Women Leaders to Governor Newsom:
Representation Matters in Senate Seat Selection
December 10, 2020
NEW YORK – Today, the leadership of more than a dozen national women’s organizations led by Higher Heights for America – including EMILY’s List, She The People, and Supermajority – issued the following joint statement on the upcoming California Senate seat vacancy.
“A commitment to building a democracy that lives up to its truest ideals requires that we continue to diversify and improve America’s leadership to reflect the country. In its 231-year history, only 57 women and only five women of color have ever served in the United States Senate. In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun was the first woman of color and Black woman to be elected to the Senate. It took another 20 years to elect the second woman of color to the Senate, Mazie Hirono in 2012, and 24 years to elect the second Black woman, Kamala Harris.
“Women make up 51 percent of America, yet of the 100 Senators currently serving in Congress, only 25 are women and four are women of color — Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI).
“There has been deep investment and long-term strategy to build a pipeline of women to run, win and lead for elected office and we have seen incremental gains. In 2018 and 2020, we made giant steps towards women’s political representation with a record number of women running and winning. As we celebrate the historic election of Kamala Harris as the first woman, woman of color and Black person to be elected as Vice President, we are also standing at a critical milestone. With one appointment, we can either continue toward a more representative Senate or suffer a major setback that could take almost a decade to regain.
“With the upcoming departure of Vice President-elect Harris from the chamber, we must keep moving forward on women’s representation. California Governor Gavin Newsom has a critical opportunity to stand firm on his progressive ideals, be on the right side of history, and ensure that the work the Vice President-elect has done for California and for the country continues.
“California has been represented by a woman in the Senate since 1992. Since the following year, both Senators from the Golden State have been women. We cannot undo nearly 30 years of progress all at once. For the future of California, our country, and women everywhere, there is no better choice for Governor Newsom than to appoint a woman to fill California’s Senate seat. There are several remarkable women from the state who have what it takes to get to work right away and who would serve as powerful advocates for the people of California and marginalized constituencies nationwide. “
Additional Quotes From Each Leader Can be Found Below:
“To protect and advance the progress we have fought so hard to earn, a woman leader is Governor Newsom’s best choice. In fact, there are several Black women who would be ardent champions for the people, and who have served the state of California, and our country, with the utmost integrity and commitment to advancing policy solutions that impact marginalized communities the most. We need women leaders who reflect our values and hopes for the nation, and who understand how racial justice and gender equity are inextricably linked to every key policy issue of our time.” – Glynda Carr, President and CEO, Higher Heights for America
“Women make up more than half of the people and the voters in this country and our government should represent us. The appointment to replace Kamala Harris must reflect the population, people and values of California and our nation. This appointment must further the progress we have made for women in the Senate, not take us backwards.” — Amanda Brown Lierman, incoming Executive Director of Supermajority
“Governor Gavin Newsom has the historic opportunity to honor the dedication, sacrifice, and brilliance of Black women by filling Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ Senate seat with a Black woman. Fortunately, there are no shortage of smart, tested, progressive Black women in the state of California to choose from and ensure that the 21 million Black women in the United States – who were instrumental in defeating Donald Trump – do not go without representation in the Senate.” – Yvette Simpson, CEO of Democracy for America
“Kamala Harris made history when she was elected to the Senate and she will do the same as she breaks one of our highest glass ceilings as our future vice president. Too few Americans can see themselves represented in the United States Senate. We firmly believe that Kamala’s historic seat should be filled by one of the incredibly qualified California women of color.” – Stephanie Schriock, President of EMILY’s List
“Once Sen. Harris is sworn into her new role, the nation’s upper chamber will be without a true advocate who can uniquely speak to the needs and issues that are most important to women of color across this country. It begs the question: How long will we have to wait to increase the diversity of women of color in the Senate? For the future of California, our country, women of color, and the communities closest to us, this should be a learning moment that we need to keep marching forward and not reverse progress. Sen. Harris cannot be the only woman of color at the table for our state. It’s not enough for her to break this glass ceiling — there needs to be a path for future generations of women of color to follow in her footsteps. We cannot afford to wait decades for the voices of Black women to be heard.” – Aimee Allison, Founder of She the People
