Alex Padilla Senate Pick Divides Latino, Black Leaders in California

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla talks about voting rights and announces new voter registration numbers Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

California Governor Gavin Newsom earned praise from Latino politicians for nominating Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) to replace Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as she takes office as Vice President — but also earned criticism from black leaders.

Padilla will be the first Latino U.S. Senator from California. However, black leaders had urged Newsom to choose a black woman to replace Harris, who has been the state’s first black female member of the Senate (and one of the first nationwide).

ABC affiliate KGO in San Francisco quoted the Latino Community Foundation: “We’re just so glad Gov. Newsom made a historic pick because one of our own is going to the senate to fight not just for the Latino community but for all of us.”

However, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, the first black woman to hold that post, said: “”This is a real blow to the African American community, to African American women, to women in general.” She had been a candidate for the post, along with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), whom some had considered an outside candidate to be Joe Biden’s running mate.

Newsom compensated somewhat by nominating Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, to replace Padilla as Secretary of State, making her the first black woman in that position.

The Los Angeles Times noted that Padilla is an MIT-trained engineer who opted for a career in politics in his mid-20s. He has been rather quiet in recent years, however, notable for mismanaging the state’s “Motor Voter” registration program at the Department of Motor Vehicle by rushing it before the 2018 midterm elections. There were many errors, and cases in which ineligible voters were registered. Democrats pushed the program as part of an effort to pick up Republican House seats.

Harris’s 2016 Senate opponent, former Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), was apparently never under serious consideration.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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