STERLING, Va. — A man seen forcefully exhaling on two women outside President Donald Trump's Virginia golf course has been charged with assault.
Raymond Deskins, 61, was charged with misdemeanor assault after a private citizen obtained a warrant through a county magistrate, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday. Deskin did not immediately return a request for comment.
Video widely shared on social media shows Deskins blowing air on two unidentified women after one of them asks him to get away and points out that he's not wearing a mask.
“That's assault” one of the women said afterwards.
“I breathed on you,” Deskins replied.
Virginia mandates masks be worn in certain locations to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but they are not required to be worn outside.
The altercation happened Saturday outside Trump National Golf Club, where the president was playing. Protestors and supporters regularly gather outside the club’s entrance when he plays.
Deskin was wearing a Trump shirt and an inflatable pool tube with Trump’s likeness on it around his waist.
Several members of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to law enforcement authorities Sunday asking for a full investigation. The letter said the two women had been protesting the president outside the golf club.
The sheriff's office said the altercation was investigated at the scene but was not witnessed by law enforcement and the video did not capture its entirety. The sheriff's office said it advised the two parties who said they'd been assaulted that they could seek a warrant through a county magistrate.
Sen. Chuck Grassley will be 89 when the 2022 midterm campaign rolls around. Republicans are counting on him to run for an eighth term.
“I hope Chuck Grassley comes back. He’s very healthy and I hope he comes back really strong. That will be really important,” said incoming National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rick Scott of Florida in an interview. “I don’t think Chuck Grassley is beatable.”
Grassley, who has been asymptomatic after testing positive for coronavirus, hasn’t decided. But his lock on Iowa’s Senate seat — and the prospect that he could retire — hits directly at the challenge facing Scott and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who must defend at least 20 seats to Democrats’ 13.
Ahead of another brutal fight for Senate control and a 2022 map tilted against the GOP, Republicans are racing to persuade their incumbents to run again. Leadership is already getting some positive results, with a number of GOP senators signaling they will run for reelection in battleground states.
The tough map for Senate Republicans is likely to have a huge impact on what, if any, deals McConnell makes with President-elect Joe Biden and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). And as in this last cycle, McConnell will be looking to protect vulnerable incumbents — both by moving legislation they support and saving them from having to cast tough votes.
“McConnell is a results-oriented leader,” said Senate GOP Conference Chair John Barrasso (Wyo.). “We’re gonna want to stay in the majority in 2022, and we’re gonna need to show the country we’re a party of governing, not grandstanding.”
Some Republicans have made clear they’re not sticking around. Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have already announced their retirement plans, and the GOP doesn’t want Grassley to join them. Ditto Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who said that he is undecided and has “got to see how things play out.”
Scott said he is optimistic Johnson is finding a groove in the Senate and will decide to run again in his swing state. Sen. Kelly Loeffler also will have to run again next cycle if she wins the current Georgia Senate runoff on Jan. 5.
Meanwhile, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said he’s doing all the things necessary to run for re-election even though he’s made no announcement. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she will keep doing what “Alaskans expect me to do until they tell me not to do it anymore.”
Others facing potentially tough races were even firmer on their plans for the next election. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said “we’re off and running” in his bid for a third term in 2022. And Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he plans to run, with the expectation of favorable terrain for Republicans with a Democrat in the White House.
“Normally the first midterm election after the presidential is good for the opposite party,” Portman said. “Donald Trump just won Ohio by eight points twice. I beat [Trump] by 13 points last time [in 2016]. Should be a good year for Republicans.”
Depending on the results in Georgia’s two Senate runoffs in January, Democrats could either have the majority or need one or two seats to take it back. That’s not certain by any means given the conservative lean to many of the states with Senate races in 2022. Pennsylvania’s open seat is probably Democrats’ best target for a pick-up, with Wisconsin and North Carolina not far behind.
“Democrats are focused on winning two competitive runoff elections in Georgia in less than 50 days,” said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Republicans know Senators Loeffler and Perdue are on the verge of losing their seats and the Senate majority, and are clearly worried about losing even more seats next cycle.”
Democrats, however, have underperformed in Senate campaigns in recent cycles, despite winnable races and some huge fundraising advantages thanks to ActBlue, the online fundraising portal that's delivered historic sums from the grassroots.
