London Breed; and state Sen. Holly Mitchell.
“There’s no way that Gavin Newsom should allow anyone other than a Black woman to fill the seat of Harris, who’s only the second Black woman in the history of the U.S. Senate,” Brown told POLITICO on Sunday. “There should be no contest.”
Brown’s campaign comes as some 150 of the state’s top female Democratic donors on Monday will publish full-page newspaper ads with an open letter urging Newsom to pick a woman of color, Vox reported Sunday. Other leading advocacy groups like SheThePeople, which promotes women in politics, have called on Newsom to name a woman of color to the seat. The group’s founder, Aimee Allison, said Lee’s long-running advocacy for the Black community and progressive causes should make her the natural choice for the plum U.S. Senate seat.
Ramped-up calls for a woman of color come as sources believe Newsom is leaning heavily toward picking California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. He would be the first Latino U.S. Senator in the state’s 170-year history. Picking a statewide officeholder like Padilla would give Newsom two appointments since he also could choose their replacement.
I don’t envy Gov. Newsom and the pressure he’s facing from all of these groups must be enormous. On one hand, it’s well beyond time that California – home to millions of Latin-American people – should have their first Latino senator, and I can completely understand how that kind of appointment would pay dividends for the California Democratic Party for decades. On the other hand, Kamala Harris was such an important, groundbreaking and badass senator and I would very much like to see her replaced with another woman, especially a Black woman. Like, it’s kind of offensive to me that a man (any man) would be appointed to replace Kamala Harris. So…yeah, Gov. Newsom isn’t going to make anybody happy. Also: when this kind of thing happens, usually the governor consults heavily with the outgoing senator about who should replace them in the Senate seat. I wonder who Kamala Harris wants to replace her?
Last thing: I’ve joked a few times about how Gov. Newsom would appoint the Duchess of Sussex to the Senate seat. He’s not going to but damn, that would be so much fun and it would make so many people mad.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.
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