Political insiders name shortlist of candidates who could fill Harris’ Senate seat

California Connection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The campaign to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate seat has begun.

Once she resigns, the power to name her replacement falls in the hands of California Governor Gavin Newsom.

“Having a U.S. Senate seat to fill by appointment is a very, very rare thing,” CalMatters political columnist Dan Walters told FOX40.

The last time a California governor appointed someone to the Senate was nearly three decades ago when Gov. Pete Wilson replaced himself as senator.

Just two days after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ projected election victory, Newsom is already eyeing potential candidates to take Harris’ place on Capitol Hill.

“He’s getting lobbied by everybody. Everybody wants this job,” Walters explained. “Being a United States senator from the nation’s most populous state is one of the plum political jobs of all time.”

Political insiders said some of the people being considered are California Congresswoman Karen Bass, San Francisco Mayor London Breed and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who many are calling a frontrunner for the position.

“He has a long connection with Gavin Newsom. Also, he’s also obviously Latino and that would be a first, at least in modern times, to have a Latino senator from California. And Governor Newsom is someone who likes to kind of explore new territory and that would be effective from that standpoint,” Walters said.

Newsom said Monday he is in no rush to fill the seat, but Walters said the pressure is on to close a Senate vacancy quickly. 

“You don’t want to have the seat vacant in case the Senate winds up to be a 50-50 tie, which it could, then you don’t want to have a vacant seat,” Walters said.

Walters said Newsom will most likely announce his pick in January after Harris is sworn in as vice president, predicting it will be Padilla to succeed the nation’s second Black female senator.

“If it were Padilla or some other Latino, going to Washington from California would be an immediate media star and everybody knows that. It’s a big deal,” Walters explained.

If a state officeholder like Padilla is selected, Newsom will also name the replacement for that office. 

Whomever is chosen will complete the remainder of Harris’ Senate term, which ends in 2022. 

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