OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — While Sen. Kamala Harris has sizable support in the Bay Area, she was not the first choice for vice president among many progressives, even with her strong local base.
Senator Harris announced her campaign in Oakland. She also faced a good bit of opposition here from the left in Oakland, much of which went to Bernie Sanders.
Now she has been named as former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate for the Democratic Party, will Bay Area progressives get on board?
“As someone who has worked for well over a decade on issues of state violence, I’m not a Kamala fan,” said Cat Brooks, an Oakland activist with the Anti Police Terror Project. “That said, the time that we’re in calls for nuance and strategy.”
A longtime police-reform advocate, Brooks and Harris have a lot of shared history in Oakland. They do not share the same politics.
“I think she is smart and I think she’s capable. She is certainly qualified to do the job,” said Brooks. “I think it is safe to say that my politics — and actually, Bay Area politics — are much further to the left and where Senator Harris is.”
“In some ways, the remarkable thing is that in 2020, the safe pick is Kamala Harris from the Bay Area in California,” said UC Berkeley political science professor Eric Schickler. “That tells us something about how the Democratic Party has changed, and something also about the move of the country.”
Schickler says by some measures, Harris could be considered a historically liberal candidate.
“First of all, her voting record in the Senate was quite liberal,” Schickler explained. “It’s not all that different from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, actually. Combine it with being the first Black woman to be vice president, also of South Asian descent, which is really a historic opportunity. I think it makes it less likely that you’re going to see all that much disgruntlement on the left.”
This one part of the election will be far more important in states other than California, but for Bay Area progressives, the choice is the same.
“Biden/Harris. That’s our option,” said Brooks. “I’m frustrated with yet one more election cycle where I have to pick the lesser of two evils.”