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Kamala Harris

D

Twitter Followers: 4.1M

Senate, United States Senate (2017 - Present)

California U.S. Senate, Jr (? - Present)

2019


Congress Bills
Quick Facts
Personal Details


Kamala Devi Harris (b. October 20, 1964, in Oakland, California) is a Democratic member of the U.S. Senate from California. Harris was first elected to the Senate in 2016. She became the second black woman elected to the U.S. Senate and the first Indian American to serve in the chamber.

On January 21, 2019, Harris announced she was running for president of the United States. She suspended her presidential campaign on December 3, 2019. Harris endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on March 8, 2020.

Harris is the former attorney general of California. She served in the position from 2011 to 2017. When she took office, Harris became the state's first female, first black, and first Asian American attorney general, as well as the first Tamil attorney general in U.S. history. She also served as San Francisco's district attorney from 2004 to 2011.

Harris was born in Oakland, California, in 1964. She graduated from Howard University with a degree in political science and economics in 1986 and earned her law degree from Hastings College in 1989.

After graduating from law school, Harris joined the office of the Alameda County district attorney, where she worked for eight years as a prosecutor. In 1998, Harris was hired as managing attorney for the San Francisco District Attorney's Career Criminal Unit. She transferred to head the Division on Families and Children in 2000. In 2003, Harris was elected San Francisco District Attorney. She won re-election in 2007.

In 2010, Harris defeated Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley (R) to win election as state attorney general, receiving 46% of the vote to Cooley's 45%. She won re-election in 2014 over attorney Ronald Gold (R) with 56% of the vote. In 2016, Harris defeated Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) to win election to the U.S. Senate seat held by Barbara Boxer (D). She received 62% of the vote to Sanchez's 38%.

In 2009, Harris authored Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor's Plan to Make Us Safer, where she discussed potential changes to the criminal justice system. She wrote The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, a memoir, and Superheroes Are Everywhere, a picture book, in 2018.

Below is an abbreviated outline of Harris' academic, professional, and political career:

  • 2017-Present: U.S. Senator from California
  • 2011-2016: Attorney general of California
  • 2004-2011: District attorney of San Francisco
  • 1990-1998: Deputy district attorney, Alameda County, Calif.
  • 1989: Graduated from the University of California, Hastings with a J.D.
  • 1986: Graduated from Howard University with a B.A.

Education

  • JD, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1990
  • BA, Political Science/Economics, Howard University, 1986

Professional Experience

  • JD, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1990
  • BA, Political Science/Economics, Howard University, 1986
  • Former Member, California Medical Assistance Commission
  • Former Member, Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board
  • District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco, 2004-2011
  • Chief, Community and Neighborhood Division, Office of the San Francisco City Attorney, 2000-2003
  • Attorney, Career Criminal Unit, Office of the San Francisco District Attorney, 1998-2000
  • Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County, 1990-1998

Political Experience

  • JD, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1990
  • BA, Political Science/Economics, Howard University, 1986
  • Former Member, California Medical Assistance Commission
  • Former Member, Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board
  • District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco, 2004-2011
  • Chief, Community and Neighborhood Division, Office of the San Francisco City Attorney, 2000-2003
  • Attorney, Career Criminal Unit, Office of the San Francisco District Attorney, 1998-2000
  • Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County, 1990-1998
  • Senator, United States Senate, California, 2017-present
  • Candidate, President of the United States, 2020
  • Attorney General, State of California, 2011-2016
  • Candidate, United States Senate, California, 2016
  • Candidate, Attorney General, State of California, 2010, 2014

Former Committees/Caucuses

Former Member, Environment and Public Works Committee, United States Senate

Former Member, Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts, United States Senate

Former Member, Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, United States Senate

Former Member, Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, United States Senate

Former Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight, United States Senate

Former Member, Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, United States Senate

Current Legislative Committees

Member, Budget

Member, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Member, Judiciary

Member, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations

Member, Select Committee on Intelligence

Member, Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management

Member, Subcommittee on Intellectual Property

Member, Subcommittee on The Constitution

Religious, Civic, and other Memberships

  • JD, University of California, Hastings College of the Law, 1990
  • BA, Political Science/Economics, Howard University, 1986
  • Former Member, California Medical Assistance Commission
  • Former Member, Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board
  • District Attorney, City and County of San Francisco, 2004-2011
  • Chief, Community and Neighborhood Division, Office of the San Francisco City Attorney, 2000-2003
  • Attorney, Career Criminal Unit, Office of the San Francisco District Attorney, 1998-2000
  • Deputy District Attorney, Alameda County, 1990-1998
  • Senator, United States Senate, California, 2017-present
  • Candidate, President of the United States, 2020
  • Attorney General, State of California, 2011-2016
  • Candidate, United States Senate, California, 2016
  • Candidate, Attorney General, State of California, 2010, 2014
  • Former Fellow, Aspen Institute
  • Former Member, California District Attorneys Association Board
  • Vice President, National District Attorneys Association

