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Kamala Harris will step down from her Senate seat on Monday.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who remains U.S. senator from California, plans to step down from her seat on Monday before her inauguration two days later, a Harris aide said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, a fellow Democrat, will name a successor to Ms Harris, who was elected in 2016. Mr Newsom said last month he intended to appoint Alex Padilla as secretary of state for California, for the seat. Mr. Padilla’s term in the Senate will expire in 2022, when he can be re-elected.

Ms Harris continued to attend Senate sessions after her November election and was on Capitol Hill for certification of election results this month when the building was stormed by a violent mob of Trump supporters.

Ms Harris will be sworn in as Vice President on Wednesday by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a ceremony in which the first woman of color to become Vice President will be sworn in to the first woman of color to serve on the Supreme Court.

Ms Harris chose Judge Sotomayor for the task, according to a Harris aide who confirmed an ABC News report. The Vice President-elect and Judge Sotomayor have a common experience of former prosecutors. And Ms. Harris called justice a nationally inspired figure.

“Judge Sonia Sotomayor has fought for the voice of the people since her first vote against businesses in Citizens United,” Ms. Harris written on twitter in 2019. “As a critical voice on the bench, she shows all of our children what is possible.”

Justice Sotomayor, who was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2009, was sworn in to Joseph R. Biden Jr. for his second term as Vice President in January 2013 (first in a private ceremony and again in audience the next day due to a scheduling quirk).

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Julia Letlow, whose husband died of Covid-19 before being sworn in to Congress, will be running for the seat.

Julia Letlow, the wife of elected representative Luke Letlow, a Republican from Louisiana who died of complications from Covid-19 days before he was sworn in, will seek the open seat in an upcoming special election.

Ms. Letlow will run as a Republican to represent Louisiana’s Fifth District, which covers the conservative northeastern part of the state. Her husband died on December 29 at the age of 41 after suffering from “heart disease” while hospitalized with the virus. His death came just weeks after winning the seat vacated by his former boss, Representative Ralph Abraham.

“Everything in my life and in my marriage has prepared me for this moment,” Ms. Letlow wrote in a statement Thursday. “My motivation is the passion that Luke and I both shared: to improve this region we have called home and to leave it a better place for our children and future generations.

Mr Letlow, a longtime Republican aide, supported social distancing measures and the wearing of masks during his campaign, though photos from his social media accounts also showed him campaigning indoors without sometimes mask. He also advocated for the relaxation of some coronavirus restrictions when infections declined over the summer.

Ms. Letlow, who lives in Richland Parish, is currently Director of External Relations and Strategic Communications at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

His entry into the non-partisan election on March 20 was widely anticipated and could discourage other Republicans who had considered a race from entering the race.

She is likely to face Allen Guillory Sr., a Republican from Opelousas, who scored less than 10 percent in the November 3 election, and Sandra “Candy” Christophe, a Democrat from Alexandria who announced last week. that she would present herself.

Ms. Letlow has been active in Louisiana Republican politics for years and was selected for her academic work, in part, to provide “insight into strategies and alliances” that would be useful to the school in its interactions with elected officials. , according to his biography online. .

“I am running to continue the mission that Luke began – defending our Christian values, fighting for our rural farming communities and delivering real results to move our state forward,” she said in her statement.

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In his first public appearance from the seat on Capitol Hill, Trump expresses no contrition for inciting the crowd.

President Trump showed no contrition or regret on Tuesday for inciting the crowd that stormed the Capitol and threatened the lives of members of Congress and its vice president, saying his pre-rally remarks were “Entirely appropriate” and that the effort of Congress to indict and convict him “provoked enormous anger.”

Responding to journalists’ questions for the first time since the violence on the Capitol on Wednesday, the president dodged questions about his guilt in the deadly riot that shook the long national tradition of peaceful transfers of power.

“People thought what I said was very appropriate,” Mr. Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews, en route to Alamo, Texas, where he was to visit the border wall. Instead, Mr. Trump claimed the racial justice protests this summer were “the real problem.”

“If you look at what other people have been saying, top politicians about the summer riots, the horrible riots in Portland and Seattle and various other places, that was a real problem,” a- he said.

Mr Trump’s challenge came despite near universal condemnation of his role in the assault attack on Capitol Hill, including within his own administration and some of his closest allies on Capitol Hill.

Previously, he had claimed that it was the impeachment charge, not the violence and looting of the Capitol, which “caused enormous anger”.

Mr. Trump has been largely silent since Friday, when Twitter permanently suspended his Twitter account. When asked directly on Tuesday morning if he would resign with only nine days left in office, Mr. Trump replied, “I don’t want violence.

