Skelton: Padilla Senate nod is new chapter in California politics

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California Secretary of Condition Alex Padilla is an excellent selection for U.S. senator. He’s really the only selection Gov. Gavin Newsom could have created — intellectually and politically. It was a historic appointment for a governor who requires delight in recording “firsts.” For the record: 10:02 AM, Dec. 23, 2020An […]

California Secretary of Condition Alex Padilla is an excellent selection for U.S. senator. He’s really the only selection Gov. Gavin Newsom could have created — intellectually and politically.

It was a historic appointment for a governor who requires delight in recording “firsts.”

For the record:

10:02 AM, Dec. 23, 2020An before version of this post claimed that Padilla supported Newsom’s candidacy for governor in 2014. He supported his candidacy for governor in 2018.

Padilla, 47, will be the initially Latino senator from California. And that need to be uncomfortable for a point out with these kinds of deep Mexican roots — the place the greatest ethnic group is now Latino, representing 40% of the populace.

It’s about time we experienced a Latino senator. And it is some thing Newsom couldn’t ignore.

Moreover, Padilla is a faithful political pal of Newsom’s.

The governor and he go way back — to when Newsom was the San Francisco mayor trying to run for governor the to start with time in 2009. He dropped out when Jerry Brown entered the race and ran for lieutenant governor in its place. But Padilla was there from the start out as Newsom’s marketing campaign chairman, normally touring with him to hustle for votes.

Padilla supported Newsom once more in 2018. Newsom’s major challenger was fellow Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles mayor when Padilla was president of the LA. Town Council — the initial Latino to keep that put up.

“We’ve known each individual other a extended time — 20 several years,” Padilla advised me Tuesday, referring to Newsom. “We’ve talked to each other about our long term chances over the years.”

Like fantastic close friends do. Padilla’s dream was to be a U.S. senator.

So if Newsom experienced chosen someone else to fill out the unexpired term of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, what kind of message would that have despatched to other politicians the governor could possibly inquire for a favor in the potential? The message would be: “You scratch my back again — but go obtain someone else to scratch yours.”

Newsom’s not that sort of guy. And all politicians know that right after Padilla’s choice.

Newsom instantly bought heat from a coalition of Black women who experienced urged that the Senate seat be supplied to one particular of their group. Harris was the to start with Black senator from California.

“I am dissatisfied that the governor did not see value in the prospect that was presented to him to warranty good representation for Black women of all ages in the U.S. Senate,” explained L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who at the time served in the Legislature with Padilla.

Padilla was a condition senator for 8 many years — he authored the laws outlawing single-use plastic baggage at grocery retailers — then was elected California secretary of point out. Once more, he was the to start with Latino to hold that office environment.

A few several hours after Newsom appointed Padilla to the Senate, he nominated Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, 72, of San Diego, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, to be secretary of point out. She’ll require to be confirmed by the Legislature, but that will be a snap.

Weber is a further “first” for Newsom. She’ll be the to start with Black secretary of condition in California.

Like Padilla, Weber is an American Desire tale. She’s the daughter of an Arkansas sharecropper who fled to Los Angeles when his lifestyle was threatened by a white farmer around a dispute.

Padilla’s mom and dad were Mexican immigrants who achieved in Los Angeles. His father was a brief-get cook his mom cleaned affluent people’s properties. Padilla attained a mechanical engineering degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technological know-how.

The engineering grad returned to the San Fernando Valley, exactly where he caught the political bug all through the 1994 marketing campaign to go Proposition 187. The measure’s purpose was to deny most community solutions to immigrants living here illegally. It was tossed out by a choose but influenced a generation of Latino politicians who championed immigrant rights.

“It’s way earlier time to pass thorough immigration reform,” Padilla advised me. “For starters, Dreamers ought to be brought out of the shadows and their position stabilized. … And there really should be a genuine path to citizenship.”

“Dreamers” are the younger grown ups who had been introduced throughout the border as children by their undocumented parents. They’ve regarded no other country than this a single. President Trump was eyeing them for deportation.

When I requested Padilla what his priorities would be as a senator, he replied: “There’ll be three — COVID, COVID, COVID.

“The initial issue I want to do is get my arms all around the pandemic and support the working family members that have been devastated from equally health and economic standpoints. These people are likely to have to have a great deal extra guidance.”

Padilla is not a spellbinding orator. In point, he could be a heal for sleeplessness. But he’s shiny, centered and energetic. He goes about his business enterprise, like working a cleanse election procedure with an huge voter turnout.

On Monday, the governor sent phrase to Padilla that he preferred to chat by means of Zoom in the evening. On Tuesday, a link of the transient conversation was shared by a Padilla staffer.

Newsom asked about Padilla’s immigrant mom and dad and they bantered a bit. Then the governor stated: “What would your mother imagine now as I ask if you want to be the up coming U.S. senator from California?”

“You really serious?” Padilla replied, his eyes tearing up. “I’m honored, guy. I’m humbled.”

Padilla talked emotionally about his father cooking and his mother cleaning — and was interrupted by the governor.

“You’ve bought to say ‘yes.’”

“Absolutely. I will make you proud.”

“It would have been political malpractice if Newsom didn’t appoint a Latino or Latina,” states political marketing consultant Mike Madrid, a disenchanted Republican who’s about to reregister as an unbiased.

“The Senate seat from California — the state with the major Latino inhabitants — will present a platform for an rising America. Padilla’s voice will compose background.”

He’ll very first have to have to get elected to a whole time period in 2022. But he’ll have an incumbent’s edge and the governor’s strong assistance.

Padilla signifies a new chapter in California politics. Hopefully it’ll be a web site turner.

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