“We continue to say that we win with Black women and that Black women have been the backbone of our democracy, but still too often when it comes to putting a Black woman in a seat of power, we are an afterthought. What does it say about our democracy to leave the most powerful legislative body in this nation absent of a Black woman’s voice? This decision is not only about representation but continuing to have the type of voice that has been pushing us to progress on pivotal issues like equal pay, maternal health, criminal justice reform, and affordable healthcare for all. There are several Black women that would be ready for the job on day one and we urge Governor Newsom to make the right representative and respectful choice by appointing a Black woman to fill California’s vacant U.S. Senate seat.” – Stefanie Brown James, Co-Founder & Executive Director of The Collective
“Senators Carol Moseley Braun (D-IL) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) stand alone as the only Black women to serve in the United States Senate over its 231-year existence. After Harris becomes Vice President of the United States on Jan. 20, California Governor Gavin Newsom has an opportunity to make history by appointing another Black woman. No governor has ever appointed a Black woman to complete a Senate term. Harris’s replacement must fill the shoes of a lawmaker who spoke up and spoke on behalf of Black women, sponsoring the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act and reintroducing the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies (Maternal CARE). In fighting for voting rights, anti-lynching legislation, and access to affordable health care, the Vice President-elect has been a steadfast champion for all communities.” Holli Holliday, President of Sisters Lead, Sisters Vote
“When Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes up her position in the White House next year, there will no longer be a Black woman in the Senate — and that would be a catastrophic loss. We need Black women at the decision-making table to address the daunting challenges Black communities will face over the next four years, from a recession that has crushed Black business to a pandemic response that has seeded mistrust in a generation to structural racism and police brutality. Placing a Black woman in the United States Senate ensures her perspective is front and center and honors the work of Black women in this election and beyond to defend the integrity of our democracy.” – Adrianne Shropshire, Executive Director of BlackPAC
“Women are severely underrepresented in positions of power, despite holding the world on our shoulders. This is particularly true for Blck women. For a governor who claims to care about closing the gender gap, failing to appoint a Black woman to the US Senate would be a step backwards, leaving women and Black people without decision making power over the rules that shape our lives.” – Alicia Garza, Principal of Black Futures Lab and Co-founder of Supermajority
“On January 20, the United States Senate will have one less woman and lose the voice, the perspective and the lived experiences of the only Black woman in Congress’ upper chamber. Governor Gavin Newsom has an opportunity to advance racial and gender representation and equity by appointing a Black woman to fill the remainder of Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris’ seat. Alternatively, he will set the collective women’s movement back by at least a decade.” – Kimberly Ellis, Director of San Francisco Department on the Status of Women
“Black women have been on the forefront of demonstrating our support of the Democratic party for years, and yet we are consistently the least represented. It is past time for those who claim to be our friends and supporters to step up and acknowledge the role African American women have played for centuries. We expect them to honor that loyalty and support through their actions by maintaining the higher level of involvement by appointing Black women in key positions.” – Hon. Dezie Woods Jones, Founding member and State President, Black Women Organized For Political Action (BWOPA)
“The elevation of Senator Kamala Harris to the position of Vice President of the United States on January 20, 2021 will be a tremendous, historic victory for the American people. Sadly, it will also be the day that the US Senate loses the valuable leadership of a talented woman of color. Representation matters and in this moment, it’s critical that we uplift the leadership of progressive Black women who are the backbone of our movement.” – Shaunna Thomas, Co-founder and President of UltraViolet
“While the nation works to address crucial issues like access to healthcare and reproductive freedom — issues that disproportionately affect Black women — it would be unacceptable for the Senate to be without a Black female voice. As Governor Newsom knows, the state of California has a great many progressive, prochoice Black female candidates who would make incredible Senators. Any other choice would be an immeasurable blow to the racial and gender equity movements.” – Heidi Sieck, Co-founder and CEO of #VOTEPROCHOICE
“The night Kamala Harris was elected to be our nation’s first female Vice President, millions of little girls across America dreamt bigger. In her career as Attorney General, United States Senator, and now Vice President-Elect, Senator Harris has fought for a nation in which it doesn’t matter who you love, how or if you worship, what your gender identity is, what zip code you live in, or the color of your skin––she is proof that America belongs to all of us. If we as Democrats believe that Black women are the backbone of our party, then we must elevate Black women to lead our party forward. I join countless other partners in justice in calling on Governor Newsom to appoint a Black woman to succeed Kamala as the next Senator from the great state of California.” – Liuba Grechen Shirley, Founder & CEO of Vote Mama
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