Gov. Newsom Assembling ‘Short List’ to Fill Harris Senate Seat

November 9, 2020 by Dan McCue
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he’s been lobbied for months about who would fill Kamala Harris’ Senate seat should she be elected vice president, and he admitted it hasn’t been fun.

“It’s not something I’d wish on my worst enemy,” he told reporters on Election Day.

“There’s phone calls, there’s emails … people just happen to show up certain places,” he added.

However, now that Joe Biden and Harris are president and vice-president election, Newsom is said to be working feverishly on winnowing down a potential short list of possible appointees to the soon to be vacated Senate seat.

The one criteria the governor has mentioned is that he wants to “make history” with the appointment, leading to widespread speculation that Harris’ replacement will be a Latino.

Never in the state’s 170 year history has it been represented by a Latino in the Senate, and political observers say it won’t hurt Newsom, who is up for re-election in 2022, to give the Democrat’s Latino base something to cheer about before his race.

So far, according to a number of published reports, the leading candidates include Calif. Secretary of State Alex Padilla, long a close ally of the governor, Calif. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.

Other prominent, non-Latino Democrats on Newsom’s list are Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, Barbara Lee and Karen Bass, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, state Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, state Controller Betty Yee, and state Treasurer Fiona Ma.

In an interview with KTTV-TV in Los Angeles just before the election, Newsom said a certain amount of stress inevitably comes with “having to choose between a lot of friends … [and] between quality candidates.

“The fact is whoever you pick, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be upset,” he said. “I don’t even want to get my arms around that until I have the privilege of having to make that decision.”

Speaking to reporters at a press conference a few days later, Newsom was jovial when asked who had approached him to place their name into contention.

“You may be the only one who hasn’t,” the governor joked.

“Unless you just did,” he added.

Harris was elected California’s junior senator in 2016.

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