Other Info

— Awards:

  • Top 100 Lawyers in California,
  • 2006, California Lawyer Magazine

    Top 100 Lawyers in California,

  • 2005, Daily Journal Newspaper
  • Most Distinguished Alumni,
  • Howard University
  • 100 Most Influential Black Americans,
  • Ebony Magazine
  • "Woman of Power",
  • National Urban League
  • Child Advocate of the Year,
  • 2004, San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Council

  • Donald

Favorite Book:

The Kite Runner, Dreams From My Father, The Joy Luck Club, and Native Son

Favorite Movie:

Logan, Black Panther, Steel Magnolias, A Star is Born, My Cousin Vinny, Wonder Woman, Antwone Fisher, Ratatouille, Dark Knight

Favorite Quote:

"You may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last."

- my mother, Shyamala G. Harris

Favorite TV Shows:

24, American Idol, anything on CNN, Baldwin Hills, 60 minutes, The Wire, Saturday Night Live, and VH1's Best Week Ever

Favorite Type of Music:

A Tribe Called Quest, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Prince, Elton John, Too Short, John Legend, Raphael Saadiq, Ravi Shankar, Kendrick Lamar, Migos, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Carlos Santana, Miriam Makeba, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Maroon 5, The Jackson 5, Nina Simone

Hobbies or Special Talents:

Cooking, music, Farmer's Markets, movies, Sunday family dinners, spending time with my niece, and actually reading the entire Sunday New York Times on Sunday

  • Shyamala

— Publications:

  • "Smart on Crime: A Career Prosecutor's Plan to Make Us Safer"
  • "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey"

Elections

2020

Presidency

An election for president of the United States will be held on November 3, 2020. Harris announced she was running for president on January 21, 2019. She suspended her presidential campaign on December 3, 2019.

2016

rated California's U.S. Senate race as safely Democratic. California's U.S. Senate seat was open following the retirement of incumbent Barbara Boxer (D). Thirty-four candidates filed to run to replace Boxer, including seven Democrats, 12 Republicans, and 15 third-party candidates. Two Democrats, Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez, defeated the other 32 candidates to advance to the general election, where Harris ultimately triumphed. The primary took place on June 7, 2016.

U.S. Senate, California General Election, 2016

Party Candidate Vote % Votes
Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngKamala Harris 61.6% 7,542,753
Democratic Loretta Sanchez 38.4% 4,710,417
Total Votes 12,253,170
Source: California Secretary of State

U.S. Senate, California Primary, 2016

Campaign themes

The following issues were listed on Harris' campaign website. For a full list of campaign themes, .

  • Civil Rights, Justice & Equality For All: Kamala has spent her entire career fighting for the voiceless and vulnerable in our society and against those who prey on them, and she’ll continue those fights in the Senate. She will stand up for a woman’s right to choose and equal pay for equal work, lead the charge against LGBT discrimination, work to pass comprehensive immigration reform, expand access to voting, and focus on fixing a broken criminal justice system.
  • Criminal Justice Reform: Kamala believes that we must maintain a relentless focus on reducing violence and aggressively prosecuting violent criminals. But as a career prosecutor, she has also seen firsthand the devastating effects of mass incarceration and the revolving door of recidivism. We deserve a better return on our investment. Instead of a justice system that responds to all crime as equal, we need a “smart on crime” approach – one that applies innovative, data-driven methods to make our system more efficient and effective.
  • Environment: Kamala believes that California’s great strengths include its dramatic beauty and environmental diversity: from the tall, mist-shrouded redwoods to vast desert vistas; from stunning sandy beaches to rushing rivers and the soaring Sierra Nevada mountains; from productive agricultural valleys to rolling, oak-studded hills.
  • Foreign Policy: Kamala Harris’s approach to foreign policy is informed by her work as a career prosecutor. We live in a dangerous world and she believes we need to be vigilant about the threats we face. She has tackled some of the biggest challenges we face across the globe – from dismantling human trafficking rings to taking down transnational criminal organizations that bring guns and drugs across our borders.
  • Higher Education: Kamala believes that meaningful access to education is a pathway to the American dream – it is how we build a better life for our families and ourselves. In today’s economy, a postsecondary education is increasingly a necessity to secure sustainable employment with decent wages – but it shouldn’t have to be that way.

—Kamala Harris' campaign website

2014

Harris won re-election to the office of state attorney general in 2014.

