From the Huffington Post:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is under pressure to appoint either a Black woman, a Latino or a member of the LGBTQ community.
By Daniel Marans
When Kamala Harris assumes her historic role as the first woman and nonwhite vice president in January, she will be vacating one of California’s two U.S. Senate seats.
It is now up to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a first-term Democrat, to decide whether to call a special election or choose a replacement to serve out the remainder of Harris’ term, which is slated to end in 2022.
Newsom has been tight-lipped about his plans, but the conventional wisdom among Golden State politics watchers is that Newsom will appoint a replacement rather than delay the arrival of a new Democratic senator with an expensive special election. And Newsom’s allies have made clear that he does not plan to name a white man to the seat.
As a result, activists and various progressive groups began a campaign to sway Newsom months before the election, and that has intensified in recent days. The jockeying is intense because whoever gains control of the seat — and runs for election as an incumbent in two years — is likely to control the influential and safely Democratic post for decades to come.
Three main camps and their subgroups are trying to influence Newsom: Those advocating for a Black woman; those advocating for a Latino; and those advocating for a member of the LGBT community.
Black activists and progressive groups insist that Newsom name a Black woman to replace Harris, only the second Black woman to serve in the Senate.
Black Americans make up about 13% of the population but occupy just two of 100 Senate seats. Both of them ― New Jersey Democrat Sen. Cory Booker and South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott ― are men.
But blacks are only half as abundant in California as nationwide, so black women only make up 3% of the California population.
In contrast, Latinos make up 39.4% of California’s residents.
Another issue is that California is somewhat lacking, despite its huge population, in Democratic Party talent. There is no obvious successor who could be assumed to have inevitably gotten to the Senate with or without Newsom’s boost. So, wings of the Democratic Party not blessed by Newsom would resent his skipping over them.
Some say the smart thing for Newsom to do rather than to appoint a mid-career individual who would likely be in the Senate for decades, due to California being a one-party state, thus alienating the rest of the Democrats’ Coalition of the Fringes, would be to appoint a senior statesperson to the US senate to fill out Kamala Harris’s two years, and then let the voters in the 2022 primary determine the long-term occupant.
Newsom might pick a Democratic Party elder with a long track record of successful deal-making to succeed Kamala, but extract a promise publicly not to run in 2022.
The most obvious such senior statesman is the former California assembly speaker for a record 14 years and mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown.