LOS ANGELES – Election Day is over, but California already is consumed with its next high-profile political contest — the competition to fill Kamala Harris’ soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat.
In this race, only one vote matters, because there is only one vote. The selection falls to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is being pressured by rival interest groups, fellow Democrats and even friends intent on swaying his decision.
Harris will be sworn in as President-elect Joe Biden’s vice president on Jan. 20, and it's not yet clear how soon before then she will give up her seat. Newsom has said he has no timeline to make an announcement.
“We are working through the cattle call of considerations," he told reporters this week. “I want to make sure it’s inclusive, I want to make sure that we are considerate of people’s points of view.”
One of those points of view is coming from the state’s Black politicians, who are pushing Newsom to replace Harris with another Black female. Harris, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, is one of just two Black women to ever serve in the Senate. Carol Moseley Braun, who represented Illinois from 1993-1999, is the other.
A group of Black California lawmakers have organized a lobbying drive behind U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, who represents parts of Los Angeles and its suburbs. She is former speaker of the California Assembly, heads the Congressional Black Caucus and was on Biden’s vice presidential short list. She has also been mentioned as a possible pick for Biden’s Cabinet.
Following Harris’ historic role in the Senate, “it just makes sense to continue a tradition, but particularly from the perspective of African-American women,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, part of the group pushing Bass.
There also is a campaign to name California’s first Hispanic senator. Latinos represent the largest single demographic group in California, outnumbering whites, Asians or Blacks.