Results

Primary election

Attorney General of California, Blanket Primary, 2014

Party Candidate Vote % Votes
Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngKamala Harris Incumbent 53.2% 2,177,480
Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRonald Gold 12.3% 504,091
Republican Phil Wyman 11.7% 479,468
Republican David King 9% 368,190
Republican John Haggerty 8.2% 336,433
Nonpartisan Orly Taitz 3.2% 130,451
Libertarian Jonathan Jaech 2.4% 99,056
Total Votes 4,095,169
Election results via California Secretary of State


General election

Attorney General of California, 2014

Party Candidate Vote % Votes
Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngKamala Harris Incumbent 57.5% 4,102,649
Republican Ronald Gold 42.5% 3,033,476
Total Votes 7,136,125
Election results via California Secretary of State

2010

2010 Race for Attorney General - Democratic Primary
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
Democratic Party Kamala Harris 33.1%
Democratic Party Chris Kelly 15.9%
Democratic Party Alberto Torrico 14.9%
Democratic Party Ted Lieu 10.5%
Democratic Party Rocky Delgadillo 10.1%
Democratic Party Pedro Nava 9.9%
Democratic Party Mike Schmier 5.6%
Total Votes 1,676,360
Kamala Harris for California Attorney General 2010 Campaign logo

2010 Race for Attorney General - General Election

Party Candidate Vote Percentage
Democratic Party Kamala Harris 46.0%
Republican Party Steve Cooley 45.5%
Green Party Peter Allen 2.7%
Libertarian Party Timothy Hannan 2.5%
American Independent Party Diane Templin 1,7%
Peace and Freedom Party Robert J. Evans 1.6%
Total Votes 9,544,403
Policy Positions

2020

Abortion

Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
- Pro-choice

Budget

1. In order to balance the budget, do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
- Yes

2. Do you support expanding federal funding to support entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare?
- Yes

Education

Do you support requiring states to adopt federal education standards?
- Unknown Position

Energy & Environment

1. Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
- Yes

2. Do you support government funding for the development of renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geo-thermal)?
- Yes

Guns

Do you generally support gun-control legislation?
- Yes

Health Care

Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare")?
- No

Campaign Finance

Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
- Yes

Economy

1. Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
- Yes

2. Do you support lowering corporate taxes as a means of promoting economic growth?
- No

Immigration

1. Do you support the construction of a wall along the Mexican border?
- No

2. Do you support requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship?
- No

National Security

1. Should the United States use military force to prevent governments hostile to the U.S. from possessing a weapon of mass destruction (for example: nuclear, biological, chemical)?
- No

2. Do you support reducing military intervention in Middle East conflicts?
- Yes

Trade

1. Do you generally support removing barriers to international trade (for example: tariffs, quotas, etc.)?
- Unknown Position

Defense

Do you support increasing defense spending?
- Unknown Position

2019

Afghanistan

Would you commit to the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of your first term, or would you require certain conditions be met before doing so?

- As I have said many times, this war in Afghanistan must come to an end. I was honored to visit with our brave troops and national security professionals there last year, and I’ll do everything in my power to achieve a political solution – if one hasn’t been reached already – that allows us to bring them home responsibly in my first term.
 
Nobody can predict what President Trump will do between now and 2021, so as soon as I take office, I will bring together our military leaders, national security advisers, and top diplomats to coordinate and implement that withdrawal plan. I fully recognize the importance of diplomacy and development to success in Afghanistan, and I want to ensure that the country is on a path to stability, that we protect the gains that have been made for Afghan women and others, and that it never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.

Trade

1. Under what circumstances, if any, would you support the United States joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), formerly the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

- As I’ve long said, I will oppose any trade deal that doesn't look out for the best interests of American workers and raise environmental standards, and unfortunately the TPP didn’t pass either test. I also raised concerns at the time about the lack of transparency in the process.
 
In my administration, labor and civil society groups will always have a seat at the table to ensure that trade agreements do achieve these important objectives. And I think that’s exactly what we need – pro-labor, pro-environment trade deals – because it’s clear Donald Trump’s protectionist approach has been a disaster. His trade war is crushing American farmers, killing American jobs, and punishing American consumers.  I would work with our allies in Europe and Asia to confront China on its troubling trade practices, not perpetuate Trump’s failing tariff war that is being paid for by hard-working Americans.

China

How, if at all, should China’s treatment of the Uighurs and the situation in Hong Kong affect broader U.S. policy toward China?

- China’s abysmal human rights record must feature prominently in our policy toward the country. We can’t ignore China’s mass detention of more than a million Uighur Muslims in “reeducation camps” in the Xinjiang region, or its widespread abuse of surveillance for political and religious repression. We can’t ignore Beijing’s failure to respect the rights and autonomy of Hong Kong’s people and the Hong Kong government’s excessive use of force against peaceful protestors. President Trump has consistently turned a blind eye to these abuses in hopes of earning a ‘win’ in his trade war, all to no avail.
 
Under my administration, we will cooperate with China on global issues like climate change, but we won’t allow human rights abuses to go unchecked. The United States must reclaim our own moral authority and work with like-minded nations to stand up forcefully for human rights in China and around the world.

