THE BUZZ — IT’S COMING: Don’t be surprised if Gov. Gavin Newsom decides to deliver California’s Hanukkah/Christmas gift this week — and roll out his choice for the Senate seat held by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
If the much-anticipated appointment comes, as some insiders expect, during the holiday period, when news is typically slow, it could provide Newsom with a buffer, turning the page on the narrative from the last few weeks (see: the French Laundry debacle) and giving the many who doubtless won’t agree with his choice time to vent and get over it. And then he can put the “annus horribilis” 2020 in the rearview mirror and get on with 2021.
THE BATTLE RAGES: Newsom has been fiercely lobbied by Latinos — a demographic that represents 40 percent of California’s population but which hasn’t been reflected by one of its U.S. senators in 170 years of state history — and groups like the Congressional Latino Caucus are strongly behind the candidate widely viewed as the front-runner, Secretary of State Alex Padilla. The LGBTQ community and advocates like Equality California say it’s time for their activism and history to be recognized, with the appointment of a candidate like Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. Now, groups representing Black women and the Asian and Pacific Islander community are having their say.
POLITICO spoke this week to Assemblymember Shirley Weber, a leader in Black Women United, which is pushing Newsom to name an African American woman. She said there’s no contest: Black women delivered the 2020 election for Democrats. “It’s like we can save the Senate but we can’t sit in the Senate. … We can clean the House — but we have to come through the back door,’’ she said. “We won the seat — and others want to say, ‘it’s our turn.’” Weber added that there are already “a number of Latino Democrats in the Senate,” and Black women “expended a lot of money and resources and time getting Kamala elected. And we find it ridiculous we’re fighting for the seat we won.”
But Weber firmly rejected the idea that Black women would be mollified if Newsom picks a Black woman to fill the seat of Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who has been tapped by President-elect Joe Biden as his nominee to be Health and Human Services secretary. “Our position is you can appoint Padilla to AG and a Black woman to the Senate … or we’ll take ‘em both. But we don’t want to give up the Senate seat for the AG seat,’’ which is subject to term limits, she said. “The Senate has much broader appeal — and can impact women across the nation. It’s a bigger landscape. … There is no bigger game to play, basically.’’
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: California’s Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus, chaired by state Sen. Richard Pan and Assemblymember Evan Low, announced its endorsement of Padilla, Reps. Karen Bass and Barbara Lee and Garcia for the Harris seat. On that fourth endorsement: Garcia checks three key boxes — he’s Latino, LGBTQ and Asian. From the caucus letter to Newsom, released today: “His great-grandfather was Chinese and a laborer in Peru. Mayor Garcia’s family name is actually Chen. The name was changed to Garcia, a Peruvian name, to integrate and gain employment in a new country.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: Newsom gets some room to maneuver should he pick Padilla, as he then can appoint a new secretary of state as well as an AG. He’s also been aided by the increasing buzz among insiders that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), in the wake of the devastating New Yorker profile last week, may bow out before the end of her term in 2024, potentially giving him a total of four appointments to make.
BUENOS DÍAS, good Monday morning. Today, the 55 members of the Electoral College in California are set to meet in person at 2 p.m. in the California State Assembly chambers to formally select Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Here’s what to expect, via ABC’s Kendall Karson. How does California select its electors? Here’s the Secretary of State’s primer. Watch the livestream via the state Assembly website. Biden will address the nation afterwards, at approximately 5 p.m. PT.
WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Well if it changes, I’ll let you know. … I work hard.” — Feinstein to CNN’s Manu Raju on whether she will serve out her term in the wake of stories suggesting she is suffering from cognitive decline.
BONUS QOTD: “I don’t have proof that men landed on the moon, in 1969, because I wasn’t there. … Until Jan. 20th, it may not be over with.” — Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.)— who signed on to the Texas lawsuit to overturn votes in key swing states — to CNN’s Chris Cuomo, on whether there is any proof of fraud in the presidential election.
TWEET OF THE DAY: Bass @RepKarenBass, now lobbying publicly for the Harris seat, Axios’ Kadia Goba reports: “Especially in this time of crisis, it would be an honor to be appointed to serve my state in the United States Senate.”
PODCAST OF THE DAY: On “It’s All Political,” Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza tells the SF Chronicle’s Joe Garofoli that Newsom should appoint a Black woman to the Senate.