As Newsom mulls over U.S. Senate pick, Latino lawmakers and activists say it’s their time

California
Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, visits Dodger Stadium with former Dodger pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, left, and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla shortly before the November election. Padilla is considered one of the favorites to be appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a vacancy created when Sen. Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Gavin Newsom, center, visits Dodger Stadium with former Dodger pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, left, and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla shortly before the November election. Padilla is considered one of the favorites to be appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill a vacancy created when Sen. Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president.(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Though home to more Latinos than any state in the union, a haven for Central American immigrants and infused with a rich history as a former Mexican territory, California has never sent a Latino to the U.S. Senate in its 170 years of statehood.

Now, Latino lawmakers and activists want Gov. Gavin Newsom to change that when he appoints a replacement for Sen. Kamala Harris, who will resign before being sworn in as vice president in January.

“Gov. Newsom, you have an opportunity to change things,” Assemblyman Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) said at a recent news conference. “Your choice matters. It matters for all those kids imagining what they could be when they grow up. It matters to Latinos who make up almost 50% of COVID-19 deaths, 60% of our state’s uninsured. All of whom need a voice in Washington, D.C. It matters to our immigrants, documented, undocumented, who need a champion.”

Newsom, who has not said when he’ll make an announcement on Harris’ successor, is facing an onslaught of competing pressures over what is perhaps one of the most pivotal and politically consequential decisions he will make during his first two years in office.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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