He did not discuss his own role in inciting crowds of Trump supporters. Instead, the president presented himself as a victim, calling the impeachment “a continuation of the greatest witch-hunt in political history.”

“I think this causes enormous anger,” he said.

The purpose of the trip to the border with Mexico is to promote the partially constructed border wall, which the Trump administration sees as an achievement. The president is scheduled to land in Harlingen at 1 p.m. local time, then fly a short helicopter ride to McAllen. From there, he should visit part of the border wall in the nearby town of Alamo, along the Rio Grande River.

Across the street from McAllen Airport, pedestrian fences have been placed where the President’s motorcade is expected to travel. McAllen Police and U.S. Border Patrol vehicles, as well as unidentified unidentified vehicles, patrolled the area prior to Mr. Trump’s arrival.

At the Aztek barber shop in Alamo, Alejandro Silva, 27, said he had nothing against Mr. Trump and had no opinion on the border wall.

“But he shouldn’t be visiting now,” said Mr. Silva, a mechanic. “He should step down and leave everyone alone.”

The president’s supporters were planning two parades in Harlingen and McAllen on Tuesday, but a coalition of anti-border wall activists, led by La Unión del Pueblo Entero, circulated a petition urging politicians to cancel Mr. Trump at Alamo.

“We cannot allow Trump to bring his racist mob to the Rio Grande Valley,” said John-Michael Torres, a spokesperson for the organizers.

Responding to fears, McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said in a statement: “I understand that emotions are strong on both sides, for or against the president and I hope that if there are protests for or against, that they are peaceful to our law enforcement personnel. “

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How California viewed the seat of Congress

Governor Gavin Newsom canceled a press briefing on Covid-19 “out of caution”, calling the chaos “reprehensible and an outright attack on our democracy and democratic institutions”.

“We always knew that this responsibility would drag us into the night,” wrote Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco in a letter urging her colleagues to meet again on Wednesday night after the crowd, whipped by the aggrieved president , delayed the official Election 2020 certification for more than six hours. “We also knew we would be part of history.”

There was also fear: Ms Pelosi, a frequent target of the president and his supporters, wrote that the episode presented a “shameful image of our country” which was “provoked at the highest level”. The dispatch left a safe place, where security guards had taken her and other members of Congress after the majestic government building turned into chaos.

In his absence, the invaders looted his office for trophies. The Ars Technica website reported that a conservative website host The Blaze tweeted and then deleted photos from Ms Pelosi’s office, rejoicing that “the emails are still on screen with a federal alert warning members of the current revolution.

Another intruder was photographed with his feet on his desk. “WE’RE NOT COMING BACK,” read the note he left, scribbled on a manila paper file. He later stood outside the Capitol, his shirt open and his chest bare, and boasted to my colleague Matthew Rosenberg to pick up his government stationery. He insisted he hadn’t stolen it, saying, “I left a quarter on his desk.”

California Republicans also decried the crowd, some later than others. Only two of the Republicans in the State House – Representatives Young Kim from Orange County and Tom McClintock from Elk Grove – had made it clear before Wednesday that they would certify the election, ignoring the president’s pleas.

Earlier this week, Representative Mike Garcia, who represents the high desert areas of northern Los Angeles County, echoed the president’s misinformation in an editorial, saying “fraud must be stamped out.” Wednesday in the middle of the afternoon it was Tweeter: “This behavior is not patriotism. It is sedition.

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Who will replace Kamala Harris? It’s more than a seat in the Senate

LOS ANGELES – The jockey has started the summer, right next to the celebrations. Leading California Democrats were thrilled that Kamala Harris was named the Democratic running mate and eager to help her and Joseph R. Biden get to the White House. It was not an issue on which the sprawling and divided state political establishment disagreed. But what to do with this empty Senate seat? It was much more delicate.

Latinos make up about 40% of California and remain a growing population in the state. White residents make up about 38%, and black residents make up almost 6% of the state’s roughly 40 million people. Until Ms. Harris won her Senate seat in 2016, the state had been represented by two white senators since 1983.

Some Latino officials point to these numbers and argue that state governor Gavin Newsom must – undoubtedly – appoint a Latino to the United States Senate, the first in California history.

But black political leaders argue that Ms. Harris cannot be replaced by anyone other than a black woman. Without her, they noted, the Senate would not have black women in the Senate.

