California Is Sending a Latino to the Senate for the First Time
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is set to take over Vice President–elect Kamala Harris's Senate seat in Washington, D.C.
On Monday, California announced that the state is sending a Latino to the U.S. Senate for the first time. Governor Gavin Newsom has selected California's Secretary of State Alex Padilla, 47, to take over Vice President–elect Kamala Harris's Senate seat in Washington, D.C. The Mexican American will hold the seat and represent the state until 2022.
"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," Newsom said in a statement. "He will be a senator for all Californians."
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Latino Victory Fund were among the groups advocating for Padilla to be selected. He has been part of the state's political scene for over 20 years. For the past five years, he has served as the top elections official in the country's most populated state and was instrumental in executing the rollout of California's vote-by-mail program that sent every eligible voter a ballot by mail.
"I am honored and humbled by the trust placed in me by Governor Newsom, and I intend to work each and every day to honor that trust and deliver for all Californians," Padilla said in a statement. The son of a cook and a house cleaner who immigrated from Mexico, Padilla choked up when speaking to Newsom about his parents as he accepted the position. "I'm honored, man, and I'm humbled, because of them."
In his announcement, Newsom noted that Padilla had worked his way from "humble beginnings to the halls of MIT," where he got his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He entered politics as an aide to Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, was elected to the Los Angeles City Council at age 26, and later became the council's youngest president in its history. He moved on to the California State Senate in 2006, representing the San Fernando Valley.