"Every time you make an appointment, you make 20 enemies and one ingrate." That's the old joke in politics that came up via one political science expert back in August when Senator Kamala Harris was first named to the Biden ticket, and when it became clear there was a good chance Gavin Newsom would need to choose someone to replace her until the next election.
Newsom echoed the odiousness of the task when he was asked about it on Election Day last week, per NPR. "I mean, honestly, I'm not even exaggerating. There's a hundred chores that I'd prefer," Newsom said. "I'm not kidding."
"This is not something that I wish even on my worst enemy, because you create enemies in this process you know, not just friends. And it's a vexing decision," Newsom added.
But the palace intrigue has kicked into high gear as the appointment now needs to be made pretty soon, and a short list is emerging.
As we discussed in August, Newsom has a major balancing act to perform politically and optically, replacing one of only two Black women ever to serve in the Senate — and with an opportunity to put a Latinx or LGBTQ person in a California seat as well. With a state with such a high Latinx population, California has never had a Latinx person in the Senate, which would also be a big deal.
According to ABC 7, the names on the list of likelies remain largely the same as three months ago, with many betting that Newsom will select a person of color. SF Mayor London Breed is on there, as are Congresswomen Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Karen Bass. Porter, while not a woman of color, has major fundraising chops in her favor — which is important because whoever gets the seat will have to run for it in a special election with some high stakes and a Republican war chest available to their opponent.
Also in the running — and rumored to be high on the list — is Secretary of State and Newsom pal Alex Padilla. And there's AG Xavier Becerra, in contention as well — but the Chronicle notes that Becerra, along with Rep. Bass, are being talked about for cabinet positions in the Biden administration as well.
Politico says that Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is on the list as well, and so is Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia, who would tick both the LGBTQ box as well as the Latinx box.
And, finally, there's Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna, and Rep. Adam Schiff as possibilities too.
According to former Governor Jerry Brown, odds are in the favor of a congressperson or someone who holds statewide office, like Padilla or Becerra, because appointing them would allow Newsom to fill the other job as well with someone handpicked.
Long story short, London Breed's ascension into the national spotlight during the pandemic puts her in position for a bigger job in the fairly near term, even if it doesn't end up being this one.
Top image: Then presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris raises her arms with San Francisco Mayor London Breed (R) and San Francisco Sun Reporter publisher Amelia Ashley-Ward (L) during the San Francisco Black Newspaper’s Anniversary Celebration on May 09, 2019 in San Francisco, California. Kamala Harris spoke at the 75th anniversary gala celebration for the San Francisco Sun-Reporter newspaper. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)