Iran

Would you rejoin the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)? What changes to the existing agreement, if any, would you require before agreeing to rejoin the accord?

- Yes. President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from an agreement that was verifiably preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon – against the warnings of our closest allies, and without any plan for what comes next – was beyond reckless. Since then, we’ve seen nothing but escalations from both sides. Either the Trump Administration is angling for another disastrous war in the Middle East, or it has spent two years saber-rattling with no endgame.
 
Based on where things stand now, I would plan to rejoin the JCPOA so long as Iran also returned to verifiable compliance. At the same time, I would seek negotiations with Iran to extend and supplement some of the nuclear deal’s existing provisions, and work with our partners to counter Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region, including with regard to its ballistic missile program.

North Korea

Would you sign an agreement with North Korea that entailed partial sanctions relief in exchange for some dismantling of its nuclear weapons program but not full denuclearization?

- Let me start by saying this: I guarantee you I won’t be exchanging love letters with Kim Jong-un. President Trump has handed Kim one PR victory after the next, all without securing any real concessions, so the next president will have serious work to do.
 
Ultimately, we can’t accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state. But it’s clear that simply demanding complete denuclearization is a recipe for failure; we must work closely with our allies to contain and reverse the short-term threats posed by Pyongyang as we work toward that long-term goal.
 
In any negotiations with North Korea, we must proceed with great skepticism given our past experiences. I would consider targeted sanctions relief to improve the lives of the North Korean people if the regime were to take serious, verifiable steps to roll back its nuclear program. And that relief would have to be immediately reversible were they to renege on their commitments.

Ukraine

What, if any, steps would you take to counter Russian aggression against Ukraine?

- In both Ukraine and Georgia, Russia has used military force to seize territory and undermine democratically elected governments. Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea is a severe violation of the international norms that have guided the world since World War II – as are Russia’s support for combat operations in eastern Ukraine and its cyber-attacks. Thousands of people have died because of Russia’s aggression, including 298 civilians killed when a Russian missile shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in 2014.
 
As president, I would continue to support Ukraine and ensure the U.S. is unequivocal in affirming Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. I would also prioritize working with the government of Ukraine to build out its military, strengthen its civil society, and combat corruption, while working closely with our European partners on a diplomatic solution. And unlike the current occupant of the White House, I will consistently stand up to Putin in defense of democratic values, human rights, and the international rule of law.

Saudi Arabia

Given the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the civil war in Yemen, what changes, if any, would you make to U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia?

- First of all, we need to end U.S. support for the catastrophic Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has driven the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. I voted to do just that earlier this year. I also voted to block the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that only help continue this atrocity. Unfortunately, President Trump vetoed both of those measures. He has stood in lockstep with Riyadh, even turning a blind eye to the heinous assassination of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
 
The United States and Saudi Arabia still have mutual areas of interest, such as counterterrorism, where the Saudis have been strong partners. And we should continue to coordinate on that front. But we need to fundamentally reevaluate our relationship with Saudi Arabia, using our leverage to stand up for American values and interests.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Do you support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and, if so, how would you go about trying to achieve it?

- Israel is a critical ally and friend and its security is a top priority.  I absolutely support a two-state solution because it is the best way to ensure the existence of a Jewish, democratic, and secure Israel. Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state, in peace and dignity, just as Israelis deserve a secure homeland for the Jewish people.
 
While all Americans have an interest in a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the fact remains that peace can only be achieved if the parties themselves come to an agreement. The U.S. can – and should – serve as a constructive partner in the process. Unfortunately, while, in the past, the U.S. has been viewed as an honest broker with a strong desire for peace in the region, Trump’s actions have inflamed tensions in the region, diminished U.S. credibility and influence, and undermined the prospects for peace. As President, I would start by reaffirming the U.S. commitment to Israel’s security and prosperity, while simultaneously working to rebuild the broken relationship between the United States and the Palestinians. Among all of our international partners, the U.S. is uniquely positioned to facilitate negotiations toward peace, but for that to have any chance of success, we have to start by re-engaging in honest, respectful dialog with both sides.

Venezuela

What, if any, additional steps should the United States take to remove Nicolás Maduro from power in Venezuela?

- Make no mistake – Nicolás Maduro is a repressive and corrupt dictator who is responsible for an unfathomable humanitarian crisis. The Venezuelan people deserve the support and solidarity of the United States. We should start by immediately extending Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans who’ve fled Maduro’s brutality, which President Trump has refused to do.
 
We should also provide additional aid to international humanitarian organizations to be disbursed to Venezuelan residents and refugees. And we should continue to support multilateral diplomatic efforts toward a peaceful transition to legitimate new elections, which must be the ultimate goal.
 
