'A real blow': San Francisco mayor disappointed by Alex Padilla's nomination to US Senate

ByAlix Martichoux and Kris Reyes KGO logo
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Bay Area politicians, groups react to Padilla's nomination
San Francisco Mayor London Breed expressed disappointment that Alex Padilla would fill Kamala Harris' senate seat for California. That means there will be no Black Women in the U.S. Senate. Breed, Barbara Lee and Karen Bass were all reportedly considered.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Alex Padilla is set to be the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate. But with that "first" comes a "last": As Kamala Harris ascends to the vice presidency, there will be no more Black women in the Senate.

"This is a real blow to the African American community, to African American women, to women in general," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed when asked for her reaction Tuesday.

"It's really challenging to put it into words, but it was definitely a surprise," she continued. "And it's an unfortunate situation as we are trying to move this country forward, and making sure that Black Lives truly matter and that African Americans have a seat at the table -- especially African American women. After what was done in this race on a national level, (it) definitely is unfortunate."

Breed said "there was a lot of pride" when Harris was chosen as Joe Biden's running mate. When the two were elected, there came another opportunity with her seat, she said: "To ensure, as (Harris) continued to say, that even though you may be the first, make sure you're not the last."

Breed's name was floated as a potential replacement for Harris in the Senate, as were Southern California Rep. Karen Bass and East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee.

VIDEO: Alex Padilla gets emotional as he accepts nomination for Senate

"I'm honored and I'm humbled," Padilla said as he accepted the nomination tearfully. Watch the emotional moment he found out here.

Lee thanked her supporters Tuesday, some of whom shared their frustrations with Gov. Gavin Newsom's pick on Twitter.

"Seeing all the words of support means so much to me," she tweeted. "Thank you to all those who lifted me up and supported progressive Black women and women of color in leadership."

For his part, Padilla was tearful as he accepted Newsom's nomination.

"I'm honored and I'm humbled," Padilla said. "Can't tell you how many pancakes my dad flipped or eggs he scrambled trying to provide for us, or the many, many years of my mom cleaning houses, doing the same thing. That's why I try so hard to make sure that our democracy is as inclusive in California as we've built."

Leaders from the Latino Community Foundation who rallied hard for a Latino or Latina pick, say Padilla's story is their story.

"He's going to take those experiences to Washington and make sure we get more than 600 bucks, in terms of a relief check and he's going to make sure when the vaccine is rolled out, it's rolled out with equity," said Christian Arana, a policy director at the foundation. "We're just so glad Gov. Newsom made a historic pick because one of our own is going to the senate to fight not just for the Latino community but for all of us."

RELATED: Kamala Harris: Watch her journey from Berkeley to become 1st Black, Asian woman elected to vice presidency

Arana added that the foundation is hoping to meet with the new senator to voice their issues and concerns. They hope Padilla will champion immigration reform.

The Latino Community Foundation said that while they are celebrating Padilla's appointment, they will continue to work for greater diversity.

"We understand that there will be no Black women in the United States senate and that is a big problem and that's a big problem not just for us but it should be a big problem for California and the rest of the country," said Arana, "I hope we have greater conversations about what it's really going to take to make sure communities of color will have a seat at the table, cause quite frankly we shouldn't be fighting over crumbs like a United States senate seat."