If the November election were to be held today, I would bet dollars to donuts that California Senator Kamala Harris would be moving to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
That’s where the Vice President of the United States keeps an office.
And if that were to happen, what would come of her seat in the United States Senate?
That’s where things get interesting.
Because the governor of the state losing a high-ranking elected official gets to choose a replacement for such a position, Gavin Newsom will have the ability to handpick her replacement for the duration of the term reaming – which, in this case, means that the replacement will serve until 2022.
This process became a nightmare for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich who was arrested and sentenced for selling the seat of former Illinois Senator Barack Obama – and was subsequently pardoned by current President Donald Trump, who struck up a bizarre kinship with the disgraced politician on The Celebrity Apprentice.
I don’t think that Gavin Newsom will do anything of the sort, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that his decision could send shockwaves through the local political landscape.
It’s actually possible that current Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs ends up in the United States Senate for the next two years and with the financial backing of billionaire Michael Bloomberg – whose campaign Tubbs worked for – stands a solid chance at mounting a run for a full 6-year term.
Hear me out.
While it’s incredibly easy to find Facebook posts slamming the Stockton mayor for just about everything that goes wrong in California’s 13th largest city – it has almost become comical what he gets blamed for – it’s worth pointing out that he’s well-connected in Democratic circles and has relationships with both Newsom, who has been to Stockton recently, and Harris herself. Harris invited Tubbs to Detroit as her guest for the second Democratic Presidential Debate when she was still a candidate last year.
The fact that Tubbs has working relationships with both Newsom and Harris as well as the backing of Bloomberg means that he actually has a chance to keep the seat if he were to be appointed to it.
Now, Tubbs just recently turned 30 – which is the minimum age for the Senate. This would make him the youngest person currently in the Senate, but after years of being a rising star in the Democratic Party this would put him on the national stage in a way that few other appointments could – potentially positioning him for a one-day run for the Presidency.
Is this all likely? Probably not. But think for a second what having a Senator from the Central Valley would mean for California politics.
It’s no secret that the movers-and-shakers of this state appeal to two core constituencies – those in the San Francisco Bay Area, and those that live in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. Those are the two power centers of California when it comes to donations, and in politics financial backing is everything.
Even though Tubbs does not fit into either of those camps, he put his neck out on the like to back former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg during his short-lived run for the Presidency, and such a sign of loyalty is surely going to be rewarded at some point. Considering that Bloomberg has pledged to invest $100 million to the Biden campaign in Florida to help the Democrats wrangle away control of The White House, knowing that he has the financial backing of some of the wealthiest donors in the party – and connections to Silicon Valley executives that he went to college with – is surely a feather in his cap.
Unless you grew up in the Central Valley, it’s hard to understand the problems of the Central Valley – the widespread poverty, the growing gridlock, and the lack of opportunities for advancement. The only reason Stockton, Manteca, and even Modesto in the last decade have grown to the sizes that they have is because people are willing to live here and work over the Altamont – trading the high cost of living for the hair-raising commute.
Take those away and the comparisons to the issues found in poverty-stricken places like Appalachia aren’t very far off.
Having a high-ranking elected official in the United States government that knows all about these issues would be a monumental win for local residents. Yes, there are factions in Stockton that believe that Tubbs is the worst thing ever to happen – period. They hate him with a passion that can’t be logically summarized, and if he cured cancer tomorrow they would still find a way to complain about it.
That may sound callous and dismissive, but if people aren’t going to be open-minded enough to realize that having one of our own serving in arguably the most powerful legislative body in the country is good for the region, then the cyclical argument will never end.
As we get closer to November, the “short list” discussion about who will replace Harris will grow more intense, and names will be thrown out there.
The Stanford-educated native son that came back to his community to make a difference should be on that list. He could have gone into big business and looked out for himself but after his cousin was murdered he decided instead to return to Stockton in a bid to help turn his hometown’s fortunes around.
Even if he doesn’t make it, it’s only a matter of time before Newsom makes his way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and I have no doubt that there’s room in a Gavin Administration for Tubbs.
Either way, the Valley wins.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.