As the nation cools down from the presidential race, another notable scrum is brewing in California. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is set to enter the White House, kicking off a race to fill her Senate seat.
The upcoming Senate vacancy is sparking a heated race among Californian politicians. Among the notable prospects are two out politicians: Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach and State Senate Pro-Tempore Toni Atkins of San Diego.
As the first openly gay and Latino mayor of Long Beach, Garcia’s diversity has helped establish himself as a top tier selection. He was also chosen as one of the many speakers delivering the keynote address at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. In his address he highlighted the struggle of paying off student loans.
In a recent USC Schwarzenegger Institute poll, 57% of registered voters said they would support Garcia, 42, as the next U.S. Senator from California.
Another potential candidate for the Senate seat is State Senate Pro-Tempore Toni Atkins.
Atkins, 58, was elected to be the first female and openly LGBT Senate President pro Tem in 2018 after being elected to represent the 39th District in the State Senate in 2016, according to Atkins’ website.
In the same poll, 40% of registered voters would support Atkins.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is responsible for filling a vacancy, is acquainted with both candidates.
According to the LA Times, Newsom endorsed Garcia for mayor in 2014 and Garcia endorsed Newsom for governor in 2017.
Garcia has developed connections with prominent members of the Democratic Party, another possible advantage in his bid for the Senate seat.
“Personally, I want to thank President-elect Biden for visiting Long Beach during the campaign,” Garcia said in a Twitter thread on Nov. 7. “We have developed a good friendship that I hope will serve our city well.”
Atkins has connections to Newsom and prominent Democrats as well.
Newsom appointed Atkins to serve on a state Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery in response to the impact of COVID-19, according to a press release in April. Newsom also applauded Atkins' persistence in pursuing a housing production bill in January, according to Politico.
Atkins also has connections with Harris, posing with the vice-president-elect in a tweet on Nov. 7.