As Washington Democrats are openly voicing support for California Attorney General Kamala Harris for Senate, Latino Democrats are expressing concern that high profile leaders within the party are acting prematurely.
Prominent Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand have expressed their support for Harris, and Harris has always been a favorite of the Obama White House.
This overwhelming support for Harris has some Latinos crying foul since they favor former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for the job. As POLITICO notes, Latinos make up a considerable voting block in the state and don’t believe they should be outshined by Harris:
Latinos are an outsize force in California politics: With nearly 40 percent of the population, they have moved ahead of whites to become the state’s largest demographic group. Since 1990, Latino representation in the Legislature has more than tripled, and Hispanics have been chosen in recent years to lead both chambers of the state Capitol.
“National figures should slow their roll a bit and allow this process to evolve naturally so we can all rally around one strong Democratic candidate,” state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat, told POLITICO.
Other Latino officials echoed this concern.
“I think Hispanic leaders are concerned about some kind of coronation, as opposed to a real electoral campaign,” said Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “There are certainly talented Latinos who could run for that seat.”
California Rep. Tony Cardenas says it is “premature” to jump behind one candidate.
Even though Kamala Harris is the frontrunner, her spokesperson, Brian Brokaw, says she does not take her candidacy for granted.
“As the daughter of immigrants and a champion on so many of the issues facing California’s Latino population,” he added, “she looks forward to once again earning the support of the state’s Latino population and representing all Californians in the Senate.”