Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced her support for Alex Padilla, California’s Secretary of State, to succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate.
Her backing, first reported by HuffPost, could bring additional momentum to Padilla’s bid for the seat. He has been perceived as a frontrunner for several weeks and worked for Feinstein in the Senate earlier in his career.
“I have given him my support. I did that quite a while ago,” Feinstein said, according to Politico. “And my sense is that he’s going to represent California very well. He’s someone I would be happy to work with, and also bring Hispanic representation to the Senate for the first time.”
If appointed, Padilla would be the first Latino senator from California, a state where nearly 40% of the population is Latino, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Padilla also has the support of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which has called for more Latino representation on Congress’s upper chamber. One of its members, California Rep. Tony Cárdenas, said last week that the party’s message to Latinos needed to change “overnight,” referencing its underperformance among the demographic during November’s elections. (RELATED: Fear Of ‘Socialism’ May Have Driven Florida Latinos To Vote Republican, Former State Rep Says)
Though Padilla has a wide range of support from California officials, Gov. Gavin Newsom has also faced pressure to appoint a black woman to succeed Harris, the only black woman currently serving in the Senate.
Members of the Democratic party’s progressive wing, who have voiced their frustration with Feinstein’s seemingly centrist demeanor, have pushed Newsom to appoint somebody more liberal as well like California Reps. Barbara Lee, Karen Bass or Ro Khanna, according to Politico.
“What a friggin’ surprise: an out of touch centrist backs her own protégé,” tweeted California Democratic activist RL Miller in response to Feinstein’s endorsement.
what a friggin’ surprise: an out of touch centrist backs her own protege. https://t.co/KU3vxHGk98
— RL Miller (@RL_Miller) December 2, 2020
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