Finally, we should take U.S. military intervention off the table. National Security Adviser John Bolton would have us believe that the choice in Venezuela is between indifference and invasion. That is a false choice, and I reject it.

Africa

By 2050, Africa will account for 25 percent of the world’s population according to projections by the United Nations. What are the implications of this demographic change for the United States, and how should we adjust our policies to anticipate them?

- The African continent is dynamic, diverse, and full of potential, with the youngest, fastest growing population in the world. There are so many important interests at stake in Africa, from bolstering global security to fostering shared prosperity.  The United States must engage now and build strong diplomatic and economic partnerships with these nations or illiberal countries like China and Russia will fill the gaps.
 
Unfortunately, President Trump is damaging U.S. relationships and opportunities in this important region.  His description of African nations as “sh*thole countries” was not only deeply offensive; it was flat-out wrong. He has undermined U.S. diplomacy and undercut work to strengthen security, prevent pandemics, support democratic institutions, and increase U.S. investment. 
 
As president, I will focus on advancing relationships in Africa that President Trump has let languish – and I will do so in a way that is consistent with American values.  We need to stand up for democracy, human rights, and economic freedom and development.  I will reinvigorate American diplomacy throughout the continent, support economic growth, and deepen security engagements with African partners.

Climate

How would you discourage the proliferation of coal-fired power plants in developing countries?

- First, I would rejoin the Paris Agreement, so that the world understands America is serious about meeting the most complex, far-reaching challenge of our time – climate change. If we’re going to be successful, then countries, states, and cities need to transition away from the dirtiest sources of fuel on the planet. Governments around the world should be bringing dangerous coal-fired power plants offline, not bringing new plants online, and underscoring that necessity should be front and center in every one of our bilateral relationships.  In addition to applying diplomatic pressure, the U.S. can better assist partners around the world in making the necessary energy transition by providing technical guidance, policy support, and access to capital.
 
We should also play a leadership role in compelling international institutions to use their leverage to end subsidies for dirty fuel.  And we should invest heavily in clean energy R&D and advanced energy storage and bringing the transformative technologies that have already been developed right here in the U.S. to scale around the world.

U.S. Foreign Policy

What has been the greatest foreign policy accomplishment of the United States since World War II? What has been the biggest mistake?

- The greatest U.S. foreign policy accomplishment has been the post-war community of international institutions, laws, and democratic nations we helped to build. For generations, presidents from both parties established a network of stalwart partners. These countries have contributed to our prosperity and worked with us in war and peace to deal with some of the toughest international crises and to confront a number of generational challenges.

Our biggest mistake has been to jeopardize all that progress and accomplishment by engaging in failed wars that have cost lives, destabilized the regions in which they have been fought, and undermined our leadership in the international community. To make matters worse, the current president seems intent on inflicting further damage to U.S. credibility by disregarding diplomacy, withdrawing from international agreements and institutions, shunning our allies, siding with dictatorships over democracies, and elevating sheer incompetence in his decision-making processes.

