Kamala Harris replacement not black enough, ‘a real blow to the African-American community,’ mayor says

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San Francisco Mayor London Breed is not pleased with California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “unfortunate” decision to not choose a black woman to fill a U.S. Senate seat.

The Democrat mayor revealed her disappointment on Tuesday after Newsom announced his pick of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to replace Sen. Kamala Harris. Padilla, who has been called out by House Republicans over a “highly questionable” contract his office gave to a firm linked to Democrat Joe Biden’s campaign, will become the first Latino to hold a U.S. Senate seat from the Golden State.

“The sad reality is [Harris] was the only African American woman in the Senate at this time, and when you think about the history of this country and the challenges that exist for African Americans especially … this is a real blow to the African American community, to African American women, to women in general,” Breed said Tuesday during a virtual press conference on the coronavirus.

“I think it’s really challenging to put it in words,” the Democrat added.


(Source: NBC Bay Area)

Breed admitted she was surprised by Newsom’s choice amid speculation in recent weeks over who the governor should choose to replace Harris, who, as the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, was the only black woman in the Senate.

“It was definitely a surprise and it’s an unfortunate situation as we are trying to move this country forward in making sure that black lives truly matter and that African Americans have a seat at the table, especially African American women,” Breed said. “After what was done in this race on a national level, definitely is unfortunate.”

Many voices were clamoring for Newsom to appoint democratic Rep. Barbara Lee or Rep. Karen Bass who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus.

“The son of Mexican immigrants — a cook and house cleaner — Alex Padilla worked his way from humble beginnings to the halls of MIT, the Los Angeles City Council and the State Senate, and has become a national defender of voting rights as California’s Secretary of State,” Newsom said in a statement about Padilla on Tuesday.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was also not pleased with the choice which he believed was political.

“Obviously it’s a disappointment,” he told NBC Bay Area. “He saw fit to keep his relationships and his words the way that you do if you’re the governor and I’m sure that he did the best he could.”

Lee, who earlier this month said that “there should be an African American woman in the Congress,” offered her congratulations to Padilla on Tuesday.

Bass also tweeted her words of congratulations.

Republican members of the House Oversight Committee called for Padilla to be held accountable for a “misuse of taxpayer money and a violation of the law,” after it appeared he was the front-runner for Harris’ seat, alleging that his office had awarded a $35 million contract from the CARES Act to a company with links to the Biden campaign.

“Because Secretary Padilla may become a member of the United States Senate in a matter of days or weeks, it is critical that he provide answers about his decision to award a contract to a partisan firm that appears to be both a misuse of taxpayer money and a violation of the law,” GOP lawmakers wrote in a letter earlier this month to the inspector general for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

“Secretary Padilla’s decision to fast-track a no-bid contract to a pro-Biden firm raises serious ethical and legal questions and we must have answers immediately,” GOP Rep. James Comer said in a statement at the time. “It appears taxpayer funds were illegally allocated by Padilla’s office to enable Democrat operatives to contact voters and potentially have access to sensitive voter information.”

Comer reiterated concerns in a statement on Tuesday.

“Alex Padilla’s actions as California Secretary of State raise serious ethical and legal questions,” Comer said, “and we must have answers immediately before he is entrusted with representing all citizens of California in the U.S. Senate and safeguarding taxpayer dollars.”

Frieda Powers

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