For Republicans, getting their incumbents to run again might not be enough to keep control of the chamber. They need to go on offense too, and there are scant opportunities. So far, no Democrats have announced plans to retire and they don’t have any seats up in states won by Trump this year.
New Hampshire is one possibility for the GOP. Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan narrowly won in 2016 and said in a brief interview that she will soon make an announcement on her plans for next cycle.
Scott, a former governor, is leaning on his relationships with other GOP governors to try to lure them to the Senate and wants to see New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu make a run.
Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.) is also running for reelection after winning a close race four years ago. Trump lost Nevada by only a couple percentage points earlier this month.
And Sen.-elect Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) will have to run again in 2022. Scott said the GOP’s recent losses there won’t deter him from trying to recruit Gov. Doug Ducey. “I don’t think it’s logical that both the senators from Arizona are Democrats,” said Scott. The last time that happened was nearly 70 years ago.
Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) says he’s not interested in a Senate bid and seems more curious about a presidential race in 2024. But several Maryland Democratic sources say Sen. Chris Van Hollen (Md.) is “very concerned” about a potential Hogan candidacy and is watching Hogan closely.
“I think Larry could [run],” Scott said. “People perceive him to be a successful governor. And I think he likes the political process. I think he likes trying to do good things. You could see him doing it.”
The decisions senators make in the coming weeks won’t just animate the battle for the upper chamber but could reshape the Senate altogether. For instance, the two longtime dealmakers atop the Senate Appropriations Committee are still weighing whether to give it another go.
Eighty-year-old Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the longest-serving senator, said he will make up his mind on his future in the fall of 2021.
“I’ll talk to you after January,” added Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the 86-year-old chairman of the Appropriations Committee. “They’re trying to get me to run, but it’s my sixth term. Let’s talk after January.”
Shelby’s seat is in safely red Alabama, so McConnell and Scott wouldn’t have to worry about losing it. But there would be a long list of Republicans seeking to replace him, including former Shelby aides, state officials and several members of the Alabama congressional delegation. Vermont is also unlikely to be up for grabs if Leahy does retire.
In California, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' seat will be filled in January by the governor and that person will have to run again in 2022. Some Democrats think it's possible Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) could step down early from a term that ends in 2024.
As for Grassley, who follows the House speaker in the line of presidential succession, his decision will probably come sometime next year. Grassley’s colleagues think he’s leaning toward yet another campaign.
“He will probably make that determination soon,” said one Republican senator. “I am just operating under the assumption that he is running.”
President-elect Joe Biden is putting scientists in charge and back on the stage to restore trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The plans include immediately reviving regular media briefings and giving a central role to long-sidelined career officials including Nancy Messonnier, the public health official who first warned of the “severe” impact of the Covid-19 back in February.
The goal, said Biden’s advisers, is to send a tightly coordinated message that, nearly a year into the coronavirus crisis, the federal government is prioritizing science over politics in driving its pandemic response.
“You need the right people messaging,” said Vin Gupta, a professor at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation who served as an adviser to the Biden team. “None of this is hard conceptually — it’s about how you say it, and it’s about believability and authenticity.”
Messonnier, who is the CDC’s respiratory disease chief, and Anne Schuchat, who is the CDC’s principal deputy director, are among the government scientists whose warnings about the severity of the coronavirus ran afoul of President Donald Trump’s efforts to downplay the virus in its early months, infuriating senior White House officials. Both are expected to play large — and especially visible — roles in formulating the new administration’s policies.
“People like Anne Schuchat and Nancy Messonnier, I really hope are elevated in the discussion moving forward and empowered to communicate with the public,” said Celine Gounder, who sits on Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board.
Biden’s advisers anticipate the Covid-19 response will consume at least the first six months of his presidency, even in a best-case scenario. And while the incoming administration is preparing for a series of immediate logistical and policy challenges — from expanding testing to distributing vaccines — a simpler question has dominated the Biden team’s discussions: How to rally a fatigued and sharply divided American public.
When he takes office in January, Biden will confront a nation deeply skeptical of both public health interventions and federal agencies like the CDC and Food and Drug Administration that have spent the majority of the pandemic grappling with intense political pressure.
Those are dilemmas that the Biden team has spent weeks focused on solving, with advisers describing the need to return to the traditional pandemic playbook that guided prior administrations through health crises like the Ebola and H1N1 crises.
