Sen. Harris enters presidential contest

Free Press wire reports | 1/25/2019, 6 a.m.
She’s running! U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris announced Monday that she is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president. She ...
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California speaks to the media at Howard University after announcing Monday that she will run for the Democratic nomination for president. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

She’s running!

U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris announced Monday that she is seeking the 2020 Democratic nomination for president.

She adds her name to a growing list of women who want to call the White House home.

“I’m running for president of the United States and I’m very excited about it,” said Sen. Harris, a 54-year-old former prosecutor. “This is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are.”

Sen. Harris, who made history in 2016 as the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate from California, timed her announcement for the national holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She said Dr. King was an aspirational leader.

“We are the best of who we are when we fight to achieve these ideals,” she said, in announcing her candidacy on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Sen. Harris is a graduate of Howard University and the University of California Hastings School of Law. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Born Oct. 20, 1964, in Oakland, Calif., she is the daughter of Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast cancer research scientist, and Donald Harris, an economics professor at Stanford University. Her mother is from India and her father is from Jamaica.

Sen. Harris enters the race with the potential advantage of being the Democratic candidate who looks most like the party’s increasingly diverse base of young, female and minority voters.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, both of whom are Caucasian, and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is Samoan-American, already have announced they are seeking the presidential nomination in 2020.

Before being elected to the U.S. Senate, Sen. Harris served as California’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017, and previously was the district attorney for San Francisco from 2004 to 2010.

She is the second African-American woman to seek the Democratic nomination for president. In 1972, New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm sought the nomination, declaring that she was “unbought and unbossed.”

A rising star in the party, Sen. Harris has been an outspoken critic of many of President Trump’s actions, including his immigration policies. She has become popular with liberal activists for her tough questioning of Trump administration appointees and officials, including U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, during hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee of which she is a member.

Sen. Harris also is a member of the Senate Budget Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.

Sen. Harris’ campaign will focus on reducing the high cost of living with a middle-class tax credit, pursuing immigration and criminal justice changes and a Medicare-for-all healthcare system, aides said. She has said she will reject corporate political action committee donations.

Already, Sen. Harris is taking slings.

Lara Bazelon, a law professor and former director of the Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent in Los Angeles, wrote in a recent op-ed published in The New York Times that progressives urged Sen. Harris to adopt criminal justice reforms in California when she was district attorney and attorney general, but she either opposed them or stayed silent.

For example, Ms. Bazelon wrote, Sen. Harris opposed statewide legislation requiring the attorney general’s office to investigate shootings by police officers.

Ms. Bazelon also wrote that Sen. Harris “fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.”

A spokesperson for Sen. Harris’ campaign dismissed the allegations.

“Kamala Harris has spent her career fighting for reforms in the criminal justice system and pushing the envelope to keep everyone safer by bringing fairness and accountability,” spokeswoman Lily Adams said in a statement.

At a 2013 Democratic fundraiser in suburban San Francisco, President Barack Obama called Sen. Harris “the best-looking attorney general.” He was criticized for that remark and later called Sen. Harris to apologize.