San Francisco Mayor Complains That Kamala Harris' Senate Replacement Isn't a Black Woman


California Gov. Gavin Newsom picked a prominent minority state official to replace presumptive Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate. This would, ordinarily, be a moment of celebration for the kind of people who use the word “intersectionality” and don’t have to stifle a smile.

But, it turns out that California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is the wrong kind of minority.

According to The Associated Press, Newsom picked Padilla — a personal friend and the son of Mexican immigrants — to fill Harris’ spot until 2022, when the presumptive vice president-elect would have been up for re-election normally.

“I can think of no one better to represent the state of California as our next United States Senator,” Newsom said in a tweet.

While he acknowledged the pick would make history — Padilla would become the first Latino senator from the state — Newsom said that “the [Alex Padilla] I know is far more interested in changing history — especially for the working men and women of our state and country.”

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In a video announcement that reeked of wooden coordination, Padilla got teary at the thought of the sacrifices his parents made; according to CNN, one was a cook and the other a cleaner after they immigrated to the country.

“I’m honored, man, and I’m humbled, because of them,” Padilla said.

In any other year, this would have been a slam-dunk pick, but Padilla is a Latino man and Kamala Harris is a black woman. If you haven’t updated your grievance org chart recently, Harris is the only black woman in the Senate, and not replacing her with the next black woman in line was seen as a slap in the face — particularly to San Francisco Democratic Mayor London Breed.

In case the name sounds familiar, Breed is the politician who attended a dubious party at The French Laundry — an expensive Michelin-starred eatery in the Napa Valley — one day after Gavin Newsom did. Both were raked over the coals, particularly given their dining restrictions and tough talk regarding socializing among those outside your immediate family without wearing masks.

Apparently, they only have the same taste in eateries, not in senatorial picks.

“It was definitely a surprise and it’s an unfortunate situation as we are trying to move this country forward in making sure that black lives truly matter and that African-Americans have a seat at the table, especially African-American women,” Breed said during a virtual news conference Tuesday, according to Fox News. “After what was done in this race on a national level, definitely is unfortunate.”

“The sad reality is [Harris] was the only African-American woman in the Senate at this time, and when you think about the history of this country and the challenges that exist for African-Americans especially … this is a real blow to the African-American community, to African-American women, to women in general,” she added, SFGate reported. “I think it’s really challenging to put it in words.”

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But don’t worry — there were plenty of Democrats who met the challenge.

“Many people believe the governor will pay a political price,” Kerman Maddox, a black Democratic fundraiser, told the AP. Given the racial situation in the country, he said, “[i]t’s a terribly insensitive decision.”

Maddox, like many others, was also irked by what was perceived as Newsom’s tokenism in appointing a black woman — Shirley Weber — to replace Padilla as secretary of state.

“If Governor Newsom thinks our disappointment with the Kamala Harris replacement will be tempered by appointing an African-American woman to be California secretary of state, he clearly does not know this constituency,” Maddox said. “When I heard the news about the secretary of state appointment, my anger meter went from disappointment to being downright angry.”

So, yes, Padilla is apparently the wrong kind of minority to replace Harris. It’s worth noting that while the Democratic Party pretty much treats California as its personal fiefdom these days and the corpse of Abbie Hoffman could win an election with a D after his name, Padilla is a safe pick at a time when Newsom is facing a potential recall and where a 2022 re-election bid for the governor seems problematic.

The two black women most media sources had pegged as the top contenders to replace Harris in the Senate were Democratic Reps. Karen Bass and Barbara Lee, both of whom hail from the left of the party.

Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was briefly considered as Joe Biden’s running mate earlier this year before controversies regarding her support for Fidel Castro and Scientology derailed her chances.

Should Gavin Newsom have picked a black woman to replace Kamala Harris?

Lee, meanwhile, was the only congressperson to vote against the use of force after 9/11. She also voted for a resolution which would have rejected Ohio’s electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election over unfounded conspiracy theories about voter fraud, and voted against a resolution condemning the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

She was the most politically left member of the House of Representatives in 2019, according to Progressives had floated her as a possible pick for the Cabinet, which also had about as much chance of happening as that whole corpse-of-Abbie-Hoffman thing.

Whether or not the clamor over the fact Newsom didn’t pick a black woman to replace Harris in the Senate is a proxy battle over the fact Newsom picked a close confidant and ally to replace her at a time he’s politically vulnerable, this remains an argument that’s being put forward and taken seriously. Padilla is still a minority — and, a year ago, his appointment would have been seen as a “strong rebuke of President Trump’s policies on immigration” or some such nonsense.

Different year, different fashion. The Latino is apparently déclassé in the environment of 2020, at least when it comes to appointing a replacement for a black, female senator. Better luck in 2022, I suppose.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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