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Alex Padilla. Photo: Carolyn Cole/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the U.S. Senate.

Why it matters: Padilla — a child of Mexican immigrants — will be the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate. He is a close confidant of Newsom's and will serve in the Senate for the remainder of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

The big picture: Padilla was considered a front-runner for the appointment, but Newsom faced competing political interests while making his decision.

  • Some groups lobbied for Newsom to appoint a Black woman in honor of the diversity Harris brought to the Senate. Once Harris is sworn in as vice president, there will be no Black women in the upper chamber.
  • Other groups insisted that a Hispanic appointment was most fitting, as California is almost 40% Latino and has never had a Latino senator.
  • "It’s a hell of a decision, U.S. Senate, because you’re guaranteed to upset more people than you please," Newsom said recently, per the Wall Street Journal.

Background: As California's secretary of state, Padilla sought to expand voting access and ensure an accurate census count. He also served two terms in the state Senate, where he authored legislation in favor of climate change reform, closing the digital divide and universal health care.

What to watch: Padilla will have little time in office before campaigning begins for the 2022 race, which could attract top names in the Democratic Party like California Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter. It's not yet clear if Padilla plans to run for a full six-year term.

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Go deeper

Jan 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP Sen. Rob Portman will not run for re-election, citing "partisan gridlock"

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced Monday he will not run for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2022, citing "partisan gridlock."

Why it matters: It's a surprise retirement from a prominent Senate Republican who easily won re-election in 2016 and was expected to do so again in 2022, creating an open Senate seat in a red-leaning swing state.

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.