April 13, 2024
It’s too quickly to know whether or not California’s subsequent governor will likely be a lady, with the race nonetheless two years away. However Vice President Kamala Harris’ go to to Sacramento on Thursday highlighted the likelihood after the nation’s first feminine vice chairman frolicked with two ladies aiming to turn into California’s first feminine governor.

At a historic mansion close to the state Capitol, Harris met with Democratic state lawmakers, the place she was launched by Senate chief Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), the primary girl to carry that publish. Then Harris attended a fundraiser hosted by one other feminine first — Democratic Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, the primary girl elected to that workplace.

Atkins and Kounalakis have already launched campaigns to run for governor in 2026 in what is anticipated to be a crowded discipline that can embrace a minimum of one different girl — Betty Yee, vice chair of the California Democratic Social gathering.

Neither of them was the main focus of Harris’ go to. The vice chairman’s message Thursday to a pleasant home-state viewers was skilled on rallying Democrats to reelect President Biden. She referred to as this yr’s election a “binary” alternative between “a former president who brazenly talks about his admiration for dictators” and Biden, whose administration “is about lifting up the situation of the folks.”

“The cut up display couldn’t be extra stark. And the stakes couldn’t be increased,” Harris stated to donors gathered on the sprawling Sacramento dwelling of Kounalakis’ mother and father, which featured marble columns, crystal chandeliers and golden candelabras.

Friends included Democratic Reps. Robert Garcia of Lengthy Seashore and Doris Matsui of Sacramento; Jodi Hicks, president of Deliberate Parenthood Associates of California; and quite a few lobbyists who do enterprise on the state Capitol. Donors had been requested to provide between $5,000 and $50,000 to attend, in response to the invitation, and Kounalakis stated the occasion raised $648,000 for Biden’s reelection.

Ties between the vice chairman and the lieutenant governor return about 20 years, Kounalakis stated, to when Harris was first elected San Francisco district lawyer. Kounalakis was operating her household’s home-building enterprise on the time and routinely helped increase cash for Democratic politicians.

“We began having common lunches collectively… round San Francisco, and simply verify in on what it was wish to be a lady skilled, a number of the challenges that we had,” Kounalakis stated in an interview. “We’d usually examine notes on sneakers and fits, and the place to get the very best ones.”

Kounalakis stated she as soon as set Harris up on a date, however “it was not a love match.”

California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis signing a invoice into legislation whereas appearing as governor in 2022 when Gov. Gavin Newsom was on trip. State Senate chief Toni Atkins stands behind her.

(Wealthy Pedroncelli / Related Press)

They remained linked as Harris’ profession superior. Kounalakis and her household donated a minimum of $29,000 to assist Harris’ campaigns for California lawyer common in 2010 and 2014, marketing campaign finance information present. When Kounalakis ran for lieutenant governor in 2018, Harris supplied a vital endorsement “that constructed credibility for my marketing campaign early within the race,” Kounalakis stated.

Two years later, when Joe Biden was looking for a operating mate, Kounalakis lobbied his marketing campaign to decide on Harris as his vice chairman.

“I felt that there was a scarcity of appreciation for her abilities and her abilities and her capabilities. A number of us in California felt that means,” Kounalakis stated.

She arrange a Zoom assembly with Biden’s choice committee and invited elected officers and labor leaders from round California. Each received two minutes to provide a testimonial about Harris.

“Dolores Huerta’s was essentially the most memorable to me as a result of she stared down the choice committee and stated, ‘We ought to be telling our daughters that being bold is a energy, not a weak point,’” Kounalakis recalled.

In Sacramento on Thursday, Harris described her go to as a homecoming of types, having spent six years working in state authorities as lawyer common.

“She has shut ties with so many members of our caucus. It was nice to welcome her,” stated Democratic Meeting Speaker Robert Rivas.

Harris talked to lawmakers about advantages California is getting from Biden’s initiatives, such because the federal infrastructure invoice and the CHIPS and Science Act, which directs billions of {dollars} towards home semiconductor analysis and growth, and instructed them that California performs an necessary function in pushing a Democratic coverage agenda that may wind up shaping the nation.

“The message she despatched was an incredible reminder of how necessary the work is that we do as a state Legislature,” Rivas stated.

Republicans, unsurprisingly, noticed it otherwise.

“Californians are worse off at this time due to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” California Republican Social gathering Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson stated in an announcement that criticized “their disastrous insurance policies” on the southern border, on the economic system and on crime.

Atkins stated she appreciated Harris speaking with lawmakers about reproductive rights and abortion entry, a key theme Democrats will push in races up and down the poll on this yr’s election. Harris’ reelection message was inspiring, Atkins stated, and Democratic lawmakers really feel a way of pleasure that the nation’s first feminine vice chairman is a Californian.

What that can imply for the ladies searching for to interrupt the glass ceiling within the California governor’s workplace stays to be seen.

“We’ve all these relationships,” with Harris, Atkins stated. “She is aware of Betty Yee, she is aware of Eleni, she is aware of me.”

Atkins stated “there was no jostling or jockeying” Thursday to shift Harris’ consideration to California’s gubernatorial race in 2026.

“That day will come, I’m positive,” she stated. “However that was not at this time.”