Speeches
Articles

Ticket Balancing May Be Risky for Joe Biden

Aug. 7, 2020

If the presidential nominating process is the weakest part of our political system -- and, perhaps not coincidentally, one not referenced by the founders -- the vice presidential selection process comes solidly in second place. Some might even argue it's a contender for the top spot. That's been particularly the case in the two most recent election cycles. The 2016 election, with Republican and Democratic nominees ages 70 and 69 on Election Day, respectively, elevated the actuarial odds of a vice president succeeding to the presidency to the highest level in history. This year, the Republican and Democratic nominees turn 74 and 78, and the actuarial odds are accordingly grimmer. With Vice President Mike Pence sure to be re-nominated, the focus is on Joe Biden's choice, delayed now from the promised "first week of August." Foreigners must consider it odd that 30 to 34 million people participate in selecting presidential nominees, but it's taken for granted that vice presidential nominees are selected by just one person. They may also consider it odd that Biden has limited his choice to women and, apparently -- he's not quite transparent on this -- to women who are nowadays called women of color. That limits the plausible picks to a very small percentage, and each of those mentioned seem to have at least one plausible disqualifying characteristic. Former national security adviser Susan Rice, for example, with more foreign policy and national security experience than the others mentioned, was the Obama administration's designated liar, going on five Sunday programs as U.N. ambassador in 2012 to spread a legend about Benghazi. Sen. Kamala Harris is regarded by many Democrats as having been too prosecutorial when she was district attorney in San Francisco. Rep. Karen Bass was a big fan of Fidel Castro (Florida has 29 electoral votes). Rep. Val Demings was a cop. Looking back, the two women previously nominated for vice president, former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro and former Gov. Sarah Palin, also had thin credentials and glaring weaknesses. But both, in my view, performed better in their fall campaigns than the men who selected them were entitled to expect. Maybe Biden's choice will, too. And there's historical precedent for nominees choosing from a sharply narrowed field. The Democratic Party has, from its beginnings, been a coalition of out-groups, capable of winning majorities when united. Keeping them together, however, can be hard work. Narrowing the VP list to women, or black women, rewards two decadeslong core constituencies, feminist-minded female college graduates and blacks. The prospect of a black female vice president, especially one with a non-negligible actuarial chance of becoming president, might maximize turnout of college females and blacks. Of course, Americans have already elected a black president and nearly elected a woman. The prospect of a black woman vice president might seem no big deal. After John F. Kennedy won the presidency with 78% of Catholic votes in 1960, Catholic VP nominees were chosen by Republicans in 1964 and by Democrats in 1968 and 1972. All three tickets lost. Democrats have had to choose from narrow fields of VP possibilities before. In the six decades after the Civil War, when the party's major constituencies were white Southerners and Catholic immigrants, it was considered unthinkable to put a Southerner or a Catholic on the ticket. During these years, Democrats -- and Republicans -- usually nominated Northern Protestants from New York, Ohio or Indiana, the three large marginal states in close elections. A VP nominee's local appeal, they hoped, might swing enough electoral votes to swing the election. We lack the polling evidence to indicate whether this was so. But between 1868 and 1920, every winning ticket and most losing tickets had at least one nominee from these three states, which were the home bases of the winning VPs in 10 of 14 elections. There's a stronger argument for ticket balancing, at least since former President Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Walter Mondale reinvented the vice presidency as a working part of the executive branch. All but one of the vice presidents selected then had a career path and a set of experiences significantly different from those of the president who selected them. Former Vice Presidents Walter Mondale, Dan Quayle, Al Gore, Joe Biden and Mike Pence have 12 to 36 years of congressional experience, compared with zero to four years for the presidential nominees who picked them. George H. W. Bush and Dick Cheney had years of foreign policy and national security policy experience, while the nominees who picked them had virtually none. Joe Biden, with tons of experience (36 years in the Senate, eight in the White House), is said to be wary of an ambitious VP and may be tempted to name someone with little or no experience. Balancing the ticket that way wouldn't be unprecedented but might be unnerving to voters with a sense of the actuarial odds. Source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/

