Tanu Henry | California Black Media
Black leaders across California are pointing to three “obvious” reasons they say it’s wise
for Gov. Newsom to pick either Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA-37) or Rep. Barbara Lee (D-
CA-13) to replace Sen. Kamala Harris when she vacates her seat and is inaugurated vice
president of the United States in January.
“We are adamant that the replacement of Senator Harris’s seat must be an African
American,” said Assemblymember Shirly N. Weber (D- San Diego), chair of the
California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC).
Weber was speaking during a virtual press conference the CLBC held Nov. 13 with other
Black caucus members, elected officials from around the state and other Black leaders to
register their support for Bass and Lee.
“The African American community has proven itself in this election – and in past
elections — to be the strongest force in the Democratic Party,” Weber continued. “We
solidly vote Democrat and support the principles of the Democratic Party. No other group
can make that claim in California or in any state.
Weber stressed that African Americans can no longer carry the burden of Democratic
Party and continue to be overlooked for appointments.
On the conference call, the leaders went on to list the other reasons they think the choice
Second, with more than 50 years of congressional experience between them at the state
and local levels, the two women are the most qualified, their supporters say.
“These are two public servants who have a history of being inclusive. Their politics don’t
represent a narrow view of democracy, but an expansive view,” said Mark Ridley-
Thomas, who serves on the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors. A former California State
Senator and Assemblymember, on Nov. 3, he was elected to serve on the Los Angeles
“They have located themselves, in any number of instances, in solidarity with the Latin-
x community, the Native American community, API community, and more. This is why
we assert that they are worthy of being U.S. senators,” Ridley-Thomas continued.
Ridley-Thomas also added that Lee and Harris have the requisite foreign policy
knowledge, experience and exposure that is required of United States senators.
Finally, the advocates say, the governor needs to appoint a Black woman to replace
Harris because after she vacates her seat, there will be no other Black women in the U.S.
“It’s not an option anymore. We will no longer be ignored, pushed to the side, or let
games be played behind our backs,” said Taisha Brown, chair of the California
Democratic Party African American Caucus (CDPAAC). “We are asking Gavin
Newsom, our governor, to either appoint Karen Bass or Barbara Lee. “We might have
secured the first Black woman into the vice presidency, but that success has left a well in
the United States, where there is no longer a Black woman. Not one.”
Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles) said while America should celebrate the Biden-
Harris win, the country should not sit on its laurels and underestimate the sacrifice it took
to get the Democratic Party candidates to the highest offices in the land.
“We will not allow the hard work of the African American community in electing the
Biden-Harris team to result in the loss of a senate seat here in California and, more
importantly, for Black Women,” Bradford said.