Kamala Harris answers questions from the media
Kamala Harris answers questions from the media after an inspection of Naval Base Pt. Loma in 2018. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, announced Tuesday that California Sen. Kamala Harris will be his vice presidential running mate.

“I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked Kamala Harris,” Biden tweeted.

He called Harris a “a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants.”

Harris, 55, becomes the first Black woman on a major presidential ticket in U.S. history. A former prosecutor and attorney general, she is well known for her aggressive questioning style in the Senate, most notably of Brett Kavanaugh during his 2018 Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, Harris has knocked down barriers throughout her career. She was the first woman to serve as San Francisco’s district attorney, elected to that office in 2003, and the first woman to serve as California’s attorney general, elected to that office in 2010.

She made her own run for the White House before ending it and endorsing Biden

Biden’s age — he will turn 78 in November — has led to broad speculation he will serve only one term, making Harris a potential top contender for the nomination in 2024.

Biden considered several Black women in addition to Harris, including former Obama administration national security adviser Susan Rice, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Rep. Val Demings, a former police chief in Orlando. He also considered Asian-American Senator Tammy Duckworth and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latina.

Historically, the vice presidential nominee has been the one to take the lead in criticizing the opposing ticket, although Trump has largely shredded that tradition. Brian Brokaw, a California political consultant who managed Harris’ campaigns for attorney general and Senate, said Harris fits that role well.

“She is someone who can really make Republicans quake in their boots,” Brokaw said.

Local politicians and political insiders reacted along party lines Tuesday to the Harris pick, some lauding the choice, others dismissing it.

“BIDEN-HARRIS!!!” wrote Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, a candidate for San Diego mayor.

“San Diego County Democrats are so proud to have our Senator serve on the ticket that will DEFEAT Donald Trump,” the San Diego County Democratic Party tweeted. “We’re also THRILLED to announce @KamalaHarris will speak to @sandiegodems at this year’s Roosevelt Honors on Sat, August 29.”

Rep. Mike Levin, who represents the 49th Congressional District straddling coastal North County and south Orange County, praised Harris as having spent her “entire life fighting for working families in California, and I know that she has the experience to make an excellent vice president.”

He vowed to “continue to do everything I can to help [the pair] win in November.”

“We’ve worked together to address toxic sewage flowing across the border, secure coastal bluffs, improve housing for military families, and much more,” Levin said. “Her work on civil rights and racial injustice has been critical for our nation, and her continued leadership is needed now more than ever.”

Retiring Rep. Susan Davis of San Diego added: “Coming from a state of great diversity and as a woman mindful of the significance of this moment and this powerful and pragmatic choice of Senator Harris, I look forward to soundly defeating the cruel Trump Administration and bringing us to a more perfect union.”

After the selection was announced, Harris wrote on Twitter: “Joe Biden can unify the American people because he’s spent his life fighting for us. And as president, he’ll build an America that lives up to our ideals. I’m honored to join him as our party’s nominee for vice president, and do what it takes to make him our commander-in-chief.”

But San Diego County Republican Party Chairman Tony Krvaric said voters will know better than to choose a ticket with California’s former attorney general attached.

“We congratulate Joe Biden on picking Kamala Harris as his running mate as she brings zero substance and lots of baggage — the main being the disastrous policies of California which will go over like a lead balloon in key battleground states,” he said.

President Donald Trump posted an attack ad railing against Harris on his Twitter page just minutes after Biden’s announcement.

“Kamala Harris ran for president by rushing to the radical left, embracing Bernie’s plan for socialized medicine, calling for trillions in new taxes, attacking Joe Biden for racist policies. Voters rejected Harris: They smartly spotted a phony. But not Joe Biden. He’s not that smart,” the ad said.

Updated at 5:17 p.m., Aug. 11, 2020

Reuters and City News Service contributed to this article.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.