Alex Padilla will take over as senator for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today that Alex Padilla, the current secretary of state of California, will take over the senator duties of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, making him the first Latino to serve in the Senate in the Golden State.
“His appointment will make history. But the @AlexPadilla4CA I know is far more interested in changing history—especially for the working men and women of our state and country,” Gov. Newsom tweeted. “I can think of no one better to represent the state of California as our next United States Senator.”
Padilla responded to Gov. Newsom by tweeting, “I am humbled and honored to serve as California’s next United States Senator. Thank you, @GavinNewsom, for entrusting me with the role of defending the dream for the people of California.”
Latino lawmakers praised the coveted appointment of the 47-year-old son of Mexican immigrants because Californians will finally have a Latino representative in the Senate.
“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is proud to welcome Alex Padilla to Congress and the CHC—the first Latino United States Senator from California,” the CHC said in a statement. “Despite Latinos comprising over 40-percent of the state’s population, Californians have never been represented by a Latino in the US Senate. This historic appointment represents a new milestone in the generational struggle for Latino inclusion in the American Dream.”
Padilla, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), began his career as a public servant at 26 years old as a member of the Los Angeles City Council in 1999. He moved on two years later by making history as the first Latino and the youngest person elected president of the Los Angeles City Council.
In the 2014 primary election, Padilla won the election of California secretary of state. Padilla lives with his wife Angela and their three sons in the San Fernando Valley.
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“Alex will make us proud.” Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “He is a dedicated, thoughtful, and hardworking public servant who will fight for every Californian and will make a remarkable United States Senator.
Padilla will begin his term when Sen. Harris steps down from her seat in January ahead of Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. Padilla will need to run for a full term in 2022. The appointment gives him an advantage, but he’s still likely to face challengers; California’s top-two primary system allows two Democrats to face off in a general election.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.