June 16, 2024
It’s too quickly to know whether or not California’s subsequent governor can 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 girls aiming to grow to be 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 embody at the least one different girl — Betty Yee, vice chair of the California Democratic Celebration.

Neither of them was the main target of Harris’ go to. The vice chairman’s message Thursday to a pleasant home-state viewers was educated on rallying Democrats to reelect President Biden. She referred to as this 12 months’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 mentioned to donors gathered on the sprawling Sacramento dwelling of Kounalakis’ mother and father, which featured marble columns, crystal chandeliers and golden candelabras.

Visitors included Democratic Reps. Robert Garcia of Lengthy Seaside 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 have been requested to provide between $5,000 and $50,000 to attend, in response to the invitation, and Kounalakis mentioned the occasion raised $648,000 for Biden’s reelection.

Ties between the vice chairman and the lieutenant governor return about 20 years, Kounalakis mentioned, to when Harris was first elected San Francisco district legal professional. Kounalakis was working 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 prefer to be a lady skilled, among the challenges that we had,” Kounalakis mentioned in an interview. “We might usually examine notes on sneakers and fits, and the place to get one of the best ones.”

Kounalakis mentioned 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 at the least $29,000 to help Harris’ campaigns for California legal professional common in 2010 and 2014, marketing campaign finance data present. When Kounalakis ran for lieutenant governor in 2018, Harris offered a essential endorsement “that constructed credibility for my marketing campaign early within the race,” Kounalakis mentioned.

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

“I felt that there was an absence of appreciation for her expertise and her skills and her capabilities. A whole lot of us in California felt that approach,” Kounalakis mentioned.

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

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

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

“She has shut ties with so many members of our caucus. It was nice to welcome her,” mentioned 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 informed them that California performs an vital function in pushing a Democratic coverage agenda that may wind up shaping the nation.

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

Republicans, unsurprisingly, noticed it in another way.

“Californians are worse off at the moment due to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” California Republican Celebration Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson mentioned in a press release that criticized “their disastrous insurance policies” on the southern border, on the economic system and on crime.

Atkins mentioned 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 12 months’s election. Harris’ reelection message was inspiring, Atkins mentioned, and Democratic lawmakers really feel a way of satisfaction that the nation’s first feminine vice chairman is a Californian.

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

“We now have all these relationships,” with Harris, Atkins mentioned. “She is aware of Betty Yee, she is aware of Eleni, she is aware of me.”

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

“That day will come, I’m certain,” she mentioned. “However that was not at the moment.”