Mr Newsom’s decision, which is expected to come before the end of the year, is not just a matter of politics. Each candidate whose name has been posted on different lists agrees on major issues. Instead, the choice makes it clear that even for advocates who genuinely believe in coalition building, to a large extent, arguments are a zero-sum game – if a group gets what it wants. , it is impossible for the other group to get what they want. he also wants. And he has divided many leaders who are generally united.

“We have waited a long time to see the representation match the size of our community,” said Thomas A. Saenz, executive director of the Mexican US Defense and Legal Education Fund, which pushed for a Latino choice. “We need to have representatives who reflect the people here. The point is, the African American community is not growing in California and Latinos make up a growing portion of the electorate.

As the Democratic Party prepares to take over the White House, representation struggles are also unfolding within the presidential cabinet, with black, Latino and Asian members of Congress each pushing the Biden-Harris transition for nominations. And the efforts threaten to open up divisions among Democrats who have long relied on a multiracial alliance.

The debates bring to the surface long, simmering tensions between groups that have historically struggled for power at the highest levels. In California, Mr. Newsom’s decision has the potential to turn a triumphant moment of seeing Ms. Harris in the White House into something more bittersweet for many black women.

“The governor must recognize that California supported a black woman and he must meet this moment,” said Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, who also helped push for the selection of Ms. Harris as vice -President. “It’s about recognizing that black women at large are essential as organizers and legislators. 2020 is not the time for him to turn his back on black women.

After California Secretary of State Alex Padilla became the lead candidate in recent weeks, activists, including Ms Allison, grew increasingly frustrated. Dozens of local and national officials raised their voices and wrote a letter to the governor, urging him to nominate either Congresswoman Barbara Lee or Congresswoman Karen Bass.

“No constituency is more committed and trusted to the Democratic Party than African American women,” the letter read. “They deserve the right to vote and direct representation in the United States Senate.”

Gender dynamics are also an important consideration for Mr Newsom, who has long tried to perfect his feminist credentials. For decades California has elected two female senators, and women’s groups have suggested it would be unfair for Ms. Harris’ seat to be handed over to a man.

Another sign of the complexity of the moment for Democrats in California is that, even though they are fighting for a Senate seat, black and Latino activists are together pushing for Dianne Feinstein’s resignation, citing her age and apparent comfort with some Republicans. (A New Yorker article published this month raised pointed questions about his mental acuity and short-term memory, and Ms Feinstein subsequently defended herself.) Ms Feinstein said she believed Mr. Padilla is expected to be appointed to Ms Harris’ seat, a position that has prompted some to suggest that she should step down if she is so determined that Mr Padilla take office. Ms Feinstein herself easily defeated Kevin de León, former Democratic leader of the California State Senate, during his re-election campaign in 2016.

“Everything she thinks she has in this seat – no,” Molly Watson said, from the progressive group Courage California. “To have a man in this position is really a slap in the face, and it doesn’t represent what we voted for in this office either.”

Ms Allison echoed calls for Ms Feinstein’s resignation, saying “now is the time to step back and make room for those who represent a large part of the state”.

In many ways, the explicit advocacy in California and Washington is learning from the successful campaign for Mr. Biden to choose a black woman as his running mate. This summer, hundreds of women and organizations went to great lengths, coordinating their efforts through daily phone calls and strategy sessions.

The efforts of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus also reflect the increase in the number and power of Latinos in Congress. The caucus has met regularly with dozens of Latin American organizations and sought to unify their message, focusing on candidates they believe have a serious chance of being chosen for the cabinet.

The pressure for representation today, both nationally and in California, is more aggressive and direct than it has been in the past. This in part reflects that Democrats haven’t had that kind of power for over a decade – and that demographics have changed dramatically during that time.

“We have said that one of our goals is to see the face of America in the cabinet,” said Joaquin Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, who aggressively lobbied for five Latino cabinet members. , including at least one Latina. women. “Our population and importance have increased. People don’t want to settle for less. “

After the Hispanic caucus met with members of the Transition Team last week, civil rights leaders, including Reverend Al Sharpton, met with Mr. Biden himself last week to demand greater inclusion of black candidates in the cabinet.

“We’re going in the right direction, but we haven’t gotten there yet,” Sharpton said in an interview. Mr Sharpton also joined the call for a black woman to replace Ms Harris as well, but said he was hesitant to pit black leaders against Latinos. “I’m very concerned about this – we don’t want it to get ugly.”

Congresswoman Judy Chu, chair of the Asian-Pacific American Caucus, also expressed repeated frustrations with Biden’s transition team.

