Gov. Newsom’s chosen successor to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is a tech-minded voting rights booster, a Latino who got here of age through the nativist political upheaval of the Nineties and a longtime Newsom loyalist.
Political junkies and capitol insiders, pat yourselves on the again.
Ever since Joe Biden picked Sen. Kamala Harris as his vice presidential working mate in August, the parlor recreation of selection for California’s most politically plugged-in has been: Who will Gov. Gavin Newsom choose to fill her vacant Senate seat?
Alex Padilla — California’s Secretary of State, a loyal Newsom ally and a Latino in a state that has by no means had a member of that largest ethnic group function senator — was a top pick. Positive sufficient, as Newsom introduced Tuesday, the Democrat from Pacoima is on his technique to Washington.
However for a lot of Californians — maybe the bulk — Padilla’s nomination is more likely to elicit extra curiosity than self-congratulation, much less “I knew it” and extra “who knew?”
In case you’re acquainting your self with Padilla for the primary time, listed here are a number of takeaways from his California CV.
- California’s #1 turnout booster
Like browsing, Silicon Valley and unaffordable housing, California has made quick access to the poll field its calling card. Whereas many GOP-run states have embraced voter ID necessities and have balked on the prospect of sending ballots by mail, we’ve gone in the wrong way.
Padilla can take credit score for lots of that.
Contemplate these current modifications to the state’s voting guidelines:
- Eligible adults are robotically registered to vote once they apply for a driver’s license — although California’s new motor voter program hit a few speed bumps alongside the best way
- 16- and 17-year-olds can pre-register to vote, making certain that they’re robotically added to the voter rolls once they flip 18
- If a registered voter’s official signature doesn’t match the one they placed on their mail-in poll envelope, counties at the moment are required to present them the chance to attempt once more
- Earlier than the pandemic made it a statewide practice, over a dozen counties despatched ballots to each lively, registered voter — whether or not they signed as much as vote by mail or not
- California’s 2020 major was bumped up from June to March, giving the state’s voters an earlier say on this 12 months’s presidential contest
All of that’s because of laws sponsored by Padilla. And as head of the nationwide coalition of Democratic state election directors, he has additionally been some of the distinguished evangelists for California’s election model on the nationwide stage.
- Forsaking an ethically dicey $35 million invoice
With mammoth turnout anticipated in an election like no different, employees contained in the Secretary of State’s workplace spent the summer season of 2020 scrambling to tell voters in regards to the what, when, the place and the way of voting.
That’s why they inked a contract in September with the political consulting agency, SKDKnickerbocker, to run a statewide PR marketing campaign referred to as Vote Safe California. The whole tab: $35 million.
That contract acquired Padilla into sizzling water with Republicans. SKDKnickerbocker has longstanding ties to the Democratic Occasion and was a consumer of president-elect Joe Biden, then a candidate within the election the agency had been employed to advertise. GOP members of Congress launched an investigation and the conservative Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Affiliation took Padilla to courtroom.
As CalMatters reported, the contract additionally didn’t go over properly with the state’s Democratic controller, Betty Yee, who’s accountable for approving all state authorities funds. In accordance with Yee’s employees, Padilla’s workplace deliberate to attract the required $35 million from a pot of money that was purported to fund county authorities voter outreach operations. In a letter Padlla wrote to Yee, he argued that the SKDKnickerbocker marketing campaign was being performed “on behalf of counties.”
However up to now Yee has refused to budge. And it’s unclear who will finally be left holding the bag.
- Patron saint of tote baggage
Padilla hasn’t simply modified the best way Californians vote. As a state Senator, he’s modified the best way we store too.
In 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown signed what was arguably essentially the most controversial invoice of Padilla’s eight-year legislative tenure, outlawing single-use plastic baggage at grocery shops.
The statewide ban wasn’t enacted with no struggle. Padilla drew flack from fellow Los Angeles Democrats who nervous the invoice would hurt a serious plastic bag producer south of downtown.
Conservative critics piled on, each in California and nationally, highlighting Padilla’s effort as a measure par excellence of California nanny statism. The Pacoima senator made a straightforward goal for the libertarian critique. Prior legislative efforts of his included a profitable invoice to power chain eating places to list calorie counts on their menus and an unsuccessful one to ban the sale of tobacco merchandise close to colleges.
Padilla dismissed the considerations in regards to the bag ban throughout a speech on the Senate ground in 2014.
When native governments have launched plastic bag bans, he mentioned, “the sky doesn’t fall and customers adapt and life goes on.”
Even after the invoice was signed — two years after it was first launched — it didn’t turn into regulation instantly. In 2016, plastic bag producers took to the ballot to override Padilla’s ban. However that marketing campaign failed. The fabric baggage you may retailer in your closet or within the trunk of your automotive are testomony to that and to Padilla’s work.
- The primary senator of Era 187
Like a complete technology of younger Latinos, together with former Senate chief Kevin De León, Padilla insists he had no intention of getting concerned in politics till 1994.
That 12 months, Proposition 187 was on the poll, a measure to exclude undocumented immigrants from all non-emergency public companies, together with public training.
Padilla mentioned it was the bare nativism of that marketing campaign — and of Gov. Pete Wilson’s, who was working for re-election as a supporter of 187 — that drew him to Demoratic social gathering activism. The son of Mexican immigrants who grew up within the San Fernando Valley, Padilla told CalMatters in 2018 that he felt that he “needed to get entangled in order that households like mine, communities like mine, wouldn’t proceed to be scapegoated or focused.”
Padilla was in early 20’s on the time. Recent out of school with an enormous ticket bachelor’s diploma, his mother and father weren’t instantly on board along with his flip to politics. As he recalled it: “Wait a minute, 4 years of MIT engineering college…for what?”
He began behind the scenes. He labored the campaigns and made pals with up-and-coming members of the Legislature, together with Tony Cárdenas, now a congressman. He served as an aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein. In 1998, he lastly ran for a seat of his personal and a 12 months later, at 26, he was elected to the Los Angeles Metropolis Council. At 28, he grew to become the council’s youngest president — a feat not only for Padilla, however for the growing coalition of Latino Democrats within the valley’s northeast.
On the Los Angeles Metropolis Council, Padilla had a knack for bringing “consensus and calm and peace,” mentioned Harvey Englander, a longtime lobbyist and public affairs advisor in Los Angeles. “It’s not that he didn’t make waves however he didn’t make enemies.”
With Tuesday’s appointment, 1 / 4 century after California voters handed Prop. 187, Padilla will turn into the state’s first Latino U.S. Senator.
- A good friend of Newsom’s
Padilla’s alliance with Newsom started as a marriage of convenience.
When Newsom introduced his bid to run for governor in 2010, difficult the elder statesman and entrance runner Jerry Brown, the San Francisco mayor knew he wanted to make inroads in southern California — notably with Latino voters.
And so the gubernatorial hopeful picked Padilla, a newly elected state senator and a rising star within the social gathering, to assist him do exactly that.
Newsom’s bid was a protracted shot that predictably failed. He dropped his marketing campaign earlier than Brown even formally introduced his personal run, opting as a substitute to marketing campaign for lieutenant governor. However Newsom was a rising star in his personal proper and Padilla’s early help gave the younger senator a distinguished function in a statewide marketing campaign. It additionally earned him an ally on the rise.
In 2017, when Newsom determined to run for governor once more, Padilla as soon as once more supplied his endorsement, supporting the lieutenant governor over Antonio Villaraigosa, who had served as Los Angeles mayor when Padilla was on the council.
That loyalty appears to have paid off.