2020 Democratic Primary Candidates: Kamala Harris By Phillip Howard
Kamala Harris is a first-term U.S. Senator from California who previously served as San Francisco’s district attorney and California Attorney General. Harris’ formal launch in Oakland generated media attention for drawing an estimated 12,000 supporters.
Harris offered “moral leadership” in contrast to Donald Trump, whose presidency is “not our America,” as democracy is under attack like never before. Harris described the proposed border wall a “medieval vanity project” and believes the president is “racist.” Her campaign slogan is “for the people.”
Harris criticized Trump for refusing to release his tax returns and released 15 years of her tax returns. Only Cory Booker has followed suit.
The president said Harris had the best campaign roll out of Democratic presidential candidates. His campaign raised far more than any single Democratic candidate, $30 million, during the first quarter of 2019.
Harris is an early leader in raising money within the crowded Democratic field, especially among Hollywood donors. As of this week, Harris was second only to Bernie Sanders in total fundraising, $12 million.
Harris is running on a progressive agenda, including Medicare for All, universal pre-K, debt-free college, and middle class tax cuts. In March, Harris proposed her first major policy proposal, raising teacher salaries. Her plan would result in an average raise of $13,500, a 23 percent increase, costing an estimated $315 billion over 10 years.
Harris’ criminal justice record will be scrutinized during the campaign. Lara Bazelon, a law professor at the University of San Francisco, believes Harris may present herself as a progressive prosecutor, given the primary electorate, but has either opposed or been silent on criminal justice reforms, now widely supported by liberals.
For instance, Harris has personally opposed the death penalty, though defended the law out of professional obligation. This could also be an asset in the general election, where a national electorate is more favorable toward capital punishment than California.
California moved up the primary calendar to Super Tuesday, which bodes well for Harris as the campaign unfolds. This, coupled with her positive start and experience running for statewide office there, suggests Harris will has staying power as a viable contender.
Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College