Transition officials are still hammering out specifics, a person close to Biden said, and the Trump administration’s refusal to acknowledge the transition has prevented them from speaking with federal officials like Messonnier and Schuchat about their roles in the next administration. But the Biden team views it as “job one” to “reestablish trust in the science and empower the personnel” at the CDC.
“There’s a lot of focus on how much the career people at CDC have been completely undermined and diminished,” the person close to Biden said. “Our job is not just their empowerment, but their integration in the development of policy and implementation of policy.”
The reemergence of Messonnier and Schuchat, who have barely been heard from in public since angering the Trump administration, is seen as crucial to boosting morale within the CDC, multiple people close to the transition said — since, alongside infectious-disease chief Anthony Fauci, they are among the federal government’s most accomplished public health experts.
Messonnier in particular is well-positioned to play a significant role in mass vaccination efforts, having spent the last few months quietly leading preparations for the nationwide distribution of one or more Covid-19 vaccines and working with states to coordinate shipment and administration of millions of shots over the next year.
Biden officials assembling his pandemic response team have similarly prioritized finding other figures who are good communicators and already have deep credibility with both the health community and broader public, people familiar with the process said.
That search has often focused on both prominent public health figures and doctors with experience on the front lines of the pandemic — as evidenced by Biden’s selection for his Covid-19 advisory board of high-profile writer and surgeon Atul Gawande and University of California, San Francisco health expert Robert Rodriguez, who is also an emergency room doctor.
“I think that if we lead with science and scientists, putting them front and center to talk to the public directly so people can hear scientific information from the source, if we get people the information they need through clear evidence-based guidance, we will ultimately get good results,” Vivek Murthy, the co-chair of Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, told reporters in a briefing earlier this week.
At least some of those on the 13-member board are expected to join Biden’s White House Covid-19 team when he takes office, one person with knowledge of the planning said, where they’d coordinate response work across the government and brief Biden directly.
While Biden does intend to select a point person to coordinate the Covid-19 response across government agencies, overseeing a team of officials, it remains unclear whether he’ll have a primary spokesperson for their work. Yet his administration is looking to enlist a slate of career health officials and political appointees to reinforce the government’s messaging on the virus — with a particular focus on building trust in the communities of color hardest hit by Covid-19 and critical to eventually ending the pandemic.
“We have special populations that require special responses,” said Eric Goosby, who also sits on Biden’s advisory board, adding that the team also plans to work closely with state and local officials to ensure they reinforce the government’s guidance. “People have gotten so confounded with the messaging that it’ll take a while to get us all thinking the same way.”
By making sure the government speaks with one voice, they’re looking to avoid the kind of mixed signals sent on Thursday, when the CDC recommended against Thanksgiving travel the same day the White House press secretary called such guidance “Orwellian.”
But the Biden team’s planned PR blitz will test his administration’s ability to coordinate its outreach and messaging across a sprawling set of federal agencies in its first days, with little room for error.
The Biden team weathered its first major disconnect earlier this month, after Michael Osterholm — an infectious disease expert on Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board — suggested a 4- to 6-week nationwide lockdown to curb the virus’ surge. Others on the board quickly distanced themselves, wary of feeding GOP accusations that Biden would try to shutter the economy. Osterholm himself soon backed off the remarks, emphasizing that he hadn’t discussed the idea with others.
“We’re not advocating a national lockdown or anything like that,” Gounder said, adding that Osterholm’s musings on the matter did “not represent the board.”
And the incoming administration is already running into opposition in red states, both from GOP officials and voters opposed to the stricter health measures that have become partisan litmus tests under the Trump administration.
Messonnier was among the first officials targeted for saying that the crisis was worse than Trump was letting on, telling reporters on Feb. 25 that “disruption to everyday life might be severe.” That message — which came the same day that top Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow declared the virus “contained” — caught the White House by surprise and sent the stock market reeling.
Prominent conservatives like Rush Limbaugh soon seized on the fact that Messonnier is the sister of Rod Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general who oversaw the Mueller probe, spinning up conspiratorial and baseless theories that she was overhyping the pandemic threat to undermine the president.
