Kamala Harris, the first ever person of Indian Origin to win a state wide election in the state of California, was declared the winner of the Senate primary in California early Wednesday, June 8th morning, handily beating her competition with 40 percent of the vote with over 80 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) was trailing far behind Harris with 18 percent of the vote, but she was still in second place. If that result holds, it means the two Democratic women would face off against each other in November for the seat of retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). In third place as the early returns were being counted was Duf Sundheim, the former California Republican party chair. The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the general election.
Harris, 51, the state’s attorney general, was easily the top vote-getter among a field of 34 candidates. “I am just thrilled. I am a proud daughter of California and I cannot be more proud than I am tonight,” Harris said in San Francisco. “We have run a campaign, and we will continue to run a campaign, that is about fighting for the ideals of our country. We have so many challenges as a country and we are prepared to lead,” she said, citing passing comprehensive immigration reform, combating climate change, reforming the criminal justice system and “eliminating that income divide that is making so many families suffer.”
Harris has been campaigning across the golden state to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. Karris, a progressive, has always been in the forefront of Civil Rights, Equality and Openness. Harris used herself as an example, saying that she never would have been elected were it not for the educational opportunities she received because of the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling that found segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional. Harris said that ruling allowed her to be a member of the second class that integrated Berkeley public schools in the 1960s.
She is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., and earned her law degree at UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Harris as a veteran prosecutor and astute, ambitious political leader. Harris also has been a strong Obama supporter since he was a U.S. Senate candidate from Illinois.
For more than a decade, she worked as a prosecutor in Alameda County and San Francisco, and tried cases involving charges of drunk driving, sex crimes, assault and homicide. Her transition to electoral politics began in 2003 during her successful campaign to unseat San Francisco Dist. Atty. Terence Hallinan. Harris was elected attorney general in 2010, narrowly beating L.A. County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, a Republican. She was reelected in 2014 by a wide margin.
Her parents divorced when Harris was a toddler and her late mother, who was a breast cancer researcher at UC Berkeley, raised Harris and her sister, Maya, to be proud African American women during a tumultuous time in the United States. Harris was a student in the second class to integrate Berkeley’s public schools in the late 1960s. Her sister has served as advisor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Harris’ national profile got a boost when Obama gave her a speaking role at the Democratic National Convention in 2012. The headlines continued in 2013 when Obama apologized publicly for having described her as “the best-looking” attorney general in the country.
Throughout her political career, Harris has articulated clear positions on many controversial, divisive issues that could come before the nation’s high court. Harris favors the protection of abortion rights, an end to the federal ban on medical marijuana and a path to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally. She backs major changes in the criminal justice system, in part to address racial disparities, including shorter sentences for low-level drug crimes and a shift in government funding from prisons to crime prevention.
As attorney general, Harris has taken actions conservatives would no doubt take issue with during a Senate confirmation hearing, should one ever occur: She refused to defend Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage in California until the U.S. Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. Harris defended a state law that required members of public employee unions to help pay for collective bargaining.
“I’m not surprised. She’s a representative of the best of California. She’s been a marvelous attorney general, and she’ll be an exceptional senator,” said California state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, on the Associated Press naming Kamala Harris the first-place finisher in the U.S. Senate primary
Harris and Sanchez each drew national attention and support because each is poised to make history if elected: Harris would be only the second black woman and the first woman of Indian heritage elected to the Senate, and Sanchez would be one of the first Latinas.
In the Senate race, Harris, a native of Oakland and a former San Francisco district attorney, jumped into the race immediately after Boxer announced she was leaving the Senate at the end of her fourth term. She won the endorsement of the California Democratic Party, and two weeks ago Gov. Jerry Brown (D) gave her his blessing. Harris also has been backed by some of the state’s largest labor unions, the Congressional Black Caucus’s PAC and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).