Rep. Karen Bass: Kamala Harris Senate replacement should be an African American woman

“I hear my name being put out for a lot of different things, and if called upon to serve, I’ll be there, ready to serve.”

As speculation mounts over who California Governor Gavin Newsom will select to fill the Senate seat of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) spoke with FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson about whether she would make the move from one chamber of Congress to the other.

Rep. Bass, who, this summer, was considered a favorite to serve as President-elect Joe Biden’s running mate, is now considered by many prognosticators to be one of the main contenders for the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat.

Other California Democrats allegedly being considered include Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, and Representative Barbara Lee.

When asked by Michaelson to make her case for the seat, Bass said she wouldn’t pitch herself, but said she believes that whoever Newsom picks, it should be an African American woman.

“I will tell you that I do believe that there should be an African American woman in the Congress,” Bass, the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said, stressing the importance of representation in the Senate. 

“You know,” she continued, “when Senator Harris is sworn in as the Vice President, there will be one African American Democrat, one African American Republican, no African American women.”

In the more than 150 years since Emancipation, the United States Congress has been home to 10 Black Senators: four Republicans, dating back to Hiram Rhodes Revels in 1870, and six Democrats, the first of whom, Carol Moseley Braun, represented Illinois from 1993 to 1999.

Since 2017, Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) have comprised the largest concurrent delegation of Black Senators in US history.

Bass is not alone in her call for Black female representation in the Senate. Last month, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown argued that “there should be no contest” that Newsom should select a Black woman to fill the seat.

Still, with nearly 40% of California’s population Hispanic, a larger percentage than any other ethnic group, Michaelson asked Bass if Newsom should instead name the state’s first-ever Hispanic Senator.

“I agree with that 100%. I think that is absolutely correct, and I think that that should happen,” she responded. “We will see.”

While a Hispanic Senator has never been elected in California, Hispanic leaders at large have had a better track record than African Americans in the Senate. To date, there have been 13 Hispanic Senators, with next session set to include five Senators of either Cuban or Mexican descent: Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Senator-Elect Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.).

Bass said she empathizes with Newsom, “he’s in a heck of a spot, it’s a tough decision to make,” but she said that whoever he chooses should bring representation to the Senate.

With all that said, Michaelson asked the five-term Congresswoman if she would take the position, if asked.

“If I had the honor, we’ll see,” she said.

In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Bass also discussed the latest round of coronavirus restrictions impacting Californians, the status of further Congressional relief for struggling Americans and businesses, and her thoughts on members of the outgoing Trump Administration and incoming Biden one.

The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. For more showtimes and information, go to

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