Kamala Harris' Senate Seat Is Now Officially Up for Grabs

With Harris as VP-elect, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom has a not-so-short list to choose from
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2020 8:37 AM CST
Newsom's 'Vexing' New Task: Picking Harris' Replacement
In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference at Cal Expo in Sacramento.   (Daniel Kim/The Sacramento Bee via AP, Pool, File)

Gavin Newsom has a new task in front of him, and it's one he said last week he wouldn't "wish even on my worst enemy." With Sen. Kamala Harris becoming vice president-elect over the weekend, the California governor now has to appoint a replacement for her in the US Senate—and it's a going to be a "vexing" and "challenging" decision, he said, per NPR. The outlet notes that Newsom will have a variety of factors to consider, including potential candidates' diversity, experience, how electable they'd be (Harris would've been up for reelection in 2022), whether members of both parties in the Senate would embrace them, and even how politically compatible they are with Newsom, who'll be up for reelection himself in 2022. "It's almost like having a running mate," he said. The Los Angeles Times notes Newsom could hold a special election or pick a "placeholder" candidate to "keep the Senate seat warm" until 2022, but that doesn't seem likely.

Because Harris is the Senate's only Black woman, women's groups have put pressure on Newsom to replace her with a woman of color, Politico notes. In that regard, possible candidates include Rep. Karen Bass of Los Angeles, who heads up the Congressional Black Caucus; progressive Rep. Barbara Lee from Oakland; and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. If Newsom picks a statewide officer—like California AG Xavier Becerra or Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a longtime Newsom supporter—to replace Harris, he would get to appoint that person's replacement, too. Also on the (not very) short list: Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, the city's first openly gay mayor; Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine, who has the support of younger voters; and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. "There's a hundred chores that I'd prefer," Newsom says, per NPR. See other possible contenders here, here, and here. (More Kamala Harris stories.)

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