Newly-minted California Senator Kamala Harris is sparking excitement among Democrats nationally, who believe that she might be the key to re-taking the White House in 2020.
Harris is everything the previous Democrat presidential slate of “old, white [mostly] men” was not: young, attractive — and yes, even likeable. She smiles naturally without the intense coaching that Hillary Clinton needed. The fact that she is a woman and a minority helps, too, given the obsession with gender and race among Democrats in the media and the party.
Harris’s parents, immigrants from Jamaica and India, gave her a gift, something else that is rare in politics: charisma. Ideologically, she is closer to Obama than Clinton, a proud progressive and an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump. She believes more government is the answer to almost every question. Her unwavering support of “sanctuary city” policies — in spite of the growing list of high-profile victims like Kate Steinle — makes her the perfect foil to President Trump.
And liberals and leftists alike will have much to cheer with her unambiguous support for the most extreme gun control measures — first as California’s progressive Attorney General, and now as its junior U.S. Senator.
Naturally, there will be a huge primary fight, which may feature Hillary looking for a rematch, as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — and even Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). But in order to energize younger, female and minority voters, it will be hard to keep Harris out of the race.
In politics, timing is everything — and Harris’s time may have come, just as her star is rising.
After the debacle of the Hillary nomination, which split the Democrat Party into two camps — mostly older, establishment types who favored Clinton versus the mostly younger, anti-establishment Bernie supporters — Democrats need a unity candidate.
A McClatchy News story quotes veteran Democrat strategist Bob Shrum: “From everything I’ve seen of her she’d be an attractive candidate, she could be a compelling candidate, and I think she’d have a lot of appeal for primary voters.”
“A strong block of liberal Democrats, though,” the article continues, “would eagerly embrace another Sanders run. And Shrum said Democrats would rally around a Biden presidential candidacy but, if the 74-year-old Biden doesn’t run, and he has said that he will not, ‘there’s a deep desire in the Democratic Party to move on to a new generation.’”
In spite of denying any interest in running for President in 2020, Harris is doing all the things that candidates do when exploring a run of this magnitude. She’s been giving speeches all over — including keynoting at last week’s National Democratic Institute’s Madeleine Albright luncheon. She’s also been proving her fundraising ability by helping to raise funds for other Democrat candidates around the country, and is laying the groundwork for her political future — whatever that may be — by developing and fostering all the right relationships.
When asked, Harris has repeatedly denied that she has any interest in running — but casually mentions that she’s got foreign policy chops as well.
“I’m four months into the Senate and we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Harris reportedly said after an event in downtown Los Angeles. “I just got back from Iraq, from Baghdad, and from looking at one of the largest refugee camps in the world with 80,000 Syrian refugees. Those are the issues I will focus on.”
One final demographic that favors a Harris run is that she hails from the epicenter of Trump resistance: name, California. And if the recent trend of Trump-bashing in every obscure race continues, Harris will have a Ph. D. in anti-Trumpism by 2020 — just in time for the campaign.
However, she may have to be careful if she wants to appeal beyond the party’s “progressive” wing. Last week, she used profanity in an attack on an Idaho congressman who defended the House health care bill: “What the f— is that?” she exclaimed during a podcast.