Kamala Harris, California Attorney General, wants to be a U.S. Senator, and she has already been campaigning for a seat for more than a year. Wednesday, February 24th, she formally and legally declared herself a candidate, filling out the official paperwork at the registrar’s office in Norwalk. The Democratic attorney general is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer, who retires from her post at the end of her term in 2017.
“We got in early, we’ve been running hard, and this makes it official. So I’m very excited,” Harris said. Since announcing, Harris has been the frontrunner, leading in the polls. If Harris wins the seat, she would be the first Indian American to ever serve in the Senate and the second-ever African-American woman. She says her strategy is to truly connect with voters. “Sitting and talking with them and listening, most importantly, and then hopefully, this work will result in a successful bid for the United States Senate,” Harris said.
Harris says there are some key issues she’s focusing on, including education, the economy, the environment and equality. “That’s everything from what we need to do around continuing to fight for the rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters, to what we need to do around immigration reform, to what we need to do around protecting a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body,” Harris said.
Luis Vizcaino, a campaign spokesman for Harris’ Democratic rival Rep. Loretta Sanchez, maintained that Sanchez is the most qualified for the seat. He released the following statement: “California needs an experienced and proven leader to tackle the full range of economic, educational and foreign relation challenges we face today. Our next U.S. Senator must have an extensive legislative and national security background and share the life experiences of working families – and that’s Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, who last year was named one of the 25 most influential women in Congress by CQ Roll Call because she knows how to work with members from both sides of the aisle. She is the most qualified candidate for the job of U.S. Senator.”
Republican candidate lawyer Duf Sundheim says he disagrees with Harris’ stances but welcomes her into the race. His campaign released the following statement: “I welcome Ms. Harris into the race. Elections are about choices. The contrast between our candidacy and Ms. Harris’ could not be clearer.”
When U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, her name surfaced as a potential nominee, but Harris made it clear she did not want to be considered for that position. “I’m not putting my name in for consideration. I do not wish to be considered. I am running for the United States Senate,” Harris told reporters at a recent campaign stop.
Harris is viewed as a rising Democratic star. She campaigned for Obama in both his presidential bids, and he returned the favor by holding a fundraiser for Harris during her successful 2010 campaign to become California’s first female and first minority attorney general. California’s June 7 primary will send the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to the general election in November.
Born of an Indian mother — Shyamala Gopalan, who emigrated from Chennai in the ‘60s — and Jamaican American father, Stanford University economics professor Donald Harris, she is the first ever Asian American and African American to be elected to this top position in California.
So far, only three Indian Americans have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives — Dalip Singh Saund, Bobby Jindal and Ami Bera, who was re-elected for his second term last November.