Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who recently was re-elected for a third term in the U.S. Congress seat in the state’s 17th District, is among the contenders for the soon-to-be vacated seat in the U.S. Senate left by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, with the Indian American Impact Fund already endorsing the Indian American congressman for the post.
Khanna was just elected to his third term in the House of Representatives, where he sits on the Armed Services, Budget and Oversight Committees.
“Several strong candidates have been floated to replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. IMPACT urges Governor Newsom to consider Rep. Ro Khanna,” Neil Makhija, executive director of IMPACT, said in a statement. “He has the essential qualities to meet this moment: At a time when we are deeply divided, Ro has demonstrated an ability to bring together progressives, moderates, and even some Republicans.
“At a time when we need to ‘build back better,’ Ro brings a depth of expertise in manufacturing and tech. At a time when we face a soaring public health crisis, Ro has been a fierce advocate for universal, high-quality health care,” Makhija added. “Inspired to public service by his grandfather’s experience as a freedom fighter in India alongside Mahatma Gandhi, Ro will relentlessly defend our democratic values,” he said.
The IMPACT executive director went on to note that Khanna also represents the fastest growing community in California.
“As millions of Black and Brown children around the country see the promise of America in the new vice president-elect, her replacement should offer the same hope and representation for Californians,” Makhija said. “As Vice President-elect Harris has often said, she may have been the first but she won’t be the last. Governor Newsom has the opportunity to make sure she’s proven right with the selection of Ro Khanna as her replacement in the United States Senate.”
Prior to serving in Congress, Khanna taught economics at Stanford University, law at Santa Clara University and American jurisprudence at San Francisco State University.
He also served in President Barack Obama’s administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Commerce. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School.
According to a Forbes report, California Gov. Gavin Newsom reportedly wants to make a historic choice to fill Harris’ Senate seat when she enters the White House.
Multiple outlets have identified Congressional Black Caucus leader Rep. Karen Bass, who was also on President-elect Joe Biden’s vice president shortlist; Rep. Barbara Lee, a Black progressive icon from Oakland; Senate Pro Temp Toni Atkins, who would be California’s first openly gay senator; and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who would be the first Latino senator in the state’s 170-year history, as the frontrunners.
“This is going to be a huge, huge challenge for the governor because he’s got an embarrassment of riches,” said Nathan Barankin, Harris’s former chief of staff, said in a Guardian report.
Despite the favorites, Khanna is a potential contender due to his popularity among the party’s younger and more progressive factions, Forbes said.
Newsom’s decision could shape the U.S. Senate for years, as whoever fills the seat would face re-election with the huge advantage of incumbency, the Guardian report said.
And California senators can wield an outsize influence in Washington, said Aimee Allison, who heads She the People, a national network seeking to elevate women of color to political leadership, the report added.
As a freshman senator from the nation’s most populous state, Harris played a key role in the hearings of two Supreme Court justices, and brought her sharp, prosecutorial style to interrogations of several Trump administration officials, the report said.