Alex Padilla, who was hired by Governor Gavin Newson of California to take the seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate on Tuesday, will become the state’s first Latino senator.
“Amazing news for Latinos in California and across the country!” wrote Luis V. Guitierrez, a former Illinois Democratic congressman, in a tweet that reflected the glee of many who thought development was long overdue in a state where 40% of the population identify as Latino.
But while the appointment of Mr. Padilla, California’s secretary of state, is a revolutionary addition, it also involves a sobering subtraction: Her selection means there won’t be a single black woman in the Senate.
“Today’s decision, unfortunately, leaves us with one less woman and now not a single black woman in the United States Senate, reducing the decades of progress that have been made in ensuring that our Senate American resembles the America he represents ”. wrote Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, a national organization that promotes the election and appointment of black women to positions of power.
Ms Allison and others had pushed Mr Newson, who is close to Mr Padilla, to appoint a black woman to replace Ms Harris, with suggestions including Reps Barbara Lee and Karen Bass. Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus supported Mr. Padilla’s nomination.
“It is normal to be both sad that there is no black woman in the US Senate and happy at the appointment of Alex Padilla”, wrote Stephanie Clay, a Houston comic book author, summarizing the opinions of many Democrats on social media.
Ms. Lee, on Twitter, congratulated Mr. Padilla as “a competent legislator and an ardent defender of justice”. “I believe he will be a powerful voice in the Senate for those who continue to be denied our country’s equality promise,” she said.
Mr. Padilla’s personal story – he is the son of immigrants from Mexico who worked their way through MIT and to the heights of political power in the country’s most populous state – was deeply familiar to many Latinos, although his presence will be a relative novelty in the Senate.
“Congratulations to Alex Padilla on his historic entry into the US Senate!” wrote representative Nanette Diaz Barragán, a Democrat from Los Angeles, noting that the state had never sent a Latino to the Senate despite its large Latin American population. “It is now.”