A week after she was sworn in as state attorney general for a second term, Kamala Harris announced Tuesday that she intends to run next year for the U.S. Senate seat of Barbara Boxer, who is not seeking reelection.
Harris said on her Web site that “I’m excited to share with you that I’m launching my campaign to represent the people of California in the United States Senate.” Her statement can be seen here.
Harris, 50, the former district attorney of San Francisco said she would be “a fighter for middle class families who are feeling the pinch of stagnant wages and diminishing opportunity.”
Harris’ term as attorney general is not up until 2018, giving her a “free ride” at the U.S. Senate seat; if she loses that race she retains her state post.
Word of Harris’ decision emerged Monday, just hours after Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he did not intend to seek Boxer’s seat in 2016.
Newsom, who made the statement on his Facebook page, said he would “remain firmly in the state of California – and not Washington, D.C. Therefore I will not seek election to the U.S. Senate in 2016.”
He didn’t say so, but his language about wanting to “remain firmly in California” suggested to many that he intended to run for governor in 2018.
Newsom, the scion of a San Francisco-area political family and the former Mayor of San Francisco, had been viewed as a likely contender for U.S. Senate next year or the governor’s office in 2018 to replace Jerry Brown, who is serving an unprecedented fourth term and is barred by law from seeking reelection.
Newsom’s decision to bow out leaves a wide-open field. Among those seen as potential contenders are former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, former presidential contender Mitt Romney and state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, among others.
Newsom, 47, said he was issued the Facebook statement because “it’s always better to be candid than coy … I know that my head and my heart, my young family’s future, and our unfinished work all remain firmly in the State of California”
Ed’s Note: UPDATES Harris decision with statement on campaign web site.