Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is supporting California Secretary of State Alex Padilla for the soon-to-be vacant Senate seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“I have agreed to support Padilla,” Feinstein told HuffPost on Wednesday.
Padilla, 47, is the clear favorite in the scramble to succeed Harris. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is facing pressure to appoint someone who is nonwhite or a woman to the seat, since Harris is only the second Black woman ever to serve in the Senate.
If appointed, Padilla would be the first-ever Latino senator for a state where Latinos make up about 40% of the population. As the son of Mexican immigrants who grew up in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, he would also be one of the first Democrats from Southern California in decades to represent the state in the Senate.
Padilla has been California’s secretary of state since 2014, winning reelection in 2018.
Prior to ascending to statewide office, Padilla served in the state Senate and on the Los Angeles City Council, where he was the youngest and first Latino city council president.
As secretary of state, Padilla pushed for passage of a 2015 law that automatically registers people to vote when they obtain a driver’s license. More than 4 million people have since joined the state’s voting rolls.
Padilla’s policy agenda and ideological viewpoint are less clear, though he is closer to party leaders than the Golden State’s considerable contingent of left-leaning outsiders. He worked for Feinstein as a young college graduate and worked hard to help her win reelection in 2018 against then-state Senate President Kevin de León.
Padilla is also close with Newsom, whose failed 2010 campaign for governor Padilla supported.
Other Latino officials have also been mentioned as possible candidates for the seat, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia ― the city’s first openly gay mayor ― as well as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County supervisor Hilda Solis.
Unless Newsom opts to call a special election next year, whomever he picks for the seat will serve out the rest of Harris’ term, until January 2023.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
Calling all HuffPost superfans!
Sign up for membership to become a founding member and help shape HuffPost’s next chapter