“I don’t think there’s any ‘there’ there,” one Democrat activist told the Times.
Establishment Democrats, sensing a thin bench and an elderly leadership team, have taken great pains to prop up Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as the ascendant Democrat leader for which the party has been waiting since President Obama’s departure from the White House.
Harris, who was sworn in as California’s senator in January, has been quick to promote herself since arriving in Washington, particularly during contentious committee hearings.
But the decision by Harris and her team to climb the ladder isn’t sitting well with many Democrats, including her senior senator, Dianne Feinstein. The New York Times explains:
“Seniority does not govern all,” said Sean Clegg, a top strategist for Ms. Harris in California. “In effect, all voices are equal.”
This view is not universally shared in the Capitol. Or in her state.
“She just got here,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, when asked about Ms. Harris’s future as a national figure, extolling the virtues of Senate hierarchy and committee-chairing.
But more troubling than establishment Democrats questioning Harris’ motives is the grassroots’ apathy toward her higher ambitions. Already wary of Democrats propped up by D.C. insiders, the grassroots leaders who spoke to the Times went so far as to call Harris someone who is “not on our radar”:
And so far, at least, some of Mr. Sanders’s supporters are not sold on Ms. Harris, who at times disappointed liberals in her statewide roles with a reputation for excess caution. Others are simply wary of any politician promoted too heavily by the party establishment, especially after the campaign of Hillary Clinton, for whom Ms. Harris’s sister, Maya, worked as a top adviser.
“She’s not on our radar,” RoseAnn DeMoro, a Sanders ally and the executive director of National Nurses United and the California Nurses Association, said of Ms. Harris. “She’s one of the people the Democratic Party is putting up. In terms of where the progressives live, I don’t think there’s any ‘there’ there.”
Whether she decides to run for president in 2020 or not, it’s clear California’s junior senator has a fair amount of work to do before she climbs another rung.
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