The Latino Victory Fund on Thursday endorsed Sen. Alex PadillaAlex PadillaSenate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents GOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program MORE (D-Calif.) for his first election to the upper chamber seat after his appointment by California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Ivory poaching changes evolution of elephants California regulator proposes ban on oil drilling near schools, hospitals, homes Biden says he would tap National Guard to help with supply chain issues MORE (D) in January.
Latino Victory played a role in the appointment process, throwing their weight behind Padilla for the Senate seat vacated by Vice President Harris.
“Alex Padilla’s career in public service is remarkable and unparalleled. He’s got the heart of an activist, the work ethic of the son of immigrants, the dedication of a public servant, and the grit and fire needed in the United States Senate,” said Nathalie Rayes, Latino Victory Fund president and CEO.
While technically the 98th most senior senator in the chamber, Padilla has taken a central role in the Senate's immigration proceedings, scoring chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Safety.
While Padilla has been a vocal proponent of legalization for millions of undocumented immigrants, he has stopped short of saying he won't vote for a reconciliation package without immigration provisions, a move immigration advocates have called for.
So far, only four House members have taken that step: Reps. Jesús García (D-Ill.), Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralHouse progressives call on Biden to end all new fossil fuel permitting Top Latino group endorses Padilla for full Senate term Ilhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' MORE (D-N.Y.), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaTop Latino group endorses Padilla for full Senate term Democrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates Democrats grasping at straws on immigration MORE (D-Calif.) and Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezTop Latino group endorses Padilla for full Senate term Ilhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' Democrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor MORE (D-Calif.), all members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Padilla is the first Hispanic U.S. senator from California, a state that is nearly 40 percent Hispanic.
His appointment eased some pressure within the state's Democratic Party, where the large Latino constituency had long demanded more representation at the statewide elected official level.
But it also raised questions among California's Black community, as Harris was the only Black woman in the Senate until her inauguration as vice president.
Still, Padilla is expected to win the Democratic primary and the general election in 2022 to serve his first full six-year term in the Senate.
"Latino Victory plays a vital role in elevating Latino leaders across the country to ensure voices from our community have a seat at the table at all levels of government. They advocated hard for my appointment to serve as California's first Latino senator, and I'm grateful to have their continued support as I’m running for a full term in the United States Senate,” said Padilla.