The Trump administration abruptly ended the CDC’s regular briefings on the virus, and began running the response out of the White House briefing room — where Trump routinely used press conferences to downplay the crisis and lob political attacks at Democratic governors.
By October, polling found stark divides in trust in the public health institutions: Just 43 percent of people whose Covid-19 news came primarily from Trump and his task force believed the CDC and other agencies got their facts right about the pandemic most or all of the time, versus 70 percent of people who relied on other sources for Covid-19 news.
And though the briefings have largely ended, Trump has kept using his social media platform to assert baseless claims about the pandemic — such as attributing the surge in cases to an increase in testing and accusing doctors of inflating death counts for profit — messaging that is likely to continue after he leaves the White House.
“It’s not going to be easy to put the genie back in the bottle once there’s been so much mistrust and misinformation,” cautioned former Obama administration CDC Director Tom Frieden. “How do you rebuild trust in science when people are spouting unscientific nonsense on social media?”
Biden has said he will rely heavily on the career scientists that Trump cast aside to close the partisan gap and, over time, restore confidence in public health.
It’s a recognition that much of the success of the response by the time he takes office will rest on selling Americans on public health measures and mass vaccinations — and that, after a year of disjointed messaging from the White House, any politician, including Biden, might not be the nation’s best salesperson to a skeptical public.
“Trust has to be earned,” said Nicole Lurie, a former assistant secretary of emergency and preparedness under the Obama administration who has advised Biden’s Covid-19 response. “It’s not like you can pull the switch and instantly everybody says things are okay now.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom and his family are quarantining for 14 days after learning three of their children were exposed to a California Highway Patrol officer who has tested positive for Covid-19, his office announced late Sunday night.
The entire family tested negative Sunday for the coronavirus, according to press secretary Jesse Melgar. The family waited until Sunday to take their most recent test under the advice of health professionals, presumably to ensure enough time for the standard incubation period after exposure.
The governor learned of the CHP exposure during the "late evening" Friday, around the time POLITICO reported that one of Newsom's four children had to quarantine due to exposure to a classmate at school who had Covid-19.
Newsom and first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom had no direct interaction with the officer, Melgar said. The family plans to get tested regularly.
California has long provided CHP protection to governors and family members while in office. For instance, the state spent $43 million on the CHP detail for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008 alone as he traveled across the globe, The Sacramento Bee reported at the time.
"We are grateful for all the officers that keep our family safe and for every frontline worker who continues to go to work during this pandemic," Newsom said on Twitter.
President Donald Trump’s campaign filed a narrow appeal Sunday in its longshot bid to have Trump declared the victor in the presidential race in Pennsylvania despite lagging more than 71,000 votes behind President-elect Joe Biden.
With Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar set to certify the results of the election as soon as Monday, the Trump campaign filed an emergency motion with the Philadelphia-based 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals asking that court to compel a lower court to accept a redrafted complaint contending that election officials excluded observers as part of an effort to process thousands of flawed mail-in ballots that largely favored Biden.
The campaign did not seek an immediate order from the 3rd Circuit to block certification of Biden as the winner. Instead, the motion filed with the court Sunday evening said the campaign might seek decertification of the results “if already certified.”
While the Trump campaign was expected to mount a broad assault on the scathing ruling U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann issued Saturday dismissing the suit as collection of “strained arguments ... and speculative accusations,” the new filing with the appeals court said Trump’s team was seeking to appeal only what it called the “narrow issue” of whether it should have had a second chance to reframe its suit.
Brann denied the campaign permission to do so, saying that allowing that would “unduly delay resolution of the issues.”
Several prominent legal experts expressed puzzlement Sunday at the Trump lawyers’ approach.
“Just bizarre and weak,” said Rick Hasen, an election law specialist and law professor at the University of California at Irvine.
Trump campaign attorney Brian Caffrey emphasized in the filing that the campaign was not seeking to nullify every vote cast in the state, despite suggestions that the state legislature take over the naming of electors due to alleged taint of the Nov. 3 election.
“Appellants seek to exclude the defective mail ballots which overwhelming favored Biden, which may turn the result of the Election. Appellants do not seek to exclude any legally cast votes,” wrote Caffrey.
The appeal came amid continued turmoil on Trump’s legal team, which has seen almost daily turnover during the last couple of weeks.
