OAKLAND, Calif. - One week ago, Senator Alex Padilla (D-California) made history, again. The Democrat, sworn in as the first Latino elected to represent the Golden State in the US Senate. Padilla won a full term after Governor Newsom appointed him to replace Vice President Kamala Harris in 2021. "Being there now as a result of being elected by the people of California the voters have spoken," said Padilla. "It means that much more."
The senator shared his priorities for this full term with KTVU, while visiting the Bay Area. Like much of his party, he is focused on issues of immigration reform, voting rights and abortion access. While here, Padilla also met with first responders about the impact of the series of storms, and promised federal support for hard-hit communities. "When these disasters happen, we want to make sure we support local governments, but also individuals, families, small businesses that are devastated by storms like this," said Padilla.
As lawmakers return to Capitol Hill this month, Padilla and a Democratic-controlled Senate will be working with a Republican-controlled House. In response to fears of political gridlock, Padilla said he’s ready to get to work. "Republicans who are reasonable, willing to work across the aisle, my door is always open," said Padilla. "But for those who have an agenda of undermining our economy, undermining our democracy, undermining our country, they’re in for a fight."
Despite his history-making election, much of the focus has been on California’s other senator, Dianne Feinstein. Rumors and speculation have been flying about what the longest-serving female senator will do when her term ends in 2024. "As you mentioned, Senator Feinstein has not announced her plans," said Padilla after being asked if she should retire. "I have the utmost respect for her. If she decides to run again or not run again, I support whatever decision she makes."
The potential field to replace Feinstein is growing with Congresswoman Katie Porter launching her campaign and Congresswoman Barbara Lee telling colleagues she’s preparing for a Senate run. Padilla says he won’t get involved right away. "If she chose not to run again, expect a crowded field, we see that potentially beginning to take shape," said Padilla. "Probably not a contest, in the primary at least that I would engage in."
While in the Bay Area, Padilla also swore-in San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins.