Gavin Newsom could fill three high-ranking California seats

Gov.Gavin Newsom

In the aftermath of United States Sen. Kamala Harris being elected vice president, California Gov. Gavin Newsom could have three high-ranking statewide office seats to fill, a first in decades. [Politico]

Newsom is now expected to select replacements for both Harris and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, following an announcement that President-Elect Joe Biden has selected Becerra to serve as secretary of health and human services in his administration. Becerra’s appointment to the Biden administration post would require Senate confirmation.

The frontrunner to replace Becerra as attorney general is California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who is a longtime friend and supporter of Newsom. If Newsom were to appoint Padilla to the Senate, he would then have to select a new secretary of state as well. 

While Padilla is considered the frontrunner to replace Harris, it is not certain Newsom will select him. Women’s groups are lobbying for Newsom to appoint a woman of color to the Senate to replace Harris.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown has also called for Newsom to select a black woman to replace Harris. Brown previously said the leading black female choices to replace Harris are congresswomen Barbara Lee, Karen Bass and Maxine Waters; San Francisco Mayor London Breed; and state Sen. Holly Mitchell. 

However, if appointed, Padilla would be California’s first-ever Latino senator, something Latino groups say is long overdue. 

In the battle now taking shape over replacing Becerra as attorney general, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is a leading candidate. Other candidates include Rep. Eric Swalwell, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Jared Huffman, Rep. Ro Khanna, Rep. Ted Lieu, Assemblyman Rob Bonta, Assemblyman David Chiu, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, state Sen. Scott Wiener, outgoing state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and former state lawmaker Martha Escutia. 

Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Gonzalez and Assemblyman Evan Low, who have launched 2022 campaigns for Secretary of State, are among the possible choices for a replacement for Padilla if Newsom were to appoint him to the Senate. Other possible choices for a new secretary of state could be Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and San Francisco Mayor Breed.

California State Library legislative historian Alex Vassar said the amount of appointment power Newsom currently enjoys is a first in nearly 70 years.