As Kamala Harris Resigns Senate, Alex Padilla Becomes California's First Latino Senator

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Gov. Gavin Newsom also appointed Shirley Weber to be secretary of state, set to be the first Black person in the role for California.

As Kamala Harris formally resigned her Senate seat on Monday, Alex Padilla was officially appointed to replace her, making history as California’s first Latino senator.

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also nominated state Assemblymember Shirley Weber to replace Padilla as secretary of state. She will be the first Black person to hold the role in California.

“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State,” Newsom said in a statement. “Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history.”

The governor celebrated Harris’s “trailblazing leadership” as only the second Black woman U.S. senator when she was elected in 2016. On Wednesday, Harris is set to be sworn in as the first Black, first Asian American and first female vice president in U.S. history.

Padilla said he was “honored and humbled” to represent the people of California, a state whose population is nearly 40% Latino ― residents who will finally see themselves represented at the Senate level.

After resigning her Senate seat at 9 a.m. Pacific time Monday, Harris released a video thanking Californians for the honor to serve her home state, saying: “I’m not saying goodbye. In many ways, I’m saying hello as your vice president.”

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