San Francisco Mayor London Breed called California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s choice of Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ vacant Senate seat “a real blow to the African-American community.”
Newsom announced his selection of Padilla for the role on Tuesday, choosing the first Latino to fill the position. Padilla is of Mexican descent. Breed called the appointment an “unfortunate situation” at a news conference a few hours after the announcement was made.
She said she hoped to see a Black woman fill the role.
“The sad reality is [Harris] was the only African-American woman in the Senate at this time, and when you think about the history of this country and the challenges that exist for African-Americans especially … this is a real blow to the African American community, to African-American women, to women in general,” Breed said. “I think it’s really challenging to put it in words,” the mayor said.
In 2021, there will be no Black women in the Senate.
Newsom had been under pressure to choose a Black woman to chose a Black woman to replace Harris.
“I can think of no one better to represent the state of California as our next United States Senator,” Newsom tweeted along with a video of a conversation between and he and Padilla in which he extended the offer.
“I will make you proud and California proud by getting it done in the U.S. Senate. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m ready,” Padilla said.
Padilla is the son of a cook and cleaner who immigrated from Mexico. He is a longtime friend of Newsom, who has served as Secretary of State since 2015.
Mayor Breed had called on Newsom to appoint either Rep. Barbara Lee or Rep. Karen Bass — both Black women — to the position.
“There’s no way that Gavin Newsom should allow anyone other than a Black woman to fill the seat of Harris,” Breed said previously. “Racial minorities should know they should not try to fill each other’s vacancies.”
Bass and Lee each offered congratulations to Padilla after the announcement was made.
California State Assembly member Shirley Weber was picked by Newsom to fill Padilla’s secretary of state position.
“Dr. Weber is a tireless advocate and change agent with unimpeachable integrity,” Newsom said. “Now, she’ll be at the helm of California’s elections as the next Secretary of State – defending and expanding the right to vote and serving as the first African American to be California’s Chief Elections Officer.”
Padilla will assume Harris’s role through the duration of the term and prepare for a competitive race to remain in the seat in 2022.
Harris congratulated Padilla on being named her successor, tweeting, “I know you’ll continue to be a champion for our great state in the Senate. Congratulations my dear friend.”