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Sen. Kamala Harris 'still a winner' by Julianne Malveaux

Columnists

12/13/2019, 6 a.m.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California threw her hat in the ring early this year for the Democratic nomination for ...
Julianne Malveaux

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California threw her hat in the ring early this year for the Democratic nomination for president before a crowd of more than 20,000 people in Oakland, Calif. She made the announcement on Jan. 21, the official Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. She jumped into the race with enthusiasm, and many people had high hopes for her.

Unfortunately, Sen. Harris recently suspended her race basically because she lacked resources. Negative media coverage, perhaps informed by race and gender bias, along with rumors of discord in her cam- paign, were being circulated widely. While I was sorry to see Sen. Harris exit the field, I’m still a fan and I think she is still a winner.

Sen. Harris has three more years left on her senate term. Until 2022, she can continue to slice and dice witnesses in the U.S. Senate, advance legislation “for the people,” as her campaign slogan suggests, and solidify her base in California. Hopefully, then, she can be re-elected and look at presidential possibilities in 2024 or 2028. Then, she can use her most recent experience to guide her in her next national campaign.

Few candidates for president collect the nomination on their first time out. President Barack Obama was an exception. But this is former Vice President Joe Biden’s third bite at the apple, the country. She was the first black woman to sit in the U.S. Congress, and is well known for her motto “unbought and unbossed.” She made it to the Democratic National Conven- tion floor with 152 delegates, some who had been pledged to former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey until he released them. Rep. Chisholm said she ran because she had the “sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.”

Carol Moseley Braun, the first black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, attempted a presidential run in 2003 and dropped out in early 2004. Sen. John Kerry ended up with the Democratic nomination that year, but thanks to Republican dirty tricks, the electoral count wasn’t even close. Sen. Mosley Braun had a handle on the is- sues, especially issues about women’s financial security, but she had neither the resources nor the support to make it to the convention.

Now we have Sen. Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor and California attorney general who burst onto the Senate scene with skills and focus. Few will forget the way she made Attorney General Jeff Sessions look like a bumbling fool. And her cross-examination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing for the U.S. Supreme Court, was masterful.

As Sen. Harris crisscrossed the country, she inspired black women and girls and others. Indeed, she garnered the support of Higher Heights, a black women’s PAC that endorsed her in early November despite her low polling numbers.

I was saddened to see Sen. Harris leave the race. I would loved to have seen her debating 45. I bet he wouldn’t have rattled her the way he pushed Hillary Clinton off her game during the presidential debates leading to the 2016 election. I’d like to have seen her with a smaller group of Democrats so that everything didn’t seem so rushed, and people could answer questions more expansively.

Sen. Harris’ withdrawal from the race is not her loss but the nation’s. The way we are going, the next debate will be a white-only affair unless Sen. Tulsi Gabbard or Andrew Yang qualify.

In the last debate, Sen. Harris talked about the fact that black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party. You wouldn’t know that from the representation on the debate stage or in party leadership. Black women have been loyal to the Democratic Party, but the party has not been faithful to us.

Sen. Harris is still a winner. Like Shirley Chisholm and Carol Moseley Braun, she refused to accept the status quo. Her withdrawal from this race is not the end. It is a new beginning for the tenacious senator who will undoubtedly continue to fight “for the people.”

The writer is an economist, author, media contributor and educator.

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