Why Kamala Harris Is the 'Do No Harm' Choice for VP

May 4, 2020

Four names are getting the most attention from Joe Biden in the race to be his running mate: Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.  Three of those four have begun to attract some degree of open opposition. The only one who hasn’t is Harris. And that makes her the safest choice for vice president. A fifth name that has generated a lot of media attention is former Georgia state legislative leader Stacey Abrams, because she has been so publicly vocal in advocating for her nomination. However, she has not been a guest on Biden’s podcast, as have Klobuchar and Whitmer. She has not been part of a Biden campaign virtual town hall, as has Harris. And she has not proposed a policy plank that Biden has adopted, as has Warren. Abrams does not appear to be on the short list. The others almost certainly are, and in turn, have been stepping up their public appearances. That allows both Biden and the rest of us to assess how the public would receive them. It’s not necessarily helping their causes. “Perhaps no other potential vice-presidential contender has stirred as acidic a reaction in progressive circles as Klobuchar,” reported McClatchy’s David Catanese. The Minnesota senator personifies an electoral argument that the Biden campaign should expend most of its energy appealing to white, moderate Midwesterners, which stirs worry on the left that the interests of people of color and progressive activists will get sidelined. Plus, during the end of her presidential run, Klobuchar struggled to explain her role, while serving as Hennepin County Attorney, in the life sentence of a black teenager convicted of murder on scant evidence. Back in March, DailyKos.com founder Markos Moulitsas summed up, on Twitter, the view of Klobuchar skeptics on the left, arguing she “would be Tim Kaine 2.0—doing nothing to unify the party, bringing no new demographics to the ticket. It would be (once again) a disaster.” On the flip side, “[b]ig money donors are pressuring Joe Biden to not choose Sen. Elizabeth Warren,” according to a report from CNBC’s Brian Schwartz. One Biden fundraiser is quoted as saying, “I think a lot of the donor base, on board and coming, would prefer almost anyone but Elizabeth.” Warren retains a fervent progressive fan base; a Data for Progress poll of likely Democratic voters found Warren was the plurality choice for vice president with 31%. But as we learned in the primary, consolidating the most progressive third of the Democratic electorate isn’t the same as earning broad party support. Furthermore, the Biden campaign faces a steep fundraising challenge. The Trump campaign is flush with cash, and the virus-ravaged economy will make it hard for Biden to catch up. A vice presidential pick who makes that job harder will likely make Biden pause. Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, is demographically similar to Klobuchar, and could also deflate those Democrats looking for a nonwhite running mate. But perhaps a bigger problem for her chances is that she has attracted vociferous opposition among Michigan conservatives for her strict social distancing measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak. You may think upsetting conservatives isn’t a bad thing for a Democratic vice presidential candidate, who often play the role of attack dog. But the supposed value of Whitmer is she would lock down her own swing state with ease. The more she becomes a polarizing figure at home, the less easy that job becomes. Getting mired in local controversies is not what the Biden campaign wants from a running mate. We already have a bit of data to suggest Whitmer’s rising national profile isn’t helping her vice presidential case, even though her job approval numbers are healthy. A Fox News poll of Michigan shows Biden ahead of Trump by eight points, but when Whitmer is added to the ticket, the lead is trimmed to six. Which brings us to Kamala Harris. You can make arguments about what she would not bring to the ticket. She’s not from a swing state. She didn’t run a strong presidential primary campaign. She conspicuously used racial issues to attack Biden, who then performed much better than she did with African American voters -- so there’s little reason to assume she would boost African American turnout. But Harris, at a minimum, fulfills the number one criteria for vice presidents: Do No Harm. Even the best vice presidential candidates rarely flip states, but the worst candidates become distractions that cast doubt on the presidential candidate’s decision-making abilities. As a liberal woman of color, she won’t be subject to complaints from the left. As a mainstream Democrat with a pragmatic streak, Harris can ably work the fundraising circuit. As a senator from the deep blue state of California, she won’t be dogged by home state conservatives (and as a bonus, the odds her Senate seat will get snatched by a Republican are extremely low). Harris is not without detractors. Some on the left dislike her background as a prosecutor, and repeatedly called her “a cop” during the primary. Some on the right have tried to demean her career by suggesting she was improperly aided by a former boyfriend, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. But these factions appear to be small. Those on the left who strongly dislike Harris, dislike Biden even more. No vice presidential pick could appease them except for one that risks alienating donors or swing voters, such as Warren (and even Warren might not be enough). And attacking Harris about her past relationship with Brown isn’t universally acceptable on the right. For example, Tomi Lahren was criticized by two of her fellow Fox News personalities last year after she rhetorically asked on Twitter, “[D]id you sleep your way to the top with Willie Brown?” (Lahren soon apologized.) There is no “Stop Harris” effort afoot, which is important because Joe Biden is running as a unifier, for the country and for his party. A unifier can’t comfortably run alongside a polarizer. Klobuchar, Warren or Whitmer probably wouldn’t become laughingstocks like Sarah Palin or Dan Quayle, or get dumped from the ticket as was George McGovern’s first choice, Thomas Eagleton. But if their selection was greeted with anger by any faction, that would undercut Biden’s persona. Of the top choices, Harris is the least polarizing, and most compatible with how Biden wants to portray himself. Even their past tension from the primary campaign, when Harris harshly attacked Biden’s position on school busing, works in Harris’ favor, as it furthers the case that Biden is a unifier who works with people with whom he sometimes disagrees. Of course, a sleeper pick is still possible, such as Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, or Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto. But these long shots have yet to face the heat of the national spotlight. Eventually, if they get on the short list, they will get that scrutiny along with it. And we will find out if one or more is better positioned than Harris to keep the party unified and allow Biden to retain his appeal to swing voters. If not, Harris will remain the safe choice.Source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/

Harris Ripped Biden on Race. As VP Contender, She Hails Him.

