By Najee Ali
The fight to have a Black women appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris continues.
Harris, who will be sworn in as vice president Jan 20, did a tremendous job in the Senate and now will serve as the nation’s first Black woman vice president. Gov. Gavin Newsom is now being asked to appoint a Black woman to fill her seat, with the two women most mentioned being U.S. Reps. Karen Bass and Barbara Lee. Both have been excellent leaders throughout their political careers.
Newsom must understand how important keeping the seat Black is in the state of California. Earlier this week, a large contingent of Black women, under the leadership of Rachel Brashier and the Black Women’s Democratic Club held a rally and press conference outside the governor’s downtown office.
The message was plain and clear. The Black community is not asking Newsom for a political favor. They are simply asking him to be a fair and just leader and not get caught up in the old boy’s network by appointing another man.
Newsom should appoint someone who reflects the will of the voters when they elected Harris. Harris was the only Black woman in the Senate.
There are currently four Latino men who are senators. The reality is Harris fought tooth and nail for her Senate seat. California voters selected her and she became the first Black senator in out state’s history.
If Newsom appoints a Latino to fill a seat that the voters put a Black woman in, it could put him in deeper peril of a recall movement that is being talked about.
It certainly would hamper his reelection efforts and if he had any potential thoughts to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in four or eight years. I can see Black Californians all over social media telling Black voters in other states not to vote for him he disrespected Black women in California and gave our only seat away.
Newsom should learn the political history of Black people in Los Angeles. We do not forget anything. If we feel you have done Black leadership unjustly, we will make you pay. The major reason former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn did not serve as California governor is because we bounced him out of office after only one term as mayor.
Hahn had the support of nearly every major Black leader in Los Angeles when he first ran for mayor. He won the mayor’s race against Antonio Villaraigosa in 2001 and seemed to position himself to an even brighter political future.
But Hahn made a fatal political mistake in his first year as mayor when he fired LAPD Chief Bernard Parks, the city’s second black police chief. Parks actually deserved to be fired, but politically it cost Hahn his job. Parks was still a Black man and the Black community felt betrayed by a white politician who Black voters helped put into office.
In 2005, in a rematch with Villaraigosa, Hahn lost the support and endorsement of every major Black leader who supported his challenger. Hahn greatly underestimated Black unity and keep in mind social media did not even exist then. It was by word of mouth in the barber shops, nail salons, coffee shops, churches and mosques that Black people all said do not vote for Hahn.
If Newsom does not select a Black woman to replace Harris, he would without question face the same angry reaction by Black voters that Hahn faced. This is not about Black versus Latino, it’s about fairness.
Many Latino leaders are asking the governor to appoint a Latino. The problem is they are the ones asking for a political favor.
The Latino community over the years has had the same opportunity to win a U.S. Senate seat as all other ethnic groups have had but every Latino candidate that has run for Senate has lost. Harris won her seat, and she should be replaced by a Black woman.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who I have tremendous respect for, even went as far as endorsing a Latino man for Harris’s senate seat. Feinstein is 87 years old and has served our nation with dignity but if she is that interested in a Latino man having a Senate seat, she should just retire and ask the Governor to appoint him to her seat.
Black people are not asking Newsom for any favors. We are simply saying do not take what is ours and what we earned and give it away. The Harris seat is our seat that reflects the will of California voters and if Newsom is the type of leader, I believe he is, he will appoint a Black woman to keep the seat.
A coalition of Black religious and civil rights leaders will hold a rally Dec. 22 at 11 a.m. outside of Gov. Newsom’s office calling for him to save our seat.
It is official. Assemblywoman Sydney Kalmager-Dove is running for the 30th District State Senate seat formerly held by her close friend and mentor, Holly J. Mitchell who is now our 2nd District County Supervisor and has emerged as the clear front runner.
Political activist and former L.A. City Commissioner Dallas Fowler, who has a long history of leadership and organizing in our community, has announced an exploratory committee to potentially make a future run for Kalmager –Dove’s Assembly seat if Kalmager- Dove moves up to a higher office or when she reaches term limits.
For political tips and news, email Brothernajeeali@gmail.com follow me on Twitter @Najeeali