California’s Dilemma: Latino or Latinx?

California’s Gov. Gruesom announced his pick to replace Kamala Harris in the Senate today, and it’s going to be the secretary of state Alex Padilla. There were widespread rumors that Gov. Gruesom was dreading the appointment, because the various Democratic Party identity factions were pressuring him to pick from among their ranks, as CNN reported a month ago:

A cross-country lobbying campaign for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ Senate seat has pitted factions divided by race, gender and geography against one another and heightened internal tensions within at least one influential caucus on Capitol Hill.

Prominent African Americans officials would like California Gov. Gavin Newsom to pick Reps. Karen Bass or Barbara Lee to replace Harris, the only Black woman serving in the Senate. But many Latinos, who comprise a plurality of Californians, want Newsom to choose the first Latino or Latina senator in the state’s history, such as California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia or state Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The jockeying among various groups to promote their preferred candidates has already led to a tense fight within the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, as some members privately criticized what they viewed as heavy-handed tactics in its political arm’s endorsement of Padilla, several sources involved in the dispute told CNN.

Notice that despite California’s Democratic House delegation having several well-regarded white women among their ranks (such as Rep. Katie Porter), it was simply assumed that the appointment could not go even to a white woman, let alone a white male. And Biden let Gruesom off the hook to some extent by designating state AG Xavier Becerra to be secretary of HHS. Becerra and Padilla are rivals in California, and as such whichever one got passed over would create problems for Gruesom.

The choice of Padilla is likely driven as much by Democratic Party political considerations as anything else, as California Democrats are panicked by Trump’s impoved showing with Latino voters. If this trend continues, Democrat dominance in California might start to erode.

Most of the news media today is reporting that Padilla will be California’s first Latino senator, but there are a few holdouts, such as the Now This Twitter news feed (with 2.1 million subscribers):

I hope some brave reporter will ask Padilla: Boxers or briefs? Latino or Latinx?

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