In her race for the White House, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris made history in a lot of ways. As soon as January 20 of next year, Harris will become the first woman, as well as the first Black and South Asian person to hold the position. Many liberals are excited to see Harris in the White House, and have found an ally in her thanks to her progressive voting record on abortion and immigration rights.
But even before running for president or being selected as Biden's VP, Harris has proven herself a force to be reckoned with under the Trump administration. As a California Senator, Harris sharply questionedSupreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his 2018 confirmation hearing, and more recently voted against the nomination of the far right Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. As a now-proponent of expanding the COVID-19 relief package, Harris was once a co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders's Medicare for All plan and hopes to make healthcare more accessible but to maintain a role for private insurance companies.
Although her positions as a more central-leaning Senator may not always fall in line with progressive ideals, the far left members of the Democratic party will certainly continue to push a Biden-Harris administration. Thanks to the hard work of housing rights advocates and organizers in California like the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Harris secured financial assistance for low-income families in the state’s inflated housing market.
And while this will certainly bode well for her as vice president, Harris's appointment also leaves her Senate seat empty, with many wondering who and when it will be filled. Under California law, the honor of determining Harris's replacement through 2022 will go to Gov. Gavin Newsom. The governor said there is currently no timeline for an announcement. “We are working through the cattle call of considerations,” Newsom told reporters. “I want to make sure it’s inclusive, I want to make sure that we are considerate of people’s points of view.”
Because Harris is currently the only Black woman in the Senate, a coalition of Black lawmakers in the state is pushing Newsom to fill Harris’s seat with another Black woman and are lobbying behind California Rep. Karen Bass, who heads the Congressional Black Caucus. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who is part of that effort, told the Associated Press, “It just makes sense to continue a tradition, but particularly from the perspective of African-American women.”
Meanwhile, the political action committee Latino Victory Fund is pushing for the state’s first Latino senator, with their eyes on California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla, AP reports. Another top contender to fill the role as California’s first Latino senator is the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra.
Still a number of other political figures have made the shortlist as well, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. Rep. Barbara Lee, known for her more left-leaning politics — and the only member of Congress to vote against President George W. Bush’s Iraq War — could also be under consideration.
But when it comes down to nominating Harris’s replacement, Newsom sure doesn’t seem excited about the job. “I mean, honestly, I'm not even exaggerating. There's a hundred chores that I'd prefer. I'm not kidding,” he joked to reporters. “This is not something that I wish even on my worst enemy, because you create enemies in this process you know, not just friends.”