Speaking on Martin Luther Day, the Californian Senator confirmed she would seek the Democratic nomination for the 2020 US presidential election.

By Daniel Herborn


Posted on January 22, 2019

The 54-year-old Harris has made waves over the past year, marking herself as one of the Democratic party’s rising stars and most talented communicators. She has been one of the most prominent voices against the Trump administration, particularly on immigration issues.

Harris enters an already crowded field vying for the Democratic party’s nomination. She joins Elizabeth Warren, Tulsi Gabbard, John Delaney, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro, former Trump supporter Richard Ojeda and entrepreneur Andrew Yang as candidates who have officially declared an intention to run for the Democrats.

Other high-profile figures considered very likely to run include Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker and Sherrod Brown. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is also believed to be still mulling over a run as a progressive independent.

Harris has carved out a niche as a progressive candidate offering a complete departure from the Trump years

“This is a moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to stand up and fight for the best of who we are,” Harris told ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ in announcing she would run. She pitched herself as an idealistic, unabashedly progressive leader. “We are the best of who we are when we fight to achieve these ideals. We are flawed, we are not perfect, but we are a great country when we think about the principles upon which we’re founded.”

On Twitter, she cast the 2020 US election as a “fight for the soul of our country” and aligned herself with the work of Martin Luther King. “Together, we will fight for a country with strong public schools. A country where one job is enough to pay the bills. A country with health care for every single American.”

In later tweets, she highlighted the disproportionate rates of death in childbirth for black women and promised to oppose tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, saying she would fight for a system where “middle-class and working families get a break, not corporations or the wealthiest 1%.”

Harris has continued to oppose Trump’s immigration policies and argued strongly against the appointment of US Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh. She wrote that Kavanaugh represented “a fundamental threat to that promise of equality”. At his confirmation hearings, she drew on her skills as a prosecutor to ask a series of exacting questions of Trump’s nominee.

Harris is considered highly electable

Other issues she will campaign on include reforming the criminal justice system, rejecting the ‘war on drugs’ as a failure and implementing a Medicare-for-all healthcare system. She has previously vowed not to accept any donations from corporate interests.

She has also taken aim at critics of identity politics, arguing such rhetoric is “used to distract” from inequality stemming from gender, race and sexual orientation.

Analysis from FiveThirtyEight suggests Harris has considerable appeal among African-American and Asian/Hispanic voters, while also having strong support from party loyalists, millennials and a broad group termed ‘the left’. In terms of electoral appeal, “Harris comes out looking stronger than any other potential candidate,” the site’s Founder, Nate Silver, concluded.

Multiple betting agencies have installed her as the favourite to win the Democratic nomination.

Kamala Harris’ background: First-term Senator, reformist Attorney-General

Before entering the Senate, where she became only the second African-American woman elected, Harris was an attorney and served as District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco.

Her work as District Attorney led to an appointment as Attorney-General of California. In the latter role, she introduced sweeping reforms aimed at assisting homeowners fighting foreclosure as the impact of the global financial crisis continued to ripple through the state. She also gave her office greater powers to prosecute financial fraud and was credited with raising the felony conviction rate from 52% to 67% between 2003 and 2006.

Critics, however, have highlighted her failure to prosecute OneWest, which reportedly committed more than 1,000 foreclosure violations, as a blemish on her record. Her overall credentials as a “progressive prosecutor” have also recently been questioned.

In late 2016, she moved into the Senate after being endorsed by Barack Obama and Joe Biden and successfully contesting the seat previously held by party icon Barbara Boxer. She immediately set out her stall as a persistent critic of Trump administration’s immigration reforms, vowing to protect immigrant children and their parents from deportation.

Header image credit: Mobilus in Mobili