“We are shocked because there is a great possibility for the first time in 20 years that there is no AAPI in the cabinet,” Ms. Chu said. “What is different this time is that we feel that our voice is not being heard.”

After intensive lobbying, Mr Biden last week appointed Congresswoman Deb Haaland as head of the Home Office, the first time a Native American has been appointed to cabinet.

In California, for the most part, political organizers and activists have avoided direct confrontation with Mr. Newsom.

But both sides have made it clear that they will not easily forgive Mr Newsom if he ignores their pleas.

“I’m really disappointed,” said MP Shirley Weber, one of Ms. Lee and Ms. Bass’s main supporters. “These numbers are so stark and you can’t say we don’t need more black women. I would have liked to have expected more from my Latino colleagues. And some Latin American leaders have expressed support in recent days for the appointment of a black woman, including Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers.

Last week, Alberto Retana, chief executive of Community Coalition, a South Los Angeles-based group that Ms Bass started in the wake of the crack epidemic in the early 1990s, organized a petition which was handed over to Mr. Newsom Friday. .

“As leaders of the Latinx community, we must lead with our values, not with our demographics,” the group wrote in the letter. “It is imperative for a multiracial democracy that we center this decision on advancing racial, gender and social justice. This will be accomplished by appointing a progressive black woman.

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Iowa officials are expected to certify that a Republican won a House seat by six votes.

There is a close election, then an incredibly close election. A state canvassing board in Iowa is expected to certify Monday that Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, won an open seat in Congress by just six votes.

If the board certifies the results, after a recount that narrowed the race down from Ms Miller-Meeks’ lead on Nov. 12 out of 47 votes, Democratic candidate Rita Hart is likely to challenge the result before a judicial panel .

Ms Hart’s campaign manager Zach Meunier said over the weekend, after all counties in the district completed the accounts, that Ms Hart would reconsider the state council’s decision “with a view to ensuring that all voices in Iowa are fully and fairly heard.

Ms Miller-Meeks, a state senator making her fourth congressional run, declared victory after accounts from 24 counties in the district. A victory for her would further erode the Democrats’ majority in the House, after Republicans spilled a net of at least nine seats previously held by Democrats.

The Hart campaign said the six-vote margin was the thinnest in any congressional race since 1984, when an Indiana race narrowed to just four votes.

Both candidates attended the orientation in Washington for new members of Congress as the race – to replace an outgoing Democrat, Rep. Dave Loebsack – was undecided.

Although numerous Iowa polls have shown Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other Democrats to be competitive ahead of the election, the party suffered heavy losses in the state. President Trump increased it by 8.2 percentage points. And in Iowa’s First District, Representative Abby Finkenauer, a first-term Democrat, was ousted by Ashley Hinson, a Republican.

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A seat, competing pressures as Newsom considers Senate choice

SACRAMENTO – From Gavin Newsom’s time as a young San Francisco mayor through more than two decades of public life, Alex Padilla has been a staunch ally.

As chairman of the Los Angeles City Council, Mr. Padilla introduced Mr. Newsom to important union and Latino leaders. As a state senator, Mr. Padilla presided over Mr. Newsom’s first short-lived campaign for governor. And as California’s Secretary of State, Mr. Padilla conferred a key early endorsement that helped Mr. Newsom win the governor’s seat in 2018.

Now Mr Newsom is in a position to reciprocate: he must nominate someone to fill the soon-vacant U.S. Senate seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Although many names have been thrown to succeed Ms Harris, Mr Padilla has emerged as the frontrunner, according to more than half a dozen advisers, policy consultants and fellow lawmakers familiar with the governor’s thinking.

Yet nearly a month after Ms Harris was elected, Mr Newsom has yet to name a successor – and the pressure is mounting.

“Look, all roads lead to Alex Padilla,” said Nathalie Rayes, president of the Latino Victory Fund, which has been running a “Pick Padilla” campaign since August. “I think the longer he waits – well, I would have done that a long time ago, but I’m not the Governor of California.”

Since President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. chose Ms Harris as vice-president in August, the question of her successor has been a subject of high-stakes speculation. Mr Newsom faces extraordinary cross currents of factional rivalry and identity politics in a state where the Democratic Party is completely defined by both.

He spoke of the Senate appointment not as a political trinket he is eager to do without, but as a heavy task that is more likely to generate grudges than personal gratitude and popular excitement. That sense of imminent danger has only worsened in recent days, following news that Mr Newsom broke his own administration’s public health guidelines to attend an extravagant birthday party at French Laundry restaurant. for a longtime political advisor.

