Who Will Fill Kamala Harris’ Senate Seat? Here’s A Shortlist.


California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) reportedly wants to make a historic choice to fill Kamala Harris’ Senate seat when she enters the White House—here’s who insiders say he’s considering.

Key Facts

Multiple outlets have identified as frontrunners Congressional Black Caucus leader Rep. Karen Bass, who was also on President-elect Joe Biden’s vice president shortlist; Rep. Barbara Lee, a Black progressive icon from Oakland; Senate Pro Temp Toni Atkins, who would be California’s first openly gay senator; and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who would be the first Latino senator in the state’s 170-year history. 

Another candidate who Politico reported has “recently catapulted up the shortlist” is Robert Garcia, the mayor of Long Beach, who is Latino and openly gay; the mayors of San Francisco and Oakland, London Breed and Libby Schaaf, are also being considered, per reports. 

Freshman Rep. Katie Porter and Rep. Ro Khanna, who is South Asian American, are also potential contenders due to their popularity among the party’s younger and more progressive factions. 

Former Gov. Jerry Brown said Newsom may be more inclined to choose someone currently serving in statewide office as that would allow him to fill two positions, which could make Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Treasurer Fiona Ma and State Controller Betty Yee all attractive options (they are also all people of color). 


As this person would be assuming the position four years into the term, Newsom needs to pick someone who can win re-election in 2022. 

Crucial Quote 

Newsom has said he’s being lobbied left and right for the position. “You know there’s phone calls there’s emails … People just happen to show up certain places. They want to babysit your kids. They offer to get groceries, get coffee.” 

Key Background

Harris is the only Black woman in the Senate and Newsom is being pressured from many directions to choose a diverse candidate to fill the vacuum. In all its history, the Senate has only had 10 Black members, eight Asian Americans, nine Hispanic Americans and three Native Americans. Progressive groups are also pushing for someone who will fight for higher minimum wage, labor law reform, and get rid of the filibuster. 

Surprising Fact 

A record 135 women have won election to the next term of Congress, with some races still yet to be decided. 

Further Reading 

“Biden win sets off rush for Harris’ Senate seat in California” (POLITICO)

“A Record Number Of Women Will Serve In The Next Congress” (Forbes)

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