Former California State Assembly Speaker Willie Brown suggested in a San Francisco Chronicle column Saturday that Governor Gavin Newsom (D) should consider appointing himself to fill the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Brown, in a column aptly titled “Newsom needs to appoint himself or a Black woman as new senator,” floated the idea of the California governor ditching his position, in the middle of his first term in office, to serve in the Senate.
Newsom is 53 years old and has a bright political future ahead of him that could go on well beyond the six years he will have if he re-elected governor of California in 2022.
The next logical step for Newsom would be the Senate, so he might as well think about making the move now.
Plus, with the COVID pandemic resurgence and all of its associated economic and educational troubles, the next couple of years will probably be a nightmare for any governor.
Brown acknowledges that the optics of Newsom appointing himself to the Senate in the middle of a pandemic would be bad, and proceeds to suggest Newsom’s only other option would be to appoint a black woman to the position.
First, because Harris, as an African American, was elected by California voters.
Second, the African American vote was key to President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Democratic primary race.
Third, with Harris’ exit, there are only two African Americans in the Senate, and both are men.
Brown argues that Newsom has an array of candidates to choose from, specifically naming Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), 82, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), 74, who is considered the most far-left member of the House, and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA), the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus who was floated as a running mate to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
“There’s no way that Gavin Newsom should allow anyone other than a Black woman to fill the seat of Harris, who’s only the second Black woman in the history of the U.S. Senate,” Brown told Politico in an interview on Sunday. “There should be no contest.”
Under California law, Newsom can appoint someone to a vacant California Senate seat to serve the full term of the senator who vacated the position. Since Californians sent Harris to Washington, D.C., back in 2017, a seat vacated by Harris in 2021 would be open until the 2022 midterm elections.
While the average senator of the most recent Congress has been in their position for 10 years, California senators tend to serve far longer because of the Democratic Party’s grip on the state. For example, former Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) served in the Senate for decades before retiring, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has served since winning a special election for the seat in the early 1990s.