California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected Alex Padilla, his secretary of state, to fill the Senate seat vacated by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, he announced Tuesday.
Padilla, a close ally of the governor, will be the first Latino to represent California in the Senate, a state where Latinos make up 40 percent of the population.
In a statement released alongside the announcement, Newsom hailed Padilla as the right choice based on both his personal and professional background.
“The son of Mexican immigrants — a cook and house cleaner — Alex Padilla worked his way from humble beginnings to the halls of MIT, the Los Angeles City Council and the State Senate, and has become a national defender of voting rights as California’s Secretary of State,” Newsom said.
“Now, he will serve in the halls of our nation’s Capitol as California’s next United States Senator, the first Latino to hold this office,” he continued.
Since Harris was tapped by President-elect Joe Biden to join the Democratic ticket in August, Padilla has consistently appeared as a leading contender for the job.
Citing allies, Politico reported in November that the governor wanted his pick to be one of historic significance.
Padilla had previously made history in 2015 when he became the first Latino to be elected to his current role as California’s secretary of state.
Prior to that, he had served as a Los Angeles city councilman and a state senator.