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UPDATE: Calif. Blacks Furious Over Newsom’s Snub in Picking a Latino to Replace Kamala

'It’s a terribly insensitive decision” with the nation in the midst of a reckoning over racial injustice...'

Black leaders in California sharply criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, for snubbing them in the selection process to replace Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who presumably will be sworn in next month as vice president.

Harris is not African–American per se, since her roots come from India and the Caribbean by way of Canada and Berkeley, Calif., rather sharing with many black Americans a deep-rooted history in the slave-holding American South.

However, she has embraced the label and identified when convenient to do so as a black woman and an Asian woman.

Newsom rejected pleas from a host of prominent black leaders to replace Harris with another ‘African–American’ woman, such as U.S. Reps. Karen Bass or Barbara Lee.

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In picking California Secretary of State Alex Padilla—a personal friend, Latino and fellow Democrat—Newsom had his eye on pragmatism.

Once a major up-and-comer in the party, Newsom’s mismanagement of the state during recent coronavirus lockdowns and his hypocritical leadership have caused his star to fade somewhat.

He turned to someone he could trust with a year of uncertainty looming, including a possible recall election targeting the governor while the pandemic rages unabated.

About six hours after the Padilla announcement, Newsom’s office said he would nominate Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who is black, to be the next secretary of state.

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Some Democrats attempted to spin Weber’s appointment as yet another history-making progressive hallmark. Given the timing, however, it appeared the choice was intended at least partly to quell criticism for not choosing a black woman to replace Harris.

“Many people believe the governor will pay a political price,” Kerman Maddox, a Democratic consultant and fundraiser who is Black, said in an email.

“It’s a terribly insensitive decision” with the nation in the midst of a reckoning over racial injustice,” she continued.

In fact, Maddox considered the appointment of Weber as adding insult to injury.

“If Governor Newsom thinks our disappointment with the Kamala Harris replacement will be tempered by appointing an African American woman to be California secretary of state, he clearly does not know this constituency,” Maddox said. “When I heard the news about the secretary of state appointment, my anger meter went from disappointment to being downright angry.”

Black San Francisco Mayor London Breed called the Senate decision “a real blow to the African American community.”

Original story below:

California Gov. Gavin Newsom chose Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who’s embroiled in a partisan election scandal, to fill the Senate seat that Kamala Harris, D-Calif., may vacate if she’s elected vice president.

“The son of Mexican immigrants — a cook and house cleaner — Alex Padilla worked his way from humble beginnings to the halls of MIT, the Los Angeles City Council and the State Senate, and has become a national defender of voting rights as California’s Secretary of State,” Newsom said.

Before the 2020 presidential election, Padilla’s office awarded a $35-million no-bid contract to SKD Knickerbocker, a Democratic political consulting agency, for the purpose of increasing mail-in voter turnout.

Not only did Padilla award the contract to SKDK, a firm with an openly partisan agenda, but the contract itself illegally used funds from the Help America Vote Act, which specifically prohibits funding for get-out-the-vote operations.

The contract gave Democratic operatives access to private voter information and allowed them to micro-target voters so that they could skew the election toward their preferred outcome.

Padilla conducted the activities under the guise of responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Congressional Republicans have written letters demanding accountability for Padilla’s actions.

Republicans told the state’s finance director to refund the $35 million to the federal government’s treasury, again without any results.

They also asked the Election Assistance Commission’s inspector general to launch an investigation into Padilla, but no known action has been taken.

Newsom selected and praised him without regard for the ongoing scandal.

“Through his tenacity, integrity, smarts and grit, California is gaining a tested fighter in their corner who will be a fierce ally in D.C., lifting up our state’s values and making sure we secure the critical resources to emerge stronger from this pandemic,” he said. “He will be a Senator for all Californians.”

Padilla said he would “honor that trust” placed in him as a United States Senator.

“From those struggling to make ends meet to the small businesses fighting to keep their doors open to the health care workers looking for relief, please know that I am going to the Senate to fight for you,” he said. “We will get through this pandemic together and rebuild our economy in a way that doesn’t leave working families behind.”

The Republicans who have been investigating Padilla and seeking accountability—Reps. James Comer of Kentucky, Rodney Davis of Illinois, and Jody Hice of Georgia—released a statement on Padilla’s appointment.

“Alex Padilla’s actions as California Secretary of State raise serious ethical and legal questions and we must have answers immediately before he is entrusted with representing all citizens of California in the U.S. Senate and safeguarding taxpayer dollars,” Comer said.

Other Republican Representatives joined in this sentiment.

They again called on the Election Assistance Commission’s Inspector General to inquire into the scandal.

Newsom also rejected pleas from a host of prominent black leaders to replace Harris, the Senate’s only black woman, with another African American woman, such as radical U.S. Reps. Karen Bass or Barbara Lee.

About six hours after the Padilla announcement, Newsom’s office said he would nominate Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, who is black, to be the next secretary of state.

Given the timing, however, it appeared the choice was intended at least partly to quell criticism for not choosing a black woman to replace Harris.

“Many people believe the governor will pay a political price,” Kerman Maddox, a Democratic consultant and fundraiser who is black, said in an email. “It’s a terribly insensitive decision” with the nation in the midst of a reckoning over racial injustice.

“If Governor Newsom thinks our disappointment with the Kamala Harris replacement will be tempered by appointing an African American woman to be California secretary of state, he clearly does not know this constituency,” Maddox added. “When I heard the news about the secretary of state appointment, my anger meter went from disappointment to being downright angry.”

Black San Francisco Mayor London Breed called the Senate decision “a real blow to the African American community.”

Newsom is already the subject of a vigorous recall effort, mainly over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Padilla has served as California’s secretary of state since 2015. He was a state senator from 2006 to 2014, a member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1999 to 2006, and the president of the Los Angeles City Council from 2001 to 2006.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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