Now that Kamala Harris has been elected vice president, jockeying to fill her soon-to-be vacant Senate seat has kicked into high gear. But the question of who gets Harris' job will ultimately be decided by one man: Gavin Newsom, the governor of California.
"We are working through the cattle call of considerations related to what's the profile, the right choice to replace Sen. Harris," Newsom said Monday at his weekly press briefing. "And 'when' is one part of that decision-making process. 'Who' is perhaps the more challenging part of that decision-making process."
Whoever succeeds Harris will serve the final two years of her term, and Newsom is under pressure to appoint a Latino to the post.
Latinos make up 40% of California's population, but the state has never had a Latino in the Senate.
Some advocates are pushing for California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, with one Democratic super PAC launching a “Pick Padilla” campaign. Bold PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, has also rallied behind Padilla.
The chief elections officer has been a staple of California politics for over 20 years. He was first elected to the Los Angeles City Council at age 26. Two years later, he was voted president of the Los Angeles City Council, becoming the first Latino and youngest person elected to the post.
Sources tell Newsy Congressional Hispanic Caucus members believe Padilla's past successes in statewide political contests and his efforts to mobilize Latino voters makes him best able to defend the seat in two years, when Harris’ term is up.
Newsom said the timing of his selection would be coordinated with Harris, but so far, he has no deadline.
"The process is just beginning to unfold," the California governor said Monday. "I want to make sure it’s inclusive. I want to make sure that it’s considerate of people's points of views."