When Kamala Harris resigned from the Senate, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s vote was the only one that mattered and it went to Alex Padilla, the California Secretary of State. When he was sworn in, Padilla became the first Latino senator from the Golden State.
His appointment was met with both excitement and criticism because without Harris, there are no Black women in the U.S. Senate. “I say, I hear you. I agree with you. Personally, I'll do my best to be the best senator I can for all Californians,” Padilla said. “But how can I do my part to also uplift the voices of the Black community, Balck women especially.”
His first three months were an insurrection, impeachment, an inauguration, voting on Covid relief and Democrats like Padilla pushing to get rid of the filibuster, which forces a 60-vote threshold.
“We've got to walk and chew gum at the same time. Look, you want to work on a bipartisan basis. I'm not against that. That's the ideal scenario. Those of us who already agree we need to get rid of the filibuster continue to be vocal about it, keep it a public priority,” Padilla said.
A huge focus for Padilla is immigration reform. California has the highest concentration of immigrants of any state in the U.S. and he’s the son of Mexican immigrants. Despite the lack of movement on comprehensive immigration reform for decades, Padilla is “optimistic.”
“And there's probably different ways to achieve the reforms,” said Padilla. “For starters, we have a president in the White House who’s willing.”