The 2016 election is still nearly two years away, but the critical race to fill Barbara Boxer’s California Senate seat in the next election, is already starting to take form. On January 8th, Boxer announced that she plans to retire, and will not be seeking re-election in 2016. Her announcement fueled speculation about which Democratic heavyweights would enter the ring to fight for the seat Boxer is vacating. California has an incredibly deep Democratic bench, so there are many viable candidates for team blue. However, the two potential candidates, that most analysts regarded as the “cream of the crop,” were lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom and attorney general Kamala Harris.
On Monday, Newsom ruled out running for the Senate in 2016. In a statement, Newsom said:
It’s always better to be candid than coy. While I am humbled by the widespread encouragement of so many and hold in the highest esteem those who serve us in federal office, I know that my head and my heart, my young family’s future, and our unfinished work all remain firmly in the state of California — not Washington, D.C. Therefore I will not seek election to the U.S. Senate in 2016.
With Gavin Newsom out, Kamala Harris immediately vaults to the top of the Democratic wish list. There are other prominent Democrats interested in the seat, including wealthy environmentalist Tom Steyer, and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Several additional candidates, both Democrat and Republican, are also considered possible contenders.
Harris, California’s first female attorney general, and also the state’s first African-American and Indian-American attorney general, would attract a strong base of support from multiple disparate constituencies. Harris and Newsom both coasted to re-election for their respective state offices in 2014. Harris won 57.5 percent of the vote in her race; Newsom won 57.2 percent. Newsom will likely opt to run for Governor in 2018. Harris, if she steps into the ring, would be a strong candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016. Harris has not yet stated that she plans to run, but with Newsom out of the running, the door is wide open for her to enter the race.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.