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California’s first Latino Senator: Alex PadillaPhoto: Getty Images
California’s first Latino Senator: Alex PadillaPhoto: Getty Images

Alex Padilla: The First Latino to Represent California in the Senate

Alex Padilla will replace Kamala Harris’ in the Senate, being the first Latino senator in California’s history.

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California Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, has been appointed to Vice President Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate Seat by California Governor Newsom on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. With the appointment, Padilla makes history as the first Latino to represent California as a Senator. 

In a statement of support for the appointee, Gov. Newsom complimented Padilla’s track record of supporting Californians. 

“Through his tenacity, integrity, smarts and grit, California is gaining a tested fighter in their corner who will be a fierce ally in D.C., lifting up our state’s values and making sure we secure the critical resources to emerge stronger from this pandemic,” he said.

In California, 40% of the population is Latino, and it keeps growing. With that, there is a need for representation at the highest levels of government, which we’re finally seeing with Padilla’s appointment. 

Padilla is the son of Mexican immigrants and was raised in Pacoima, California. Coming from humble beginnings, his mom was a house cleaner while his dad was a short-order cook. 

In school, Padilla earned his degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in mechanical engineering.

Padilla was elected to the California State Senate in 2006, and then sworn in as the state’s first Latino California Secretary of State in 2015, where he pushed for voter rights, and increased voter registration and participation.

 

“From those struggling to make ends meet to the small businesses fighting to keep their doors open to the health-care workers looking for relief, please know that I am going to the Senate to fight for you,” Padilla said after his appointment.

He will be filling Harris’ seat until 2022, when he will be required to run for and win it in the mid-term elections.

For the appointment, much of the credit could go to the "Pick Padilla" campaign launched on Aug. 26, 2020, started by Latino Victory and supported by celebrities such as Eva Longoria Bastón. 

Though not as progressive as other candidates in the running, he was the highest ranking Latino in California politics.

On a national level, only nine Hispanic Americans have served in the U.S. Senate. Padilla will be the tenth, and the fifth of all currently serving in the Senate.

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