Apr. 28, 2020

Sen. Kamala Harris tends to go to extremes when describing the choice for voters in the 2020 election. During a virtual forum Monday to promote Joe Biden’s campaign -- an online gathering that also served as Harris’ latest veepstakes audition -- she implored his supporters to “do everything we can to elect” the former vice president because the November election is “literally going to be about our health and whether we live or die.” In a normal election year, such apocalyptic language would prompt collective eye-rolls. But roughly two months into a pandemic that has upended the world, snuffing out precious lives and livelihoods in its path, it comes off as rehearsed gloom and doom from Democrats eager to use the crisis to oust Donald Trump from office. The problem, at least in terms of optics for Harris, is that less than a year ago the freshman California senator was making similarly unrestrained attacks against the candidate she now heralds as the nation’s savior. In fact, the only time her presidential campaign had even a short-term surge was when she upbraided Biden during the first primary debate over his decades-ago fight against busing to desegregate schools and his fond recollection of being able to work with segregationist senators in his first years in office. As the only black woman on the stage, Harris said it was “hurtful” to hear him speak positively of those times in the 1970s. She described a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools and who was bused to school every day. “And that little girl was me,” Harris said to dramatic effect. Although she noted that she didn’t believe Biden is a racist, Harris used his comments as an example of why the Democratic Party still has a lot of reckoning to do when it comes to racial equality. Fast-forward to Monday’s virtual forum on the “coronavirus’ disproportionate impact on communities of color” and it was as if last year’s confrontation had never occurred. Harris heralded her former rival as the great equalizer when it comes to racial aspects of the pandemic — a champion of economic security, access to health care, food assistance and small business loans for black companies and churches — without a trace of the pain she had previously expressed about Biden’s past.  She praised him for producing a detailed plan for expanding the nation’s testing capabilities, including in areas where racial disparities could lead to undercounting, ensuring that recovery funds and small business loans are doled out equitably across the country, as well as expanding unemployment insurance and food assistance benefits. “What Joe Biden is saying [is] there should be free testing and treatment for everyone, regardless of race. He is saying there should be an equitable allocation of recovery funds,” she said. “Joe always talks plain talk, he speaks straight — and what he’s saying is he wants to make sure every community gets enough so that it ends up being equal.” Rep. Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat and past chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, quickly backed her up. “If we do not elect Joe Biden, we will not recover in my lifetime,” the 68-year-old lawmaker warned. Political expediency during the general election is often the miracle cure for old primary wounds, perceived or real. In 2007, Biden’s cringeworthy comments about then-presidential candidate Barack Obama as “the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy” evaporated into thin air when Obama tapped him as a running mate. But those remarks, however awkward and inappropriate, were made in the classic bumbling, back-handed way that Democrats have come to expect during Biden’s long tenure on the political scene. In contrast, Harris had engaged in a humiliating, full-frontal assault last year. Biden was clearly taken aback, telling the audience that her depiction mischaracterized his position. The moment went viral and led to a short-term boost in the polls for Harris. Despite that short-term gain, the dramatic confrontation immediately triggered questions about whether she had sidelined herself from ever joining Biden on the Democratic ticket should the early front-runner secure the nomination. Harris aides have openly said they’re not sure the moment was worth it, especially when their boss wasn’t able to fully explain the differences she had with Biden on busing. In an interview with CNN later that summer, Biden referred to Harris’ friendship with his late son, Beau, to explain why he was upset by the attack and didn’t see it coming. “She knew Beau,” Biden said. “She knows me.” Harris served as attorney general of California when Beau Biden held the same top legal post in Delaware, and the pair became friends while working on efforts to hold national banks responsible for the 2008 mortgage meltdown. Harris has since faced criticism for failing to speak out against then-Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown’s diversion of part of the state’s share of the $25 billion national settlement she helped negotiate, alongside Beau Biden. The issue pitted homeowners who suffered foreclosures against the big banks, with Harris and other attorneys general as referees, and there is still lingering resentment from those who lost out on the relief. “There were periods when I was taking heat, when Beau and I talked multiple times a day,” Harris wrote in her pre-campaign memoir, “The Truths We Hold.” “We had each other’s backs.” The two were close and Harris expressed deep public condolences to the Biden family on May 30 last year, the anniversary of Beau’s death. “Four years after his passing, I still miss him,” she wrote. Perhaps it was the years of banked goodwill, or Biden’s decades of experience with Washington opportunism, that has allowed him to move beyond the debate attack. At the start of the second Democratic debate in Detroit last summer, Biden good-naturedly joked to Harris, “Go easy on me, kid.” He has since said the two quickly recovered from the episode and have called each other often in the months since, sharing warm conversations and jokes. Both sides say they maintain a deep, mutual respect for the other. “I’m not good at keeping hard feelings,” Biden said in December when asked if he harbored any ill will over the June debate clash. After his Feb. 29 blowout victory in South Carolina, where the endorsement of elder statesmen Rep. Jim Clyburn helped him win 61% of black voters, both Harris and Sen. Cory Booker, who also campaign aggressively against Biden in the primary, quickly endorsed him. Booker, Harris, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer joined forces to campaign for Biden in Detroit in early March. After Harris opened the event, Biden bounded onstage and the two hugged, then held their hands in the air in solidarity. The question now is whether Harris would be the right VP choice to bolster Biden’s pandemic-cloistered campaign, whether she has the credibility and personal charisma to help carry him over the finish line in November. It’s clear she’s trying to make up for lost ground. After the hug in Detroit, Harris struck an emotional note. “I got to know Joe through Beau,” she told the crowd. “It’s a rare thing to see such a special relationship between a father and his son. It was an extraordinary relationship they had.” During the virtual forum Monday, Harris extolled Biden’s personal tragedies as having molded him into the right man for this moment. “He has a plan, he speaks from the heart, and understands people’s struggles, and he feels that struggle in a way that he always acts to take care of people and lift them up,” she concluded.Source: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/

Events

2019

Dec. 9
Join Kamala Harris in Denver!

Mon 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM MST

3330 Brighton Blvd, Denver, CO 80216-5021, United States

Nov. 30
Shirley Chisholm Day of Action

Sat 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM PST

Nov. 27
Iowa Teachers for Kamala House Party

Wed 9:45 AM – 11:20 AM CST

Waukee, Iowa Waukee, IA