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Alex Padilla Will Replace Kamala Harris in U.S. Senate

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California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has been tapped to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by now Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Padilla will be the first Latino to represent the Golden State at the Senate level.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the appointment Tuesday in a statement issued by the Office of the Governor, saying: 

“The son of Mexican immigrants —  a cook and house cleaner — Alex Padilla worked his way from humble beginnings to the halls of MIT, the Los Angeles City Council and the State Senate, and has become a national defender of voting rights as California’s Secretary of State. Now, he will serve in the halls of our nation’s Capitol as California’s next United States Senator, the first Latino to hold this office.”

Padilla will serve the rest of Harris’ term until 2022, at which point he can choose to run for election.

His political career traces back to tumultuous times in late ‘90s when at the age of 26 he served on the Los Angeles City Council, later becoming the city’s youngest council president. He went on in 2006 to win a seat in the State Senate and was then elected to his current role as Secretary of State in 2014. He is currently in his second term.   

Newsom credits Padilla with bolstering election security and expanding the state’s voter registration, as outlined in Tuesday’s statement:

  • Registered over 22 million voters: Under Padilla’s leadership, voter registration is at an all-time high – over 22 million Californians are registered to vote (an increase of more than four million from the day he took office) and the highest rate in nearly seven decades.
  • Expanded access to the ballot: He implemented innovations like same-day registration, online pre-registration for 16- and 17-year olds and automatic voter registration, also known as “California Motor Voter.”
  • Protected our elections: He oversaw the upgrades and replacement of voting systems in all 58 counties in the state to systems that meet California’s newer, higher security standards.

While many recognize the historic nature of Padilla being the first Latino California senator, a large contingent of people are disappointed that Newsom did not appoint a Black woman to replace Harris. A group coined “Keep the Seat” had lobbied the governor to appoint Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) or our local Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland). Despite the disappointment, group representative and L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell said she considers Padilla is a “wonderful statesman.”

In response to his appointment, Padilla said:

“I am honored and humbled by the trust placed in me by Governor Newsom, and I intend to work each and every day to honor that trust and deliver for all Californians. From those struggling to make ends meet to the small businesses fighting to keep their doors open to the health care workers looking for relief, please know that I am going to the Senate to fight for you. We will get through this pandemic together and rebuild our economy in a way that doesn’t leave working families behind.”    


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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.