On Sunday, the Trump campaign announced it was cutting loose bombastic attorney Sidney Powell, who joined lead Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani at a bizarre press conference in Washington on Thursday airing unsubstantiated allegations of widespread fraud and international interference in the election.
Powell’s ouster came after she reacted to the dismissal of the Pennsylvania federal suit Saturday with an interview leveling even more improbable claims that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, is involved in a conspiracy to deny Trump re-election.
Powell had never formally signed on as counsel in any of the Trump campaign’s various lawsuits, which have found little traction in court. The only attorney who signed the motion filed with the 3rd Circuit on Sunday was Caffrey, an associate of Marc Scaringi, a lawyer and former GOP Senate candidate who joined Trump’s legal team just a week ago.
Scaringi took to Twitter on Sunday night to note that Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz has said the campaign has some viable arguments that the treatment of mail-in ballots differently in various parts of Pennsylvania give rise to an equal protection issue under the Constitution —a similar contention to the basis the Supreme Court used to shut down the ballot-counting process in Florida in 2000 during the Bush v. Gore litigation.
“We do have strong legal arguments, according to one of the top constitutional scholars in the world,” Scaringi wrote. “Yes, I was skeptical too at first. But then I studied the law even more closely, read the pleadings and the many affidavits and became convinced in the merits of the case.”
Trump’s campaign is proposing a schedule for legal briefing on the appeal through Tuesday and potential oral arguments on Wednesday, but said in its filing Sunday that the defendants in the case — Boockvar and seven Democratic counties — had not agreed to that timeline.
President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate longtime adviser and veteran foreign policy hand Antony Blinken to serve as his secretary of State, while picking another confidant, Jake Sullivan, for the role of national security adviser, according to three people familiar with the issue.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a veteran diplomat, will be nominated to serve as Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations, according to two people familiar with the nomination discussions.
The choices would put three highly experienced officials at the helm of U.S. foreign policy. Even some notable conservative voices praised the three choices Sunday evening as news of their selection broke.
Blinken, 58, is considered a moderate who is well regarded by foreign diplomats and can pass muster with Republicans in the Senate, where he will have to seek confirmation. At the same time, he’s served as an intermediary for Biden and members of the progressive community, engaging the latter on their demands for what a Biden foreign policy will look like.
Bloomberg first reported that Biden would tap Blinken as secretary of State.
Blinken’s bio reads like he was bred for a life in the diplomatic realm. He attended high school in Paris, earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard and later picked up a law degree from Columbia. Blinken’s father, Donald, also a Harvard graduate, was an investment banker who served as a U.S. ambassador to Hungary.
The younger Blinken has worked as a lawyer and (briefly) a journalist. He served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration and has spent time on Capitol Hill, where he was Democratic staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chairman. During the Obama years, Blinken served as deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of State.
Those who know Blinken describe him with words like “polished,” “smooth,” and “kind,” and often add that he plays the guitar well. Blinken has been the main face of Biden’s foreign policy during the 2020 campaign, advocating for positions such as the need for the United States to rebuild alliances frayed by Donald Trump’s America First approach. Blinken has also been a leading advocate for the United States to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.
Blinken was dragged into Republican efforts to tar Biden with questions about his son Hunter’s business activities in Ukraine. Blinken was interviewed as part of a GOP-led probe into the matter. The investigation was ultimately unable to establish that Hunter Biden’s actions affected his father’s work as vice president or U.S. policy toward Ukraine.
Sullivan is perhaps best known for his role as an aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, working for her at the State Department as well as serving as a key figure in her 2016 campaign for president. He’s in his early 40s, but has earned a reputation as a whiz kid in the foreign policy realm. He played an important role in crafting the Iran nuclear deal, and he served as Biden’s national security adviser for a spell when Biden was vice president.
Since Clinton’s loss, Sullivan has spent time researching ways to make U.S. foreign policy more relevant to America’s domestic needs. He’s written or co-written a number of essays that try to bridge the gaps that have often separated foreign and economic policy, and it was believed that he might be placed in a domestic-focused role in a Biden White House.
The role of White House national security adviser does not require Senate confirmation.
Thomas-Greenfield spent 35 years in the Foreign Service, including as ambassador to Liberia and assistant secretary of State for African affairs. She’s one of the most prominent Black female diplomats in Washington.
