Democratic outside group Latino Victory is launching a campaign urging the appointment of Alex Padilla to the Senate if Democrats were to win the White House in November, leaving vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris’ California seat vacant.
The Democratic super PAC launched the “Pick Padilla” initiative Wednesday, calling on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to select Padilla, the state’s secretary of state. The campaign includes an initial five-figure digital ad buy that presses Californians to back Padilla and will run in markets throughout the state through Nov. 3, according to details first provided to POLITICO.
“Secretary Padilla has dedicated his career to public service and has proven to be an effective leader,” said Nathalie Rayes, Latino Victory president & CEO, citing Padilla’s service from the Los Angeles City Council to his current position. “The barrier that stands in front of Latino U.S. Senators in California has stood high for far too long. Latino Victory Fund urges Governor Newsom to appoint Secretary Padilla to the U.S. Senate seat if Senator Harris vacates it in November.”
Should Democratic nominee Joe Biden defeat President Donald Trump in November, Newsom would need to select someone to serve the remainder of Harris’ Senate term. A Latino has never been elected to fill one of California’s Senate seats, but Latinos outnumber all other racial and ethnic groups in the state. Padilla, the son of Mexican immigrants, made history in the state as the first Latino to hold his current position.
In his address to the Democratic National Convention last week, Padilla focused on voter participation and urged voters to vote by mail early and prepare for a potentially drawn-out voting process. “Make your plan to vote, grab your mask and head to the polls the first day they’re open,” Padilla said last week.
Latino Victory’s initiative will turn into a six-figure media buy closer to the November election. Though a number of Latino Democrats have been on contender lists to replace Harris — including Attorney General Xavier Becerra — Latino Victory said all roads pointed to Padilla as it weighed potential candidates to endorse.
The group wanted to focus on calls for Newsom to pick a Latino around one candidate. In its internal search, Latino Victory weighed Padilla’s personal story, his time in government and his political chops. The super PAC said Padilla’s experience with fundraising and a growing national profile made him the best bet to run a statewide campaign in 2022 if he were to run after a possible appointment to Harris’ post. It wanted to get out as early as possible to gather support for a Padilla appointment.
The Latino Community Foundation also pressed Newsom last week to appoint a Latino to the post if Democrats win the White House, but the group did not recommend a specific person. Democratic Reps. Karen Bass and Katie Porter have also been named as potential candidates to serve out Harris’ term or run for the seat.