Gavin Newsom picks Alex Padilla to replace Kamala Harris in Senate seat

In this Nov. 2, 2018, file photo, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla speaks in San Francisco. California Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Secretary of State Alex Padilla on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, as the state’s next U.S. senator to fill the seat being vacated by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Eric Risberg | AP

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla will replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday.

Padilla, a son of Mexican immigrants, will be the first Latino senator for California, where Latinos represent nearly 40% of the state’s population.

“Through his tenacity, integrity, smarts and grit, California is gaining a tested fighter in their corner who will be a fierce ally in D.C., lifting up our state’s values and making sure we secure the critical resources to emerge stronger from this pandemic. He will be a Senator for all Californians,” Newsom said in a statement.

Padilla has served as California’s top elections official since 2015. Previously, he served in the California state Senate and the Los Angeles City Council.

“I am honored and humbled by the trust placed in me by Governor Newsom, and I intend to work each and every day to honor that trust and deliver for all Californians,” Padilla said in a statement.

The governor and senator-designate have long been political allies and Padilla’s appointment did not come as a surprise. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein was among many prominent voices lobbying for Padilla.

Many also advocated for Newsom to fill the seat with a Black woman. Harris was the second Black woman and first South Asian to serve in the Senate.

When Harris officially resigns from the Senate, there will be no Black women serving in the chamber. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., will then be the only Black U.S. senators.

Padilla will finish Harris’ term through 2022, when he will be up for re-election if he chooses to run.

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