Calls mount to choose woman of color to replace Harris in Senate

Governor Newsom is facing growing pressure as he decides who should fill the Senate seat that Kamala Harris will vacate when she becomes vice president.

Two groups, Electing Women Bay Area and LA Women’s Collective, took out a full-page ad Monday in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Time urging Newsom to pick a woman of color. The ad is signed by 150 women donors across the state, according to Electing Women Bay Area Executive Director Stacy Mason.

“Representation matters and when Kamala Harris leaves her Senate seat in January, there will be only three women of color in the entire United States Senate,” Mason said.

There is a list of many qualified candidates for the governor to choose from and if the seat does not go to a woman of color, it would be a setback, according to Mason.

“Our bench is deep,” she said. “There are women who are sitting members of Congress, there are women in the Assembly, there are sitting mayors.”

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is advocating for Newsome to replace Harris with another Black woman. He points to the fact that Harris was only the second Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate. The first was Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois who served one term from 1993-1999.

“Kamala Harris won that seat,” Brown said. “An African American woman should be appointed to that seat.”

He said he’d like to see groups like the NAACP, Black pastors, and other civic leader join together and voice their opinion on Newsom’s appointment. Brown’s recommendations include, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, state Senator Holly Mitchell, or Rep. Maxine Water, Rep. Barbara Lee, or Rep. Karen Bass.

“Where there is a racial minority that has the gig, that particular ethnic community should keep the gig,” he added.

But Latino leaders across the state see the open Senate seat as an opportunity for Newsom to break barriers by appointing California’s first Latino or Latina to the Senate.

Elected officials gathered at Mexican Heritage Plaza on Monday as part of a statewide campaign to push for a Latino or Latino appointment. They said it’s time a someone represented California in the Senate because Latinos make up nearly 40% of the state’s population.

“Issues ranging from US citizenship for our 2.5 million lawful, permanent California residents, to the economy, to the environment, these demand a Latino representative,” San Jose City Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco said.

There are also calls for Newsom to appoint someone who represents the LGBTQ community. Newsom has not publicly said who his top choices are, but his short list includes women and men. The reported frontrunner is Secretary of State Padilla.

“We love that there are so many voices chiming in on the this incredibly important selection,” Mason said. “We know this is Governor Newsom's decision to make on his own, but we also trust him to listen to all the voices across the state.”