California’s Governor Pledges to Nominate A Black Woman to the U.S. Senate

California’s Governor Pledges to Nominate A Black Woman to the U.S. Senate

March 17, 2021

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has committed to nominating a Black woman to the U.S. Senate should an opening arise. The governor’s comments came during an interview on Monday with MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid on her show, “The ReidOut.”

Reid asked the governor if he would consider nominating an African American woman to restore the Senate seat formerly held by Vice President Kamala Harris if Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) were to retire. Reid also asked if he had any names in mind. Newsom smiled and said, “We have multiple names in mind, and the answer is yes.”

To date, only two Black women have been elected to the U.S. Senate. The first was Carol Moseley Braun, who represented Illinois from 1993 to 1999. Harris was the second, and represented California from 2017 until this year. 

Feinstein has not announced her retirement, but her term ends in 2024. There’s been speculation about who would fill the powerful seat next. 

In January, Newsom formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to become California’s first Latino U.S. senator. The announcement came as Harris prepared to make history by becoming the first female, Black and Southeast Asian American vice president of the United States.

Newsom also nominated former Assembly-member Dr. Shirley Weber to become the state’s first African American secretary of state.

At the time, the governor said in a statement: “These appointments are only possible because of the trailblazing leadership of my dear friend and California’s own Kamala Harris. … This is a proud day for California.”

There was disappointment in many political power circles that Newsom did not nominate a Black woman to Harris’s seat, particularly since Reps. Karen Bass, Barbara Lee or Maxine Waters represent the state in Congress and hold key leadership roles on The Hill.  

Glynda Carr, president/CEO of Higher Heights, which works to elect Black women, said the governor’s pledge was promising. The group recently took out a full-page ad in The New York Times that celebrated Black women past and present in politics, while pointing out that there are no Black women in the Senate or on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“Governor Newsom’s commitment will ensure that the much needed leadership and voices of Black women are heard in both legislative bodies and, while having one Black woman in the Senate will never be enough, this commitment acknowledges the ways in which Black women champion crucial policies regarding the health, safety and well being of our communities,” said Carr. “It is essential that Black women have an advocate who will speak upon the issues that are most important to our communities, and continue the fight to end disparities across health, voting access, criminal justice, economic justice, and more in the Senate.”

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