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Top Latino group calls for Padilla as Harris's Senate replacement

Top Latino group calls for Padilla as Harris's Senate replacement
© Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for LA Promise Fund

A top Latino advocacy group with ties to the Biden transition team on Thursday called for California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomVaccine skepticism emerges as early test for Biden Mayor of Denver apologizes for holiday travel after advising residents to stay put California, Texas shatter single-day nationwide record for new coronavirus cases MORE (D) to appoint California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill the Senate seat being vacated by Vice President-elect Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisThe Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation Biden can rebuild trust in our justice system by prioritizing prosecutorial reform Harris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence MORE.

In a letter to Newsom, Latino Victory Project President and CEO Nathalie Rayes lauded Padilla's record of service and called for "a government that reflects the diversity of the nation it serves."

"To that end, as you consider filling the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, we respectfully urge you to appoint California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to the position," wrote Rayes.

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Newsom has the power to select the person who'll serve out the remainder of Harris's term, which will be up for election in 2022.

The governor is under immense pressure to select a representative candidate, and the state's Hispanics expect the next senator to come from their community.

California, a state that's 40 percent Hispanic and home to about a quarter of the country's Hispanics, has never elected a Hispanic person to the U.S. Senate.

"The highest chamber in Congress must represent the communities it serves, and California is
long overdue to have a Latino voice in the halls of the U.S. Senate," wrote Rayes.

Padilla is quickly becoming a consensus pick among many of the state's Hispanic leaders, as his broad political network includes close friendship with Newsom and a close relationship with Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Calif.), and personal connections to many of the state's most powerful Latino leaders, like Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.).

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And the state's other statewide elected Latino official, California Attorney General Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Biden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security House Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members MORE (D), is in the running for Biden administration Cabinet posts.

"We believe that Secretary Padilla is the Latino candidate who exemplifies the best of California leadership," wrote Rayes.

"A public servant at heart, Secretary Padilla has served the people of California for more than 20 years, first in the Los Angeles City Council, where he broke barriers by becoming the first Latino elected president of the council, and then as California State Senator. As Secretary of State, he's worked tirelessly to strengthen voting rights by increasing voter registration and participation," she added.