Critics seized on the misstep, adding to the challenges Mr Newsom already faces as his state grapples with a terrifying rise in Covid-19, lingering problems in its unemployment benefit system and impending loss of funds stimulus packages that subscribe to temporary shelter. for tens of thousands of homeless during the pandemic.

Asked about the Senate appointment last week, Mr Newsom dodged.

“This decision has not yet been made,” he said, speaking from his home, where he was in quarantine after three of his four children were found to have been in contact with a police officer. California Highway Patrol which subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. .

He said he had not set a timeline for the decision, other than that, it must be made by Jan. 20, when Ms Harris is sworn in as vice president. But, he added, “progress has been made.”

Uncertainty gave way to the lobbying of a whole series of aspirants and their political representatives. For a few weeks it appeared that the list of candidates for the post continued to grow rather than shrink towards possible selection.

Democratic leaders have sought to pull Newsom in different directions, playing on what they see as his short and long-term political aspirations. Some argue he needs to nominate a black candidate if he ever hopes to win a Democratic presidential primary, others that he needs to nominate a Latino to win a comfortable re-election in 2022, still others than Ms Harris must be replaced by another woman. or that he must appease the progressives if he is to govern successfully in an ongoing fiscal crisis.

This is in addition to the foundational fundamentals of the statewide campaign that the governor and successor to Senator Harris will have to do in 2022, when their term expires. California, the most populous state, has a myriad of subcultures – north and south, coastal and inland – and the primary countryside alone can cost millions of dollars.

Although Republicans make up less than a quarter of registered voters in the state, another roughly third of the electorate has no party preferences and turnout is declining in off-year elections. Whoever appoints Governor Newsom will need not only the experience, but also the money, the campaign trail, and the charisma to get Democrats from the Mexican border to the Oregon border.

Mr Newsom has had conversations with a few potential candidates, although he does not appear to have conducted formal interviews for the position, people familiar with the process said.

Mr Padilla, 47, has become a favorite with Latin American lawmakers, advocacy groups and a number of labor officials, and his circle of political advisers overlaps considerably with Newsom. The second son of a Mexican-born parent – a short-lived cook from Jalisco and a housekeeper from Chihuahua – Mr. Padilla made his way to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, graduating in 1994 in mechanical engineering.

He and his siblings still live within five miles of the home they grew up in in Pacoima, Calif., In the San Fernando Valley. His original plan, he says, was to work in the aerospace industry, but the anti-immigrant policies that swept through California in the early 1990s propelled him into political activism.

“It was really a wake-up call,” he said last week, chopping onions for pumpkin chili as he spoke from home. Relatives were chatting in the background; he and his wife, Angela, have three children and his stepmother lives with them. “I knew I would have to do my part or that our community would continue to be a scapegoat.”

After graduating, he worked in the office of US Senator Dianne Feinstein. In 1999, he was a 26-year-old city councilor representing his old neighborhood. In 2001, he was the youngest president of Los Angeles City Council.

In the State Senate, where he spent eight years, Mr. Padilla presided over Mr. Newsom’s 2009 gubernatorial candidacy before Jerry Brown entered the race and Mr. Newsom retired, running. more like lieutenant governor.

In 2014, Mr. Padilla ran to the Secretary of State’s office on a promise to register one million new California voters. As a result of legislation it pushed to register Californians to vote when they get a driver’s license, the state added more than 4 million.

Exit polls have shown that a third of California’s electorate this year is Latino, a group that makes up 40% of the state’s population. Yet the state never had a Latin senator or governor. Mr Newsom was instrumental in ensuring the lockout continued in the 2018 election, when he defeated one of the state’s top Latin American Democrats, the former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, during a primary election.

“The two political parties have failed to defend the needs of a growing electorate,” said Sonja Diaz, director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles. Choosing a Latino for one of the most powerful positions in the country, she added, would help turn the tide.

But other Latino candidates also have supporters. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, 62, raced and won statewide and represented Los Angeles in Congress; his name also appeared as a potential member of the Biden cabinet.

And Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia, 42, the city’s first openly gay mayor, has an enthusiastic base. In addition to running what would be the largest city of many other states, Mr. Garcia’s history-making biography and personal charisma have won him the attention of the National Democratic Party.

On Wednesday, Mr Garcia – who has been supporting Gov. Newsom since 2009 – said tackling a coronavirus outbreak hitting Los Angeles County was his priority for now and would not speak at length about the Senate vacancy.

“Anyone would be honored to serve their country in this way,” he said. “But I will support whoever the governor chooses.”

