Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing a mounting pressure campaign to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ vacated Senate seat with a “woman of color” — as a Hispanic male frontrunner emerges.
A group of 150 of the Golden State’s largest female donors have signed their names to a letter that will be published as full page ads Monday in the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle, according to Vox, which obtained the ads early.
The letter urges Newsom to “continue this Californian tradition by appointing a woman of color to Vice President-elect Harris’s US Senate seat.”
“Women of color are the core drivers of electoral progress in our country, and their voices should be heard in the nation’s highest governing body. California is fortunate to have a strong pipeline of women of color in elected office who are prepared to serve; as Californians and political supporters, we look forward to you selecting one of them,” it continues.
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who dated Harris in the 1990s, is launching a similar effort, pushing Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), San Francisco Mayor London Breed and state Sen. Holly Mitchell as his top picks in an interview with Politico.
“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 US Senate. There should be no contest,” the prominent California Democrat argued.
Brown told the outlet that he plans to organize black churches, pastors, civic leaders, fraternal organizations and prominent members of the black press statewide to push the governor toward one of their leading choices.
The efforts to persuade Newsom come as reports continue to circulate that state Secretary of State Alex Padilla is leading the pack of contenders.
If chosen, Padilla, a Hispanic male and a close ally of the governor, would be the first Latino to represent California in the Senate.
Newsom is a Democrat, and California is a solidly blue state. Any Democrat he would appoint would immediately be given a safely Democratic seat and enormous national exposure.
The governor will also be up for re-election in 2022, something that will certainly be on his mind when considering what demographic of voters he’d benefit most from exciting with his Senate appointment.
For Newsom, sending a close ally like Padilla to the Senate would not only make history, it would appeal to the Hispanic base ahead of his re-election.
The governor, Politico reported earlier this month citing allies, wants his pick to be one with historic significance.
Since Harris was tapped as President-elect Biden’s running mate in August, the governor has been candid about how he has been lobbied for her seat, decrying the process of choosing a replacement on Election Day as “not something I’d wish on my worst enemy.”
“You know there’s phone calls, there’s emails. There’s personal … people just happen to show up certain places. They want to baby-sit your kids, they offer to get groceries, get coffee,” he said just prior to election day.
“So, you add all those together, it’s quite a significant list … it is rather remarkable. I look forward to having that responsibility,” he noted, but added that “in some respects, [it’s a] burden.”
He added that “you create enemies in this process; you don’t just make great friends — and it’s a vexing decision. It’s a challenging one. It’s also a presumptive one … some people are voting for Kamala Harris, so is [the appointee] in her image?”
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