LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Gov. Gavin Newsom will soon have to decide who will replace Kamala Harris as a California Senator once she takes office as Vice President of the United States alongside President-elect Joe Biden.
“Whatever decision he makes he’s gonna make a lot of people unhappy,” said Professor Mindy Romero, Director of the USC Center for Inclusive Diversity.
Newsom could put it to a special election, but reports are he’ll make the choice himself and he has even joked about how many people have come forward expressing interest.
“Gov. Newsom has a record and reputation for making bold choices where he’s on the cusp of trends in society demographically he also seems to choose people he was a history with and is comfortable with,” said Professor Marcia Godwin, University of La Verne Professor of Public Administration.
Analysts say a bold choice comes with lots of considerations replacing the state’s first Black and Indian woman in the U.S. Senate and the second Black woman in the Senate overall.
Congresswomen Karen Bass and Barbara Lee are both getting buzz, but so are Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and State Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
Senate seats don’t often open up and California has never had a Latinx or gay or lesbian U.S. Senator.
“So, two historic options are on the table for him,” said Professor Christian Grose, Academic Director of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.
A recent poll from the University of Southern California of more than 1,000 registered California voters found that three out of four voters want a senator with “a fresh and new voice in politics,” with some legislative experience who will “chart their own course.”
“If he could pick somebody who would be kind of a path breaker… but when we asked people if they cared about that, about half of them, slightly more than half said it doesn’t matter to them, the historic first doesn’t matter that much,” Grose said about the poll.
According to that study, almost half of the voters said they rather have a senator with no experience in neither Washington nor Sacramento.
Others prefer the senator to have experience on the federal level than in California’s state government.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is in the likely top tier of possibilities, but experts still point out that it’s unlikely anyone will check all the boxes voters are looking for.
Additionally, experts say the other angle for why Gov. Newsom may want to take on that position could be his own political future.
“He wouldn’t be a political animal if he weren’t also thinking about what is the repercussion of the person he chooses for his own political aspirations and we understand he likely wants to be president someday,” Romero said.
The decision to replace Harris might be made easier if, as expected, some of the contenders are offered positions in the Biden-Harris administration.
After a projected win, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris are set to take office as President and Vice President, respectively, on January 21, 2020.