Harris Racks Up Endorsements From California Democrats

(CN) – When California lawmakers bumped the state primary election from June to March in 2017, they hoped to force presidential hopefuls to finally compete for the state’s over 400 delegates instead of wholeheartedly ignoring the nation’s most populous state because the races were long locked up.

With the 2020 Democratic field taking shape, it appears the switch to an early primary could play right into the hands of the Golden State’s junior U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. Harris is already racking up some major endorsements after only a month on the campaign trail.   

On Tuesday, another fleet of California Democrats gave their nods to Harris.

“Senator Kamala Harris has been a fearless fighter for Californians throughout her career and I’m proud to endorse her campaign for president of the United States,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a statement.

Harris, former state attorney general, also scored the endorsements of statewide officers elected last fall, including Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, State Treasurer Fiona Ma, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.

Harris, 54, launched her campaign last month in her hometown of Oakland in front of an estimated 20,000 people. The Democrat told the crowd that if elected she will push to cut taxes for the middle class and focus on issues President Donald Trump has ignored, like climate change and racism.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, announces plans to run for president in 2020 before a crowd of 20,000 in Oakland, California, on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. (Helen Christophi/CNS)

The speech quickly resonated with California’s leading Democrats. Gov. Gavin Newsom and renowned civil rights activist Dolores Huerta agreed to co-chair Harris’ campaign.

Newsom and Harris worked together as San Francisco mayor and district attorney, respectively, and have known each other for decades. Newsom, 51, announced Feb. 15 that he was backing Harris, calling her a “voice for the voiceless.”

“From advancing equality to defending immigrant communities to expanding opportunity, she’ll do what’s right. Proud to endorse Kamala Harris for president,” Newsom tweeted.

Along with state lawmakers, four members of California’s congressional delegation have signed on to Harris’ campaign: Barbara Lee, Katie Hill, Ted Lieu and Nanette Barragan.

A Quinnipiac University poll this month found Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden are “neck and neck” with California Democrats at this early stage. But poll director Tim Malloy cautioned “the total pool of voters is noticeably ambivalent about whether she has what it takes to be a good president.”

Losing California next winter would be a critical blow for Harris, the only Californian to enter the race so far. Rep. Eric Swalwell is mulling a bid and is expected to announce whether he will run by April.

Other Democrats that have announced presidential bids include U.S. Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Kounalakis, California’s first female lieutenant governor, says Harris has “paved the way” for California women to run for office.

“She will bring the same tireless work ethic and progressive values she used to serve Californians to the rest of America,” Kounalakis said in a statement Tuesday.

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