She also spent time as a top human resources official at the State Department, and could provide Biden valuable advice as he seeks to rebuild morale among U.S. diplomats who have often felt cut out under the Trump administration.
While the role of ambassador to the United Nations will require Senate confirmation, it was not immediately clear if Biden intends to put the position in his Cabinet.
Before the Nov. 3 election, Susan Rice, a former national security adviser to Barack Obama, had been considered a frontrunner for the secretary of State post. But sources say that Republicans’ likely control of the Senate gave rise to concerns that she would not survive a confirmation battle. Rice had become a lightning rod with conservatives over her role following the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, as well as her ties to the “unmasking” of Trump aides.
OAKLAND, Calif. — As speculation grows that Gov. Gavin Newsom is leaning toward California elections chief Alex Padilla to fill the U.S. Senate seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a crowd of top Democratic donors and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown are launching an aggressive campaign to argue that another woman of color should fill that seat instead.
Brown, the former longtime speaker of the California Assembly, said he's launching a drive Monday to organize Black churches, pastors, civic leaders, fraternal organizations and prominent members of the Black press statewide to urge Newsom to consider leading Black women for the seat. Among the leading choices, he said, are Reps. Barbara Lee, Karen Bass and Maxine Waters; San Francisco Mayor London Breed; and state Sen. Holly Mitchell.
"There's no way that Gavin Newsom should allow anyone other than a Black woman to fill the seat of Harris, who's only the second Black woman in the history of the U.S. Senate," Brown told POLITICO on Sunday. "There should be no contest."
Brown's campaign comes as some 150 of the state's top female Democratic donors on Monday will publish full-page newspaper ads with an open letter urging Newsom to pick a woman of color, Vox reported Sunday.
The letter is officially authored by two donor groups, Electing Women Bay Area and the Los Angeles Women’s Collective. Signatories include Silicon Valley psychiatrist Karla Jurvetson, one of the country’s biggest Democratic donors; Gretchen Sisson, a sociologist and Democratic fundraiser; Susan Pritzker, a scion of the hotel family that has boosted Newsom’s political career over the years; and Dagmar Dolby, the billionaire philanthropist, Vox reported. The full list of donors will appear in ads in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times.
Other leading advocacy groups like SheThePeople, which promotes women in politics, have called on Newsom to name a woman of color to the seat. The group's founder, Aimee Allison, said Lee's long-running advocacy for the Black community and progressive causes should make her the natural choice for the plum U.S. Senate seat.
Under state law, Newsom can appoint a replacement to fill Harris' seat until her term expires in 2022. Various groups are lobbying Newsom, from Indian Americans backing Rep. Ro Khanna to LGBT leaders who say Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins or Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia deserve the nod.
It could amount to virtually a lifetime appointment, considering the way Democrats dominate California politics. Newsom is unlikely to pick a caretaker who would leave after two years.
Ramped-up calls for a woman of color come as sources believe Newsom is leaning heavily toward picking California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. He would be the first Latino U.S. Senator in the state's 170-year history. Picking a statewide officeholder like Padilla would give Newsom two appointments since he also could choose their replacement.
Padilla, a longtime friend and supporter of Newsom — and of California's senior senator, Dianne Feinstein — said Sunday on the Central Valley's Sunday Morning Matters talk show that "a diversity of perspectives is important in the representation for California in the United States Senate."
"The Latino community specifically represents 40 percent of the population — but that diversity is one of a number of considerations I’m sure that the governor is weighing," Padilla said. "We’ll respect his his decision, whenever he makes it known."
Latino elected leaders and organizations have also increased their pressure on Newsom for the Senate seat, even holding a recent Sacramento press conference to remind him that "we are long overdue."
The Sacramento Bee reported a myriad of civic groups — including the California Latino Legislative Caucus, the Latino Community Foundation and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials — intend to hold a series of press conferences in four cities calling on Newsom to make the historic appointment.
But Brown said that given the key role that Black women played in 2020 voter turnout, along with Harris being only the second Black woman in the Senate, should force Newsom to "jump at the chance to put a Black woman in."
"It would have the same historic appeal as same-sex marriage in 2004," Brown added, referring to Newsom's groundbreaking move declaring marriage equality as San Francisco mayor.