Who will take Kamala Harris' Senate seat in California? The options are many
With Sen. Kamala Harris now the vice president-elect, California turns its attention to who will fill her seat.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom will have to make the appointment, and whoever holds the seat will be up for election in 2022.
Harris made history as California's first African American senator, and there will undoubtedly be urging that Newsom appoint another Black woman. She made history Saturday, too, becoming the first African American and Asian American woman to be elected vice president.
Rep. Karen Bass is likely high on the list of possible replacements for Harris in the Senate. Bass, 66, has served California's 37th Congressional District, which represents Los Angeles, for five terms and endorsed Biden for president in mid-March. She is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and was vetted for the vice presidential role.
Prior to being elected to Congress, Bass served in the California State Assembly. She made history in 2008 after being elected as the Speaker of the California State Assembly, where she became the first Black woman in United States history to serve as a Speaker of a state legislative body
But California is also home to a slew of Latino politicians to be considered who, if appointed, would become the first Latino senator from California.
That includes California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Becerra, 62, was appointed to fill Harris' role as attorney general in 2017, when she headed to the Senate. He was elected to the role one year later.
Becerra served several years in Congress, representing Los Angeles, and was the first Latino chair of the House Democratic caucus. Like Harris, he also is the child of immigrants, his parents from Mexico.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was a co-chair of Joe Biden's vice president selection committee and helped VP candidates, might also make the list. Garcetti, 49, has held his current role since 2013 and was previously the president of the Los Angeles City Council. He also has immigrant roots, as the grandson of both Mexican and Russian immigrants.
Harris assumed Barbara Boxer's seat in the senate when Boxer retired in 2017, a position Boxer had held since 1993.
Boxer said on Saturday that Newsom is certainly thinking hard about how to best fill the seat with someone who is not only capable of handling the demands of the job, but who can achieve reelection in two years.
While Boxer proudly mentioned that the Senate seat has been filled by a woman since 1993, she stopped short of providing any names for potential selections.
"We have a deep bench of potential candidates, of men, of women, of minorities," Boxer said. "Simply put, it's a huge job. I'd like to see the best candidate get elected."
Jenny Abbe, chair of the Democratic Central Committee of Shasta County in Northern California, said she isn’t aware of who Newsom might select to replace Harris "beyond the general speculation that’s already been circulating for the last few weeks in anticipation . . . There are so many potential candidates."
The possibilities include "any number of women, women of color and people of color" who would be "worthy appointees,” said Abbe, naming Rep. Barbara Lee and Rep. Katie Porter.
In state government, Abbe identified Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis as a possibility, as well as former presidential candidate and U.S. Congressman Rep. Eric Swalwell.
Contributing: Christopher Damien, Michele Ghandler