California Governor Gavin Newsom has tapped Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill out the US Senate term of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Padilla will become the state’s first Latino to hold the position.
There are two years remaining in Harris’ Senate term, which means Alex Padilla would need to win election in November 2022 to remain office for a full six-year term.
Harris is set to take office as vice president on January 20, 2021.
Paperwork for Padilla’s senate campaign was already filed on Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission.
Newsom has been under pressure within the state to choose a Black woman to replace Harris because of the lack of diversity in the US Senate.
He tweeted that Padilla’s appointment would history but added that Padilla is “far more interested in changing history especially for the working men and women of our state and country”.
“I can think of no one better to represent the state of California as our next United States Senator,” Newsom tweeted Tuesday. The California governor extended the offer to Padilla in a video conversation that he released in his tweet.
His appointment will make history. But the @AlexPadilla4CA I know is far more interested in changing history — especially for the working men and women of our state and country.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) December 22, 2020
I can think of no one better to represent the state of California as our next United States Senator. pic.twitter.com/xiAzpTS42Y
Governor Newsom noted that the incoming senator’s parents were cook and house cleaner who immigrated from Mexico, and Padilla “worked his way from humble beginnings to the halls of MIT, the Los Angeles City Council and the state Senate, and has become a national defender of voting rights.”
Padilla, 47, was seen emotional when speaking to Newsom about his parents on the video as he accepted the position.
“I’m honored, man, and I’m humbled, because of them,” Padilla says.
I am humbled and honored to serve as California’s next United States Senator. Thank you, @GavinNewsom, for entrusting me with the role of defending the dream for the people of California. https://t.co/bCwf05C3hm pic.twitter.com/Fn5iNl6ldS— Alex Padilla (@AlexPadilla4CA) December 22, 2020
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also extended her support to Padilla’s appointment. Harris tweeted, “I know you’ll continue to be a champion for our great state in the Senate. Congratulations my dear friend.”
Padilla has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He entered politics as an aide to Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. He was elected to the Los Angeles City Council at the age of 26 and later became the council’s youngest president in its history.
He moved on to the state Senate in 2006, representing the San Fernando Valley.
Padilla in a statement vowed to fight for “those struggling to make ends meet to the small businesses fighting to keep their doors open to the healthcare workers looking for relief.”
In May under Padilla, California became the first state to commit to sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters for the 2020 election as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.