California’s Kamala Harris Just Became the Fourth Woman of Color to Be Elected US Senator

She’s been called the “next Barack Obama.”

AP Photo/Eric Risberg

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Kamala Harris, who gained a reputation as a potential “next Barack Obama,” during her tenure as California’s attorney general, won the race for an open California Senate seat against Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.).

The seat was vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer, who served four terms before retiring. Harris announced her candidacy days after Boxer’s announcement in January last year. It was the first open seat in California since 1992.

Harris is a Bay Area native who made history in 2003 when she became the first black woman and the first South Asian woman to be elected as San Francisco district attorney. She was reelected in 2007, and in 2011 she became California’s attorney general, serving as one of only two black female Democrats in statewide office. In 2013, President Obama—who would later endorse Harris for Senate—praised her work as attorney general, calling her “brilliant,” “dedicated,” and “tough.”

In an interview with Mother Jones, Harris said she has experienced sexism and racism over the course of her political career, but she’s never let it influence her.

“As a female prosecutor, let alone a woman of color, there have definitely been moments where people said, ‘No, you can’t do that,'” she said. “Well, I eat ‘no’ for breakfast, and I’ve never been a fan of the word ‘can’t’—aimed at me or anyone else.”

Harris was one of 13 women to run for Senate for the first time in 2016. One of those women, Loretta Sanchez, was Harris’ opponent. Had Sanchez won, she would have been the first Latina to serve in the US Senate.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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