As the Democratic Party turns its focus to the next presidential election, many think the stage is set for a Kamala Harris 2020 bid for the White House.
Parallels between the first-term California Senator and former President Barack Obama, who ran and won the presidency just four years after being elected to his first term as an Illinois Senator, have many wondering if Harris might be the Democratic Party’s best hope in challenging President Donald Trump in the next election.
At 52, she’s had a long career in public service. She earned a degree in economics and political science from Howard University in Washington, then a Ph.D. at the University of California and in 2003 she was elected attorney-general of San Francisco, a position she held until she was elected attorney general of the state of California in 2011. She was re-elected in 2014 and in 2016 was elected to the Senate when longtime Sen. Barbara Boxer retired. She assumed the office on Jan. 17.
The second black woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate, Harris garnered national attention this summer for her sharp, pointed questioning of Trump administration officials during the nationally televised Russia hearings before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Some Dems oppose Kamala Harris 2020
As some Democrats are hailing the first-term California Senator as the great uniter for a divided party, some of Harris’ most ardent opposition is coming from within the Democratic Party itself.
Harris was widely applauded for her verbal takedown of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein during the Russia hearings.
She was interrupted during her interrogation of both officials by committee’s male Republican chairman, Sen. Richard Burr, and chastised by other male colleagues. The moves earned her the admiration of the public, and lead one former Trump campaign adviser to call the freshman senator “hysterical.”
But whatever brownie points Harris earned in the hearings among party progressives, she lost when she began courting big-money donors this summer at fundraisers in the Hamptons. The disdain even sparked a #NeverKamala movement on Twitter by Sanders supporters who compared her to Hillary Clinton.
Will there be a Kamala Harris 2020 bid?
So far Harris has successfully dodged questions on her 2020 hopes, leaving her answers ambiguous enough to both keep hope alive and cast doubt on her ambitions.
As MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell wrapped up a September interview about Harris' support for the bipartisan DREAM Act on the heels of Trump’s decision to rescind the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals immigration program, he asked: "Well, I guess you'll just continue to think about what you might do in 2020 and we can talk about it the next time.”
"Lawrence, I don't even know what I'm having for dinner," Harris said, bursting out in laughter.
But if not president, Harris clearly has plans for something down the pipeline. In March she opened a campaign fundraising account seeking a run at the governor’s office in 2026 — though she says she has no plans to take that office either.
A spokesman for the freshman senator told The Los Angeles Times the move was “purely bookkeeping” and the account is meant to store the $1 million in leftover funds from her successful 2014 reelection campaign for attorney general.
Since her takedown of Trump administration officials in the nationally televised Russia hearings, Harris’ name has been abuzz on the lips of big-shot Democratic donors. In the first six months of 2017, she raised more than $600,000 for a dozen Senate colleagues who are up for re-election in 2018, CNN reported.