We can’t let nepotism fill the leadership void in California
SSince Joe Biden announced that California Senator Kamala Harris was his running mate last summer, clear speculation has arisen about her replacement, as well as questions about how this transfer of power works. With Biden’s victory and subsequent opportunities to fill his cabinet, several other prominent California lawmakers have also been chosen for positions in Biden’s cabinet, and the gaps they leave leave many Californians wondering what and who comes next.
While in specific cases, including Los Angeles City Hall, there may be special elections, for the most part, Gov. Gavin Newsom single-handedly wields unprecedented appointing power that will shape the next generation of California politics. . This is a frightening idea for someone whose leadership in recent months has been plagued by scandals calling into question his consideration for those most affected by the pandemic, including dining room without mask at The French Laundry despite highest COVID hospitalizations on record in California, and more recently uncovered details that governor-owned businesses have obtained $ 3 million in PPP loans (some joint trust companies receive seven times more aid than comparable companies). It is imperative that these selection of appointments be closely monitored and that progressive public pressure be applied.
Here is the current state of what is happening with the changing landscape of lawmakers, what happens next, and what you can do:
- Senator (Replacement of Kamala Harris)
Newsom’s most publicized and anticipated appointment is to select a replacement senator for California, evidently in response to Kamala Harris being elected vice president. With more than half of California residents voting for Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 presidential primary, there is public demand to select a progressive like Karen Bass, Ro Khanna, Nanette Barragan or Barbara Lee, but choices more moderates like Secretary of State Alex Padilla are increasingly likely. Progressive Coalition organizations across Los Angeles began to organize around the nomination, including questionnaires for the candidates, a signing letter from the organization, and storms of community tweets to pressure the governor to that he appoints someone on the left who can really respond politically at this time, including support for a Green New Deal, a housing guarantee, and funding for the military industrial complex. Padilla’s recent completion of the questionnaire emphasizing his milquetoast liberal persuasion in the middle of the road underscores the importance of this grassroots campaign (more information on these efforts can be found below).
2. Attorney General (Replacement of Xavier Becerra)
Biden recently brought in California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, leaving the now open position for another Newsom appointment. This adds to Newsom’s extraordinary power at this time in selecting key people, steps that will reshape California politics for decades to come. Replacements for Becerra and Harris will serve until the 2022 election.
At the top of Newsom’s list to replace Becerra is San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, along with more familiar SoCal names like Ted Lieu and Adam Schiff. One of the most alarming names around is Tony West, chief legal officer of Uber (and therefore architect of the infamous Prop 22). The fact that he also happens to be the brother-in-law of Vice President-elect Harris has also been a point of contention. While Dennis Herrera may not be the worst option for progressives, there are much stronger choices, including Lorena Gonzalez of Assembly District 80, whose supporters include United Farm Workers and UNITE Here Local 30. Gonzalez is also vying for the position of CA Secretary of State as both a potential candidate and a candidate in the 2022 election (see below). Some have even thrown a long-term option for AG to Chesa Boudin, the new DA from San Francisco who, in an unprecedented move last month, charged a policeman with manslaughter for a homicide in service. Boudin’s appointment, while unlikely, would match the growing enthusiasm in California (especially Los Angeles) for police accountability reform following the election of George Gascon in Los Angeles and the adoption of measure J and proposal 17.
3. MAYBE: Mayor (Replacing Eric Garcetti)
Although at the time of publication we are on day 17 of protests outside Garcetti’s house to stop a Biden date, there are still chances that our mayor will be appointed to a Cabinet post.
Things could start to improve for Garcetti’s opponents, however, as this week Biden announced his appointment of Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge as Housing and Urban Development secretary on Garcetti. The fact that Garcetti was even considered for the job – and still vying for the post of transport secretary and perhaps for an environmental post – is laughable. Los Angeles grapples with an ongoing housing crisis, a looming eviction crisis and a 19% increase in homelessness in 2020 pre-pandemic. Additionally, LA’s reputation for public transportation is notoriously stereotypically bad.
Earlier this week, the president-elect announced that Garcetti would lead the Inauguration committee, who has widely speculated that the party’s glorified planning role excludes it from competing for a higher post.
However, if all of the recent backlash against Garcetti in his own town (including the ongoing investigations into Garcetti’s longtime aide Rick Gates, persistent recording of inappropriate conductt) prove insufficient for Biden to rule him out, city council will appoint an interim mayor before scheduling a special election. This would likely mean that the current council chairman, Nury Martinez, would take the reins as mayor. Since the seat is re-eligible in 2022, they could forgo the scheduling of a special election in favor of a simple wait for the 2022 primary cycle depending on the date of the appointment.
4. MAYBE: CA Secretary of State (To replace Alex Padilla)
Current Secretary of State Alex Padilla is at the top of the list of potential Senate candidates, and with Becerra now out of the race, the odds are in Padilla’s favor to replace Harris. If that happened, Newsom would have yet another opportunity to appoint a high-level California position within Secretary of State, cementing an unprecedented level of power in the hands of the governor, unseen in at least 70 years of California politics. Senator Dianne Feinstein has already expressed support for the appointment of Padilla, which should also sound the alarm for those affected by a livable future in california. As previously mentioned, Lorena Gonzalez threw her hat into the ring for the 2022 election for Secretary of State, where she will challenge Padilla if he does not get the Senate nomination.
What you can do:
- This Friday, December 11, a storm of tweets will pressure Newsom to appoint a progressive to the Senate from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm The toolkit can be found here.* Publish the graphics from page 3 of the toolkit on your social networks!
- If you are a member of an organization in California, request that it sign this letter, demanding that Harris’ replacement face the ongoing climate catastrophe.
- Continue to introduce yourself to Garcetti block daily demonstrations at 9:00 am at Mayor’s Mansion (6th and Irving) and sign on this petition.
- Watch out for the next storm of #Garcettiville tweets, a toolkit of which can be found here.
- Remember all of Garcetti’s failures with this amazing interactive resource: https://garcettiville.com/
- Support and amplify the progressives mentioned in this article on social media, and let Newsom know that we are watching his nominations closely and ready to rally our side to support or oppose his choices.
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