The drama about Gavin Newsom’s choice for the US Senate was in vain

On Wednesday, Gavin Newsom made history and ended weeks of self-described torture by naming Alex Padilla as the first Latin American senator in California history.

The choice, like many in retrospect, seemed obvious.

Padilla, a longtime Newsom ally, has a backstory that can soften the hardest heart: son of Mexican immigrants – a housekeeper and cook – graduated from MIT, obediently climbed the political ladder and now, at 47 , joins one of the most exclusive and privileged clubs on the planet.

It is the kind of story that we tell only in America to calm our souls.

The fact that Latinos make up 40% of the state’s population added weight to the argument – political and symbolic – for Padilla’s nomination. He was a favorite from the start.

But woe to Governor Newsom for the dilemma he faced.

“This is not something I wish even for my worst enemy,” said Newsom, making someone wonder how to get on the bad side of the governor.

Imagine the opportunity to reward political loyalty, repair a long-standing complaint and, in an instant, transform someone’s life for the better.

Not to mention the chance to leave a lasting political legacy. If Padilla were to remain in office until he was 87 – like another California senator, Dianne Feinstein – he would still be voting in the Senate in 2060. Until then, if things worked out as they would like, Harris and Newsom will have built their side alongside libraries presidential somewhere in the Napa Valley.

Of course, as Newsom noted, “you create enemies in this process”.

There was certainly disappointment with Padilla’s choice, especially among those who wished Newsom had replaced Vice President-elect Kamala Harris with another black woman.

“This is a real blow to the African American community, for African American women, for women in general,” said the Mayor of San Francisco London Breed, who is black.

Silicon Valley deputy Ro Khanna, whose name was among the many singled out as possible substitutes for Harris, issued a Twitter statement that nodded to Padilla’s discovery pro forma, then practically invited a challenge when he ran for election in 2022.

“I respect and appreciate what this nomination means for the Latin community,” said Khanna, who is politically to the left of the most centrist Padilla. “I believe that this issue should have been decided by voters in a special election. I am happy that voters will have a say in two years. “

None of which merits much effort.

Politics is about choices. Leadership means making decisions and then facing the consequences. There is no way to please everyone.

That said, on the scale of distressing human endeavor – weighing matters of life and death, war and peace, economic livelihood against the toll of a deadly pandemic – filling a vacant US Senate seems to be among the most pleasant and least inducible things to do. insomnia.

This is not to minimize the sincere objections of Breed and others, or the defense of those who would have preferred Newsom to choose a different replacement for Harris. (In another piece of history, Newsom chose San Diego MP Shirley Weber to replace Padilla in Sacramento, making her the first black secretary of state in California.)

But it is absurd to suggest, as some political rumors say, that Newsom’s decision will jeopardize his prospects for re-election in two years, or his ability to survive an electoral revocation, if any.

The passions are strong at the moment. There will certainly be some lingering resentments, which can translate into a challenge to Newsom within its own Democratic Party or, more likely, threats from it.

But the number of Californians who voted for governor two years from now, supporting or opposing Newsom, based on Padilla’s nomination, would hardly be in the front rows of a cinema. (Assuming, hopefully, they have already reopened.)

One of the most astute political observers, Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, recently said about post-Trump machinations in Washington: “While the power struggle in DC captivates the media, it will not capture the attention of undecided voters who are most interested. Visiting their elderly parents or attending their children’s graduation in person. “

The same applies to the intrigues around Newsom’s choice to replace Harris.

Political insiders and activists can be captivated. But there is a reason why Padilla will have to raise and spend tens of millions of dollars trying to keep the Senate seat he just won. In a state as vast and politically inattentive as California, many voters will have only the slightest idea of ​​who Padilla is at the time of the 2022 elections.

Few will still have any recollection, or much care, of how the Democrat became the junior senator in the United States.

Being one of the 100 most powerful people in America and hardly recognizable at home: this is political torture.