If Mr. Newsom elevates a state officer like Mr. Padilla or Mr. Becerra to the Senate, that would also create a new position to fill – potentially offering him a consolation prize for a person or group disappointed with his Senate decision. .

Still, active campaigns are underway to urge Mr Newsom to replace Ms Harris with a woman, especially a black woman. Led by longtime State Democrats like Willie Brown and dollar-dollar female donor groups, they argue that when Ms. Harris steps down and takes up her new post, the Senate will once again have no black women. The number of women of color in the bedroom would drop by a quarter to just three: Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii and Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada.

At least two black women from the United States House delegation are continuing their appointments: Reps Barbara Lee, 74, and Karen Bass, 67, though Ms Lee is seen as riding the much more determined campaign for the post. . Ms Bass, who was approved for vice-presidency last summer, is also under consideration for potential jobs in the Biden administration.

Neither approved the governor in the 2018 Democratic primary. But both women are highly regarded on the left, as is a third member of the House delegation who wants to join the Senate, Representative Ro Khanna, 44 years, former co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

The state’s Asian-American leaders have also encouraged Mr. Newsom to consider choosing a member of the increasingly politically organized community, such as Mr. Khanna or Representative Judy Chu, who chairs the Asia-American caucus. Pacific in the House.

Another prominent progressive, Representative Katie Porter of Orange County, is seen as a likely candidate for the Senate at some point, but perhaps more likely to seek the seat currently occupied by Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has 87 years old and announced this week that she was resigning. as the main democrat of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

There are, however, practical reasons why it may make sense for Mr Newsom to avoid an appointment from the House. Democrats are only expected to hold a tiny majority in the House in January, and that number could decline further if lawmakers accept nominations for jobs in the Biden administration.

Some Democrats have also suggested a long-term option where Mr Newsom could appoint a distinguished figure at the end of their public life, who would serve the last two years of Ms Harris’ tenure without seeking re-election – someone like Dolores Huerta . , the civil rights and union leader, who is 90, or Mr. Brown, who is 86.

For now, Mr. Padilla has played down the urgency of Mr. Newsom’s decision.

“He’s a deliberate person with tons on his plate,” Mr. Padilla said. “There are forest fires. There is Covid. He has a budget due in January. This is just another important element. “

But Ms. Rayes of the Latino Victory Fund was less patient.

“I know other people have their favorites, and I guess he’s really feeling the pressure,” she said. “But it would be easier to just hang out with it.”

Jill Cowan and Jennifer Medina contributed reporting.

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Help me! Where is the safest seat on an airplane?

My son is flying from Los Angeles to New York for Thanksgiving. I got him a ticket on Delta Air Lines because they’re blocking the middle seats. That said, the aircraft’s seating configuration is a 2-3-2. I have heard that window seats are the safest, but there is always a risk of someone sitting next to them. What do you recommend? Susanna

Deciding where to sit on an airplane has always been an exercise in strategy and skill: how to get the most legroom, the best eye closure, the fastest exit. The stakes certainly seem higher now.

Before we begin, a few numbers to reassure you: In the third quarter, Delta’s passenger load factor – the percentage of available seats that are occupied – fell from 88% last year to 41% this year, according to the last investor in the airline. report, which means there are a lot of incomplete flights. New data also suggests that when everyone is wearing a mask and other protocols are followed, planes – with their high-efficiency, anti-virus air filters – are less risky than grocery stores. But I’ll leave the specifics of viral scattering to scientists and try to outline some of the things your son can do to avoid sharing an armrest with a stranger.

Before the pandemic, the Boeing 767 plane your son is scheduled to fly on would have accommodated 165 economy class passengers. Delta currently has a 70 percent capacity limit in several cabins, including economy class, bringing the passenger maximum to around 115. Even on a flight where Economy class is 70 percent, around 50 seats are still available. guaranteed empty.

My original plan was to take number 115, find out the seating map on, and figure out the likelihood of your son sitting alone when the plane fills up to 70%. This, I have learned, is a huge waste of time.

Delta, unlike many of its peers, will continue to block the middle seats until at least January 6 in an effort to separate smaller parties of one or two. Groups of three or more can reserve adjacent seats, including middle. On planes that have sections without middle seats – for example, the 2-3-2 Economy Class configuration on a 767 – other seats will be blocked as tickets are purchased and seats are selected. The more people that are seated together, the more likely it is that your son will be able to sit alone when the plane is 70% full, but there is no way to predict how many people will be flying individually, in pairs or in groups.

There are still ways to be proactive; for example, your son can use the Fly Delta app to change seats up to about an hour before boarding. Just as you can update fantasy football scores or election results, your son can be “that guy” at the door, hunched over the seat map. He can also continue to make changes with the gate attendant and (unofficially perhaps) on board.

Additionally, a Delta spokesperson said in an emailed statement, “If customers are not comfortable with where they are seated, they can be rerouted to another flight at no cost. modification or price difference.

I asked Sandra Albrecht, assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and chief epidemiologist behind “Dear Pandemic,” a science communications effort on social media, if she would cancel her flight if anyone. one was seated next to her.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “As with everything related to Covid, the risk spectrum is a sliding scale. You can think of seats as something that you could slide a notch up and down a notch, but there are other things you can slide, like 10 points up or 10 points down. “

Risk tolerance and health vary, of course, so let’s get back to your question about window seats. If the goal is to sit as far away from strangers as possible, your intuition is theoretically correct.

“If you are sitting in the window seat and the aisle seat is not occupied, the closest passenger is in the center section or on the other side of the plane,” said Arnold Barnett, professor of statistics at the MIT Sloan School of Management. studied the effects of keeping the middle seats open on the likelihood of getting sick. “It’s already a distance of several meters. If everyone is wearing masks, that’s a good situation.

Even then, it is not open and closed. Suppose you’ve picked the perfect window seat and boom: a screaming baby sends an annoyed passenger scurrying off to quieter pastures – next to your son. Or a seat does not tilt, causing its occupant to move. Or the plane is 70% full and the math shows that a handful of single travelers have to sit together.

If you can’t tolerate this kind of uncertainty, sit down the hallway in the middle section – the hallway will be on one side and an empty middle seat on the other.

“The advantage is that you don’t have anyone seated next to you, so you are further away from others for a constant period of time,” said Dr Albrecht. “But you have a variety of people down the aisle, so you’ll probably have shorter interactions with a lot of different people.”

Fortunately, said Dr Barnett, when someone rubs themselves (for example, on the way to the bathroom), “it’s such a short time that you’re nearby and wearing masks.”

We can only predict and control so much, which is why experts recommend focusing on exactly that: what we can predict and control.

“We must not let the issue of seating arrangements distract us from thinking about how we can stay safe throughout the travel process,” said Dr Albrecht.

That means leaving your mask on, eating at home or at the airport, and waiting for the rush to die off before disembarking. It also means keeping a certain perspective: we are in a pandemic that has Ravaged air travel – On November 1, the number of people passing through TSA checkpoints rose to around 38% of last year’s figure, according to the agency’s ongoing tally. Even vacation travel is expected to be on the decline; airports can get busy around Thanksgiving, but the numbers are almost certain to be a fraction of what they normally are.

And because your son has been on a plane the week before – a particularly smart move every year, but especially now when the crowds are raising safety concerns – he’s likely to end up with plenty of elbow room. As I suspected, the seating plan confirms this: there is still a sea of ​​open seats at the windows.

Travel News

Van Duyne wins Texas seat in another lost chance for Democrats

Former Republican mayor and housing manager for the Trump administration Beth Van Duyne defeated Democrat Candace Valenzuela on Tuesday in a House race in suburban Dallas, taking a crucial Republican seat as the Ms. Van Duyne was fighting to increase her staff. in Congress.

Ms Van Duyne’s victory, as The Associated Press called it, was a key victory for Republicans, appearing to shut down Democrats’ last hope of taking a seat in the state despite what was predicted to be a year grim for Republicans due to changing demographics. increasingly made Texas competitive. It also mirrored the results of some other conservative-leaning suburban districts across the country, where, despite reports that many voters had been alienated by President Trump and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Republicans appeared to be holding the line. suddenly and even on the way to winning. seats.

Ms Van Duyne, who worked in the Trump administration’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, was previously mayor of Irving, Texas, the first woman to hold the post. She came to the country’s attention as she was among those responsible for the family of a Muslim teenager who was arrested after her homemade digital clock was mistaken for a bomb. (The lawsuit was then dismissed.)

She later emerged as part of a self-proclaimed “Conservative Team” of four women, who presented themselves as the right-wing’s response to four liberal women who became political celebrities in the Democratic freshman class of 2018. , including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York and Ilhan Omar from Minnesota. She is now expected to be part of the largest group of House Republican women ever elected to Congress that same year, erasing the previous record of 25 women.

Ms Van Duyne has aligned herself closely with Mr Trump and defended her handling of the pandemic, and her former HUD boss Ben Carson helped lobby for her in the final days of the campaign.

“People are fed up with Congress playing political games and just focusing on mutual attack,” Van Duyne said in response to questions from the Dallas Morning News that she posted on her website. “I promise to be a voice in Congress that always focuses on getting things done to help us grow and create more opportunity.”

Ms Valenzuela, a former school board administrator, had sought to overthrow the Democrats’ seat and become the first Afro-Latina to be elected to Congress. The seat was left open after Representative Kenny Marchant, a reliable Republican vote who won his 2018 re-election by just three points, said in the summer of 2019 he would retire rather than face Ms Valenzuela.

Ms Valenzuela had galvanized supporters with her powerful tale of surviving homelessness and becoming the first in her family to graduate from college, and relied heavily on the strategy Democrats employed in 2018 and this year, centering his campaign to defend the affordable care law and criticize the administration’s response to the pandemic.

She sought to link Ms Van Duyne, who was often pictured without a mask during her campaign, to Mr Trump and his mismanagement of the coronavirus. Ms Van Duyne, for her part, criticized Ms Valenzuela for not hosting in-person events during the pandemic, even as coronavirus cases continued to climb in the state.

Travel News

Kansas Democrat who admitted revenge on porn wins State House seat

Aaron Coleman’s election to the Kansas House of Representatives would have been remarkable for a young candidate trying to overthrow an incumbent. But instead he let the state’s Democratic leaders say they will take “whatever steps are necessary” to ensure Mr. Coleman does not sit in the state legislature.

Mr. Coleman’s campaign over the summer was overshadowed by his confession that he sent revenge porn and bullied girls online in college.

In August, Mr Coleman, 20, won a Democratic primary over seven-term holder Stan Frownfelter by 14 votes. Mr. Coleman originally planned to step down as his party’s candidate, but then ran in the general election. Mr. Frownfelter ran as a written general election candidate and lost, the Kansas City Star reported.

“I want to let my political views be what people know me for,” Coleman said in an email Saturday.

Since Mr. Coleman’s election, Democratic leaders have distanced themselves from him and are seeking to make sure he is not seated, said Tom Sawyer, the Kansas House minority leader.

The Associated Press reported that party leaders took the stance after Mr Coleman made comments on Twitter that they saw as a threat to state Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat.

A political agent provided the AP with a screenshot of one of Mr Coleman’s tweets, which has since been deleted, in which he said Ms Kelly would face an ‘extremely bloody’ Democratic primary race in two years.

“I’m not playing,” wrote Coleman, the AP reported. “People will realize that someday, when I tell you a hard blow, it’s real.”

Mr Coleman said he could have chosen his words better but his tweet had not been a call for physical violence.

“My tweets were a political call to action for progressives to come forward against establishment candidates,” said Coleman. “Many constituents in my riding have endorsed this statement and have read my tweets in context.”

Democratic heads of state, including Ms. Kelly and Vicki Hiatt, president of the Kansas Democratic Party, called Mr. Coleman “unfit to sit in the Kansas legislature.”

“Kansas House Democrats will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure Coleman does not sit in the Legislature,” said Minority Leader Sawyer. “With Republican cooperation, I believe we can resolve this issue and find a competent, stable, principled replacement to serve the 37th District.”

But Kansas House speaker Ron Ryckman told the Kansas City Star editorial board he “would be wary of any attempt to override the people’s vote.”

Mr Coleman admitted that at college he harassed girls online, calling a sixth grade girl fat and suggesting she should kill herself. Seven years ago, he told another girl, who was 13 at the time, that he would circulate a photo of her naked if she didn’t send him more nude pictures. He ended up doing it.

The Kansas House of Representatives maintains accountability for its own members, said Richard E. Levy, professor of constitutional law at the University of Kansas. Mr. Coleman’s removal process would begin with a complaint and a committee investigation. The committee would write a report and a two-thirds vote in the House would then be required to remove a member from office.

Professor Levy said the rules and standards were quite vague as to when an MP could be expelled and for what offenses.

“It is possible that he could argue in the House of Representatives that he should not be removed or expelled because of behavior that has occurred some time in the past,” he told About Mr. Coleman. “And in the end, it would just depend on the vote.”

As for efforts to block or topple him, Mr Coleman told the AP: “As long as I don’t break the public’s trust and break my oath of office, you can’t overrule the results. of democracy. ”

Mr Coleman said that from now on he would like to be known for his political ideas and policies, including introducing a bill to legalize cannabis.

“I realize that not all representatives will have the same ideas as mine,” he said. “But I’m ready to work with anyone who wants to make positive change in Kansas,” he said.